You should start from a solid foundation if you want to be successful at stock investing. Remember that a solid investment strategy starts with knowing how much money you have to work with. And you can only know that if you have a reasonable budget that you are planning on sticking to.
Get Help From A Financial Planner
The best way to do this is to get a financial planner. You really need someone else who is objective to help you develop a comprehensive approach to your investment strategy. Don’t go it alone unless you absolutely have to.
They will help you point stuff out that you might not be able to see. For example, if you have a high interest personal loan floating out there, it is better to pay that off first with your savings than to invest it in the stock market. Those things may be overlooked if you don’t have a financial advisor. Get good help and you will do better in the long term.
Investment Strategies Change with Budget
The plain fact is that the way you invest will morph as you have more or less money. That is why it is important to budget first.
If you have less money to invest each month, you will need to be a lot more conservative. This is especially true if you are close to retirement. You don’t want to lose your entire nest egg investing in risky stocks. You may even want to consider US Treasury bonds or money market funds.
But if you have gobs of surplus income every month, than you can play with it a little. You will most likely want to keep a portion in something conservative like a large cap mutual fund or S&P 500 index fund.
Then you will want to take what you don’t need for retirement and invest it in some riskier assets like small cap stocks. You may even want to consider gold, especially at a time like this where the future value of the US dollar is very suspect.
In any case, you won’t know how much risk you can take if you don’t know what your monthly budget it.
Investing is Not Get-Rich-Quick
Most people start out thinking about investing in stocks as a get-rich-quick scheme. The cold hard reality is that true, healthy investing takes time and discipline. And at the end of the day, you will make more money if you have more money to work with from the beginning.
David Chung is a popular finance writer. You can find more tips on budgeting and investing from him at Finance World, a personal finance online magazine.