Prioritizing financial goals can feel like pitting one dream against another: Would you rather purchase a home or pay off student loans? Would you rather send your kids to college or be able to retire? Would you rather attend a friend’s destination wedding or buy a car? But with smart planning, you can increase the odds of achieving most – if not all – of your aspirations. Here are some common financial goals , and investing strategies that may help turn your plans into reality:

These types of investments are listed in order of greatest to least potential risk and reward: Speculative investments, including venture capital, options, and commodities. Growth investments, including blue chip stocks, growth stocks and real estate. Safety and income investments, including corporate bonds, government bonds and bond mutual funds. Security investments, including cash, money markets, pension funds, annuities, and savings bonds. Source: “Taking Control,” Wells Fargo Advisors Guide.

Short-term investments

Smaller goals, such as saving for a vehicle down payment, can be a great first investment opportunity. If you’re looking to purchase a car in the next one to three years, there are several relatively safe short- term investments that can help you accumulate a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. Look for investment vehicles with short-term maturity dates or options that allow you to access funds without penalty, such as a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured money market account. Also, consider investing in U.S. savings bonds that have a maturity that matches the timeframe in which you want to make the purchase.

Short- to mid-term investments

Purchases you want to make in the next two to five years, such as making a down payment on a home, can be partially funded by short- or mid-term investments. In addition to the short-term investment options listed above, consider FDIC-insured certificates of deposit (CDs), which can give you a considerable rate of return with relatively low risk, and potentially increase in value the longer your money is invested. 

Mid- to long-term investments

Goals between five to fifteen years in the future, such as funding a child’s college education through a 529 plan, may offer you the opportunity to take a little more risk in your portfolio. Riskier investments, such as stocks, have the potential to offer higher longer-term growth than more conservative investments. For example, investing $200 per month from birth to age 17 could potentially yield almost $80,000 if the return on investment averages about seven percent .

Longer-term investments

Some of life’s biggest goals, such as retirement, require longer-term planning. From the moment you graduate from college and enter the workforce, you want to put retirement on your financial agenda – the key is finding the right long-term investment strategy for your specific situation. A good rule of thumb is to have a higher ratio of riskier to conservative investments, when you’re younger and then increase the percentage of more conservative and income-generating investments as you age. This can help you get the most return on investment in your younger years when it makes more sense to take financial risks.

By choosing investments that complement specific goals, you can improve the odds of achieving your objectives without compromising the other priorities in your life.

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