Many of us tend to overcomplicate things when talking about investment strategies, but the foundational concept is actually quite simple: Choosing the right vehicle at the right time can help you reach your goals faster and more efficiently.
So how do you choose your investment vehicles? And how do you make sure you’re selecting the opportunities that get you closest to your goals, especially when there are so many options to choose from?
In this article, I’ll walk you through a 4-step process you can use to build an investing strategy that aligns with your unique goals and circumstances. Whether you’re making your first investment or you’re an experienced investor trying to evaluate a new opportunity, I believe this process can work for you.
1. Understand Your Goals and Motivations
What is your ultimate goal behind your investing? It seems like an obvious question, but I’ve seen too many people invest because they feel like they should, and not because they’re actively working toward a target destination.
Remember to make your goals specific so you can stay motivated and easily track your progress. Maybe you want to be able to leave your 9-5 in the next 10 years. Maybe you want to have a certain number of dollars in your qualified accounts so you can retire. Or maybe you’re working toward a more immediate goal, like setting aside money for your child’s college education.
Answering these questions will help guide you through the next three steps as you decide on the specific types of investments that make the most sense for you. But just as importantly, they also help you identify your investing “why.”
No matter what you’re investing in, you’ll likely reach a point where you start to doubt yourself or feel like giving up. When that happens, having a clear goal in mind can keep you motivated and remind you what you’re working toward.
2. Identify the Investment Benefits that Align with Your Goals
Once you’ve outlined your end goals, it’s much easier to narrow down the specific expectations you have for your investments.
For example, if you’re focused on investing for retirement, you’re more likely to benefit from investments that require a long-term commitment than you would if you’re investing for a short-term goal and need a lot of liquidity.
With these details in mind, you can then evaluate potential investments more strategically.
3. Build Your Team
Once you understand the specific goals you’re trying to achieve and the general investment types that might help you achieve those goals, it’s time to bring in the experts.
Your team will look different depending on the type of assets you’re investing and the amount you’re investing. When you’re first starting out, your team may simply be a financial advisor and an accountant. But it also could include brokers, lending partners, operators, attorneys, other advisors, and more.
Remember those goals you identified in step one? Look for people who have a track record of helping people achieve those same goals. You’ll also want to find people who are experienced with the type of opportunities you're interested in exploring.
4. Find Your Investment Opportunities
Here’s a secret that many new investors don’t realize: The type of asset you invest in matters much less than the benefits it affords you. And once you’ve laid the foundation in steps one through three, it’s much easier to sift through all the opportunities available to you and find the ones that align with your goals and needs.
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