Diversifying your investment portfolio is an important step in building wealth, but what does it mean? A diverse portfolio is one in which your investments are not focused in one area of the market—i.e. one sector, or one type of company. A portfolio focused on one sector is more volatile: it will suffer severe losses if that sector plunges. A diversified portfolio can weather losses in one sector by spreading its investments across multiple areas of the market. That way, other investments can pick up the slack of the negative shares.

How, then, do you diversify your investments?

The complicated answer is to invest in various companies whose historical patterns of gains and losses differ. Of course, historical performance does not guarantee future performance. But investing in this way can help assure that while part of your investments are losing, there's a good chance that another part is winning.

That's not really an answer, though, because how is that done?

The real keys to diversifying a portfolio are more simple. Basically, you want to mimic what mutual funds do. In fact, the easiest diversification technique is to simply invest in mutual funds—collections of stocks that are traded by a professional—and index funds—mutual funds that invest strictly in a specific stock index. The funds are created by professional brokers and, therefore, are already diversified.

But for the trader who wants the most control over their investments, here are some tips to diversify your investments on your own.

The various characteristics to take into account include: type of investment, market capitalization, geography and sectors. If your investments include mutual funds, diversify those by taking their styles into account (growth, growth/value, value). It is also important to balance stocks, bonds, funds and other short-term investments.

Market capitalization

Market capitalization, or market cap, is an indicator of a company's size. It is the value of its outstanding shares, calculated by multiplying the number of shares by the current price per share. Diversifying between large-, mid- and small-cap companies ensures a range of company sizes that often respond differently to the market. Large-cap companies usually have a market cap exceeding $10 billion, while small-caps are under about $2 billion. Large cap companies are generally steadier investments, though they might not bring in huge gains, quickly. Conversely, small-cap companies are considered more volatile, which could boost gains (yay!) or losses (no!).

Sectors

A sector in the stock market represent a part of the economy containing businesses with similar products or services. The markets are divided into sectors such as energy, consumer staples, health care, financials, utilities and industrials, among others. Sector diversification is easy to accomplish: don't invest all of your money into cars, or health care companies, or tech companies, or retail companies. Choose a selection of stocks from different sectors to avoid collapsing when a sector reports big losses.

Geography

You might think about this one less, but geography is another important aspect of your portfolio. Investing internationally might sound frightening, but a professional can help you secure promising international stocks and funds that could be a safeguard against domestic losses.

Another interesting point about geography: it could be disastrous to invest too much of your money in local companies. It's natural that you would want to buy shares in companies that you know, trust and want to support. But consider what would happen if the manufacturing company that's a large employer in your area suddenly suffers big losses. If you work there, you could be facing unemployment. If you're a shareholder, you could also be facing a heavy loss in your investment. Safeguard yourself from a situation like this by spreading your investments geographically, as well as by industry.

Time

Finally, don't forget to check up on your strategy. Just as important as initial diversification is revision. Find what's working, what's not, and adapt. Set a checkup schedule to avoid emotional bias (we all want to check when we're doing the best and the worst, but those are not ideal decision-making times). Regular evaluations can make sure that your successful strategy stays successful.

There is no perfect set of rules for creating a winning portfolio. And anyone who follows the news knows that the markets often do exactly what no one is predicting, what they're not supposed to, what would never happen based on past performance. But a patient, diversified approach to portfolio-building is the best chance of success investors have.

As a last piece of advice: consider professional help. People make their careers out of investing; let them help you build your portfolio. There's a very good chance the payoff will be worth the expense.

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.