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What's the most significant success factor in an investment program? Picking the right investments? Having the proper asset allocation? Controlling transaction fees? While these factors certainly play a part in long-term investment success, the single most influential factor affecting your portfolio is time.
If you think about it, time is really the great equalizer among investors. Time doesn't depend on having "inside information" on a company. Time doesn't depend on having the latest computer tools and investment gadgets to pick stocks. Time doesn't depend on having a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and seeing the machinations of the financial markets up close.
Time is available to everyone.
If time is the most influential factor on your portfolio's performance, it follows that the most important thing you can do is to get started in an investment program as soon as possible. Interestingly, many investors - perhaps your children or grandchildren fall into this group - never get into the game because they believe you need a lot of money to invest or they think the market is "too high."
The problem is that determining whether the market is "too high" is really a loser's game. For example, how many people refused to invest because they thought the market was too high only to see the market skyrocket? The point is that every day you wait to invest, you diminish the value of the one factor that can help your investments the most - time.
If you're not in the game, get started now.
Wall Street Journal Readers
What Me Worry?
Charles Carlson, CFA
Editor, DRIP Investor Newsletter
Investors tend to worry. And, not surprisingly, they worry most about what they can see.
The problem is that what typically moves markets are not the things we can see, but the things we canít see or. . .