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The Biggest Investment Mistakes

Wesley Watkis | 11/10/2011, 10:11 a.m.

In order to fall under the umbrella of the "financially responsible," most people know they need to start financial planning early, keep a diversified portfolio, and stave off debt. However, despite best intentions, these goals are not always easily accomplished. In most cases, the culprit is simply life getting in the way. Car repairs, home improvements, and unexpected job losses all seem to come together to put a kink in even the most well-laid financial plans.

To keep yourself closer to the financial finish line, there are a few common financial pitfalls you can avoid. Although you may fall short of the goal from time to time, knowing where you stand and where you are poised to land are incredibly valuable in being financially sound for the long term.

Thinking It Is Too Late

The best financial advice taps into individuals in their twenties, when there is little debt, few obligations, and a high potential of earnings. Unfortunately, few of us are ever the financially responsible adults we want to be straight out of college. It's important to remember that no matter where you are on your financial journey - one of the lucky few in their twenties or one of the more common forty-somethings realizing that their savings account just isn't what it used to be - it is never too late to get started saving for retirement or even for a down payment on a home. Doing nothing is the only way to guarantee that you'll have nothing.

Thinking You Have More Time

On the flip side of the coin, you must also do everything in your power to get started investing right away. Although no one is going to berate you for failing to start saving twenty years ago, it doesn't do any good to wait another twenty to get started. It doesn't matter if you have thousands of dollars in debt or are switching jobs for the sixth time in as many years. Meet with a financial advisor right now to learn what your next steps should be.

Not Looking Far Enough Ahead

Some beginners make the mistake of investing money only to realize a few years later that those funds are needed somewhere else. Consider the time frame of each and every investment you make. Few advisors will recommend touching money in the stock market before five years is up, but a money market account or certificates of deposit can turn around quicker than that. You'll also need to remember that most investments do much, much better if they are left alone. Trading in and out of the market or changing your mind frequently can comes with fee or other monetary setbacks. Like a good wine, investments tend to get better with age.

Questions? Email me at wesley@thewandwgroup.com and visit our website at http://www.thewandwgroup.com. New Money Talk is a weekly article focusing on retirement, personal finance, and estate planning.

Comments and questions are welcome, but because of the volume of email, personal responses are not always possible.