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    We are always told by our elders and mentors that we need to save and invest for our future, but where should one start? Even with all the investment options available, the temptation is to procrastinate and spend for something now. After all, yolo!

    We asked Carlo Cuevas, our resource person on financial investment and portfolio management, for some tips on how to get started on a path to smarter investing.

    Set goals

    When it comes to investing, it is important to set goals based on what you want in a particular stage in life. Examples of these goals may be saving for a trip abroad, pursuing further studies, preparing for retirement, or simply having excess funds that you want to set aside for future use.

    Classifying them into short-term, medium-term, or long-term goals will help you craft your investment plan. Since we cannot create an investment plan for everything that we want, it is best to prioritize them considering time horizon and importance.

    Explore options

    Do not immediately jump into an investment outlet that was first offered to you by an agent of a financial institution. Do your own homework by inquiring from various financial institutions what investment products they have to offer. There are a lot of websites and articles online that discuss financial investments. With technological advancement and globalization, the list of investment options is widening that go beyond traditional time deposits of banks or treasury bills by the government. Some of these are bonds, stocks, pooled funds, and variable life insurance policies. Educate yourself to understand these options, and choose which ones are applicable to your goals.

    For example, if you are over 40, then maybe a fund with sickness benefits and/or a life insurance component will be applicable. If you are young at heart and just saving for a trip abroad, then maybe a time deposit or bonds will make more sense for you.

    Diversify/design a portfolio

    You may find the statement “do not put all your eggs in one basket” a bit cliché but diversifying your investment will always be an effective strategy to minimize risk. There is no single best investment but creating a portfolio of different investment assets will optimize the returns with an acceptable level of risk. An investment portfolio can vary for every individual and its composition will depend on the person’s objective and risk profile. An objective is the person’s purpose for setting up the investment while risk profile is the extent of risk that a person can tolerate. Objectives are not always aligned with risk profile thus having a balance between the two is essential.

    Also check the features of each option—for example, a mutual fund’s unit price can go up or down. Is this acceptable for you? Or would you wish your principal amount to be free from fluctuations?

    A person with a moderate risk profile who plans to save up for a trip abroad three years from now may want to have a portfolio composed mostly of bonds with a bit of exposure in stocks. In this example, the person may opt to have a portfolio composed of 80 percent bonds and 20 percent in stocks and build the investment by contributing a certain amount every month for the next three years. Bonds are more stable in terms of price fluctuations and provides moderate returns while stocks can maximize returns but are subject to high price fluctuations.

    Commit to the plan

    Lastly, once you have designed a portfolio, commit to the investment plan. As much as possible, you do not want an investment to be used for another purpose other than your original intention. If you plan to regularly invest for several years, it is advisable not to touch the investment midway. That is the reason why it is also important to set up an emergency fund that you can always use in case of sudden unexpected expenses.

    Investment is not just something that you can let go whenever you want to. It is a commitment that will have long-term rewards if properly planned and executed.

    Cuevas will facilitate a workshop titled “Financial Investments and Portfolio Management” on Dec. 13 at Inquirer Academy. CPAs can earn continuing professional development (CPD) units from the workshop.

    It is ideal for employed and self-employed professionals whose function involves managing corporate funds such as those working in the treasury or finance department. This course is also applicable to individuals who are seeking to manage their own or their family’s funds.