Finances in Retirement - Investments

What Are Long-Term Investments?

by Retirement Tips

Aug 15, 2023

Key Takeaways
  • Long-term investing is an essential part of a well-diversified portfolio
  • Starting your investment journey early can make a huge difference
  • Focus on a well-thought-out strategy that considers your goals and risk tolerance, keeping emotions in check

What is a long-term investment?

Long-term investments offer a strategic approach that aims for substantial gains over extended periods, even in the face of short-term market ups and downs. This technique doesn’t refer to a specific type of asset but rather a patient outlook on growing wealth.

Simply put, a long-term investment is one you hold onto for at least a year, and when you sell it, you’re subject to long-term capital gains taxes, as defined by the IRS. However, the concept goes beyond IRS regulations. While long-term investment can vary from person to person, holding an investment for at least five years is generally considered a standard benchmark. This approach sets long-term investments apart from short-term strategies and keeps cash within your retirement portfolio.

In essence, long-term investing involves looking at the bigger picture and playing the waiting game for potentially greater rewards down the road. It’s an approach that emphasizes endurance and growth, offering a counterbalance to the fluctuations that can happen in the short term.

Long-Term Investments

Hiding money under the mattress: while a notion that might seem nostalgic or convenient, it poses a considerable need for more prudence as an investment strategy. The vulnerabilities inherent in such an approach are manifold; one must grapple with the specter of unforeseen calamities like fires, floods, or mere forgetfulness jeopardizing the safety of those funds. Moreover, the ironic truth is that a mattress traditionally signifies rest and security and can also become an unwitting target for thieves seeking to locate and exploit your financial reserves.

In a surprising twist, despite the evident risks and the modern financial landscape that offers diverse investment avenues, recent findings from an AARP survey unveil that a substantial number of individuals aged 55 and above still choose to hoard considerable sums of cash within the confines of their homes (1). This phenomenon underscores a curious preference for the tangible, the notion of having immediate access to physical currency for contingencies.

While retaining a modest amount of cash at home might serve as a prudent step to cater to necessities, the overarching implication is that such a passive approach to the role of money in one’s life is fraught with shortcomings.

Money’s innate nature as a transactional instrument mandates that it should actively participate in the financial journey, ceaselessly generating value. Earning money entails investing time and effort; therefore, it is logical to expect a reciprocal yield on this investment.

In our intricate marketplace economy, where investment opportunities beckon, relegating your financial assets to a dormant state beneath a mattress is unequivocally suboptimal. The dynamic potential of money’s interaction with investment vehicles, whether stocks, bonds, real estate, or other financial instruments, offers a realm of possibilities that can exponentially amplify its impact. The concept of money as an entity that works for you, multiplying through prudent investment, aligns with the fundamental principles of financial growth and prosperity.

Brief History

The official genesis of investing can be traced back to the European Renaissance; historical traces suggest that the concept took root even earlier. A significant artifact from this journey into the past is the Code of Hammurabi, an authoritative collection of 282 regulations devised during the reign of Babylonian King Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE)(2,3). This codification established the bedrock of commerce by introducing rules, fines, and penalties for civil transgressions, effectively embodying the embryonic essence of investment principles.

The notion of investment, however, has been a constant presence across the annals of history, originating in antiquity and perpetually adapting to changing times. It embodies the strategic allocation of resources within a society or the environment to cultivate gains and prosperity. Intriguingly, even humanity’s earliest inhabitants unconsciously embraced rudimentary investment principles. For instance, sowing seeds in the soil, a practice as old as civilization itself can be seen as a primeval manifestation of investing. By carefully selecting and planting a handful of seeds, these early humans laid the foundation for a prosperous harvest that would sustain families and entire communities, mirroring the essence of investment by fostering future growth and abundance.

Looking Toward Long-Term Investments

looking to long term investments, stock market, exchange traded funds

Engaging in investment empowers us to harness the rewards of our efforts, transforming our hard-earned resources into dynamic tools for growth. This practice promises to cultivate prosperity for the days ahead. It is a strategic avenue to amass wealth for eventual retirement. The potential that investment harbors are undeniably vast, yet a stark reality persists: Although the avenues available for individuals to channel their funds into investments and forge a secure financial path for their twilight years, disconcertingly, a full one-third of the American workforce find themselves trapped by meager savings and investments, with balances languishing below the $50,000 threshold (4).

