What's the difference between short- and long-term investing?

Long version:

As you go through life, you’ll have many financial goals. Fortunately, you don’t need to achieve them all at the same time. But when you have a mix of short- and long-term goals, you will need to pursue some different investment strategies simultaneously.

Your short-term goals may depend somewhat on your stage in life. For example, when you’re starting out with your career and you’re beginning to raise a family, you may well have a goal of saving enough money for a down payment on a home. Later on, though, you may decide you want to travel the world for a year.

Because you know about how much money you’ll need, and when you’ll need it, you can choose the appropriate investments, with these characteristics:

  • Low risk – Above all else, you want the right amount of money to be there when it’s time to use it. So, you’ll need low-risk, high-stability investments. You won’t see much in the way of growth from these types of investments, but you also won’t be sweating every single market downturn in fear of not reaching your goal.
  • Liquidity – You won’t want to worry about trying to find a market for your investment when it’s time to sell it and then use the proceeds for your short-term goal. That’s why you need to pick short-term vehicles that are highly liquid.

Now, moving on to longer-term goals, the situation can be quite a bit different. Suppose, for instance, you’re saving and investing for a retirement that may be three or four decades away. For this goal, you have one overriding motivation: to end up with as much money as possible. And since you have so many years until you need this money, you may be able to take on more risk than you could with the investments you counted on for your short-term needs. This isn’t to say you should be reckless, of course – you still need to pay attention to your individual risk tolerance. Overall, though, there’s a big philosophical difference, in terms of risk capacity, between investing for the long term versus the short term.

When you’re saving for a long-term goal such as retirement, you may need to rely primarily on your IRA and your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. And within these accounts, you’ll need a reasonable percentage of growth-oriented investments. It’s true that growth investments are volatile, with sometimes sharp price declines. But in exchange, you have the opportunity for greater growth potential.

Once you do retire, you’ll still have long-term goals. For one thing, even during retirement, you’ll need your portfolio to have some growth potential to keep you ahead of inflation. And you’ll also need to address perhaps the longest-term goal of all: leaving the type of legacy you desire for your loved ones.

A financial professional can help you clarify and prioritize your short- and long-term goals, as well as assist you in choosing the appropriate strategies for helping meet these goals – whether they’re three years or three decades away.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor.

Edward Jones, Member SIPC

Number of words: 503

Short /Radio version:

PSA: What’s the difference between short- and long-term investing?
TBA: March 16, 2020

As you go through life, you’ll have short-term and long-tern financial goals. And you’ll need different investment strategies for each.

So, for example, for a short-term goal such as saving for a down payment on a home, you’ll need to look for low-risk investment vehicles, because you’ll want to be pretty sure the money will be there when you need it. And you’ll want these investments to be highly liquid, because you don’t want to worry about finding a market for them when it’s time to sell.

But when you’re saving and investing for a long-term goal, such as a retirement that may be far into the future, your chief goal is to accumulate as much money as you can. So, you’ll need a reasonable percentage of growth-oriented investments in your IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts. The risk is greater than with short-term investments, but so is the reward potential.

Choosing the right mix of short- and long-term investments can help you keep moving toward all your goals, whether they’re three years or three decades away.

This is (FA’s NAME), your Edward Jones financial advisor at (Branch address or phone #).

Member SIPC


Number of words: 177 (excluding FA’s name, address/phone number)