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Contribute to Your Employer's 401(k)

Get a jump-start on investing by enrolling in your employer's retirement plan. If they offer to match your contributions, be sure to contribute as much as they will match. For example, if your employer matches contributions up to 2% of your salary, contribute at least 2%. Remember, you're doubling your money! Be sure to ask about your company's "vesting period"—the length of time you must stay with the company before you can leave and take the employer's match with you. If you leave before the end of the vesting period, you can still take your own contributions with you, but not the employer's match.

If your employer doesn't offer a retirement plan, start your own traditional IRA or Roth IRA. Or, if you're self-employed, start your own SEP retirement plan.

Do Your Research

While an employer's retirement fund is an easy way to start building your portfolio, there are other ways to invest. You can choose to invest solely in a stock or in mutual funds (which spread your money out among different stocks and bonds), or choose from certificates, annuities, bonds, education funds, and more. When it comes to choosing a company to invest in, consider the brands and products you like or are most loyal to. This could be anything from beverages to electronics. There are plenty of online resources available to help you start to understand the world of investing. Websites, like, are good places to start, as are general searches for investment products you may be interested in.

Find a Trusted Broker

You'll want to talk to an advisor or broker about how much risk you are willing to take. You'll also want to look at a "Prospectus," which gives you an overview of how a stock/fund performs. Based on the amount of risk you're willing to take—conservative, moderate or aggressive—your broker can help you build a portfolio that will help you reach your goals.

Diversify Your Investments

Investing can take many forms—certificates/CDs, retirement accounts, education savings accounts, stocks, bonds, annuities—and a diverse portfolio can give you a good range of profitability. Speak with a trusted broker or financial advisor to learn how to build a strong portfolio based on the level of risk you are willing to take.

Focus on Liquidity

We all know that emergencies arise and market conditions change, and this can take a toll on your investments. That's why it's a good idea to have "liquid" assets: assets you can access easily or sell quickly. Liquid assets may come in the form of stocks, bonds or a traditional savings account.

Review Your Investment Portfolio Yearly

No matter how comfortable you feel with the investments you've chosen, you'll want to review your portfolio yearly. Market conditions, investment performance and even your income can all change, so reviewing your portfolio allows you to make adjustments that will keep it in line with your wealth-building goals.

A bit of professional guidance will go a long way in ensuring that you meet your long-term financial goals. Contact one of our Navy Federal Investment Services' advisors for a free consultation!

Navy Federal Financial Group, LLC (NFFG) is a licensed insurance agency. Non-deposit investments, brokerage, and advisory products are only sold through Navy Federal Investment Services, LLC (NFIS), a member of FINRA/SIPC and an SEC-registered investment advisory firm. NFIS is a wholly owned subsidiary of NFFG. Insurance products are offered through NFFG and NFIS. These products are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guaranteed or obligations of Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU), are not offered, recommended, sanctioned, or encouraged by the federal government, and may involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Deposit products and related services are provided by NFCU. Financial Advisors are employees of NFFG, and they are employees and registered representatives of NFIS. NFIS and NFFG are affiliated companies under the common control of NFCU. Call 1-877-221-8108 for further information. 

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.