A Lifetime Strategy For Investing: 9 Principles to Follow

A Lifetime Strategy For Investing: 9 Principles to Follow

If you want to secure your financial future, you need a long-term game plan.

A lifetime strategy for investing is the key to making sure you’re investment decisions are effective, and your retirement is in good shape.

At Wisesheets, we’ll look at nine key principles of a lifetime strategy for investing, so you can maximize returns and minimize risks over time. With the right approach and attitude, you can become more financially secure in both the short term and long term.

Let’s get started!

Why you need a lifetime strategy for investing

Having a lifetime strategy for investing is crucial for achieving your financial goals and building long-term wealth. A long-term investment plan allows you to take a more disciplined and systematic approach to investing, rather than making impulsive decisions based on short-term market fluctuations.

Risks of short-term investing:

While short-term investing (i.e., day trading) can be a rewarding way to make money, it also carries with it certain risks:

  • Higher transaction costs: Frequently buying and selling investments can result in higher fees, which can eat into your returns.
  • Missed opportunities: If you are constantly reacting to short-term market movements, you may miss out on long-term investment opportunities.
  • Emotional decision-making: It can be tempting to make investment decisions based on fear or greed in the short-term, rather than following a disciplined strategy.

Potential rewards of long-term investing:

  • Compound interest: As mentioned, the power of compound interest can result in significant growth over time.
  • Dividends: Many investments pay regular dividends, which can add to your returns over time. Check out: Live Off Dividends: How Much Money Should You Invest? 
  • Opportunity for diversification: A long-term investment horizon allows you to diversify your portfolio and spread out your risk across a variety of assets.
  • Professional management: Working with a financial advisor or investing in a professionally managed fund can help you make informed decisions and potentially improve your returns.
  • Simplicty: With the right investing strategy, you don't have to worry about checking the markets constantly and your portfolio. You can simply stock to the strategy and reap the rewards over the long-term.

Overall, it's important to keep in mind that the stock market can be volatile in the short-term but has historically trended upwards over the long term. By taking a long-term approach to investing, you can potentially mitigate some of the risks and capitalize on the potential rewards.

Principle #1: Start early

A report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College revealed that if you wait until you're 45 to start saving for retirement, you'll need to put away three times as much as someone who started at 25.

One principle that is vital to consider when it comes to investing is the importance of starting early. The power of compound interest can greatly impact the growth of your investment portfolio over time, and the earlier you start investing, the more time you have for compound interest to work in your favor.

As an example, say you start investing $100 per month at the ripe old age of 25 and earn an average annual return of 8%. By the time you're ready to retire at 65, you'll have amassed over $300,000. But if you wait until you're 35 to start investing the same amount, you'll only have around $200,000 by age 65.

See the difference? By starting early, you can potentially accumulate a substantial amount of money over the long term, even if you're only able to make small contributions initially.

But the most important thing to remember is that it's never too late to start, so don't let your age be an excuse.

Principle #2: Invest in what you understand

Another key principle of a lifetime strategy for investing is to only invest in what you understand. It's easy to get carried away by the latest hot stock or trendy sector, and while there may be potential rewards to be earned, the risks can also be high.

Do your research before investing in anything—stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds—so you know what you're getting into. Investing in what you understand will not only give you more confidence but also help you make better decisions for the long term.

Principle #3: Diversify your portfolio

If you're looking to maximize your returns while mitigating risk, diversifying your portfolio is key.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, it basically means spreading your investment dollars around a bunch of different assets, like stocks, bonds, and cash. The main reason for doing this is to minimize risk. If you put all your eggs in one basket and that basket takes a nosedive, you could be in big trouble. But if you diversify, you're spreading out the risk and giving yourself a better chance of coming out ahead in the long run.

So, how can you diversify your portfolio? Here are a few ideas:

  • Invest in different asset classes: Instead of just stocks, consider adding some bonds and cash to your portfolio as well. This can help balance out the risks of stocks and potentially provide a steadier stream of returns.
  • Invest in a variety of sectors: Rather than just focusing on one sector, like tech, consider diversifying across a range of sectors, like healthcare, energy, and finance.
  • Invest in a mix of domestic and international assets: Don't just stick to domestic investments! Adding some international exposure to your portfolio can help diversify and potentially provide additional growth opportunities.

In short, diversifying your portfolio is key to minimizing risk and maximizing your chances of success in the investing world. By following these strategies, you can create a well-rounded portfolio that's tailored to your financial goals and risk tolerance.

Principle #4: Regularly review and rebalance your portfolio

We know, we know. It can be hard to stay on top of your investments and make sure everything is going according to plan. It can be even more difficult to rebalance when a certain stock is soaring or a sector is underperforming.

But rebalancing your portfolio—or adjusting it periodically to maintain your desired asset allocation—is key to ensuring that you're staying on track with your long-term goals. It's also important for limiting any potential losses, as rebalancing allows you to reduce risk if things start to go south.