Inflation and Investing


The trajectory of inflation, characterized by a pervasive upsurge in the expenses tied to commodities and services, exhibited an upward trajectory throughout 2021, a trend that carried over into the initial stages of 2022. Forecasting the course of inflation henceforth remains uncertain, yet the elevated price levels are a stark reminder of some of the inflationary eras reminiscent of the 1970s. Amidst this backdrop, a profound revelation emerges when examining the impact of inflation on the value of income over time.

Consider a scenario where inflation operates at a 3% rate. In such a context, an individual possessing an income of $50,000 at present would find their purchasing potency eroded to slightly over $32,000 after 15 years: a substantial 35% reduction in purchasing capacity. To reframe this notion, envision that maintaining the existing standard of living achieved through a $50,000 income today would necessitate an income of $77,900 to withstand the effects of 3% inflation over 15 years. It is imperative to underline that this hypothetical example is employed solely to illustrate the intricate dynamics of inflation’s influence on monetary value over time.


Embarking on an investment journey inherently entails an implicit recognition of risks inherent in the investment landscape. A fundamental truth emerges: not all investment endeavors will flourish, and a subset may incur financial losses. Nevertheless, this acknowledgment of risk is a prerequisite for attaining elevated returns, instrumental in fostering the expansion of one’s financial portfolio.

Consideration emerges to navigate risk in investment effectively. An integral approach to achieving this feat is upholding a well-diversified portfolio and investment strategy. The fundamental tenet of diversification involves curating an investment portfolio that reflects your unique risk tolerance, temporal horizon, and overarching financial aspirations. It is paramount, however, to comprehend that diversification functions as a risk management technique; it does not operate as an infallible shield against the prospect of financial losses in the event of security price contractions.

Investing allows you to pursue your financial goals and shape your future.


principles of long-term investing, long-term investments

Strategically Allocate Your Resources.

Employing the concept of asset allocation, investors judiciously distribute their capital across diverse asset classes encompassing stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents like money market accounts. Each asset class carries distinctive risk profiles and potential returns, offering a comprehensive spectrum of investment opportunities(6).

The crux of asset allocation lies in its core principle: mitigating losses in one asset class through gains in another, effectively curbing the overarching risk within the investment portfolio. While asset allocation is an effective method for navigating investment risk, it’s vital to grasp that it functions as a tool for risk management rather than an absolute safeguard against potential investment losses.

Delineating the most fitting asset allocation hinges upon individual circumstances shaped by various considerations. Among these, two pivotal factors often take precedence:

Time Horizon

An investor’s temporal outlook significantly influences their optimal asset allocation. Individuals with prolonged investment timeframes may gravitate toward avenues offering heightened potential returns, short term, albeit accompanied by elevated risk. A protracted-time horizon can facilitate the weathering of market volatility, permitting investors to endure fluctuating market trends. Conversely, those with shorter timeframes must consider market unpredictability while considering various investment alternatives.

Risk Tolerance

Individuals’ disposition towards risk is another pivotal determinant of their preferred asset allocation. Investors embracing a high-risk tolerance may willingly embrace market volatility to pursue potentially more significant returns. In contrast, those with a low-risk tolerance might opt for investments to minimize price oscillations, even if it translates to relinquishing some potential returns. This risk-tolerance-guided decision-making process underscores the personalized nature of asset allocation and its alignment with an investor’s comfort level and financial goals.

Seize the Available Opportunities

The significance of employer-sponsored plans stems from their ability to confer long-term benefits and immediate advantages. One primary advantage materializes in the form of deferred federal taxes, effectively trimming the employee’s annual taxable income. This deferral is a strategic maneuver to optimize financial resources and circumvent immediate tax liabilities.

Delving deeper, it’s noteworthy that specific employer-sponsored plans also encompass a matching contribution component. Employers may opt to contribute funds that align with an employee’s contributions, constituting an enticing incentive for enrollment in the said plan. This dual-pronged approach, characterized by tax benefits and potential employer contributions, underlines the pragmatic appeal of employer-sponsored plans in the context of long-term investment strategies.

