Do You Need a Pro to Manage Your Investments?

Should you invest with a pro – or is it better to try it yourself?

It’s a perennial question for individual investors.

Should you make a go of it alone or consult a professional when it comes to managing your investments?

Ultimately, the answer depends on a number of factors, ranging from how knowledgeable you are as an investor to how much money is involved.

Following are a few questions that can help you make a decision:

1. How Comfortable Are You With Financial Matters?

If you’re not confident in your knowledge of investing, you may want to pay for a pro’s services, whether it’s just for help with investing or for broader assistance with financial planning.

2. What Kind of Help Do You Need?

Initially, you’ll want to determine the correct asset allocation for your goals.

Once you’ve settled on this, you’ll need to choose specific stocks and bonds.

You’ll then need to re-evaluate and rebalance your portfolio on a regular basis. Do you need help with all tasks or just one or two?

3. Are you Willing to Put in Some Time and Effort?

You don’t have to spend all your time following the markets to be a successful investor, but if you’re going to invest on your own you should be willing to spend some time putting together an asset allocation and researching investments.

You’ll also want to spend a few hours each month monitoring your holdings just to ensure that they’re still on track. If you don’t think you can do this, you might want to consider hiring a pro.

4. Do You Panic When Things Go Badly?

Ups and downs are part of investing. If you can’t handle the downs without panicking, you might want to consider hiring a pro who can reassure you when the markets falter.

Ways to Make Your Retirement Income Stretch Further

If you’re nearing or in retirement and worried you won’t have enough income to support the lifestyle you want, you’re not alone – and there’s still hope.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s March 2010 annual retirement survey, 29% of retirees have saved nothing to support themselves, while only a third have saved at least $50,000. And the situation is no better for those who are still working.

Following are some steps you can take to save for your retirement:

1. Delay your retirement or get a part-time job if you’re retired: This gives you extra years of income to save, gives your savings extra time to grow, and reduces the time your savings will need to last you in retirement.

2. Consider more aggressive options: If you’re invested in bonds, you may want to allocate some of your assets to stocks.

3. Delay taking Social Security payments: The longer you delay, the more you’ll collect.

4. Cut your costs: It’s possible to enjoy a great retirement without spending a fortune. Consider moving to a low-cost city or the suburbs of a higher-cost city.

5. Leave nothing behind: Consider converting your retirement assets into an immediate annuity that generates a monthly income until you die but leaves nothing for your survivors.

6. Consider a reverse mortgage: A reverse mortgage turns the equity in your home into a type of annuity.