So, try to review and rebalance your portfolio at least once a year, or based on market changes or your own financial circumstances. That way, you can make sure you're staying on top of any changes in the market and adjusting your holdings accordingly.

Principle #5: Keep your investment costs low

When it comes to investing, one principle that is often overlooked is the importance of keeping your investment costs low – that means things like trading fees, management fees, and other costs associated with investing.

These costs can add up quickly and eat into your profits, so it's important to be mindful of them.

The Securities and Exchange Commission provided an example where an investor who pays a 0.25% annual fee on a $100,000 investment earning 4% per year for 20 years would end up with roughly $30,000 more than an investor who pays a 1% annual fee: $208,000 versus $179,000. 

This difference in fees could represent about a year's worth of portfolio withdrawals in retirement for someone with a $1 million portfolio. In general, a fund with high costs must perform better than a low-cost fund to generate the same returns for you.

Some tips to minimize costs include:

  • Shop around: Don't just blindly accept the first investment option you come across. Take the time to shop around and compare the fees and expenses of different options.
  • Consider index funds: Index funds, which track the performance of a particular market index, often have lower expense ratios than actively managed funds.
  • Automated investing: Automated investing services like robo-advisors are becoming more popular and can help you keep your fees low while still getting access to a diverse portfolio.
  • Negotiate: If you are working with a financial advisor or broker, don't be afraid to negotiate their fees. Some advisors may be willing to lower their fees or offer discounts to retain your business.

Principle #6: Make use of tax-advantaged accounts

In addition to minimizing your costs, another key principle of investing is to make use of tax-advantaged accounts whenever possible. These are special types of investment accounts that offer tax benefits or other perks, such as the ability to defer taxes on your earnings until later.

Examples include 401(k)s and IRAs, which both offer tax-deferred growth and the potential to reduce your taxable income. Other types of tax-advantaged accounts include 529 plans, health savings accounts (HSAs), and Roth IRAs.

By taking advantage of these accounts, you can potentially save money on taxes and maximize your investment returns over time.

Principle #7: Don't try to time the market

Timing the market is for those who like to take risks and enjoy the thrill of playing the stock market. But when it comes to investing for retirement, timing the market is rarely a good idea. That's because trying to time the market can be risky and unpredictable, and could potentially lead to significant losses in your portfolio if you're not careful.

Instead of trying to time the market, focus on developing a long-term strategy and staying patient with your investments. This means investing for the long haul, riding out the highs and lows of the markets, and making sure you're diversified across different asset classes so that you can weather any storm.

Principle #8: Set it and forget it with funds.

Another key principle of investing for retirement is to set it and forget it with funds. This simply means that you invest a lump sum of follow dollar cost averaging in an index fund or ETF (Exchange-Traded Fund) and then let it run its course over time.

Funds are especially useful for long-term investors because they offer the potential for diversification and long-term growth. Index funds, in particular, are a great option for retirement investing as they offer lower fees than actively managed funds and typically have more room for growth without the risk of market timing.

By setting it and forgetting it with funds, you'll be able to stick with your strategy over time without having to constantly monitor your investments. But, remember to check on it once in a while in case you need to make any adjustments or rebalance your portfolio.

Principle #9: Stay informed and educated about investing

Finally, one of the most important principles of investing for retirement is to stay informed and educated about the world of investing. This means reading up on investments, understanding different asset classes and strategies, and staying abreast of financial news.

An easy way to keep tabs on your investments is with a tool like Wisesheets, which lets you track your investments, study a company’s financials, and view performance in real time. You can gain access to historical statements and price data for any stock on a simple spreadsheet to help you make informed decisions like a true investor.

Stock valuation Excel

Related: The Best Stock Analysis Spreadsheets for Stock investing in 2022

It's also important to consult with a professional if you have any questions or would like advice on your portfolio. A financial advisor or broker can provide guidance and help you make informed decisions about investing for retirement.

By staying informed and educated, you'll be in a better position to make smart investment choices that are aligned with your retirement goals.

Parting words

Investing for retirement is an important part of your financial plan, and having a lifetime strategy for investing will help you stay on track. By following the nine principles outlined above, you can create a solid foundation for building wealth over time and achieving your retirement goals.

To your investing success!

Hello! I'm a finance enthusiast who fell in love with the world of finance at 15, devouring Warren Buffet's books and streaming Berkshire Hathaway meetings like a true fan.

I started my career in the industry at one of Canada's largest REITs, where I honed my skills analyzing and facilitating over a billion dollars in commercial real estate deals.

My passion led me to the stock market, but I quickly found myself spending more time gathering data than analyzing companies.

That's when my team and I created Wisesheets, a tool designed to automate the stock data gathering process, with the ultimate goal of helping anyone quickly find good investment opportunities.

Today, I juggle improving Wisesheets and tending to my stock portfolio, which I like to think of as a garden of assets and dividends. My journey from a finance-loving teenager to a tech entrepreneur has been a thrilling ride, full of surprises and lessons.

I'm excited for what's next and look forward to sharing my passion for finance and investing with others!

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