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By Christine Benz | 05-22-2017 11:00 AM

Tips for Investing at Every Life Stage

Best practices include knowing how much you'll need to save, controlling expenses, and resisting the urge to tinker too much.

Christine Benz: Hi, I'm Christine Benz for Morningstar.com.

As our lives evolve, so do our financial and investment priorities. When we're just starting out, we might have our sights set on buying a first home or paying for a wedding. When children come into the picture, paying for college comes into to the picture, too. And throughout our investing careers, we're all socking money away for retirement.

What are some tips that can carry you through all of those phases of your life?

The first is to do your homework on how much you'll need to save to reach a given goal, such as retirement or paying for college for your kids. The good news is that online calculators abound, and they can help you quantify the cost of your goals. You'll be prompted to enter your expected rates of return for both stocks and bonds; just be sure to be realistic. Use 6% or so for stocks and 2% or 3% for bonds.

Investment-related fees can pile up, so be sure to keep track of them at every life stage. At Morningstar, we know that low-cost funds and exchange-traded funds usually beat their higher-cost counterparts. Taxes and transaction fees can further erode your take-home returns. Money for a financial advisor can be money well spent, but make sure that you're not paying for more advice than you really need.

Finally, one of the best pieces of financial advice comes courtesy of Vanguard founder Jack Bogle. As your investment portfolio grows--and even when it doesn't--don't peek. If you're hands-off with your portfolio, you’re less likely to make changes that you could later regret, such as selling yourself out of stocks in the depths of a bear market.

Thanks for watching. I’m Christine Benz for Morningstar.com.

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