Follow The Rules

6. Not Looking Long-Term

If Bill Gates hadn't known where he wanted to go, he might have ended up somewhere else. The same goes for your portfolio. If you're saving for a goal that's five, 10 or 20 years away, your reactions to the market's fluctuations won't be the same as if you were focused on speculation and short-term gains. If high-priced stocks have you spooked, consider making small purchases on a consistent schedule. You could be in a better position to take advantage of the market's fluctuations without a lot of headaches.

Also avoid the all-too-common mistake of ignoring your IRAs. Many investors pay too little attention to these beautiful accounts. Some people scatter them about, earning a meager interest rate because the bank or brokerage firm had an offer that was too good to pass up at the time. That toaster you got is probably obsolete, but so might be the IRA that came with it. Consider consolidating these accounts and making them a vital part of your financial program.

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This article was originally published in the January 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Follow The Rules.

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