Investing - An Introduction

 

The Investment Planning Process

After paying for the daily costs of living, not everyone has money left over. Those who do are either fortunate or have the foresight to save what they don’t need to spend. 

If you have extra money, put it to work for you and your family. Investing even a little at a time can bring a significant financial return in future years.

When it comes to investment planning, you are simply considering how to put your capital, that extra money you’ve saved, to work in achieving your future financial goals.

Start by Securing a Strong Financial Foundation

It’s always a good idea to establish a sound financial foundation.  Here are some basic steps that everyone should follow before investing:

Build a Financial Reserve:  Think of this as the “Rainy Day” fund your mom told you about.  Set aside the cash you need to weather an unexpected illness or short period of unemployment.  Two months worth of living expenses is a good place to start.  Put your rainy day money away in a relatively reliable but liquid investment, one that can earn money but lets you get to your funds easily in the case of an emergency.

Pay off Debts: What makes more sense?  Paying 20% and more in interest rates to credit card companies, or investing your money where it can earn dividends for you?  Pay off those high interest cards first.  Investments may provide an uncertain return, but high interest debt is sure to damage your financial future.

Get Insurance: Acquiring proper insurance is one of the best protections against financial loss.  Start today: review your home, health, auto, life and disability insurance, as well as any specialty policies you may have.  Consider increasing coverage where a loss could be devastating financially.

Max out your Retirement Contributions:  Put the maximum in your IRA, 401(k), Keogh, or other tax-deferred retirement plan*. Retirement contributions help defer income taxes*, leaving you more cash on hand to put toward your financial goals. Take full advantage of retirement plans available to you.

Want to learn more?  Call on the retirement planning professionals at the MHV Investment & Retirement Center.  Our number is 845-336-4444, ext. 3166 or 3126.  You can also email us at april.stoddard@cunamutual.com.   We’re ready to help you secure your financial future.

Continue your Financial Education

Once you’ve made the decision to become an investor, proceed cautiously.

The world of investments is unique to itself, with its own language, markets, resources, and ways of doing things. Don't dive in until you're comfortable exploring this new territory.  Here are some ways to improve your knowledge of investments:

Talk to a professional financial advisor.

Meet and learn from more experienced investors.

Do your research.  There are many websites and online resources that provide glossaries of terms and other educational information.

While it may sound old-fashioned, you should read financial newspapers and periodicals.  Subscribe if you need to or visit a library that has financial periodicals available.

Purchase books or software on investing and learn what they have to say (but select carefully - check for reviews and testimonials before your buy).

Fill out the form below or call 845.336.4444 at ext. 3166 or 3126 to schedule a no cost/no obligation appointment with one of our representatives.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 








 
 
 

 

 

Setting Goals for your Investments

To start, it’s always best to take stock of your particular situation.

Your financial status today and your expectations for the future help shape your investment decisions.  Learning who you are as an investor (your investor profile) will set the stage for which investment strategies you select.

For example, you may decide to invest a portion of your weekly wages toward your child’s college education, or set aside funds for your own retirement in 30 years. Another goal could be to make a one-time large investment for a short period, then use the return on your money to help buy that new dream house.

Understanding your Investment Personality

Understanding and accepting risk is a foundational part of investment planning.

A smart investor needs to recognize and understand risk, as well as how it is measured and its potential consequences.  Not everyone has the same tolerance for risk.

For an investment plan to work, and for you to stick with it, the plan must fit both your temperament and unique financial situation.

How to Design an Investment Portfolio

If you’ve gotten this far, your next step is to manage an investment portfolio.

So far, your efforts have resulted in some data gathering, research, and a lot of thinking. Now it’s time for some concrete decisions, matching your investment goals to various investment categories.  These could be simple investments, like Certificates, or more complex investment risks, such as stocks and real estate.

Determining how much to put into each category of investment is known as asset allocation.

No one strategy for asset allocation works for or is appropriate for everyone.  An aggressive plan can work for long-term investors who want a high return and don't need current income.  Such a plan would focus on investments with a high growth potential.

What is an aggressive investment plan?  One example would be 40 percent large company stocks, then 30 percent small company stocks, followed by 25 percent international stocks, and finishing up with 5 percent cash alternatives.

For the sake of comparison, let’s look at an investor whose priority is weighted toward current income and stability.  This investor wants to play things a bit safer.

A more conservative investment plan might consist of 13 percent large company stocks, then 7 percent international stocks, followed by 55 percent bond funds, and ending with 25 percent cash alternatives.

Any combination of investment percentages is possible, and our examples are only hypothetical. The plan that best fits you and your family depends on your own investor profile.

 

Selecting Specific Investments

Once you have a financial foundation, an investment plan, and a list of possible investments, it’s time for action, going from ideas to putting your money to work.

With the help of a financial professional, set up your first investment accounts, select specific investments, and begin building that financial portfolio in a way that is consistent with your risk tolerance, chosen strategies, and investment profile.

Managing and Monitoring the Portfolio

Once things are set in motion, you’ll find that ongoing attention is needed to keep things on track.  Unfortunately, investing in your future requires continuing monitoring and new decisions from time to time.

You need to review your plans and the performance of your investment portfolio on a regular basis. Over time, both your circumstances and the investment landscape may change, resulting in needed adjustments to your portfolio.

Financial and investment reviews can happen monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually, depending on the investments you own and your own need to monitor their performance.

Adjusting your Financial Portfolio

When you do take periodic account of your portfolio’s financial performance, you may find the need to make changes.  Remember, you set some goals for your money.  Is it living up to expectations?

Over time, it may be necessary to rebalance or even redesign your portfolio.

Rebalancing is the act of adjusting the amount invested in some categories so that the portfolio can bring its original target asset allocations back in line.

Redesigning your investment portfolio means adjusting it to take into account significant changes in the market or your personal situation.

If all this sounds overwhelming, don’t let it worry you.  Call the investment professionals at the MHV Investment & Retirement Center.  Our number is 845-336-4444, ext. 3166 or 3126.  You can also email us at april.stoddard@cunamutual.com. We can help you get started on the path to financial success.

FR-1543086.1-0716-0818 *Consult a tax advisor for additional information.


If all this sounds overwhelming, don’t let it worry you.

Call the investment professionals at the MHV Investment & Retirement Center.  Our number is 845-336-4444, ext. 3166 or 3126.  You can also email us at april.stoddard@cunamutual.com. We can help you get started on the path to financial success.

 

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