How Much Money Should You Invest?

Many first time investors think that they should invest all of their savings. This isn’t necessarily true. To determine how much money you should invest, you must first determine how much you actually can afford to invest, and what your financial goals are. First, let’s take a look at how much money you can currently afford to invest. Do you have savings that you can use? If so, great! However, you don’t want to cut yourself short when you tie your money up in an investment. What were your savings originally for? It is important to keep three to six months of living expenses in a readily accessible savings account – don’t invest that money! Don’t invest any money that you may need to lay your hands on in a hurry in the future. So, begin by determining how much of your savings should remain in your savings account, and how much can be used for investments. Unless you have funds from another source, such as an inheritance that you’ve recently received, this will probably be all that you currently have to invest. Next, determine how much you can add to your investments in the future. If you are employed, you will continue to receive an income, and you can plan to use a portion of that income to build your investment portfolio over time. Speak with a qualified financial planner to set up a budget and determine how much of your future income you will be able to invest. With the help of a financial planner, you can be sure that you are not investing more than you should – or less than you should in order to reach your investment goals. For many types of investments, a certain initial investment amount will be required. Hopefully, you’ve done your research, and you have found an investment that will prove to be sound. If this is the case, you probably already know what the required initial investment is. If the money that you have available for investments does not meet the required initial investment, you may have to look at other investments. Never borrow money to invest, and never use money that you have not set aside for investing!

Determine Your Risk Tolerance

Each individual has a risk tolerance that should not be ignored. Any good stock broker or financial planner knows this, and they should make the effort to help you determine what your risk tolerance is. Then, they should work with you to find investments that do not exceed your risk tolerance. Determining one’s risk tolerance involves several different things. First, you need to know how much money you have to invest, and what your investment and financial goals are. For instance, if you plan to retire in ten years, and you’ve not saved a single penny towards that end, you need to have a high risk tolerance – because you will need to do some aggressive – risky – investing in order to reach your financial goal. On the other side of the coin, if you are in your early twenties and you want to start investing for your retirement, your risk tolerance will be low. You can afford to watch your money grow slowly over time. Realize of course, that your need for a high risk tolerance or your need for a low risk tolerance really has no bearing on how you feel about risk. Again, there is a lot in determining your tolerance. For instance, if you invested in the stock market and you watched the movement of that stock daily and saw that it was dropping slightly, what would you do? Would you sell out or would you let your money ride? If you have a low tolerance for risk, you would want to sell out… if you have a high tolerance, you would let your money ride and see what happens. This is not based on what your financial goals are. This tolerance is based on how you feel about your money! Again, a good financial planner or stock broker should help you determine the level of risk that you are comfortable with, and help you choose your investments accordingly. Your risk tolerance should be based on what your financial goals are and how you feel about the possibility of losing your money. It’s all tied in together.

The Budget – The Ultimate Financial Management Tool

A carpenter uses a set of house plans to build a house. If he didn’t the bathroom might get overlooked altogether. Rocket Scientists would never begin construction on a new booster rocket without a detailed set of design specifications. Yet most of us go blindly out into the world without an inkling of an idea about finances and without any plan at all. Not very smart of us, is it? A money plan is called a budget and it is crucial to get us to our desired financial goals. Without a plan we will drift without direction and end up marooned on a distant financial reef. If you have a spouse or a significant other, you should make this budget together. Sit down and figure out what your joint financial goals are…long term and short term. Then plan your route to get to those goals. Every journey begins with one step and the first step to attaining your goals is to make a realistic budget that both of you can live with. A budget should never be a financial starvation diet. That won’t work for the long haul. Make reasonable allocations for food, clothing, shelter, utilities and insurance and set aside a reasonable amount for entertainment and the occasional luxury item. Savings should always come first before any spending. Even a small amount saved will help you reach your long term and short term financial goals. You can find many budget forms on the internet. Just use any search engine you choose and type in “free budget forms”. You’ll get lots of hits. Print one out and work on it with your spouse or significant other. Both of you will need to be happy with the final result and feel like it’s something you can stick to.

Avoiding Impulse Spending

Answer these questions truthfully: 1.) Does your spouse or partner complain that you spend too much money? 2.) Are you surprised each month when your credit card bill arrives at how much more you charged than you thought you had? 3.) Do you have more shoes and clothes in your closet than you could ever possibly wear? 4.) Do you own every new gadget before it has time to collect dust on a retailer’s shelf? 5.) Do you buy things you didn’t know you wanted until you saw them on display in a store? If you answered “yes” to any two of the above questions, you are an impulse spender and indulge yourself in retail therapy. This is not a good thing. It will prevent you from saving for the important things like a house, a new car, a vacation or retirement. You must set some financial goals and resist spending money on items that really don’t matter in the long run. Impulse spending will not only put a strain on your finances but your relationships, as well. To overcome the problem, the first thing to do is learn to separate your needs from your wants. Advertisers blitz us hawking their products at us 24/7. The trick is to give yourself a cooling-off period before you buy anything that you have not planned for. When you go shopping, make a list and take only enough cash to pay for what you have planned to buy. Leave your credit cards at home. If you see something you think you really need, give yourself two weeks to decide if it is really something you need or something you can easily do without. By following this simple solution, you will mend your financial fences and your relationships.