Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Successful Investors Have These 4 Habits in Common

By Diane Mtetwa – Updated Jun 17, 2020 at 7:58PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

You don't have to be a stock expert to benefit from these expert investing habits.

It may seem as though you have to be an expert to invest your money in a meaningful way. Numerous studies show that individual investors aren't very good at managing money on their own: many of us make investment decisions based on emotions, and we fail to hold investments for long enough. 

And when an investor fails, it's usually because of a lack of preparation. A 2019 study conducted by the FINRA Foundation showed that only 34% of participants could answer 4 out of 5 basic questions about financial literacy. That same study showed that 54% of people hadn't given any thought about how much money they would need to retire. 

While these findings highlight that a large number of Americans likely aren't investing in a meaningful way, many investors are still managing their finances wisely, and living well as a result.

In order to succeed as an investor, you may need to change your habits. These four steps are some of the key financial habits that successful investors have in common.  

1. They have an investment plan 

Whether it's planning for retirement or for a child's education, successful investors have an endpoint in mind, and they create a plan to reach that goal.

Woman sitting at computer, writing on notepad.

Image source: Getty Images.

To build your own investment plan, start by writing down your goals and see how much you'd need to budget each month or each year to save enough for that goal. From there, consider where you're saving your money: it can be useful to research asset allocation models to determine your ideal mix of stocks, bonds, and cash savings. You can use these models to calculate expected average rates of return, and to assess your portfolio's performance.

2. They're informed

Warren Buffett is famously quoted as saying, "Never invest in a business you cannot understand." Successful investors aren't necessarily experts in every stock they hold, but they take educating themselves about investing very seriously. What's more, successful investors are careful about where they get their investment advice.

You can educate yourself about stock market sectors that interests you by keeping up to date with news articles or industry-specific podcasts. Of course, you can also learn a great deal about an individual company by visiting their investor relations website. For a deeper dive, you can view the company's financial statements to learn more about the financial health of the company.

3. They prioritize investing 

For many people, investing can become a last priority, in lieu of everything else pulling at their bank accounts. Successful investors make investing a priority throughout their lives. Not everyone starts off with a lot of money to invest, but it's smart to make investing a part of your routine early on -- even if that's just investing in a company 401k.

Over time, consistent investing can provide you with a huge edge in accumulating wealth. For example, a person who is able to save $2,500 a year for 25 years, earning 10% interest, will grow their account to over $270,000 over that period. But if another person saves the same amount of money each year and earns the same level of interest but starts 5 years later will only grow their account to about $157,000

4. They adjust when needed

As your life changes, your goals may change. When those changes happen, it's important to revisit your investment plan to make sure that it still works for your new situation. Successful investors don't just set their plans and let them go. Instead, they make sure to revisit their plans at least once a year to assess how their plan is performing. They also make sure to update their plans when they have a significant life event -- like a raise, an inheritance, a new baby, or a home purchase -- to see how that event will alter their plan.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/25/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.