Don’t just wing it
Would you attempt to build a treehouse without a plan? Personally, we’d research various treehouse designs. How many children will use it? How big does it need to be? Would it be better to build a small treehouse close to the ground now and a larger, higher treehouse when our children are older? Which of our trees can accommodate such a treehouse? How much wood and hardware do we need? What type of wood and hardware do I need? Wow! We sure need a plan.
What are your goals?
What are you saving for? Are you saving for a new car? Are you saving for your children’s tuition? Are you saving to purchase a vacation home? Are you saving for retirement? Are you saving in order to be able to leave money to your children or to your favorite charity?
How much time do you have?
Think about this in two ways. First, how much time do you have to reach a particular goal? If your children will need tuition in exactly five years, then you have no time flexibility. If you plan to retire 25 to 30 or so, you have quite a bit more flexibility. Second, how much time do you have left as a person. Sadly, none of us live forever, and if you are 25 years old you have a lot more time flexibility than a person who is 70 years old.
What is your financial situation?
In terms of current savings and investments, what do you have right now? It’s pretty obvious, but the more you have now, the easier it will be to achieve your goals. It will also give you some flexibility in terms of the types of investments you can make. With more money, you will be able to take on more risk and possibly achieve even more goals.
What is your regular financial budget?
How much money can you afford to regularly contribute to your investment portfolio? In much the same way, the more money you can afford to regularly contribute and help grow your savings and investments, the more flexibility you will have in terms of asset class choices and risk acceptance.
Tailor your plan
Given your goals, goal specific time horizons, current financial situation and your ability regularly contribute to your savings and investment accounts, you have the building blocks to tailor your investments specifically to your personal situation.