Originally answered Aug 18, 2019
Top Ten Tips
- Sign up for automatic monthly investments. Keep these going until you retire.
- Contribute the maximum amount matched by your employer to your 401K or the maximum allowed tax-deferred amount to your IRA.
- Don’t try to time the market. Buy and hold to invest for the long-term.
- Don’t panic when the market drops. Don’t sell because you are afraid of falling prices. Instead, buy even more when prices are depressed.
- Don’t look at your portfolio every day. Leave it alone and review it quarterly. Re-balance your portfolio yearly to maintain your desired mix of stocks, bonds, and real estate.
- Don’t hold on to bad investments waiting for the them to return to what you paid for them before selling. Sell them now and replace them with better ones.
- Don’t hold too many different investments and retirement plans. Consolidate them into just a few for ease of monitoring and managing them.
- Don’t assume that you need to pay others to manage your investments or give you advice. You can do it yourself, or with free basic help from companies like Fidelity, TIAA, and Vanguard. Invest in an Asset Allocation Fund and/or a Target Retirement Year Fund (see below) and leave the active management to the fund manager.
- Pay no attention to brokers calling you with advice, don’t listen to hot stock tips, and don’t follow fads.
- Invest in no-load mutual funds, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), and real estate portfolios. Diversify your portfolio, either with managed asset allocation funds, or with a small amount of index funds and real estate. These should include:
- Stock Funds
- Small Cap
- Mid Cap
- Large Cap
- Total Market or S&P 500
- Bond Funds
- Money Market Fund
- Real Estate
- REITs (Real Estate Investment Trust)
- Direct real estate portfolio
No-load Mutual Funds
- Diversification of assets
- Low costs (for good no-load funds such as Fidelity, TIAA, and Vanguard)
- Professional management
- Automated management (for index funds)
- Easy to use automatic investments to achieve dollar-cost averaging
- Easy to buy, sell, and transfer assets
- Can be as broad (total market index) or narrow (industry sector) a focus as desired
- Can be left alone to compound over time through automatic reinvestment of dividends
- Stocks, bonds, international, REITs, or combinations are all available.
- Single fund options (e.g., target retirement year) make investing easy.
To evaluate mutual funds, use tools such as:
- Morningstar tools
- Fidelity fund evaluator
- TIAA investment comparison tool
- Vanguard investment calculator
Here are specific investments to consider:
- Asset Allocation Funds
- Target Retirement Year Funds
- Managed Payout Funds
- 529 College Savings Plans
- Real Estate
- Zero Expense Ratio and Zero Minimum Investment Funds
- Fidelity ZERO Large Cap Index Fund (FNILX) seeks to provide investment results that correspond to the total return of a broad range of large-capitalization U.S. companies.
- Fidelity ZERO Extended Market Index Fund (FZIPX) seeks to provide investment results that correspond to the total return of a broad range of mid- to small-capitalization U.S. companies.
- Fidelity ZERO Total Market Index Fund (FZROX) seeks to provide investment results that correspond to the total return of a broad range of publicly traded companies in the US.
- Fidelity ZERO International Index Fund (FZILX) seeks to provide investment results that correspond to the total return of foreign developed and emerging stocks.