Over time, some of your investments may soar while others lose money. Result: The blend of assets you put so much thought into will inevitably be thrown out of whack.
So to stay on track for retirement, periodically recalculate your mix and restore your portfolio to its appropriate balance by selling shares of winners and plowing the proceeds into losers. Ideally, you should set a day every year to do this - your birthday, an anniversary or any other date you will remember. Of course, a target-retirement fund does this work for you automatically.
The beauty of rebalancing is that it forces you to do what investors so often have trouble with - buy low and sell high. Annual rebalancing may even be able to reduce your portfolio's risk and boost its return. Do it regularly and you can feel confident you're doing what's "right" with your investments.