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Any smart investor is going to look to look to both protect their investments while also securing the best return possible. It is always a juggling act for any investor, regardless of how much experience he/she may have. Investment tracking is quite a task. While there are many important ways to accomplish this balance, diversification is one of best ways to accomplish both values.

What is Diversification?

According to investopedia, diversification is defined as:

A risk management technique that mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio. The rationale behind this technique contends that a portfolio of different kinds of investments will, on average, yield higher returns and pose a lower risk than any individual investment found within the portfolio. 

Diversification strives to smooth out unsystematic risk events in a portfolio so that the positive performance of some investments will neutralize the negative performance of others. Therefore, the benefits of diversification will hold only if the securities in the portfolio are not perfectly correlated.

Why Diversification is Important

Diversification is important, as I mentioned above, because it allows you to accomplish two things at once. The first, and perhaps more important, is to protect yourself from any significant loss. The basic idea is that one area of the market is performing poorly, the others will make up for it. It is also very unlikely for all markets or investments within a market to drop significantly at one time. The risk is inherently lower despite taking a more aggressive investment strategy.

The other major benefit to diversification is the ability to maintain an aggressive approach and thereby maximizing long-term return. Instead of sticking to conservative investments like bonds or cd’s, diversified investors are able to keep their money in high-yielding investments.

How to Diversify Your Investments

While a lot (maybe enough to fit in entire books) could be said about how to actually diversify your investments, I thought I would give you a picture of what I am doing to diversify my portfolio. Keep in mind that my investment history is quite short and over the next few years I plan to diversify it even further.

Employer 403b Account – One of the best ways to start investing is with your employer’s investment account. It often comes with some form of matching, so it automatically gives you a great return on your investment. I personally have mine set up with a mutual fund because of how little is being invested. It provides for some inherent diversification.

Real Estate Investing – One of the ways I am in the process of investing in over the next few months is real estate investing. I believe this to be a secure investment for decades to come and the revenue stream should only increase with inflation.

Dividend Stocks – While I am not an expert on dividend stocks, I have been learning a lot about the benefits of investing in dividend stocks. In fact, dividend stocks over a period from 1972 to 2010 provided a significantly larger return than non-dividend stocks. Dividend stocks offer some minor diversification as there are two revenue streams. The first is the dividend as a form of cash flow and the other in the potential increase in the stock value. If you want to learn more about dividend stocks, there are many great resources like the list of high yield dividend stocks by Dividend Stocks Online.

Side Business – Another way that I am trying to diversify my investments is to build up a side business for myself. Eventually I would like to see it develop into my full-time gig, but I have to sustain a decent income before I make that leap.

While diversification can (and often is) be simplified to investing in mutual funds or ETFs, it is much more than that. It should include different investment vehicles and markets.

How are you diversifying your investments?