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Most individual investors immediately look at an investments past returns when determining which investment to select. Too many people skip the important step of understanding the fundamentals of investing, including diversification and asset allocation. My wife and I personally have three retirement investment plans (401a, 401k, IRA) with contributions spread across different classes of mutual funds: aggressive funds and corporate bond funds; we have international equity and international bond funds; we even have a fixed rate fund. I utilize an advisory service offered by the 401(a) provider to keep me in check for my diversification, which is set at 70% equity (stock funds) and 30% bond/cash. I also track my investments on a monthly basis (along with a net worth chart) using Excel. For those that don’t know where to start, this is probably the first step — develop your own retirement chart listing your investments, their share price (or net asset value/NAV), and the amount as of a certain date. This information is even more important once you retire.

How do you track your investments? Do you even look at your statements? And better yet, how did you determine which investments to make? I personally use sources such as Morningstar, Money magazine, Kiplinger’s personal finance magazine, and, plus I meet with a financial advisor once a year.

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