billschultheisThe new year brings with it an opportunity for a fresh start in all dimensions of our lives for those of us who choose to embrace the abundant life we live today.

Whether it is in our health, our relationships, or our spiritual life, making small changes can have a meaningful impact on our well-being for the rest of our lives.

The same is true with our saving and investing decisions. Making little adjustments today can go a long way toward living that chapter of your life called retirement free from the financial worries that dog so many people today. My gift to you in this new year comes in the form of one simple word: simplify.

Simplify your investments. Sometimes, when people reach out to me for guidance on building a portfolio, they allow me to take a quick peek into their current investment account, and I scratch my head in amazement.

I see too many portfolios that are cluttered with too many investments, and I am tempted to tell them to sell it all and start from scratch.

Starting from scratch (provided it makes sense from a tax standpoint) could be as simple as owning three low-cost index funds: a Domestic and International Stock Market Index Fund, and a Total Bond Market Index Fund.

Sure, there are countless ways to tweak this simple, three-fund portfolio to accentuate your particular investing goals, but at the very least, you are capturing the returns of these major asset classes available in most workplace retirement accounts, and if you can accomplish that, you are one big step closer toward reaching your financial goals.

If you think a three-fund portfolio is easy, most major financial services firms, including Vanguard, Fidelity and Charles Schwab, have taken this a step further by combing these three funds into one “Target Date Fund” to simplify the investing process even more.

If your workplace retirement account does not have a lineup of low-cost Target Date Funds to choose from, you should demand to get them included. This simple investment provides you a “sophisticated” portfolio, one that the stock-picking gurus on Wall Street could only dream of creating on their own.

Owning a Target Date Fund offers you 100 percent confidence that you are making the right choice with your investments. No second guessing yourself, despite the inevitable bear markets that occur from time to time.

An even greater benefit to this one-fund approach is that it allows you the emotional freedom to address the wealth-building component that matters most of all: how much you save.

It is time to simplify your saving.

Fortunately, financial institutions have automated and simplified this process as well. No longer do you have to, at the end of the month and after all the bills are paid, send in a check to your bank or investment account. Now, most investors can have automatic payroll deductions sent directly to their workplace retirement portfolio at the beginning of every month.

Don’t have a workplace retirement account? That is no excuse. Create an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or a taxable account at one of the financial institutions listed above, and direct your bank to automatically send a deposit to your portfolio every month.

Establish an automatic saving and investing program this month, so you don’t have to think about saving and investing next month, and the month after that.
Not only will your initiative impact the rich life you want to live during retirement, but it allows you to get on with your life today.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of “425 Business.”