Five Key Points to Consider Before Investing

Pennies add up to dollars quickly when you invest.

Pennies add up to dollars quickly when you invest.

So you and your special someone are thinking about beginning an investment program. That's a wise move because the earlier you start investing the more time your nest egg has to grow. Invest only $250 a month for 20 years at 5 percent interest and you'll have $102,758. Increase the rate of return to 8 percent and the total jumps to $147,255.

Financial Fitness

Before you start socking away money in an investment account do a fitness check on your finances. Your savings account should total from three to six months of living expenses before you start playing the stock market. It doesn't make sense to invest money until you've paid off your credit card balances. The average credit card interest rate on new credit cards as of June 8, 2012, is 14.9 percent according to FoxBusiness.com.

Risk Tolerance

Different types of investments have different levels of risk. A savings account has very little risk, but then the rate of return is low as well. Money markets are rather safe. Mutual funds spread the risk because a number of companies make up the mutual fund's portfolio. Investing in individual companies can pay off handsomely or help you lose money. If you get butterflies at the mere thought of losing any of your investment then consider a low risk investment strategy.

Goals

Determine your goals. Sit down with each other and your favorite beverage and hash out why you want to invest, how much you plan on investing each month and what you hope your investment portfolio will total at the end of one year, two years, five years and 10 years. Consider that as your life changes your goals may change. While your current goal may be to save enough for a down payment on a home, in 15 years you may be looking at funding your kids' college education.

Diversification

All your eggs in one basket is a bad investment strategy. In other words don't put all your money in tech stocks, gold or your cousin's Vinny's pizza parlor. Diversify your investment portfolio, so that if one investment tanks, the others won't be affected. That includes any investing in your employer's stock. If your employer goes bankrupt, not only have you lost your job, you've lost your investments. Consider liquidity as well as risk. Getting cash out of your money market takes place nearly instantaneously. Artwork, collectibles and antiques may take weeks to sell and depending on the market, may not yield as much as you hoped.

Time and Knowledge

Getting up to speed on what to invest in takes time and knowledge. If that doesn't appeal to either of you, consider a financial planner or adviser. Planners are paid on a commission based on what you invest in or a flat fee based on how much time he spends with you.

About the Author

Katie Jensen's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in business and personal finance. Her passion includes cooking, eating and writing about food.

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