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General Investing

Creating Your Investment Plan

A woman sitting at her desk writing on a piece of paper.

Get Started on Your Investment Plan

Looking to put your money to work for the future? An investment plan is a critical step. Whether you’ve already begun saving or are just starting out, it’s important to have a target in mind. That will help determine how much you need to put away, what level of risk you should take and what investments you choose.

You may be investing on your own or working with one of our experienced Investment Consultants, either way we suggest a three-step approach to creating your investment plan and putting it to work.

Step 1: Define Your Goal(s)

Name It
Know what you're investing for—is it for your retirement, college education for yourself or a child, general investing to grow your current savings, or some other goal?
Date It

Determine your time frame for when you'll use the investment. Different goals may require different timelines and strategies for your investment plan.

Estimate the Amount
Add up how much you may need for each goal. Our Future Value Calculator can help you determine how much you may need to invest depending on your timeline and goal amount.

Step 2: Design a Strategy or Modify an Existing Strategy

Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance

The level of comfort with risk can be different for each person. Our financial advice services can help you determine how much of the market's ups and downs you're comfortable with and which mix of investments might suit your situation, depending on how conservative or aggressive you want to be.

Remember that not taking enough risk with your investments is a risk in itself. For goals that are many years in the future, such as retirement for a person in their 20s and 30s, a portfolio that leans more aggressive may align with the longer timeframe until needing the money. Of course, it can be time-consuming and daunting to figure out what’s best. And, we’re always here to talk about your specific situation.

Run the Numbers
Use our Future Value Calculator to calculate how much you'll need to invest to meet your goals. If you’re getting close to retirement, it’s time to consider how your portfolio may change and plan for how much income you’ll need. Start planning with our nearing retirement video guide.


Spread your investments across different types of assets such as stocks, bonds and cash (i.e.: money markets, certificates of deposit, etc.) to lower your overall risk. Owning a mix of investments that react differently to different market movements may help provide more consistent and less volatile returns over time. Learn more about how you can build a diversified portfolio with mutual funds and the importance of asset allocation.

Know Your Decision-Making Style

How will you manage your investment plan? Will you do the research and regular portfolio reviews yourself, or will you also consult a professional for advice and recommendations?

Step 3: Execute Your Plan

Take Action

Invest in new funds, rebalance or readjust existing investments to align your portfolio with both your risk tolerance and goals.

Make It Automatic

Set up periodic automatic investments to help ensure you're building on your investment and putting market swings to work for you, or establish automatic withdrawals to start using your nest egg.

Stay on Track

Review your investments plan regularly, either on your own or with an Investment Consultant, and learn how rebalancing can help you manage risk in your portfolio.

Don’t just set it and forget it. Is market volatility making you want to dial back your level of risk? Did you marry, divorce or have a baby? Would you like to retire earlier than you originally planned? Your investment plan may need adjusting to reflect these new realities.

Manage Additional Monies

Do you have money in several different accounts—two or more investment companies or your bank? That may make it harder to track your progress toward your goals and lead to extra paperwork. Note that holding your investments with different financial providers isn’t the same as diversification. Consolidating investment accounts may give you a clearer picture of your overall financial standing, including whether you’re properly diversified.

Looking For a Way to Boost Your Savings

Many see a work bonus or tax refund as play money. But, consider putting extra money to work for your future—like funding an emergency account or investing in your retirement.

Maintain a Long-Term View

It’s never too early to get started on your investment plan. The more time you have for your investments to grow and compound, the more likely you are to reach your goals.

Review Our Advice Options
Want more direction for your investments? Consider one of our advice services—designed to help you make sense of your investing world, your way.

Not Sure Where to Start?

Our consultant are here to help answer your questions.

This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.

Rebalancing allows you to keep your asset allocation in line with your goals. It does not guarantee investment returns and does not eliminate risk.

Diversification does not assure a profit nor does it protect against loss of principal.

American Century's advisory services are provided by American Century Investments Private Client Group, Inc., a registered investment advisor. These advisory services provide discretionary investment management for a fee. The amount of the fee and how it is charged depend on the advisory service you select. American Century’s financial consultants do not receive a portion or a range of the advisory fee paid. Contact us to learn more about the different advisory services. All investing involves the risk of losing money.