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Investing in your future is something that can seem very overwhelming when you start to think about it. With all of the different ways to invest, plus confusing terminology and the fact that it’s your money, establishing a good investment portfolio might seem like it’s out of reach for you.
To help make the process of investing for your future a little less daunting, we’ve compiled a list of things you should know when it comes to making smart investment choices.
1. Choose Your Goals
First of all, you should decide if you want to learn about investing or if you want to leave it to the professionals. Even if you prefer to not do the work of making the investments, you should at least learn the basics so that you can have some degree of control over your money.
Once you’ve made this decision, you should create long-term and short-term goals for your money. For most people, the long-term goal is a comfortable retirement, but there are plenty of other long-term goals you should think about as well. For example, are you hoping to buy a house in the next few years? Are you hoping to backpack across Europe 10 years from now? There’s no wrong answer to the question of long-term financial goals.
The same goes for short-term goals. This could be as simple as having money for next summer’s vacation or buying a new car. It could even be to simply bolster your emergency cash fund. Whatever is most important to you is what you should focus on.
2. Learn About Long-term Options
For long-term investments, there are several different ways to build a good portfolio. Unfortunately, most people don’t necessarily understand the difference between an IRA and a 401(k). Before you can make smart choices, you need to understand what those choices are.
An individual retirement account, or IRA, allows you to make tax-deductible contributions into an account that will accrue interest over time. Taxes are deferred until retirement, when your taxation rates tend to drop. This allows you to grow your money interest-free and save quite a bit on taxes in the long run.
A 401(k) is typically offered through an employer. Contributions can be made easily straight from your paycheck, and most corporations will match your contributions to a certain point. These accounts make it easy to invest, and if your employer matches your shares, then you’re essentially getting free money.
If retirement isn’t specifically your goal, there are taxable accounts and college savings accounts that offer more flexibility and access to your money.
Of course, there are also stocks and bonds to consider as well. If you’re going to jump into the stock market, however, be sure you have a thorough understanding of how it all works. It’s always helpful to have a knowledgeable financial advisor in these cases.
3. Consider Short-term Options
If you’re going to need your money within a period of less than five years, you should look into options like certificates of deposit, or CDs; money market accounts; real estate investments or commodities. All of these opportunities have their pros and cons, so you should definitely consult with an experienced financial advisor before deciding on any of these investment routes.
This is especially true if you are thinking of investing in real estate or commodities because these ventures tend to be much higher risk than your other options.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Play it Safe
There are plenty of investors out there who will insist that “bigger risk equals bigger reward.” In theory, that makes sense. In practice, however, it just isn’t true. Generally speaking, taking on big risks can wreak havoc in even the best portfolios.
Unless you have a sizable chunk of disposable income or a steel stomach when it comes to risk, it’s best to make the bulk of your investment into safe, stable options. They may grow more slowly, but slow and steady growth is better in the long run than huge gains followed by serious losses.
About Agora Financial
Agora Financial is a 100 percent independent financial publication that seeks to provide readers with unbiased market commentary. The editors and contributors to Agora Financial’s paid and free publications strive to keep the public informed on every important aspect of the financial markets.
Because the Agora Financial editors are focused on facts, they are able to make bold, accurate predictions about major market events. A few examples of this include correctly predicting the tech bubble, the housing bubble, the collapse of Lehman Bros. and the bankruptcy of American Airlines.
Executive publisher Addison Wiggin and the Agora editorial team are consistently challenging the status quo and keeping the traditional media on its proverbial toes by offering blunt, insightful views on what many other outlets would consider sensitive or controversial topics. If you ever want a brutally honest, frighteningly accurate glimpse into the financial sector, look no further than Agora Financial.
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