Investing Basics: What Is a Security?

Corey —  March 3, 2010

       Once you understand what an investment is, you can begin to learn about the different types of investments available. We’ll start by looking at the broadest types of investments first, and then later we’ll narrow it down by looking at more specific types of investments.

What Is a Security?

       There are two main types of investments – securities and property. We’re going to look at securities today.

       I’m sure you’ve read about the securities markets in the newspapers or heard about them on TV. But what does that mean exactly? A security is any kind of investment that represents debt, ownership, or the legal right to buy or sell a security.

       Bonds are an investment that represent debt. When you invest in a bond, you’re basically loaning money to the person who issued the bond.

       Stocks are investments that represent ownership. When you invest in a company’s stock, you are becoming an owner of that company.

       Finally, options are investments that represent a legal right to buy or sell a security. An option is basically a contract that you purchase to give you the right to buy or sell a certain amount of a security at a certain price for a certain amount of time (until the contract expires). The person who sells you the option is legally obligated to sell that security to you or buy that security from you at the specified price whenever you choose to use your rights.

       So when you hear someone talking about securities (or the securities market) they’re talking about stocks, bonds, and options. Securities would also include mutual funds, which are simply a portfolio (a collection) of securities. These are very basic things in the investment world, so it is important you understand what they mean.

       As I continue this series on investing basics, we’ll go into more depth about all of these types of investments so you’ll understand what they are and how they work. Make sure you sign up for free updates to Provident Planning if you want to learn more! You can also enter your email address below to get free updates in your email: (Don’t worry, I’ll never share nor sell your email address.)

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Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.