Whether you want to save for retirement, your child’s education, to buy a house, or for a rainy day, creating and committing to an investment savings plan can help you reach your financial goals—and you don’t need extensive investment knowledge to do it.
Here are four steps to financial prosperity:
1. Have a plan.
Having an investment plan for your future is like having a road map for a long road trip. This map is going to help you navigate through changes in the market and in your life, so you can reach your financial destination.
“Your plan needs to start by identifying your goals,” says Roberto Rios, ATB Financial Advisor, Digital. “What are you saving for? Do you want to purchase a home or save for retirement? Or maybe you’re saving for your child’s education? Once you decide on a goal, think about the risk you’re willing to take to achieve it. Keep in mind factors like your age, income, savings, stage of life and tax considerations. All of these things will help you create an investment plan.”
Your investment plan will help you stay on track, even though the plan might change many times as your life changes. Using an online investment tool or working with a professional financial advisor will help you update that plan as your needs change, so you don’t get off track.
2. Invest early.
The earlier you can start investing, the more prosperous you’ll be. The greatest benefit of investing early is building compound interest. Even returns on modest investments can add up over a long period of time. The longer you allow that interest to build, the more money you’ll earn.
“Not only will starting early allow you to take the greatest advantage of compound interest, it will also give you an earlier introduction to the investment world,” says Rios. “This experience and knowledge will help you make better decisions as an investor, particularly when faced with volatility.”
3. Invest often.
Investing often will allow you to further take advantage of compound interest as even small contributions add up and increase in value over time. Depending on your expenses and budget, you should be investing as often as you can. When you develop an investment plan, you will need to determine your regular living expenses and how much and how often you can save any leftover income. Setting up Pre-Authorized Contributions (PACs) can help you regularly invest a portion of your savings.
4. Diversify your portfolio.
You’ve heard the old adage, “do not put all your eggs in one basket”. When it comes to achieving financial prosperity through investing, this couldn’t be more true! You don’t want to put 100 percent of your investment dollars in one investment asset class as it will increase your risk. If that single source fails, you could be in trouble. For example, Alberta’s recovery from the 2008 recession saw many Albertans with large portfolios of oil and gas stocks, thanks in part to company share purchase plans. When the recession hit Alberta again in 2014, many people lost their jobs and saw their portfolios decrease because they were overexposed to Alberta’s main economic driver.
Having a diversified portfolio, especially one that is globally diversified, will lower your risk. For example, if an investment you have in your portfolio in the USA takes a hit, the rest of the funds in your portfolio will still carry you towards your financial goals.
“It’s important to remember that the number one person managing your finances is yourself,” says Rios. “You have to take the reigns regarding your income, expenses and savings. If you’ve built your investment plan online, additional help from a financial advisor is usually just an email or phone call away.”
If you have a plan and you’re investing in a well managed and diversified mutual fund portfolio like Compass mutual funds, you won’t have to worry about watching the news or playing the markets. A fund manager will keep an eye on things for you, look for added value and make the necessary decisions within the fund to keep you on track.
Getting started with a financial plan.
The simplest way to ensure you’re following these 4 steps is to set up a personalized investment plan with ATB Prosper. There you can fill out a simple questionnaire, put money towards your financial goal and create and manage your progress on your own dashboard. ATB has a team of financial advisors ready to help you and answer your questions along the way.