If you decide to run the Comrades Marathon, the only way you’ll manage is if you give yourself enough time to train, and if you implement a routine-driven training plan. It’s the same with investing. You need to work out a plan and stick to that plan so that you can reap the rewards down the track.
In other words, you need to get into the habit of investing well. Here’s how to do it.
1. Start with a goal
To use our Comrades example, your goal might be to run a bronze-medal time. When you’re investing, you need an equally specific goal, otherwise your saving plan will lack direction.
Retirement is an obvious goal for many people, but it doesn’t have to be your only goal. You can invest for your retirement while saving for various other goals at the same time. (Just like you can train for the Comrades by running a whole bunch of half-marathons in the lead-up.)
2. Make a plan
Once you’ve got your goals in sight, you need to make plans to reach them. The strategy you use for each goal depends on the investment timeline and the goal itself. For example, investing for retirement is a long-term goal. Leaving your money invested for decades will allow you to ride out market volatility and reap maximum benefits from compounding. Read this Slice to make sense of it all.
Maybe you also have a short-term goal of saving for an overseas holiday. In this case, you’d choose an investment product like a money market account, which might not give you the same returns as a longer-term retirement product, but it gives you instant access to the funds when you need them.
3. Be consistent
You’re running the Comrades, right? Don’t suddenly decide you’d rather paddle the Dusi! The key to successful investing is to believe in your goal and stick to your plan, regardless of the latest crypto fad or market noise.
Stay consistent with your contributions. To make sure you save each and every month, set up debit orders for your investments to automatically go into the selected strategies that fuel your goals.
4. Keep an eye on the small things
It’s important to follow your big-picture plan, but it’s just as important to keep an eye on the small things. Watch your fees, for example, and see if there’s an equivalent investment product that costs less but will still allow you to reach your goal.
Investing well also has a lot to do with cutting costs. Do you need that designer coffee from that fancy place on the corner every morning? Is that streaming subscription worth the subscription price? Cut down on smaller expenses and you’ll be able to save more each month, which means you’ll reach your investment goals faster.
5. Ask for advice
You’d be smart to enlist the help of a running coach when you’re training for the Comrades, and you’d be just as smart to seek the advice of a qualified financial planner to help create an investment plan that complements your goals. The internet can only teach you so much. A financial planner has real-world experience and will make sure that your investment portfolio is suitably diversified, that your monthly saving goal is achievable, and that your goals adapt as your career grows and your lifestyle changes.
In short, you don’t need to be on this journey alone! Good luck getting started, and here’s to years of prosperous returns.