Match short- and long-term goals with the right investments

Published 9:03 am Monday, July 31, 2017


Not all investments are created equal. Some are better suited for short-term goals, while others can help you build resources for objectives far in the future. As an investor, then, one of your biggest challenges will be to match your short- and long-term goals with the appropriate investment vehicles. How should you proceed?
For starters, identify your short- and long-term goals. Your shorter-term goals will change throughout your life. When you are starting out in your career, for example, you might aspire to purchase a home in the next three to five years. Later on, though, your biggest short-term objective might be to save enough money for a long tour of Europe — without racking up credit card debt.
As for long-term goals, your biggest one likely will be to enjoy a comfortable retirement. But you may well have other long-term plans, too, such as sending your kids to college in 10 or 15 years.
After you have a clear sense of your short- and long-term goals, you can choose the right investments to help you meet them. Let’s start with the shorter-term ones. When you’re saving for a down payment on a home or for an expensive European vacation, you want to make sure that a certain amount of money will be available to you at a certain time. Consequently, you may want to avoid stocks or stock-based vehicles, which will constantly fluctuate in price, because you don’t want the value of your investment to be down at the moment you need the money. Instead, for short-term goals, you may want to consider a fixed-income vehicle, such as a bond, which is designed to provide regular interest payments and return your full principal upon the bond’s maturity (providing the issuer doesn’t default, which, with investment-grade bonds, is generally unlikely).
For longer-term goals, such as college for your kids and a comfortable retirement for yourself, it’s a different story. To achieve these goals — and especially for retirement — you generally need to accumulate as much as you can. As a result, you need investments with growth potential, which means you will need to consider stocks and stock-based instruments. As mentioned above, stocks will always fluctuate in value, and they may be worth more or less than your original investment when sold. However, building a portfolio with an investment mix that’s appropriate for your risk tolerance, and that contains a reasonable amount of growth-oriented vehicles, can potentially help you overcome short-term volatility and continue making progress toward your long-term goals.
Plus, you have some attractive long-term options available. With a 529 college savings plan, you can save for college and possibly achieve tax benefits, too. And by contributing regularly to your IRA and 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan, you can defer taxes while spreading your dollars among a wide range of investments. But there’s one thing all long-term investments have in common: You need patience and discipline to stick with them.
So, there you have some ideas on short- and long-term investing. Keeping this distinction in mind when you invest can help boost your confidence that you’re making appropriate moves for all your goals.
Thomas A. Davis is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) and Financial Advisor at Edward Jones Investments. He can be reached by phone at 423-543-2018 or at his office at 305 Lawson Avenue in Elizabethton.

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