How much time is considered to be short-term, near-term, and long-term?

It is generally accepted that short-term goals may require one to two years, near-term goals may require five to seven years, and long-term goals may require 10 or more years.

What types of goals should I consider before I begin to invest?

You should consider your goals for the use of your investments, in terms of short-term, near- or medium-term, and long-term. Within short-term goals, you might include such items as travel, large consumer purchases, marriage, or health care-related expenses, and perhaps even current income. Within the near- or medium-term category could be such goals as capital for a home purchase, repairs/renovations on a principal residence, creating a business, or acquiring a second home/rental property. Long-term goals could be such items as funding higher education, retirement income, or passing wealth to heirs. It is important to note that your goals may change, especially short-term goals, as your ideas and outlook changes, so you need to be flexible in establishing goals.

Even before I establish goals, what are some things that experts believe help prepare me financially for successful investing?

Experts believe that well before you begin to invest, it is prudent for you to reduce as much as you can any credit card or debt interest and finance charges you pay every month, as these payments ultimately will suppress your investment earnings. You should also have a cash emergency fund set aside that may cover three to six months of living expenses. To establish this, all you must do is identify your expenses for the past few months, and begin to find ways to save this amount to be used in case of any emergencies.

What are some other keys that may assist me in establishing investment goals?

Investing editors at U.S. News & World Report assert that in order to properly establish investing goals, you need to decide what to expect in terms of returns on your investments, set achievable goals in terms of how much you are willing to invest, determine how frequently you are going to invest, and always purchase investments you know and understand.

Even if you only started with small, piggy-bank-type savings, that regular investment can grow surpris¬ingly large if you begin saving when you

Even if you only started with small, piggy-bank-type savings, that regular investment can grow surprisingly large if you begin saving when you're in your early 20s.

What is an important consideration when I think about investing for my retirement?

When you think about establishing goals in order to fund your retirement years, it is important to consider when to begin investing. You may obtain a completely different result if you begin investing for retirement in your twenties rather than beginning to invest in your forties or fifties.

How does creating specific investment goals help me achieve my overall goals?

When you have a specific goal in mind, the goal provides you needed direction, so that you may focus your attention and behaviors toward attaining this goal. A goal may help motivate you to make necessary changes so that you may attain it. Goal-setting forces you to take responsibility for your ultimate financial situation, and with this stronger feeling of ownership of your goal, you will feel successful when you achieve it.

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