Advertising
Advertising

Eight Investing Rules You Need To Follow To Make You Rich

Eight Investing Rules You Need To Follow To Make You Rich

Investing is like training for a marathon. Both require discipline, focus, determination, balancing risk and safety, and long-term vision. These investing rules have been tested and proven effective by generations of investors. Many people from every kind of background have followed these investing rules to wealth … which means that you can, too.

1. Start early and invest regularly

Start early

Warren Buffet once said, “If, when making a stock investment, you’re not considering holding it at least ten years, don’t waste more than ten minutes considering it.” Think of investing as training for a marathon. If you’re a couch potato, you can’t start running the week before the race and expect to win. Not only will it take a while to get in shape; you’ll need to be able to weather some injuries, illnesses, and other setbacks before race day.

Keep in mind that the longer you invest, the more you take advantage of compounding interest, and the more money you make long term. If you like numbers, just for fun, pull out a spreadsheet or calculator and start tinkering with the Rule of 72, which states that if you divide 72 by the annual rate of return, you get the number of years it will take for your investment to double in value.

Advertising

Invest regularly

If you want to run a marathon, you can’t just go out there and run a few miles once in a while and expect to see much improvement. Regular training, and regular investing, is key. If you try to do all of your marathon training at once, you’re almost guaranteed to injure yourself, and the same thing can happen if you dump a whole lot of money into one bad investment.

One nice aside about this investing rule is that you can take advantage of some nifty tax breaks every year by showing the IRS that you’re making regular contributions to an IRA or other retirement fund.

2. Choose your asset allocation — your marathon training program

Asset allocation” is the process of deciding what kinds of investments you want to make. Different investments behave differently and yield different amounts of money in the short- and long-term, and — just like marathon training — there is no one-size-fits-all investment strategy for everybody. Finding a balance between risks and rewards is a moving target that depends on a lot of variables.

Advertising

There are three traditional asset classes: equities (stocks), fixed-income (bonds), and cash and equivalents (savings accounts, certificates of deposit, money market funds). Stocks have historically yielded the highest returns for the greatest risk of the three asset classes. They’re the sprints of the marathon training world: they’re going to increase your strength and stamina the most, but will also put you at the highest risk of injury. Bonds are the middle-ground investments. They’re like tempo and other lower-intensity interval training; lower risk of injury, but also more modest benefits. Cash and cash equivalents are your steady-state running sessions and endurance miles. You’re not too likely to hurt yourself — or lose money — but they’re also going to yield the smallest returns for your effort.

3. Rebalance yearly

Rebalancing is the practice of periodically evaluating your portfolio — your “training program” — and making any tweaks to the balance between high- and low-risk investments. You could rebalance more often, but the consensus seems to say that a year gives you long enough to see how everything is doing over a longer period of time. Plus, it gives you a regular date to write in your calendar. ‘Nuff said.

4. Keep costs down

“The goal of the nonprofessional should not be to pick winners … the ‘know-nothing’ investor who both diversifies and keeps his costs minimal is virtually certain to get satisfactory results.” — Warren Buffett

Advertising

This is actually a pretty simple concept. The less you’re paying in “overhead” — fees, taxes, or heavy shoes — the more of your money (or energy) you get to keep and reinvest. Also, lower-cost investments tend to perform better than their higher-cost brothers and sisters. You don’t see too many marathoners wearing combat boots. Which brings me to the next point:

5. Make index funds the core of your portfolio

Index funds are a type of mutual fund that is built to mimic the performance of a market index such as the S&P 500. One of the features of an index fund is — you guessed it — low cost. In addition, index funds are intrinsically diverse. They include a range of high-risk and low-risk investments, all put together by professional folks who know what they’re doing and have already done all of the hard work and research for you. That’s pretty hard to beat.

6. Focus on your goal, which is to make money

Remember, this is not casual running; you’re training for a marathon. You’re not just playing with your money; you’re moving toward riches. As tempting as it might be to invest in the latest bright-and-shiny, new moneymaking concept, or to tinker with new and cool marathon training theories, if you’re just starting out, you’re better off following the investment rules set down by the generations of investors and experts who have already made the mistakes, done the research, and come up with strategies that work. After you have a nice cushion of money or a few marathons under your belt, it’s probably fine to do a little experimenting, but until then, keep it safe.

Advertising

7. Don’t try to outperform the market

This is one of my favorite investing rules. If you’re running or investing at all, you’re already ahead of 99% of the population, so relax and don’t try to outfox the market. You can’t run any faster than you can … and you can’t force your investments to perform any better than they can.

8. Don’t spend your principal

This is probably the most obvious of all of the investing rules, but once you’ve invested your money, keep your hands off of it. Spending your investment is like skipping training. You aren’t going to get ready for that marathon if you don’t run, and your money isn’t going to gather interest if you spend it on anything besides your investments.

More by this author

When You Start to Pursue Your Dreams, These 13 Things Will Happen 10 Brilliant Features Of Google Now You’ll Regret Missing Henry David Thoreau Quote 11 Free Life-Changing Books and Essays in the Public Domain 17 Benefits of Having an Animal as Your Best Friend 7 Success Tips Musicians Can Teach Us

Trending in Money

1 How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them 2 25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education 3 10 Recession-Proof Debt Consolidation Tips 4 The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever) 5 25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

Advertising

4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

Advertising

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

Advertising

5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

Advertising

3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next