If you want to invest in the stock market but don’t have a large enough portfolio to achieve the diversity you want through individual stock purchases, mutual funds may provide the solution you are looking for. Mutual funds are a collection of stocks designed to meet a stated investment objective or strategy. For instance, you may be able to choose between a fund that holds small- or mid-sized companies, large blue chip companies, or government bonds. Some funds are designed to provide growth, others to give you income.
When you start organizing your portfolio you will want to consider how you will be spending your money after you retire. Some money will be deposited directly into your checking account; such as Social Security where as other income could be less predictable. It is always nice to get extra income you are not counting on but you must not plan on this.
Variable annuities offer more choices than fixed or guaranteed annuities. Some of the things they offer that are not the same as a fixed annuity are, tax deferred earnings, a choice of payouts, plus the opportunity to make unlimited contributions if the annuity is nonqualified. The things that it offers different from the fixed annuity is that you have a potential for making more money and it also gives you more involvement on how to allocate your assets among your investments.
Many employers allow their employees to contribute to an annuity program. This becomes an investment option in a salary reduction retirement plan. Under this plan your current taxable salary is reduced and in addition it accumulates tax-deferred earnings. Some companies have added annuities to their retirement list. If you work for a non-profit organization you'll probably be able to choose either a fixed or variable annuity or both. If you have a small business, or work for yourself, you can invest in a qualified annuity by setting up a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) or a Keogh. Many financial plans are available that you can adopt or you can use a specialist to create a plan for you.
No matter what type of investor you are, it is important to keep your plan on track. Revisit your asset allocation periodically (every year or two, depending on market conditions) and see whether it needs adjustment. You should also periodically re-examine your risk tolerance and investment profile, especially as you get closer to your goal. You may discover you need to tweak your portfolio’s risk exposure over time.