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 Investing Basics

4. Stay on Track


It’s important to look at the progress you’re making toward your goals over time, as opposed to tracking short-term ups and downs. Because of the power of compound growth, investing is just as much about how much time you have as it is about how much money you start with.

Contribute Regularly

Contribute regularly.

Even modest contributions, when made regularly, can pay off substantially over the long term. Understand the potential benefits of .
Check in occasionally

Check in occasionally.

Keep an eye on your investments at least quarterly (or more often if you have a riskier portfolio). Major life events, such as those listed below, may also call for some adjustments.

Stay the course

Stay the course.

Down markets can be unnerving. Successfully managing investments requires a long-term view and a commitment to staying on track. Remember that you may need to occasionally move gains from assets that have done well and put them into those that seem likely to grow soon, a principle known as “rebalancing.”

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Life Events

Staying on track means adjusting your goals as your financial situation changes. At certain points in life, you may need a little extra financial planning advice and guidance. Schwab has extra guidance for:

Top Questions

While it’s a good idea to check your portfolio regularly (how often will depend on the types of investments you choose), it’s important to remember that the key to long-term investing is “long.” The markets can change rapidly, so veteran investors know that to effectively manage investments you should try to avoid reacting to daily swings in the market. However, as you approach your goal (such as retirement), you should consult a Schwab investment professional at least five years before your target date to see how you might approach any needed changes that may not have been made before that time.
When and how much you invest really depends on your goals and time horizon. But a good rule of thumb is to invest the maximum you can comfortably afford (after accounting for paying off debt, daily living expenses, and any prioritized short-term savings goals). By investing even a little bit regularly, over time you can reap big benefits as the returns from your original investments are reinvested and added to your portfolio through compounding.

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