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Resolution 10: Craft a long-term plan
How to make sure your strategy pays off year after year.
December 13, 2005: 11:41 AM EST
By Tara Kalwarski, MONEY Magazine
Do it now: 10 resolutions
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NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) - You've set the perfect investment plan in motion (see resolution No. 2). But over time, as markets rise and fall, that ideal allocation will get out of whack. The solution: Get back on course by periodically selling some winning investments and buying more of your laggards.

1. Make it routine

Rebalancing your portfolio by lightening up on winners and buying more of investments that have fallen behind feels counterintuitive -- and that alone stops many investors from doing it.

To get over the mental hurdle, turn rebalancing into a regularly scheduled, unthinking exercise:

Set a date Choose one day a year to review your allocations (say, midyear, July 1), mark the date on your calendar and stick to it.

Get a reminder Check with your fund company or retirement plan to see if it will give you an online nudge at a preset date.

2. Get a before and after shot

On Rebalancing Day, first check out the changes in your portfolio:

Make a pie Go to your retirement plan's or investment firm's Web site, where you should be able to generate a chart of your holdings broken down by asset class.

Do a comparison Any category that is off by more than five to 10 points from your target allocations is a candidate for rebalancing.

Get the big picture If you have multiple accounts, get a consolidated view of all your holdings by inputting your investment info at Morningstar.com, which offers a free tracking tool.

3. Fix your mix

To get back to your ideal allocation, you'll need to:

Sell some shares Lighten up on assets that gained in value, and buy shares of those that fell behind. You can also purchase new shares of holdings that lagged.

Get a hand Many retirement plans offer a Web tool that allows you to input your target percentages and hit enter; the plan administrator then executes the necessary trades. And customer service reps at most financial firms will, at your request, crunch the numbers and help you rebalance while you're on the phone. Either way, the whole process shouldn't take more than 20 minutes.  Top of page

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