Investing is an important part of your financial health. In addition, the right investments can prepare you for a comfortable retirement. It can also create financial security that allows many other useful activities throughout life.
At least investing can do these things if it’s done the right way† The problem is choosing the right options from the endless number of investments available.
Many professionals try to be formal and give their “11 Herbs and Spices Recipe for Success”. These can be helpful, but ultimately each individual has to tailor their investment strategy to themselves.
With that in mind, here are some important investment rules, a list of some examples of different investment options, and some questions to ask yourself when selecting the best investments to prepare for retirement.
The three goals of retirement
When discussing retirement, most goals, takeaways, and activities focus on: three fundamental principles†
- Safety: Investing can provide a sense of financial security.
- Income: Investing can generate consistent income.
- capital growth: Investing can increase wealth by buying, holding and selling growth assets.
Typically, all investments revolve around these three fundamentals in one form or another. Depending on your strategy and age, one of the three may be prominent. It is also important to realize that you can prioritize one over the other at different points in your investing timeline.
Different types of asset classes
In addition to understanding the three fundamental motives behind investing, it’s worth considering some of the: different categories where most investments can fall under. Most investments are growth-oriented or defensive.
Growth investments are for long-term investments. They are focused on accumulating wealth and tend to experience longer upward and downward trends over time.
Good examples of growth investments are things like stocks or owning real estate (we define both below). These usually have certain elements with a higher risk and do not pay dividends. Still, historically they tend to grow in value if given enough time.
As the name implies, defensive investments tend to downplay the risk factor and focus more on safety and generating consistent income.
Common defensive investments include bonds and cash (again, we define both below). These are more stable investments for retirement that can generate profits, interest and dividends, but does not tend to grow in their inherent value.
Some common investment options
At this point, we’ve discussed the fundamentals of investing: safety, income, and capital appreciation. We have also divided most investment options into two categories: growth and defensive investments.
These are the main building blocks you can use to make decisions and guide your investment strategy. However, they are only theoretical definitions.
When you’re going to build an investment strategy and actually put these concepts into practice, you need to do it by committing to actual investment options. Here are some of the most common ones available to most investors:
High-yield savings accounts
This is one way to invest your money. Instead of using a checking account, you can put your money aside in a special savings account or similar option where your money can yield a higher return.
This is a good way to ensure that your money generates some sort of income. However, it is generally low risk and thus low reward.
Bonds are essentially when you lend money to another entity. In return, you get your investment back with interest in installments over a pre-agreed period.
Bonds can come from multiple places. For example, both governments and corporations can issue and pay back bonds to those who buy them.
Shares are shares of ownership in a company. They give companies a way to raise money and in return everyone with a share owns a piece of their company.
Two common types of stocks include growth stocks, which have the potential to increase in value, and dividend stocks, which pay a steady stream of dividends.
Funds are organizations or entities that pool cash from multiple investors and then distribute it across several stocks. This reduces risk while still allowing investors to own a wide variety of stocks.
Dedicated companies manage mutual funds. Index funds follow the trajectory of full market indices, such as the S&P 500† ETFs are exchange-traded funds that also tend to track indexes.
Buying real estate is one of the oldest forms of investment in the history of civilization. By selling a home, buying a rental property, or even just owning a home, you can take advantage of the vigor of long-term real estate.
The only problem with this is that the barrier to entry for real estate can be high. Fortunately, there are other related options, such as buying are they (real estate investment fund). This allows you to take advantage of the income stream from existing real estate.
If you want to own real estate right away, but don’t have the money, you can also look into: tokenized real estate† Innovative companies like RedSwan CRE fractionate ownership of commercial real estate, giving individual investors access to multimillion-dollar investment opportunities – usually reserved for super-wealthy investors – for as little as $1,000 dollars. With recent fears in the financial and crypto industry, RedSwan offers a more stable investment option in the crypto world.
Finally, there is the broad category of alternative investments. This includes all things that don’t fall under the umbrella of traditional investing.
For example, cryptocurrency is a good alternative investment when it is taken into retirement in an emotionless and diversified manner (ie don’t put all your money in meme coins). Certain NFT projects also have the potential to appreciate in value over time – although it is important to be very careful as most projects lose value.
Other alternative investment ideas include peer-to-peer lending, investing in collectibles, and even becoming an angel investor or starting your own business.
Questions to ask when choosing investments
As you prepare to build a financial strategy and choose the best investments for yourself, here are some key questions to get you started (and then stay on the right track):
- Do you have a financial step-by-step plan? This should do everything from considering your current spending to assessing potential future needs and even planning things like rebalancing your portfolio later on.
- What are your financial goals? Clear, achievable goals are a necessity when creating your financial roadmap. These should complement your roadmap and help you determine what is “enough” when it comes to your investment success.
- What is my risk tolerance? There are risks associated with all investing, but how much risk are you willing to take? Remember that risk should not be the only factor. However, the higher your risk, the greater your profit can be.
- Do I have an emergency fund? Goes hand in hand with risk potential, and emergency fund is ground zero for safe investing. If you want to put your hard-earned money on the line by investing it for the long term, make sure you have a solid rainy day fund ready to save you from any short-term problems you may encounter in the meantime.
- Can I regularly add to my investments? Lump sum savings can sometimes be effective, but if you really want to prepare for retirement, you need to top up your savings regularly. This also allows you to take advantage of the power of dollar cost averagingspreading your risk.
Additional questions to ask:
- What are my unique circumstances? Are there elements of your situation — such as starting a family or working as a contractor with fluctuating income — that affect how you prepare for retirement and especially investing?
- How old am I? Your age plays a major role in how you invest. For example, if you’re in your twenties, you probably need to focus on high-risk securities such as stocks. However, if you are in your 60s, the ratio between stocks and bonds should be closer to equal.
- Are my investments (or future investments) diversified? Diversification is a critical element of any investment portfolio. Just because you like a particular investment option doesn’t mean you should invest excessively in that area. Make sure to regularly assess how balanced your portfolio is.
- Can you enlist professional help? Finally, is it possible to get the help of a professional in planning things? This could be a service provided by your employer or it could be an outside financial expert. Either way, this can help you maximize your investments as early as possible.
From understanding the basics of investing to asking the right questions to understanding your options, there are many ways you can make sure you choose the right investments for retirement. Most importantly, take the time to prepare. Lay the groundwork now so you can make wise decisions from the start as you prepare for a comfortable retirement that meets all of your financial needs.
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