Personal Finance: Keep an investment diary

July 4, 2008

By putting your money thoughts to paper and spelling out why you made the purchase in the first place, you're more likely to make sure the investment has stayed true to your original aim.

"I bought this mutual fund because it provides steady income, which I'll need when my daughter starts college in 15 years." That's the type of investment goal that you'd be wise to write down, recommends Christine Benz, director of personal finance for Morningstar, the Chicago-based stock and mutual fund tracker. By putting your money thoughts to paper and spelling out why you made the purchase in the first place, you're more likely to make sure the investment has stayed true to your original aim. On the other hand, you'll also be quicker to sell the investment if its goals are no longer aligned with yours. This diary-like approach to investing "will help to instill discipline and eliminate some of the emotion that so often gets in the way of smart investing," says Benz, who also serves as editor of the Morningstar Practical Finance newsletter.