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 Investing Basics

1. Set Your Goals


Before you can actually define your investing goals, you need to ask yourself what you want to achieve. Is your goal a down payment on a house, paying for college, retirement, or something else?

Write them down

Write them down.

Writing down practical and attainable investing goals makes them more real (and helps keep them top-of-mind). For help getting started, use our Financial Goals Worksheet.

Sort by time

Sort by time.

Use our worksheet to divide your investing or savings goals into short-term, medium-term (one to five years), and long- term (more than five years).

Decide how much

Decide how much you’ll need.

Based on your goals, figure out how much money you’ll need. Use our calculators to help define your target amount.

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Calculate what you'll need.

Get an idea of the amount it may take to get to your target investing goal using the calculators below. You can print a copy of your results, but to protect your privacy the information you enter will not be stored when you leave this page. Schwab clients can also log in to find a more robust retirement calculator.

See how saving consistently can add up.

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$0 $500K + $1M
1 50 + 100
0% 5% + 10%
A higher estimated annual rate of return is associated with a higher risk of loss. Your actual rate of return will fluctuate with the market. Results do not include the effect of taxes or the expenses of investing. Taxes and expenses will reduce your returns and investment values.

Top Questions

Short-term goals are those that you want to realize in the near future, like saving for a vacation or other objectives that take two years or less to achieve. Medium-term goals are more substantial and take longer to save for, usually five to seven years, such as a down payment on a house. Long-term goals usually take more than 10 years to achieve (e.g., college for children, retirement), and you shouldn’t dismiss them, even if you’re young. Making long-term goals can help set your financial foundation. That said, your short- and medium-term goals are generally simpler and easier to accomplish, so they can help act as a stepping stone toward your long-term goals.
First, take some time to list the things that matter most to you (family, house, education, retiring early) and target the most important first. Even though you may be saving for a short-term goal, be sure to invest a portion of that money toward your primary long-term goal.

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