These are uncertain times for investors. Markets are up one day and down the next.
Like many people right now, you may be asking: How do I get my savings and investments back on track?
First, you’ll want to assess your current financial situation and how you are feeling about your personal circumstances in general.
Is building up a short-term emergency fund a priority for you?
Or do you need to review your longer-term plans - like saving for retirement or a large purchase?
Maybe you’ve stayed invested despite the recent turbulence in the market and you’re trying to figure out how to move forward.
Perhaps you are trying to figure out how to reach your goals with your paycheck.
Or you’re keeping extra savings in cash in your bank account and are unsure of when or how to get back into investing.
You see, once you hit “pause,” it can be hard to start investing again. If the market is falling, you may worry about losing money. So you wait and watch.
If the market starts to race back up, you may worry you’ve already missed out on the opportunity. So again you wait, thinking you’ll invest when markets drop a bit again.
How do you begin to take control – and move forward?
For many people, the easiest way to step back into the market is to invest smaller amounts regularly, like once a month, every two weeks or even weekly. No matter what the markets do.
People who invest regularly are more likely to have a financial plan – and stick to it. Their investments are better diversified, so they stay on course even when markets turn choppy. That means they’re also more likely to see better results from investing – and accumulate more wealth.
So how do you get started? Let’s break it down into four easy steps . . .
Step 1: Decide how much and how often you want to invest. Find a number you can stick with, no matter how big or small. Even small amounts can really grow over time if you stay invested.
Let’s say you invest $200 every 2 weeks. Over 20 years, you’ll contribute a total of $104,000. If your money grows at an average of 6 percent a year, that could add up to more than $197,000.
That’s a great start. But there’s something else you could do to make it easier. That’s Step 2.
Set up regular withdrawals with your bank to match your pay day. This is a great way to save. You will likely not even miss those dollars if they go right to your investment account. Think of it as ‘paying yourself first’ by putting your goals before your spending. It’s a proven way to stick with your financial plan.
And if you want to grow your savings faster, try Step 3:
Invest a little more every year. For example, let’s say you are able to increase your contributions by $20 every year. Over 20 years, you’d contribute a total of just over $202,000. By investing those dollars every 2 weeks, your savings could grow to more than $347,000!
The last step to begin investing regularly is perhaps the most important:
Don’t wait for the perfect time to start. There is no perfect time. Get started today.
You see, when you invest across different market conditions, you even out the costs of your investments. Sometimes you’ll be buying at lower prices, sometimes higher . . . but it all averages out. It’s called Dollar Cost Averaging or DCA . . . and it can really work in your favour.
For example, let’s say you invested $200 every 2 weeks since June 2008, right before the Global Financial Crisis. The market dropped, but you kept going. By June 2020 – in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis – you’d have contributed a total of $68,000, and you’d have over $98,000 in your investment account.
That’s because time in the market is usually more powerful than timing the market. And even though the market fell after you started, because you kept investing, you got some great opportunities to invest at lower prices. And those investments really paid off when the markets rose again.
So there you have it: four easy steps to start taking control of your financial future. As you explore what regular investing can do for you, consider talking to a financial advisor. An advisor can help you create a plan that works for you.
Because the best plan is always one that you can stick with, no matter what happens in the markets. And when you stay invested, and invest regularly, you’re more likely to reach your financial goals.