ARE YOU ON TRACK TOWARD YOUR FINANCIAL OBJECTIVES?
It’s been almost two years since turmoil began in the financial markets. And during that time, your own financial picture, along with that of virtually every other investor, has probably changed. Still, you can do a lot to get back on track toward the future you’ve envisioned — and you can start today.
What moves should you make? Here are a few to consider:
• Assess your current situation. You’re well aware of the change in your portfolio’s value over the past two years, and you may well have already made some adjustments. But if you’re going to position yourself properly for the future, you need to review your entire financial situation: your savings, spending, investments, insurance and income needs. Only then can you chart the course that’s right for you.
• Re-evaluate your goals. Since you are already reviewing your financial picture, now is a good time to also re-examine your goals. Would you like to help pay for a child’s college education? Do you know when you plan to retire? When you do retire, what sort of lifestyle do you envision? If you haven’t already done so, identify your goals and try to put a price tag on them.
• Review your strategy for reaching your goals. Once you know about how much money your goals may require, you’ll need to review your savings and investment strategies to determine if they are likely to provide sufficient funds. You’ll need to look at your investment mix to see if it’s providing the right combination of growth and income opportunities. At the same time, you’ll want to analyze your feelings about investment risk. Before the market decline, many investors believed they were more comfortable with risk than they actually were. Because different investments carry different levels of risk, it’s essential that you know your risk tolerance and factor it into your investment decisions.
• Start making necessary changes. To attain the goals you’ve identified, you may well need to make some changes. For example, during the most recent bear market, the value of your growth-oriented investments likely fell considerably, which means these investments may now make up a smaller percentage of your portfolio, relative to income-oriented vehicles. Yet to achieve your long-term objectives, you may need a good amount of exposure to investments that have the potential to provide growth, such as stocks. Consequently, you may need to rebalance your portfolio, possibly with the help of a professional financial advisor — someone who knows your goals, risk tolerance, family situation and other key factors.
• Be flexible. After you’ve identified your goals and revised your investment strategy accordingly, you have taken some important steps — but you’re still not done. None of us can predict what will happen in our lives, and as we’ve seen, the financial markets are equally unpredictable. So you will need to be flexible with your investment moves and prepared to make changes as necessary.
In short, establish an investment strategy that’s right for your needs and follow it as best you can, but be prepared to adjust your path as time goes by. By staying diligent, you can help yourself advance toward your important goals — in all economic environments.
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