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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I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.

There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).

After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.

It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.

That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.

I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.

Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.

Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).

More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.

The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.

I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.

My buddies and I always try to make it out to a game, but we never really care which one we end up at. Obviously we have our favorite sports and teams, but it was rarely about what game we went to or who we saw playing. It was about watching the game live.

In the early months of lockdown, all we had was Korean baseball, and trust me, we loved it. The only issue was, none of us had any idea what the commentators were saying. Even then, a few of my friends weren't huge fans of baseball. They were into sports like football and basketball, ones that moved at a quicker pace with less down-time in between plays.

We decided to see if there were any other events going down and came across horse racing. Yes, horse racing. It was perfect--short, fast-paced, and most importantly, an opportunity for betting.

I had never really considered watching a horse race any time other than the Belmont Stakes, but the prospects of the sport seemed exhilarating. Even better, with horse racing we knew we could still recreate the atmosphere of a race track. Salty snacks? Check. Stale beer? Check. A simple and easy way to bet? Check.

One quick Google search later, we came across TVG, powered by FanDuel. It's an online betting platform that takes you right to the heart of the action. We were a little apprehensive about using a mobile app to place our bets, but TVG's ability to bet on live horse races from all over the world was too good to pass up.

Here are 5 reasons why we are obsessed with horse racing thanks to TVG:

1. Betting has never been easier

Use your phone or computer to watch and bet on live horse races in real-time. TVG offers a bunch of features to make betting even simpler--live odds and handicapping tips leverage recent learnings to help you make your best bet. Not to mention, TVG's exclusive race content and wagering guide offers an under-the-hood look into the strategy behind horse race betting.

2. The biggest selection of horse races out there

If you're looking to drop a little dough on a horse race, chances are your best option is your local race track. But watching the same few horses races over and over again isn't the most exciting thing. With TVG you have access to over 150 tracks worldwide with races happening consistently throughout the day.

3. Get a generous sign-up offer when you place your first bet

Once you register your account, you will be eligible for a $200 risk-free bet. All you have to do is place your first bet and you're covered. If you happen to lose, TVG will insure you for up to $200 as a sort of wagering credit. I may have been a little trigger happy when placing my first bet, so having this insurance was a great perk. There are also a bunch of promotional offers available year-round.

4. Making deposits and cashing out at the touch of button

With a ton of payment options such as PayPal, BetCash, debit/credit, wire transfers, and other third-party services, making a deposit is a breeze. But what about the payout? Depending on your deposit method, your withdrawal will be available in a few days. No more waiting in-line to collect your winnings!

5. Watching live races with your friends while betting is exhilarating

Even when we were watching Korean baseball, Zoom calls with my friends were a little dull.

With TVG, we haven't had this sort of fun in months! Every weekend we'll turn on a race and throw our bets in. After a few races, and quite a few drinks, we'll tally up our winnings to see who won the most! Sometimes it's not even about making money, but just having a good time.

TVG is the perfect way to add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane afternoon. It introduced me to the world of horse racing, a sport I never would have considered otherwise.

The races just keep ramping up and thanks to TVG, I can always get in on the fun.

UPDATE: The biggest derby in horse racing is THIS WEEKEND. Get in on the action with your $200 risk-free bet!

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