The beginning of each New Year is a time to set goals for the next twelve months and stick with them. The following ten resolutions are easily achieved, particularly for investors inclined toward a passive style of investing.
1. Lay out an investment plan. Determine if you want to build a portfolio around sectors of the market or asset classes. My preference is to use asset classes as they permit one to diversify all over the globe, whereas sector investing leaves gaps in the portfolio. Once a plan is in place, stick with it.
2. Pay off credit card debt. Lay out a plan to reduce paying interest to others and turn that around to where interest is paid to you. This resolution could easily be number one on the list.
3. Establish a savings plan. Follow the Golden Rule of Investing.
4. Make the decision whether you want to manage your own money or pay a fee based advisor.
5. Seriously consider whether you are better off using index vehicles or picking individual stocks. Do some serious research on this topic. Read Richard Ferri's book, "The Power of Passive Investing" if you have the slightest question. Check out this series of blog posts on the Passive vs. Active debate.
6. Read several Top Ten Investment books before launching your investment plan. Take a serious interest in your investment education.
7. Turn off CNBC and other financial advertising services. Who's interest are they serving?
8. Think through your asset allocation plan. Keep it simple. You might even begin with a four asset class portfolio. The ETFs are: VTI, VEA, VWO, and TLT or consider the Swensen Six Portfolio.
9. Monitor your portfolio. We recommend taking time to learn how to use the TLH Spreadsheet. Monitor both the Internal Rate of Return of your portfolio and several benchmarks, particularly a customized benchmark for your personal portfolio. Calculate portfolio risk using a semi-variance statistics tool.
10. Be patient. Invest for the long run.