- No Goals? No Success. Athletes, business moguls and everyday people who have achieved extraordinary goals, do so by having a plan. Without a financial road map, life will get in the way and chances are you will be disappointed and end up without the financial freedom to make the choices you want.
- Start saving. You are almost assured that you will never reach your goals if you do not start to save and invest. I know that right now money is tight and you need to buy this and that but what will be different in 6 months or one year? There is always something that can and will happen that can be used as an excuse not to start a proper saving plan now.Get around this obstacle by setting your savings plan on autopilot by automatically having RRSP, TFSA & RESP contributions taken out of your bank each month. You probably won’t even notice it once you get going. Save a minimum 15% of you gross income if you have no big defined pension and 10% if you do. Your chances of success are greatly improved. if you do this.
- Be Growth Oriented. If you’re looking to grow your wealth over time with fixed income investments like GICs and bonds, you aren’t likely to get the job done. Taxes and inflation will take a big chunk out of your savings. According to the Bank of Canada, real returns for GICs after tax and inflation have been negative every year from 2000 to 2010. Yes, you had a guarantee on your money – a guarantee to lose purchasing power each and every year.
Investing in equities entails more risk, but historically has earned greater returns and incurs less tax. This is essential if you want to see your wealth grow.
- Financial setbacks such as income loss, sickness and other extraordinary expenses will occur regularly during our life. You need access to immediate cash through savings or available credit. Those who put all of their assets in non liquid assets such as locked in GICs or real estate are a potential financial disaster waiting to happen.
- Save more as you earn more. Your income will normally rise as time passes and you get raises, change jobs, and get married and become a two-income family. Every time more cash comes into your pocket, you should increase the amount that you save. As I mentioned before, without a generous defined pension, one should save a minimum of 15% of their gross income.
- Monitor Your Portfolio (just not too much) Checking your portfolio daily or weekly is fine if you’re a speculator or day trader but not if you are an investor. Oh, keep in mind that I have never seen a day trader on the most wealthy list. By definition, investing is a long term strategy. Don’t be obsessed with the normal ups and downs of the market. When your portfolio shows a paper loss it doesn’t mean it’s a bad portfolio and change is needed.
- Control what you can control – have a written investment strategy. Many obsess about things that they can’t control like normal market fluctuation and not about what they can control like how they invest. According to The National Post on November 26, 2011, the Yale and Harvard University Endowment funds earned an average 10.1% and 9.4% return during the decade ending June 30th 2011. This healthy growth during a difficult period is mostly because they had a well defined written investment process rather than “investing by the seat of their pants” as many investors (and unfortunately many Advisors) do.
- Plan to Save Tax. According to the Frasier Institute’s “The Canadian Consumer Tab Index 2009,” in 2008, a Canadian family with an average income of $72,393 spent
41.3 per cent of its income on taxes, while spending 34 per cent on the necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter COMBINED. For those fortunate enough to earn a higher income, the spread is likely wider.Many Canadians spend many hours trying to save a few dollars on their holidays or their next pair of jeans and almost none on pro-actively trying to save on their taxes. Basic tax saving strategies include RRSPs, TFSA, RESPs and tax efficient investing strategies. Those with higher incomes and who own businesses often have more sophisticated techniques which can often save tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars. Don’t let any chance to save tax get away.
- If you could do it on Your Own You Would Have Done it by Now! – Get HelpIf you don’t have the time, desire or expertise to plan, implement and regularly review and update your financial success plan then get help from a great Financial Advisor. A great Financial Advisor will earn his/her fees many times over by helping prepare and implement an overall success plan. This includes not only your own personal investment strategy but also a retirement plan, a risk management plan and an estate plan. A great Advisor will also help motivate you to get moving with your program and help creating more disciplined attitudes and habits towards attaining your success goals. The latter is a much more important than many realize in helping you attain your goals.
Everyone makes investing mistakes from time to time. But what sets successful investors apart is their ability to learn from their setbacks and go on to build their fortunes on a stronger foundation.
In a 2010 CNBC interview, billionaire Warren Buffett admitted that the worst stock he ever bought was Berkshire Hathaway, which has long been the foundation of his empire. He took the company over in 1965 because he was angry with its manager, Jack Stanton, and was stuck with Berkshire’s declining textile mills for years afterward.
The takeaway? Don’t invest based on emotion (see mistake #5 below).