Much like a game of chess, strategy is the key to a winning financial plan.
Investing is something that takes a certain mind set depending on your age and current needs. This is an evolving strategy and should be evaluated often throughout your life. Your risk and goals will depend on the stage of life you are in. A lot of the preventive planning is needed to assure that you are investing in appropriate investments based on your income, age, and needs.
This summary is a basic road map to help you guide your investment destination. No one person has the exact same need, so it is important that you get advice from a person who has experience in these types of events. That person should have experience in this field because the consequences of inaccurate decisions can be disastrous for you and your family. Think of it like a chess game, each move has big impact, so you need to strategize and be ready for what is next.
The pawn is generally the weakest chess piece, but if played correctly early in the game, can cause big moves later in the game. A person under the age of 15 can be involved with a strategy that will help fund a college education.
- A 529 Plan can be established on the day the child gets a social security number. This is a plan where the parents, relatives and family friends can contribute immediately. This plan is free from federal income tax when used for qualified expenses.
- Zero coupon bonds cost substantially less than a coupon bond with the idea of funding future liabilities like a college education.
- A simple savings account is also a great start. Here the interest rates are probably minimal, but it is a start.
There are two Knights in the game of chess. They are rarely played right in the beginning of the game because they can only move in the limited ”L” direction; a well thought-out strategy is needed for these pieces. However, Knights can be a great sidekick to other chess pieces that in-turn cause a big impact later in the game. These pieces can complement your long-term strategy, much like investing in your 20’s can benefit you in the long run.
Starting in your early 20’s is the time to focus on a career and creating a foundation for your future. Try to make smart decisions. This is a critical time to start thinking about saving for retirement. Since you are early in career-building, you will not have a great amount of large expenses like a mortgage. If you do it right, your income should enable you to make some investments. By doing this, you are creating a discipline that should last for the rest of your earning years. Purchase items you need, not want. Creating a relationship with an investment advisor is a good idea. Your investing cash could be small, but the promise of a bigger portfolio is promising. Now is the time to take more risk with investments because you have less dependents and have a longer time to recoup mistakes. The rewards could be substantial.
Stocks can be an ideal investment that does not require a lot of money. Stocks do have more risk when compared to bonds but can be very rewarding with the right strategy and guidance.
- Investment ration in this stage of life – 20% Conservative and 80% Aggressive.
- Try to pay off any debt and manage what you charge on credit cards.
- Start to realize that you are probably going to want to invest in your first real asset, a house, by the time you enter your 30’s, so you need to start building your credit.
- Don’t buy a Ferrari, get a Honda! Not only will you save on gas and insurance, but the monthly payments will be less.
- Get the job you love, you are not doing anyone a favor by taking the first offer you get. You will more than likely stay longer at a job you love and this can only help make more money, move up quicker and have stability. People who change jobs frequently are considered “job-hoppers” by future employers.
There are two Bishops for each player on the chessboard, situated next to Queen and the King, respectively. These chess pieces move along the diagonals of the chessboard and are bound to the color they start on. Now you are in your 30’s and truly starting to mature, you should consider how your current actions will play into your long-term strategy. It is likely you will have major assets that need to be protected and grown. For example, you may already own or consider purchasing a home. Possibly consider settling down and starting a family. Also, by now you should have decided and committed to what you want to be when you “grow-up” …. because you are now grown-up. Congratulations!
Insurance is a must. Life insurance is protection for your family. Medical is an absolute must, especially having the right amount of coverage which can have less of an impact on your wallet. The last thing you want is to have a deductible that you cannot afford or coverage that is insufficient for you and your family needs. Having children and keeping them healthy can be very costly without adequate medical coverage.
- Investment Ratio should be 30% Conservative and 70% Aggressive.
- Investments you started in your 20’s should be evaluated and adjusted.
- This is the time to start considering transitioning into a slightly more conservative investment strategy. You are still young enough to take advantage of riskier investments because the more risk generally produces greater returns if you are right.
- Start building and understanding your investment vocabulary. Learn about College 529 Plans if you have children. Learn about the various options of retirement plans. Learn and understand a solid financial plan.
- If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
- Learn to love insurance. Risks can be reduced if you choose the right type and amount of insurance.
These rooks move up and down the rank and file of the chessboard, and can move any number of spaces as long as they are not obstructed by another chess piece. Now you are in your 40’s and the time to get serious about your retirement.
This is the heaviest spending decade.
- Investment Ratio should be 40% Conservative – 60% Aggressive.
- Living expenses are high, raising a family is expensive but do not forget you still need to keep your retirement in mind.
- Create a Will and a Trust.
- Buy individual bonds.
- Consider Tax-Free Income investments, which can be powerful. Tax efficiencies can make a substantial difference.
- Do not forget the educational goals for the children.
- Rebalancing to protect capital and maximize returns.
Delaying in hiring a professional for Financial Planning could be disastrous because things are much more complex, and the consequences are substantial.
The Queen is often considered the most powerful chess piece on the chessboard. She is placed next to the king, on her own color. The game is not over when she is lost, but if your opponent has a Queen and you do not, you may find yourself at a considerable disadvantage! Now in your 50’s, gradually change your mindset from growth to income. Retirement is coming, you must be prepared not only financially but also mentally.
- Investment Ratio should be 50% Conservative – 50% Aggressive.
- Retirement catch-ups.
- Buy Long Term Care insurance. Why in the 50’s – because it is cheaper!
- Is your financial plan up to date?
- Protect your assets.
- Put off taking your IRA money. (at least 59 ½ years old)
- Risk should be less.
- Consider Municipal Bonds.
- Cut down on your spending. Make your money last.
- Review your insurance coverage. By now your assets value can replace the insurance needs.
The King is the most important chess piece on the chessboard. If he is checkmated the game is over! In your 60’s Medicare and Social Security could be in play.
Focusing on your retirement income is now mandatory.
- Investment ration should be 60% Conservative – 40% Aggressive.
- You need to review your Financial Plan constantly. Make sure you will have enough to live the way you want to. Just a reminder as of 2018 life expectancy was (female) 81.6 years and (male) 76.8. In 1990 the life expectancy for a female was 48.3 years and male 46.3 years.
- Continue IRA/Roth contributions. Do not tap into this until you are 70.5 years.
- Convert your IRA to a ROTH IRA.
- Roth IRA should be focused in Total Return and Income investing.
- Upgrade Municipal Bond holding to A Rated or better.
Remember, investing in life is like a chess game: if played with strategy, you can win.
Bill Mullally, President