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High Investment Risk

High-risk investing is not for the faint of heart. It's for thrill seekers; people who like living on the edge, taking chances on risky stocks in the hope of making a lot of money quickly. Is it for you?

Here's how to do it somewhat sensibly: Get yourself a broker and set up an account. But do shop around first since you might be able to score a special deal with one of them. Then decide what kind of high-risk investment you want to make. Select an investment that has "high volatility," meaning that the stakes are high.

If you choose well you might enjoy a big payoff, but the other side of that coin is that you might just as easily lose a lot of money. Most of us are aware of penny stocks and commodities futures--two very high-risk types of investment. But there are certainly others, such as renewable unsecured subordinated notes.

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A great rule of thumb when you are making high-risk investments is to always sell half of your assets in an investment after you double your money. Then, wait to sell the other half until it's as high as you think it will go. If it drops more than 30% off of its peak, sell it right away.

If you're buying a fund, check out how risky its investments are. Be sure you can tolerate big market swings for a shot at higher returns. If not, stick with low-risk funds. Even if you don't sell your fund shares, you could still end up stuck with a big tax bite. If a fund owns dividend-paying stocks, or if a fund manager sells some big winners, shareholders will owe their share of Uncle Sam's bill.

When looking for the high-risk investment that's perfect for you, remember these words of wisdom:

* Returns aren't everything - also consider the risk taken to achieve those returns.

* Low expenses are crucial.

* Taxes take a big bite out of performance.

* Don't chase winners.

* Index funds should be a core component of your portfolio.

* significant transfer restrictions and the lack of a secondary market.

* Funds that rank very highly over one period rarely finish on top in later ones. When choosing a fund, look for consistent long-term results.

* Don't be too quick to dump a fund.

Although you may be tempted to sell a losing fund, first check to see whether it has trailed comparable funds for more than two years. If it hasn't, sit tight. Remember that any fund can have a bad year. But if earnings have been consistently below par, it may be time to move on.

While you are looking for high-risk investments, you will probably encounter a few shady offers. Investment fraud is out there and it's big. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it's probably a scam. Keep your eyes open to the possible risks and monetary losses. Con artists have no compunctions about lying and misrepresenting to get your money, so it's important to keep your wits about you to avoid becoming a victim. Remember, there's nothing riskier than falling prey to investment fraud.

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