Is your portfolio balanced? How will you know?

Investing is never easy, simply because it's so different for every individual; but there are some general rules of thumb you can follow.

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This article was written for our sponsor, Coastal Federal Credit Union.

Investing is never easy, simply because it's so different for every individual.

Think of the variables: What are your investment goals? How old are you, and how long will you be retired? What kind of income do you generate, and how much of it is available for investing? Do you have children, and are you planning on putting them through college?

Perhaps most important: what is your risk tolerance?

These and a million other considerations make investing a very personal situation.

There are some general rules of thumb you can follow, but first, check to make sure they apply to your situation.

Conventional wisdom says that if you're young -- in your 20s and 30s -- you're just starting to build a nest egg. It will be a long time before you need the money, and you'll have time to ride out the highs and lows of the very cyclical stock market.

For that reason, many advisors recommend that 90 percent of your retirement dollars should be in stocks. But what kind of stocks? A mix of index funds is often best.

For example, 50 percent of that stock allocation might be invested in large-cap stock funds, 30 percent in small-cap stock funds and 20 percent in international stock funds.

As you get older, your tolerance for risk will likely diminish.

You definitely don't want to catch the market in a down cycle just as you're getting ready to enjoy your golden years. The thinking is that retirees need stability, and an evenly split portfolio between stocks and bonds is a good strategy.

Still, many analysts say that even in your 70s, you have to have a portfolio that will last 30 years, so you may need to be more aggressive than that.

When it comes to investing, it seems every possible answer has a caveat attached to it. So what's the solution?

Hire a professional who can help you achieve balance
"No one should go it alone," said Al Jones, VP of Wealth Management, available through CFS*, at Coastal Federal Credit Union. "Our approach is to truly implement the credit union's philosophy of people helping people. And we look at the big picture. Because realistically, preparing for the future may mean looking at more than just investments."

Having a wealth advisor work with you is a good idea for many reasons.

Good financial advisors will provide you with expertise and knowledge you may not have.

They will help you simplify your financial options and sharpen the focus on your short and long term goals. They can be proactive on your behalf, and suggest new strategies and ideas to achieve the balance you desire in your portfolio. Finally, having someone to work with should help reduce the stress of investment decisions.

"The important thing is to begin the conversation," Jones noted. "Once a relationship has begun, then all the variables are known, and an investor can find the balance they need for each stage of their investment life."

*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. ("CFS"), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Coastal Federal Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.

This article was written for our sponsor, Coastal Federal Credit Union.

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