Common Charges You’ll Want To Know Before You Invest

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Are you familiar with the charges imposed by the mutual funds you own? Since fund expenses affect your investment return, understanding the costs is an important step in making sound investment decisions.

Here are some common charges you’ll want to know about before you invest.

  • Load- A load is a sales charge imposed by the fund. You might think of it as similar to the fee you pay a broker to purchase a stock. Mutual funds fit in two broad categories: load and no-load.

Load funds include front-end, back-end, and level-load. A front-end load, as the name implies, is charged when you make your initial investment. A back-end load is charged when you sell your investment before a specified period of time has passed. A level-load charges you an ongoing fee (for instance, 1% per year) as long as you own the shares. A no-load fund has no sales charge. Keep in mind that no-load is not the same as no-fee. No-load funds can still charge purchase fees, redemption fees, exchange fees, and account fees. Look for information on fees and charges in a fee table located near the front of a fund’s prospectus under the heading “Shareholder Fees.”

  • Expense ratio- The expense ratio tells you the cost of operating and managing the fund. These costs include marketing fees (sometimes called 12b-1 fees), management fees, administrative fees, operating costs, and other asset-based costs incurred by the mutual fund. A high expense ratio can hurt your overall return.
  • Turnover and taxes- A fund’s turnover ratio indicates how often the fund buys and sells stocks. A high turnover ratio reflects active trading. Because funds pass capital gains through to shareholders, active trading could result in taxable income for you. A low turnover ratio indicates a “buy and hold” strategy that can postpone the tax bite.

If you have questions about mutual fund terminology, give us a call.

The 4 main attractions of DRIPs

Appropriately enough, investors may notice a slow trickle in earnings from “dividend reinvestment plans” (DRIPs). But these investments may end up providing a steady stream of income over the long run.

search-engine-464188__180The concept is relatively simple. More than 1,000 companies and closed-end mutual funds around the country offer DRIPs to their shareholders. These programs enable shareholders to purchase stock directly from the company by automatically reinvesting dividends in additional shares. Many DRIPs also allow you to voluntarily make cash payments directly into the plan to buy even more shares.

Here are some of the main attractions of DRIPs.

  • Most DRIPs don’t charge any fee, or only a nominal fee, for purchasing shares.
  • Participants may be able to purchase stock at a discounted price. The discount usually ranges from 3% to 5% and could be as high as 10%.
  • The DRIP may allow you to send optional cash payments (OCPs), often for as little as $10, directly to the company to buy additional shares. OCPs are often used to purchase fractional shares, thereby enabling investors to acquire blue chip stocks they might not otherwise be able to afford.
  • It’s easy to join in. Once you’ve chosen a particular stock, check to see if it has a DRIP. The company will furnish the specifics, including a prospectus and the appropriate application forms.

But that’s not to say that investing in DRIPs is without drawbacks. There is a growing trend within the industry to charge a small fee for acquiring shares. Minimum amounts for purchases may be required. Also, the dividends that are reinvested are treated as taxable income, even though you don’t currently receive any cash.

Consider all of the implications of investments in DRIPs before including DRIPs in your portfolio.