Maybe you feel paralyzed with investing because you just don’t know where to start. You think to yourself it feels just like throwing spaghetti on a wall and seeing what sticks, and if that’s the case then, well, what’s the point? But my third point in becoming a millionaire DIY investor is that you must act now and adjust later. As long as you’re using the correct spaghetti (your values and self-education) to throw on the right wall (your 401(k)) getting started now will be so much more valuable than waiting and waiting and waiting. Some of the fun in investing is experimenting with what types of investments work best with your overall investor profile and adjusting from there.
Here’s a simple exercise – or to be frank – more of an action plan on what to do right now today to get you set up for millionaire DIY success starting today and to get out of the rut of analysis paralysis.
“Act now, adjust later” exercise (or more appropriately action plan):
- Just do it and set up your 401(k) already! I see it all the time: Your employer offers you one, with a match, and you haven’t gotten around to going through the enrollment process. Stop stalling! Set a due date for yourself – or even better, today! – and go online to your plan administrator’s website (this could be Fidelity, for example) and set up your 401(k) account. More and more plan administrators lean on digital solutions to walk you through the enrollment process. How easy is that? You’re a Millennial, digital technology is second nature to you, and how cool that it powers all of investing today!
- Set your contribution rate to your employer match. If you get an employer match, let’s say 100% match on the first 4% that you contribute, then contribute at least 4% of your salary. That’s free money to you every year! Ok, so maybe your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) match, then what do you do? Any contribution rate is better than no rate so work with what is best for your current financial situation but make an effort to gradually increase it over time. In any case, remember that the little that you give now in your younger years will still yield lucrative results 30-40 years from now in your retirement.
- Oy, what do I invest in? Get started quickly with a target date retirement fund! These funds are a ‘one-size’ fits all and they give you immediate diversification without the need to think too hard about selecting a portfolio of mutual funds of your own. I would recommend this as a starter step to just get into the stock market as soon as possible. As you evolve your DIY investor strength, then move onto selecting low-cost index mutual funds (if available in your plan) on your own. Just make sure to select a target date retirement fund that is geared toward retirement in 2050/2060 because it will be more heavily invested in stock, which is what your portfolio needs in order to grow and compound.
1) Act now: Armed now with these three simple steps, you can get yourself well on your way to millionaire DIY investor success. Want to implement the above action plan? Just do it as soon as possible. Log online today and you can quite possibly do the above three steps in under 30 minutes. What are you waiting for?!
2) Adjust later: In the future you can adjust your contribution rate and rebalance your 401(k) portfolio, deciding to stay in the target date retirement fund or to move out of it and instead invest in other index mutual funds (large cap, small cap, international, etc.) to meet your changing financial goals as you gain more experience and DIY capability.
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Stay tuned! To get this blog started, I’ll be taking inspiration from my upcoming book, From Millennial to Millionaire: DIY 401(k) – 5 Do-It-Yourself Steps for the Digital Generation to Design and Manage their 401(k), to write blog posts. My new book should be available in eBook and paperback on Amazon by summer 2017.