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4 Tips To Get Your Investment House In Order This Spring

Spring Clean Your Investments

Spring is coming early to much of the country this year, as temperatures in the Midwestern and Eastern states register 15-20 degrees higher than the average for mid-March. It's time for some high-energy house cleaning-and that goes for your portfolio as well. Is your investment house in good order? Here are some tips for getting your investments in order now, so you can enjoy the barbeque season when it's in full swing.

1. Have You Checked Your Goals Lately?

When was the last time you thought about your investment goals? Are those goals still the right ones for you today? Or is your portfolio not reflecting important changes in your life or a major fast-approaching liquidity event? These questions have important implications-as you move closer to retirement and other significant life changes, the balance between your growth objectives and your income needs is likely to change. That balance flows through to everything else, notably your target asset allocation and selection of appropriate assets. If it's been awhile since you went through this exercise, take some time to go through and assess where you are and where you need to be.

2. Have You Given Your Assets a Health Check?

Some of us dive deep into our quarterly statements the minute they show up in the mailbox. Others of us are not so attentive. Maybe you open the statement, make sure the overall return is not a complete shocker and then file it away. Many people cannot even bear to open the envelope, especially during bad market climates, like much of late summer and early fall last year. But it is critically important, not just to give a quick once-over to overall performance, but to dig down and find out what the main performance drivers were. Think of this as the equivalent of a periodic visit to the doctor for a health check. You feel okay, but want to make sure everything is working as it should be. And if something looks like a potential cause for concern, you take preventative measures before it becomes a problem. Each asset in your portfolio is there to do a certain job in contributing to the overall picture of health, and that requires the periodic check-up.

3. Have You Rebalanced This Year?

Early in the New Year is always a good time to rebalance-but other things come up and we may find ourselves heading into the warm months without having attended to this very important activity. Rebalancing is how we keep our target portfolio weights in line. This involves selling out of positions that performed well during the last twelve months (or however long it has been) and adding to the positions that were relative losers for that period. This requires discipline-selling winners and buying losers does not come naturally to many people. But that is how we keep to our target percentage weights-and it's one of the most time-tested recipes for long-term success.

4. Are Your Contributions and Important Documents Up to Date?

Whether it is this year's contribution for your own IRA or a 529 education plan for your grandson or whatever else, now is the time to make sure these are all taken care of for this fiscal year. This can also provide an excuse to go through your important legal and financial documents to make sure that everything is up to date and in good order. Administrative red tape is an inescapable part of the investment process-it's never much fun, but knowing that all your papers are in good order will provide peace of mind.

Spring is a busy time, and in the blink of an eye it will be the onset of summer. Take a bit of time now to make sure your investment house is in order so you can focus on the fun stuff later.

Tell us…Is your investment house in order?

Tip: Get a "health check" of your portfolio at Jemstep.com and find out if you own the right funds to meet your goals-get recommendations for which ones to keep and which to sell.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.