Question: How do you track your investments? Do you even look at your statements? And better yet, how did you determine which investments to make?
Most individual investors immediately look at an investment’s past returns when determining which investment to select. Too many people skip the important step of understanding the fundamentals of investing, including diversification and asset allocation. I personally have three retirement investment plans (401k, Roth, Rollover IRA) with contributions spread across different mutual funds and a few stocks. I have aggressive funds, corporate bond funds, international equity and international bonds and some gold and silver funds. You may have access to an advisory service offered by your retirement plan provider to keep you in check for diversification, which is set based on your risk tolerance (for example mine is at 50% equity (stock funds) and 50% alternatives/bonds/cash. I also track my investments on a monthly basis (along with a net worth chart) using Excel. For those that don’t know where to start, this is probably the first step — develop your own retirement chart listing your investments, their share price (or net asset value/NAV), and the amount as of a certain date. This information is even more important once you retire.
Since I work for an investment advisory firm, I have access to professional investment research that our team conducts for our clients. On a personal level, I also use sources available to you such as Morningstar, Money magazine, Kiplinger’s personal finance magazine and Marketwatch.com,