Laura answers a common question about how to start investing and which investments to choose.
If you don’t have a workplace plan, open up an Individual Retirement Arrangement or IRA. They also provide a menu of investment options or suggest a portfolio based on your age or stated risk tolerance.
For a summary of the traditional and Roth retirement account rules, plus the best places to open one up, download the free Retirement Account Comparison Chart.
Workplace plans and IRAs also come with an advisor or plan custodian who can help you choose individual funds if you aren’t sure what’s best for you. In general, getting your asset allocation right is far more important than the specific stock or bond funds you choose. But remember that if you make a mistake, you can change your asset allocation at any time.
Another key component to investing success is to choose low-cost funds. Fund fees reduce the growth in your account year after year. So look for mutual funds with fees less than 1%, or ideally less than 0.5%. If exchange-traded funds are on your menu, they offer many advantages including fees that may be far less than mutual funds.
How to Simplify Investing
To sum up, investing can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. If you want to do hours of research and spend time as a DIY investor, you can. But you can also open up a retirement account and simply choose funds based on how much stock you want to own.
There are even one-and-done funds called target date or lifecycle funds that are growing in popularity. They hold a pre-set amount of stocks and bonds based on the year you want to retire.
A target date fund owns many underlying investments and automatically updates your allocation on a regular basis so the fund is aggressive when you're young, but become more conservative as you get older. In other words, it owns fewer risky stocks and more conservative bonds as you approach your desired retirement age. It really doesn’t get any easier than that!
One of the most powerful ways to build wealth and financial security is actually pretty boring. Simply choose low-cost funds inside a retirement account and contribute 10% to 15% of your income over a long period of time.
Don’t get fooled into thinking that you have to take a lot of risk in order to be an investor. Of course, investing always carries some amount of risk. But you’re in control and can choose high risk, moderate risk, or low risk investments. It’s totally up to you.
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