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Balancing your financial plan
Titus Maccius Plautus, a Roman comic playwright, once gave valuable advice also applicable to investors: “In all things, the middle course is the best: All things in excess bring trouble to men.” Long-term investment, likewise, requires balance. Time brings about many changes in people’s needs; what may have been useful schemes or strategies last year may no longer be so today. Experts will help us find out keep the sound and durable strategies we can use for a lifetime.
Invest in something you comprehend
For long-term investment, it is best to be aware of the matters that count. You simply cannot come in as if you are playing a game of chance in the casino. Thomas Sudyka, Jr., president of Lawson Kroeker Investment Management in Omaha, Nebraska says, “Ignorance in the business you are investing in will cause you to overlook vital information that will allow you to make meaningful and relevant decisions.”
Start investing as early as you can
Money kept on long-term basis in investments brings greater benefits than that which is kept on short-term basis. Colton Dillon of the Acoma online investment website says, “Sticking to an investment on a long-term basis gives better results and financial success to investors.” For instance, investing $1,000 from age 20 to 30 and quitting will bring greater returns than investing $1,000 yearly starting at age 30 for 35 years. At 7% annualized returns, the former will receive $168,515 at 65 against the latter’s only $147,914.
Include 401(K) match in your options
Did you know that some people miss the opportunity to use free money to build future wealth? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 30% of US employees do not avail of the employer match in their 401(K). Advises Kevin Meehan, regional president for Chicago at Wealth Management Group, “Be sure to contribute as much as you can under the employer matching contribution; or you end up leaving that free money on the table.”
Always keep a sound cash-flow management
Jesse Mackey, chief investment officer at 4Thought Financial Group at Syosset, New York, says that no other “element in investment planning and portfolio management is as essential” as cash-flow management. The key is simple but vital: Invest automatically during your working years, monthly at least. He adds that investors, who do this, while keeping eyes on how needs change through the years, will have a 90% chance of achieving their personal goals.
Keep emotions from your goals
It is never wise to treat investment potentials as if they were sports because it will lead to problems. Kenneth Hoffman, managing director and partner at High Tower’s HSW Advisors in New York City, says, “Keeping your emotions separate from your goal of owning assets will allow for better general decision-making and performance. Being more open-minded and being unfettered by emotional attachments will lead to investing in more undervalued assets.”
Shift from discretionary spending to investing
People who delay investing for years usually confuse needs with wants. Such expenses as cellphone bills, cable TV plans and various promotional offers tend to become essential and the closet-investor remains trapped in, according to Stig Nybo, president of US retirement strategy for Transamerica Solutions in San Francisco. He adds, “Investing takes discretionary income; and discretionary income requires discipline. Give up those things that have become staple in your life but unnecessary.”
Stash away investments and cash reserves in separate boxes
It is difficult to resist the temptation of using investment money at the wrong time, according to Harold Evensky, Texas Tech University professor in the practice in personal financial planning. He advises to balance the funds you will need for the coming 3 to 5 years (the average economic life cycle) between a money market account and a high-quality short-term bonds; and you will not need to lose an investment. Even in the event of a crash, you will have the cash you need.
Focus on stocks
Stocks are one the best ways to create wealth, according to Zach Shepard, vice-president for Matson Money in Phoenix. He adds that investors use stocks to allow them to fight inflation and to enhance their portfolio. In spite of the market’s underperformance in the 60’s and 70’s, Standard and Poor’s 500 index has averaged a return of 7.5% on 20-year periods since 1926.
Diversify to prepare for the rough times
Many sad stories are told about investors who stuck to only one stock or asset, according to Jimmy Lee, Wealth Consulting Group’s founder and CEO in Las Vegas. He adds that diversifying over various types of stocks as well as within classes of assets is the best investment strategy. He gives as a good example equities which come in different types in terms of market capitalization, foreign or US or growth vis-à-vis value. In a declining market, diversification may not assure one of growth or loss protection; but it provides a smoother journey for investors.
Adjust when necessary but never panic
In general, portfolios requires small adjustments over time rather than complete reworking, which most investors resort to when the market slumps. Dave Rowan, founder and president of Rowan Financial LLC in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, describes investing as a sustained endeavor and not a game in sports which require adjustments every single moment. Rather than timing the market and acting wildly, make small and seldom tweaks only when necessary.