If one of your New Year's resolutions is to get healthier, you may already be taking the necessary steps, such as improving your diet and increasing your exercise. Of course, physical fitness is important to your well-being – but, at the same time, don't forget about your financial fitness. Specifically, what can you do to ensure your investment situation is in good shape?
Here are a few "healthy living" suggestions that may also apply to your investment portfolio:
• Build endurance – Just as exercise can help build your endurance for the demands of a long life, a vigorous investment strategy can help you work toward your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. In practical terms, this means you will need to own some investments with the potential to provide long-term growth. These are the investments that, ideally, you can hold on to for decades and eventually reap the benefits of capital appreciation. Of course, growth-oriented investments, such as most types of stocks, will rise and fall in value over the short term, and there's no guarantee of profits, or even preserving principal. But if you choose wisely, and you've got the patience and discipline to hold on to your investments through the market's ups and downs, you may well be rewarded.
• Maintain an ideal "weight" – You can help yourself stay healthy by maintaining your ideal weight. This can be challenging – as you know from the recently finished holiday season, it's easy to put on a few extra pounds. And, just as inadvertently, your portfolio can tack on some unneeded weight, too, in the form of redundant investments. Over time, you may have picked up too many similar investment vehicles, resulting in an overconcentration, or "flabbiness," that can work against you, especially when a market downturn affects the asset class in which you're overloaded. So, you might be better off liquidating some of your duplicate, or near-duplicate, investments, and using the proceeds to help broaden your investment mix.
• Get proper rest – Many studies have shown that we need adequate rest to stay alert and healthy. In your life, you've probably already found that if you over-tax your body, you pay a price in your overall well-being. If you look at your investment portfolio as a living entity – which, in a way, it is, as it certainly provides life to your goals and aspirations – then you can see that it, too, can be weakened by stress. And one of the main stress factors is excessive trading. If you're constantly buying and selling investments in an attempt to boost your returns, you may rack up hefty fees, commissions and taxes – and still not really get the results you wanted. Plus, if you're frequently moving in and out of different investments, you'll find it hard to follow a unified, long-term strategy. So, confine your trading to those moves that are really essential – and give your portfolio a rest.
To enjoy your life fully, you'll want to take care of your physical and financial health – and, as it turns out, you can make similar types of moves to help yourself in both areas.
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By Joan Casanova, Bonnie Plants,
Photographs courtesy of Bonnie Plants
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