With our busy lives, it's often difficult to keep track of our investments. You may find that you only review them once a year. However, it's important that you keep on top of your finances and review on a regular basis.
Here are some tips to help you.
Read and keep all your financial documents. This includes your account statements and prospectuses. These contain important information about your investments, any associated risks and your returns. Many investors are now offered simplified prospectuses that are easier to read and understand.
Check your trade confirmations against your account statements, and report any discrepancies. Look for any unapproved transactions or fees. It's important that you catch and resolve any errors immediately. This is much better than having to resolve things months down the road. If you don't receive regular account statements, follow up immediately. This is often the first sign that you are the victim of identity theft. Con artists who steal your mail get lots of information about you, and are then able to apply for credit in your name. If you suddenly stop receiving your regular statements, report it immediately.
When you speak with your adviser, take notes. You should keep records of all your conversations, including your instructions and your adviser's advice.
Ask questions about your investments. If you don't understand something, speak up. Verify the information with a credible source. Even if you don't trade online, consider getting Internet access to your account. Internet access allows you to review your account whenever you want. It's much easier to monitor your account if you can check it online at anytime. Periodically check the balance of your portfolio and bank account. This allows you to track your returns and enables you to catch problems early on.
Meet with your adviser and visit the firm. While many transactions can be made over the phone, it's important to meet with your adviser at least once. This helps you develop a relationship and understand their investment philosophy. Check out the firm and ensure you feel comfortable having them handle your account.
Conduct independent research on your investments. Read financial statements, and learn about the company's business risks before you invest. Periodically review your portfolio. Make sure it matches your current investment objectives. Most investors find that their objectives change over time. Ensure that your adviser understands your current financial situation and has developed an appropriate plan.
Check registration by calling your securities regulator. Anyone selling securities or providing advice on securities has to be registered with a regulator. Find out if they are registered, what they are registered to sell, and if there are terms and conditions attached with their registration.
Are Your Money Styles a Match?
For couples planning their wedding, financial considerations don't end once the caterer's been paid. In fact, deciding on a wedding budget is just the first of many important financial decisions you will make together. To build a strong financial future, you must first understand your own individual approach to money management and then compromise to determine your approach as a couple.
Following are the money styles:
The Savvy Saver
The only thing you can recall more quickly than your phone number is your bank balance. You know your budget and you stick to it. You understand that borrowing is an important and useful tool if it is managed carefully. You have goals for the future and a plan to get there. Saving is a top priority for you. You beef up your savings before you splurge on a cute pair of shoes or a cool gadget for your car. You've got top-notch financial habits that will put you in excellent shape for the future. Just remember that it's OK to splurge now and then! Being financially prudent to ensure a prosperous tomorrow doesn't have to come at the expense of those little luxuries that keep you happy today.
Sometimes Savvy, Sometimes Super Shopper
You approach financial issues like a restaurant menu. A little voice tells you that you should have the ‘side salad’ instead of the ‘baked potato with sour cream’. Sometimes you listen, sometimes you don’t. You often know what you should be doing with your finances, and at times you are quite disciplined about budgeting and saving, but you can also let it slide when the call of the mall becomes too enticing. You have some idea of your expenses, and know how much money you should be setting aside for any big, upcoming expenses, such as a wedding or a first house. You should write out a manageable budget and find a way to stick to it. The trick for you will be identifying the things that have knocked you off course in the past and develop a proactive plan, like setting aside a certain amount of fun money each week to save towards the splurge items.
"The next round’s on me!"
Tax-efficient investing, portfolio diversification, asset allocation - all incredibly boring topics to you; they just get in the way of more important subjects that occupy your day. Your budgeting plan doesn’t go beyond the next one or two paychecks. You’ve felt the pinch of debt, most likely to do with your credit cards. You need to take a careful look at your finances and develop a long-term budget. Reviewing your plan with a financial adviser makes good sense. Having never stuck to a budget in the past, you will need to work hard at developing some discipline. It would be a wise move to set up automatic withdrawals (weekly or monthly) for your savings to make it easier to stick with your plan.
Not surprising, most couples have slightly different takes on life, and money is no different. You don’t have to have the same money style as your spouse. But, it’s important for you to recognize the differences and find ways to compromise.
Seeking the help of a financial adviser can be useful for couples with similar or very different money styles. Money is an emotional issue and an adviser can offer an impartial viewpoint that is based on financial expertise - not family politics. If you’ve already found an adviser and have taken steps to discuss your future finances, good for you! Best wishes for a long and happy future together!
After-Hours Trading: Understanding the Risks
The highest volume market centers today have traditionally been open for business from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM EST. Although trading outside that window - or after-hours trading - has occurred for some time, it has been mostly limited to high net-worth investors and institutional investors.