- Work from a long-term plan
Like anything else, committing your specific goals to paper can help you focus and work towards them. By that I mean: “I need to save another $16,000 for Harry’s education by 2025”. I don’t mean: “I must put some money away for Harry’s education.”
It’s critical to define your objectives clearly and plan to meet them.
- Conduct a financial stock take
Before you undertake any investment of your hard earned cash, it’s a good idea to know where you stand financially. What assets have you got already, where are they now and what are they worth?
Do you have a financial cushion – at least three months’ worth of living expenses tucked away in a safe holding place like a deposit account? Are your debts under control? Can you review your budget and find money to invest?
Getting your financial foundation in order makes sticking with an investment strategy easier for the long term.
- Start now and invest regularly
Begin investing as early as possible with as much as possible. Keep in mind that even small amounts add up over the long term. 10% of your net income is the target.
More is better. Less is okay. But make it something!
- Don’t try to fund short-term goals with long-term investments
Be sure to distinguish between short (three to five years) and long-term goals. Any assets earmarked to pay for short-term needs should be safely tucked away in deposit-type funds where there is little risk of capital loss.
- Use the power of equities
Whether you choose to invest in individual shares, or mutual funds (a collection of shares to spread the risk), be sure to invest in equities. History has shown that over the long-term, the stock market has outperformed every other type of investment – and beaten inflation.
For funding things like education and retirement – where you have many years in which to achieve your goal – there has been no better place for your money to grow. With inflation, you need to be savvy to make sure you increase the real value of your assets over time.
- Take all the free money you can get!
Put as much as you possibly can into a Pension Plan and/or other tax-advantaged investments. They offer tax advantages that can’t be beaten for long-term wealth building.
- Pay yourself first
Whether investing in a retirement plan or another investment, take advantage of automatic investment plans where money is taken directly from your bank account and invested.
This also lets you employ a strategy called ‘dollar cost averaging’ – an automatic way to take advantage of market ups and downs.
- Be realistic
Expect ups and downs, particularly when investing in the stock market. Remember the only reason shares offer potential for superior long-term returns is because they carry higher short-term risk. Before you invest be sure you have a realistic idea of what to expect in terms of risk and reward.
- Practice good defence
Proper asset allocation that is appropriate to your investment needs, age and financial goals; diversifying your investments; and dollar cost averaging; are three ways to help safeguard your assets and give you peace of mind.
- Seek guidance when/if you need it
Do-it-yourself investors can benefit from regular planning and portfolio performance check-ups, too. Planning wisely involves accounting, estate planning, tax law – even psychology. It’s no wonder that financially successful people choose to use a qualified Independent Financial Adviser on a regular basis, and research has proven that people who use such an Adviser make more money than those who don’t. Why miss out?
With many people working shorter hours in the Summer time, what better use of those extra hours than revisiting financial fundamentals. Let me know if you need help changing “wishful thinking” into a “structured plan”…………