What are some steps to establishing the right goals for investing?

At the onset, you should be able to articulate the reason why you are investing in the first place. The reason for this is that by illuminating each reason, you can see why you are investing, and each activity's time horizon. Perhaps your goal is retirement savings, so that you accumulate enough capital to fund your living expenses during your retirement years. Depending on your age at the time you invest, this goal could be long term. Perhaps you wish to invest your money to fund educational expenses that you may need in a few years. This reason to invest may have a short- or medium-term time horizon, and would require different strategies and risks. It is good to have a clear expectation in terms of what returns you would like to see, perhaps on an annual basis. You must decide what percent return you wish to obtain, and what you are willing to lose during this term. As in all complex projects, it is good to divide your goals into attainable subgoals. You should begin investing in choices that you understand, and that match your competency. You also need to have a clear understanding as to how much time you should spend managing your investing activity, as some investment choices may require you to spend more time researching, reading, and deciding than others.

What is another important step in setting my financial goals?

You should understand that to be successful at investing, you must have a clear picture of where you are today, a snapshot of your financial picture. This analysis is not difficult to perform, but it does require some time. If you know where you are today, then you have a value with which to compare your investing strategies and to measure how they contribute or detract from your goals and objectives.

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