The trajectory of these investments necessitates understanding the required minimum distribution (RMD) obligations, a crucial facet for investors to consider. Under most circumstances, RMDs must commence from 401(k) or other defined contribution plans upon reaching 72. These withdrawals bear the classification of ordinary income for tax purposes. However, if such leaves transpire before attaining the age of 59½, they might incur a federal income tax penalty of 10%.

This intricate interplay between long-term investment vehicles, tax regulations, and impending RMD obligations emphasizes the nuanced nature of capitalizing on opportunities while orchestrating a comprehensive long-term investment strategy. A financial advisor can help you understand a lead you to a fruitful retirement.

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Embrace the Calculated Risk

When thinking about investing your money, it’s essential to understand that “risk” comes with it. Risk means that sometimes you might make money but lose some other times. You should ask yourself: how much risk are you comfortable taking?

This question becomes important when we think about different stages of life. Imagine you’re in your twenties – you have many years ahead of you before you retire. This long time gives you a unique advantage. Since you have much time, you might consider trying out investments with more risk. It’s like taking a bit of a chance with your money. Even if the stock market goes up and down, you have time to wait and see what happens. The calculated risk could help your money grow significantly over time because of “compounding.”

Let’s say you’re in your sixties, and retirement is approaching. At this point, you should be more careful with your investments. Instead of aiming for significant gains, you’d want to protect the money you’ve saved. This means going for assets that are more risky and stay the same. Playing it safe to make sure your money is there when you need it in the future.

Consistent Investment Contributions

Establishing a solid foundation for long-term wealth accumulation entails embracing the strategy of consistent investment contributions. Like nurturing any enduring pursuit, the path to successful investing is paved with steadfastness and self-discipline. Cultivating the habit of making regular financial contributions sets the stage for potential investment growth.

Employing the mechanism of automatic investments introduces the concept of dollar-cost averaging into your investment repertoire. This approach entails the systematic acquisition of investments over incremental intervals. When market prices dip, your contributions fetch more shares, fortifying your portfolio. Conversely, during phases of elevated prices, the number of shares procured diminishes.

While dollar-cost averaging aligns with a strategic approach, it doesn’t provide immunity against potential losses in a market downturn nor guarantees profits during bullish periods. Dollar-cost averaging is characterized by its consistent commitment to investing a fixed amount at regular intervals, irrespective of prevailing market prices. The essence of this strategy lies in its resilience against the volatility of market conditions.

Investors must assess their financial capacity to perpetuate contributions during descending and ascending market phases. It’s prudent to remember that individual stocks’ value is also subject to the ebb and flow of market dynamics. When eventually sold, The price of shares may surpass or fall short of their initial cost, rendering the past performance a mere compass for future outcomes.

The beauty of regular contributions and dollar-cost averaging is their potential to transform gradual investments into substantial gains over time. A testament to the synergy of discipline and time within investing.

Gain Insight into Your Investments

long term investments, short term investments, mutual funds

Purchasing a car without grasping the rudimentary details about its make, model, or performance capabilities is the wrong decision. Before committing, prospective buyers often take the vehicle for a test drive to ascertain its compatibility with their needs. Moreover, comprehensive research frequently precedes the ultimate decision to purchase.

This logical approach extends beyond automobiles. For instance, healthcare decisions and real estate transactions follow the same logic. Investing adheres to this principle. A foundational understanding of the businesses you intend to invest in should serve as a guiding principle.

Financial experts underscore the significance of acquainting yourself with the workings of the businesses you select. Such a grasp could differentiate between the abundance of investment chatter and substantive information that genuinely shapes your investment choices. By conducting thorough research and understanding the fundamental aspects of your chosen investments, you equip yourself to discern between the “noise” and the impactful insights.

Embrace the Power of Early Investing

There is compelling mathematics that underscores the value of initiating your investment journey sooner rather than later. Let’s delve into the numbers: envision yourself at 25, dedicating $300 monthly to your investments for a decade. With a theoretical 6% return, by the time you turn 35, your investment will have burgeoned to $50,298.

Now, amplify your monthly commitment to $600 over the subsequent ten years. Your portfolio would blossom to an impressive $190,672.

But why stop there?

