Despite setting financial goals, do you end up being your own worst enemy?
Like you tap into some of your investments to fund a trip. Or you tell yourself to tolerate a little risk, but you panic and withdraw all your money from the stock market.
Turns out, you’re not alone. Market researchers have been studying investor behavior for years and have discovered that actions often conflict with best intentions and interests.
The first step to overcoming self-sabotaging, financial behavior is to identify your own natural instincts and tendencies. You can start this by taking our investing spirit animal quiz here.
The next step is this: own and respect your true financial self. We know that’s tough, especially since our Investing Mindset Survey suggests the old labels of the “bear” and “bull” often don’t apply to today’s investors. Here are some tips for channeling your investing spirit animal so you don’t wreck your own investing portfolio.
Do you have your head in the sand like an “emu?”
If you don’t have a particular style of investing, because you just don’t do it enough, like an “emu” investor, it’s time to consider automation. A managed portfolio will do all the work for you: building a personalized selection of investments that’s regularly re-balanced based upon your financial goals and risk tolerance.
The “narwhal” investor, for whom all things market-related remain a mystery, should also look at managed portfolios. Typically, those who have managed portfolios have access to simple to understand online dashboards. This makes it easy to learn how investment portfolios work and their accompanying phone and online support means you’ll have ready access to a helping hand when you need it. Over time, you’ll watch your investments — and your knowledge about your ideal investment approach — grow.
If you’re more of a “donkey” — someone who’s extremely wary — resist any urge you may have to follow market trends or purchase the latest “must buy” stock. “Blue chip” stocks are your portfolio’s best friend: trusty, reliable, always there for you. Unproven or more volatile stocks are only going to cause you agita.
It’s no surprise if the extreme lows of the Great Recession have many striving for financial consistency.
If you’re one of these “prairie dogs,” approach investing with an “everything in moderation” mentality, let long-term savings goals guide you in creating a diversified investment portfolio chock full of ETFs instead of individual stocks.
While perfect for prairie dogs, low-risk investments aren’t the best option for aggressive investors who need to see more near-term growth and have the financial wherewithal to take bigger risks. These “honey badger” investors need to honor their love of a challenge, opting for more high-risk investments in exchange for the potential of bigger financial returns.
As a “shark,” you’re an investor with a stomach of steel. You know that investing is a marathon, not a sprint. And you’re willing to weather any ups and downs of the stock market in order to increase your bottom dollar in the long-term. Diversifying your investments won’t guarantee that you’ll make a profit. But having a portfolio that consists of a mixture of mutual funds, stocks, and bonds across different asset classes makes you better prepared to endure any zigs and zags the market may take over the years.
Some investors have their eyes on only one prize: retirement.
There are many ways for you “mason bees” to save for your golden years, but the best piece of advice is to start early. The sooner you start socking money away in an IRA, the bigger your nest egg will grow. All IRAs aren’t equal, though, and fees can eat into your savings. Maximize your earnings by stashing your cash in an IRA.
On the other end of the investing spectrum are the “flying squirrels.” You truly are airborne, flying by the seat of your pants and relying on your instinct to choose the investments that will make you a quick profit. Self-directed trading allows you to buy — or sell — whatever you want, whenever you want for a low fee that won’t eat up your returns.
If you got burned in the past, it’s perfectly understandable if you’re hesitant.
There’s always the chance that your portfolio’s balance could decrease if your investments decline in value. But just because you have low risk tolerance doesn’t mean you have to avoid the stock market completely and disappear into the financial wilderness like the mythical creature “Sasquatch.”
Mutual funds, which are made up of numerous individual stocks, allow you to enjoy the growth of the market without leaving you exposed to the volatility of a single stock. In many instances, even if several stocks within a mutual fund experience a decline, the fund’s overall performance could be positive, netting you a return.
Bonds are a good option if you’re particularly cautious but don’t want to avoid investing entirely. Your returns will likely be smaller than if you invested in stocks or mutual funds, but you’ll make up for it in peace of mind.
“Owls” are the intellectuals of the investing world. You like to dive in and do the research yourself, instead of relying on others for advisement. Tools like Ally’s live market news, streaming quotes, and interactive calculators can help keep your finger on the pulse of what’s up and what’s down. That way, you can buy and sell supported by the right information to help you make the most of your investment.
Bottom line: Own your natural investing style, then adopt a strategy that works to maximize that style — and reap the financial benefits.