Paying Attention to What We can Control

With so much going on in the world it is easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about things like retirement planning.  Between the pandemic, volatile stock market, economy, schools, election, no basketball, the dang Covid 19 that I put on, etc., it is really easy to pay too much attention to the noise related to investing and planning.  This is why I recommend that everyone focus on those things that they can control when investing and doing planning.

Here are several things that a person can control by themself:

401k/403b Contribution Rate

If you aren't already maxing out your employer provided retirement plan, work towards doing so by increasing your contribution rate by small amounts on a regular basis.  I have yet to hear from a client who noticed a 1% increase in the 401k contribution rate.  If on a quarterly basis, you increase your contribution rate by 1% that totals 4% in a year, 8% in 2 years, and 12% in 3 years.  Throw in adding a portion of any pay raise and you will quickly and relatively painlessly be adding significantly higher amounts to your plan.

Allocation

Each of us can control how our investments are allocated amongst stock funds, bond funds, and cash.  Having an appropriate allocation and sticking to it are key drivers towards long-term investment success.  We don't try to time the market but rather keep investing thru good times and bad and at least annually look to rebalance our allocation to our target breakdown.

Investment Choices

While there are often limited choices in our retirement plans, we can work to choose the funds that are most in alignment with our goals.  Being mindful of expense ratios is helpful but not the only factor to use in selecting funds.

Overall

In my 20+ years as a financial advisor, those clients who paid attention to these 3 things have ended up doing really well for themselves.  I would expect that will stay the same in the future.

 

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