Now imagine funneling an additional $600 monthly (a cumulative $1,200) into your investment pot for another decade. When you reach 55, your investment foothold would be an enviable $542,656. And you further escalate your monthly contribution to $2,000 over the ensuing decade by your 65th birthday. In that case, you will be celebrating a substantial $1.3 million.

Two Paths of Investing Strategy

To illustrate the significance of early investment, consider a scenario where we compare two individuals, starting at age 20, with an assumed annual return of 7%. Jason kickstarts his investment voyage by allocating $100 each month until he reaches 30, contributing till he is 60. In contrast, Jill commences her investment endeavors at 30, depositing $100 monthly for three decades until her retirement at 60.

The outcome is illuminating: Jason, having sowed the seeds of investment early on, amasses $135,044. In contrast, Jill, who later entered the investment arena, accumulated $121,288 by age 60.

However, if Jason invests $100 monthly at the hypothetical 7% rate until reaching 60, his investment would surge to $256,332.

The lesson here is straightforward yet profound: take advantage of the power of early investing and maintain your commitment over time. The trajectory of your financial future and long-term investments often hinges on these earlier decisions. Remember, investing is about evaluating your financial capacity to navigate the undulating tides of market fluctuations, ensuring your investment journey remains robust and rewarding.

Master Your Emotions

master your emotioins, long term investments

As seasoned investors will tell you, the golden rule of successful investing involves distancing your decisions from emotions. Mastering your feelings holds especially true for long-term investing. Allowing emotions to dictate your choices, whether driven by exhilaration or trepidation, can spell the difference between triumph and catastrophe or even a missed chance at seizing opportunities.

The periodic turbulence of the markets has sometimes led emotional investors to react with panic and hasty exits. The critical takeaway is that maintaining a steadfast stance can often prove more prudent than succumbing to emotional impulses triggered by media-generated “noise.”

While detaching from our innate emotional tendencies might be demanding, we can gain control by placing them in the appropriate framework. This perspective empowers us to prevent our emotions from skewing our judgments and, more dangerously, manipulating our decisions.

These emotional biases can include the allure of overconfidence, the paralyzing grip of self-doubt, the fear of embracing risk, the tendency to overreact to the latest investment headlines, and the attraction of mindlessly following fleeting trends. Acting on gut feelings, investing based on personal attachments, letting past experiences dictate your course, and paradoxically, even suppressing emotions are all part of this intricate web.

Nurturing a disciplined, composed investing approach while vigilantly monitoring market shifts can give you the tools to pursue your long-term investment objectives. Remember, the journey towards responsible and lucid investing is paved with the ability to master your emotions, ensuring they remain allies rather than adversaries in financial decisions.

Partnering with a Skilled Financial Advisor

A fiduciary financial advisor* brings a wealth of experience in assessing risk tolerance, analyzing financial markets and trends, and crafting long-term investment strategies tailored to your goals. They act as your strategic partner, working with you to develop a well-structured roadmap that accounts for contingencies, maximizes growth potential, and cushions against market volatility.

Beyond the technical aspects, a financial advisor offers you the invaluable advantage of objective guidance. Emotions can often cloud financial decisions. However, a seasoned advisor remains unbiased, providing a rational perspective that factors into your long-term interests.

Collaborating with a seasoned financial advisor isn’t just about managing money—it’s about empowering yourself to achieve your envisioned retirement. Through their expertise, you can access possibilities and solutions that may otherwise remain elusive. By leveraging their insights and skills, you position yourself for a financially secure and personally enriching retirement.

Request a no-cost, no-obligation advisor consultation today!

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*Registered Investment Advisors and Investment Advisor Representatives act as fiduciaries for all of our investment management clients. We have an obligation to act in the best interests of our clients and to make full disclosure of any conflicts of interests, if any exist. Please refer to our firm brochure, the ADV 2A item 4, for additional information.

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Retirement Tips

Retirement Tips is an educational blog dedicated to helping workers and retirees become more knowledgeable about retirement and financial planning.

We want to help readers learn more about their retirement investing options, programs like Medicare and Social Security, and difficult-but-important topics like long-term care and estate planning.

Our goal is to help you make more informed decisions when it comes to your retirement and to make it easier for you to connect with an advisor in your area should you need professional financial advice.

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