* Know your goals. Consider how much money you’ll need for your children’s education or your retirement. Whatever your vision for the future might be, set your goals and develop a concrete plan for meeting them.
* Define your investment time horizon. If you’re not planning on retiring anytime soon, you might want to have a portfolio that includes more long-term investments. If retirement is just around the corner, consider a more conservative approach.
* Determine your risk tolerance. Figure out your risk comfort level and compare that with what you can afford. In general, the longer you have to invest, the bigger risk you can take.
* Consult a professional. In order to avoid financial pitfalls later on, it is often wise to seek professional guidance when putting together a portfolio.
"Recent research shows that investors continue to grapple with some of the most basic investment concepts, suggesting a greater need for financial advice and guidance, " said Doug Lockwood, a certified financial planner.
To help investors meet their financial goals, American Century Investments has developed On Plan Investing, a program designed to help investors build and maintain diversified investment portfolios - at no additional cost.
Combining educational tools, advice, market insight and investment products, On Plan Investing helps investors develop a personal investment strategy, whether they are new to investing, seeking guidance but still want control over their investment mix, need help positioning their portfolios with a long-term perspective or need help understanding how the markets work.