11 Time-Tested Tactics for Investing Success
Follow our strategies to achieve financial security, then reap the rewards.
For the 70th-anniversary issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, we distilled our best advice to show you how to build, protect and enhance your wealth throughout your life. Start with these proven investing tips to help boost your portfolio:
Invest to Beat Inflation
Kiplinger expects inflation for 2017 to be a still-modest 2.4%, up from 2.1% in 2016. That’s nowhere near 1970s-style runaway levels, but it’s enough to merit some inflation protection in your portfolio. One good option: Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS). The principal value of TIPS is adjusted to keep pace with increases in consumer prices. Buy TIPS directly from Uncle Sam at www.treasurydirect.gov. Another inflation fighter is Fidelity Floating Rate High Income (FFRHX), which invests in loans that banks make to borrowers with below-average credit ratings. The interest rates adjust periodically in response to changes in short-term rates, which are likely to rise as inflation accelerates. Commodities should also perform well as inflation heats up. For exposure to commodities, consider Harbor Commodity Real Return Strategy (HACMX). For more on staying ahead of inflation, see Inflation-Proof Your Assets.
Spread Out Your Investments
Playing it safe with a diversified mix of stocks and bonds can help your portfolio stay afloat during bad times and improve your long-term returns. If you have at least 10 years until retirement, for example, hold 70% of your portfolio in stocks and 30% in high-quality bonds. A mutual fund can work nicely, too. Vanguard Wellington (VWELX), a member of the Kiplinger 25 (the list of our favorite mutual funds), holds about two-thirds of its assets in stocks and the rest in bonds, and it has an annualized 8.2% return over the past 20 years.
Give Emerging Markets a Shot
Before delivering modest gains in 2016, stocks in developing markets, such as China and India, had lost money in four of the previous five years. But emerging-market stocks still deserve a place among your assets. Not only are the stocks relatively cheap, but corporate earnings in emerging-markets firms are expected to expand by more than 13% in 2017—far more than firms in the U.S. For access to these stocks, invest in Baron Emerging Markets (BEXFX), a Kiplinger 25 fund, or in exchange-traded iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG), which tracks an index.
Take a Flier on Small Stocks
After you’ve stashed money in an emergency fund and maxed out contributions to retirement accounts, consider taking a moonshot on stocks that could turbocharge your returns. Small, fast-growing companies may be a good bet now because small companies should benefit from a focus on the healthy U.S. economy, and they could get a lift from fewer regulations and lower corporate tax rates now being considered in Washington. Two top choices: T. Rowe Price QM U.S. Small-Cap Growth Equity (PRDSX) and T. Rowe Price Small-Cap Value (PRSVX), both members of the Kip 25.
Don't Try to Time the Market
Wondering if it’s time to sell all of your stocks? Don’t. First, what are you going to do with the proceeds? Cash pays almost nothing, and bonds come with their own set of risks. And how will you know when it’s time to get back in the market? Our advice: Set an appropriate allocation, then rebalance.
You’ll need to trim your winners periodically and add to your laggards to keep your mix intact. Check your brokerage statements every six months to see if your portfolio has veered off track. If your allotment to a particular category has drifted by more than five percentage points from your target allocation, make the needed trades to bring your allocations back into alignment.
Tweak Your Investments
As you approach retirement, aim for a portfolio that generates enough growth to combat inflation but ratchets down risk. A mix of 55% stocks, 40% bonds and 5% cash accomplishes that goal. For more growth, adjust the mix to 60% stocks and 40% bonds and cash; for less risk, go with 60% bonds and cash and 40% stocks.