One investment criterion important to many people, and perhaps to you, is: How easy are my investments to supervise? For example, does the investment require constant care, supervision, or expense, such as the complete or partial ownership of real estate property with its rental, repair, maintenance, taxation, and other management problems?Or does the investment require none of your time, such as your contributions to a pension fund? Some people feel confident and enjoy the time and effort that may go into managing their investments. Others have neither the skill, time, nor patience to bother with their investments. There are investments that satisfy both groups, depending on personal objectives.The best method to manage all investments is the Investment Portfolio Evaluation Grid. It is a great chart to help organize your present portfolio, even if your investments right now are some money in a savings account, or an IRA or pension plan.Start by creating 7 columns and input the following: Date, Cost, Present Market Value, % Total Portfolio Market, Annual Return, Yield, and % Return on Market.Next, input all your investments on the left in rows: Savings Accounts, U.S. Savings Bonds, Treasury Securities, Certificate of Deposit, Bonds-Tax-Free, Common Shares-Dividends, Preferred Shares, Blue-Chip Shares, Real Estate, Second Mortgages & Trust Deeds, IRA & Keogh Accounts, Pension Plans, Insurance Annuities, Growth Stocks, Undeveloped Real Estate, Precious Metals, Stock Options, Commodity Contracts, Commercial Paper, Other, and Total Portfolio.Determine the percentage of the market value of your portfolio as a whole. Divide the present market value of the individual investment by the total present market value of your portfolio. Determine the percentage of what it costs you to make an investment. This is easy to figure with interest bearing investments. A $1,000 10% bond you paid $1,000 for has a 10% yield. On stocks or real estate, estimate yield by dividing the amount of increase in value and/or dividend by the amount you paid. For example, if you paid $100 for a stock and received a $5 cash dividend, the yield would be 5%. Determine the percentage of the return on your portfolio as a whole. Divide the annual dollar return on all investments by the total present market value of your portfolio.For each investment you now have, fill in all the information you can in the columns to the right. The last three columns (Annual Return, Yield, and % Return on Market), tell how your investments have performed for you, as well as their relative value within your portfolio. If you do not have exact numbers for everything, do not worry. At this point you are just seeking an overview of what you have. A big picture will start to form that indicates how your money is allocated. You can also see what types of investment vehicles serve your objectives.If you are like many people who are just starting to invest, your grid is heavily weighted toward protection of principle. You may not even be aware of some of the listed investments. Before you get into the characteristics of different investments, you will benefit greatly from having a reference point with which to evaluate the various investment opportunities. Consider all the personal factors in your financial picture, including the other people affected by the decisions you will make.Forecast as much as possible, where your current and potential income sources will take you 5-20 years from now. What standard of living is important to you now and in the future? Will you need to provide for children? Do you wish to retire early? Where do you want to allocate investment and other disposable income? To a house in the hills? In world travel? To building a business?These and dozens of other personal questions should get some serious thought at this point. Do not be rigid. Expect your priorities and goals to change. But better a mutable plan for the future than none at all. Allow yourself to dream and get excited about the possibilities. Though it is difficult, even dangerous, to generalize about what investment objectives are most important to different groups, the following information will give you broad guidelines to consider, if you are:a) Single, with low to average working income, with a savings-oriented temperament, seek investments that produce income but that also provides some long-term capital growth.b) Single, with an average to high working income, and/or an aggressive temperament, seek investments with strong total return (the sum of the current yield and the capital-gain yield), concentrating on long-term, and high-growth vehicles.c) Married, with no dependents earning an average to high income growth-oriented but aggressive, look at safe income-producing investments, such as bonds and money-market mutual funds.d) Married, with dependents, a low to average income and a conservative temperament, seek secure investments with long-term growth in both capital and income, perhaps blue-chip stocks.e) An older person, with income from Social Security and some savings, and a goal of more income while preserving current capital, seek a conservative income fund that pays dividends and has appreciation value, or a money-market fund with a satisfactory yield.Take a look at your new chart and you will see Percentage of Portfolio typically allocated to investments goals. You can use this as a guideline when considering how to allocate your investment money. However, at a younger age, safety and capital gain has greater weight. In later years the need for income and safety of principle tends to increase.
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