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The Motley Fool: Every Sunday, useful tips on investing
Q: After recently graduating from college, I’m employed and contributing to my workplace 401(k) plan. Should I invest additional money in a CD, too?
A: For most young people, CDs are not ideal. Even the best CD rates these days (which you can look up at bankrate.com) are puny. If you know you won’t need a sum of money for at least five years (and to be more conservative, 10 years), it’s likely to grow more briskly in stocks.
Five-year CDs, for example, top out around 2 percent in interest these days, and that’s the maximum.
But tobacco giant Philip Morris International was recently offering a dividend yield of 3.8 percent, which would give you close to $400. Procter & Gamble’s yield is around 3 percent, while utility company National Grid yields more than 5 percent, and even Apple’s yield has approached 3 percent.
Dividends are never guaranteed, but many companies have been regularly paying — and raising — them for decades. Plus, on top of the dividend, the stock price of healthy and growing companies will increase over time, too, delivering additional wealth.
Byron Wien, one of the most influential investment thinkers in recent decades, has offered a bunch of life lessons he has learned over his 80 years (lessons he hopes to continue to practice “in the next 80”). Here are a few:
• The hard way is always the right way. Never take shortcuts, except when driving home from the Hamptons. Shortcuts can be construed as sloppiness, a career killer.
• Don’t try to be better than your competitors, try to be different. There is always going to be someone smarter than you, but there may not be someone who is more imaginative.
• When seeking a career as you come out of school or making a job change, always take the job that looks like it will be the most enjoyable. If it pays the most, you’re lucky. If it doesn’t, take it anyway. I took a severe pay cut to take each of the two best jobs I’ve ever had, and they both turned out to be exceptionally rewarding financially.
• Every year, try doing something you have never done before that is totally out of your comfort zone. This will add to the essential process of self-discovery.
You’re probably not familiar with this $5 billion company, but you should be. Markel (NYSE: MKL) is a specialty-insurance company, underwriting risks that many well-known larger insurers don’t.
For example, it provides insurance related to dance schools, railroads, snowmobiles, horses, ambulances, historic homes and sustainable farms, among other things.
The company’s book value per share has averaged 16 percent growth per year over the past 20 years, while its investment portfolio has grown by 16 percent, as well.
Those investment results are driven by Tom Gayner, who invests Markel’s excess funds in the stock market.
Markel recently bought fellow insurer Alterra Capital for $3 billion, and it’s also building a Markel Ventures unit, which buys smaller companies in their entirety.