Once you get a handle on a few investment basics financial planning and investment management get a whole lot easier. Here are 5 investment basics or factors you need to consider before investing money.
Much of financial planning involves investment management and selecting the best investments to reach your financial goals. There are long-term goals like accumulating money for retirement or earning more investment income in retirement. And there are shorter-term goals like putting money aside for future college expenses, for a cash reserve, or for a down payment on a new house. What investment basics should you consider before investing money earmarked for specific goals? Keep in mind that the first step in financial planning is to define your financial goals.
For shorter-term goals SAFETY and LIQUIDITY are the investment basics that take center stage. Here you are investing money that needs to be safe and available when you need it. The best investments in this case are the likes of bank CDs and savings accounts, money market mutual funds and perhaps short-term bond funds. Don’t earmark stock funds or other riskier investments for short term goals. The cash you need might not be available when you need it if the market goes south at the wrong time.
If you are doing financial planning to accumulate a retirement nest egg you have a long- term financial goal, and GROWTH and TAX ADVANTAGES are the investment basics to concentrate on. Growth simply refers to earning a higher return over the long term. The best investments for most people here are stock funds, which come in many varieties. How much of your investment portfolio you allocate to stocks will depend on your age and risk tolerance. Here is where investing money in stocks and accepting more risk makes good sense. If you have a bad year or two you’ve got time to recover and won’t need to liquidate or sell at a loss… because you have this money earmarked for retirement, and other funds like a cash reserve to cover short-term needs.
Look for tax advantages when investing money for retirement. In a 401k or traditional IRA most people can accumulate money tax-deferred, with a tax deduction each year you add to it. There is no limit imposed by the IRS on the amount you can invest in a tax deferred annuity, and a Roth IRA offers tax-free investing. If you invest $5000 a year into a stock fund averaging 10% growth per year in a tax-free or tax-deferred account your money grows to $286,000 in 20 years. This money can continue to grow uninterrupted by taxes until you start pulling money out in retirement. In a Roth plan there will be no income taxes to pay if you follow the rules.
The last factor to consider is INCOME. For most people in search of higher income or interest, bonds and bond funds have been the best investments over the years. Millions of retired folks invest in bonds to supplement their income. Investing money in bonds for the income they produce is secondary for average younger investors, who should include bond funds in their retirement portfolio primarily to add balance and decrease overall risk. Please note that bonds and the funds that invest in them are not without risk. There are numerous articles available on the subject.
Now you know the 5 things you need to consider in investment management, selection and financial planning. I call them the investment basics. Don’t invest money without them.