Special Report

Morningstar's Guide to Life-Stage Investing

Christine Benz

Though we may not give it much thought, most of us are multitasking throughout our financial lives. Even though retirement may be the long-range goal, it's a good bet you're knocking off scores of smaller financial jobs along the way--paying off student loans and home mortgages and socking away funds for college, to name some of the biggies. You're also building an emergency fund to defray the periodic large car repair or vet bill and purchasing various insurance products.

We designed this guide to address the fact that financial multitasking is a way of life for people at all life stages, and to help you do it even better. After all, the financial priorities and jobs of a new college grad are vastly different from a 62-year-old who's trying to figure out if he's on track to retirement. We've crafted articles and portfolios for early career accumulators (20- and 30-somethings), midcareer accumulators (40- and 50-year-olds), pre-retirees, and retirees. For each stage, we highlighted the most important financial "jobs" to have--along with advice about how to get them done.

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.

Early Career Accumulators
An Investing Road Map for Early Career Accumulators
Tips on getting the most bang for your investment dollars when you're just starting out.

An Aggressive Retirement Saver Portfolio (Mutual Funds)
We employ actively managed mutual funds and a stock-heavy portfolio mix.

An Aggressive Retirement Saver Portfolio (ETFs)
An all-passive portfolio for investors with very long time horizons.

Midcareer Accumulators
An Investing Road Map for Midcareer Accumulators
Key financial priorities for investors in the peak earnings years of their 40s and 50s.

A Moderate Retirement Saver Portfolio (Mutual Funds)
Its allocations illustrate that even 40-somethings should be mostly in stocks.

A Moderate Retirement Saver Portfolio (ETFs)
This equity-heavy portfolio also includes a small dose of high-quality bonds.

Pre-Retirees
An Investing Road Map for Pre-Retirees
The late 50s and early 60s are the perfect time for investors to embark on a savings sprint, assess the viability of their portfolio, and build out their stake in safer securities.

A Conservative Retirement Saver Portfolio (Mutual Funds)
Even with retirement on the horizon, our portfolio maintains a sizable equity weighting.

A Conservative Retirement Saver Portfolio (ETFs)
For a pre-retiree, our portfolio includes a larger--and better diversified--stake in bonds.

Retirees
An Investing Road Map for Retirees
For people in drawdown mode, tips on asset allocation, Social Security, annuities, withdrawal rates, and more.

An Aggressive Retirement Bucket Portfolio (Mutual Funds)
This stock-heavy portfolio is appropriate for retirees with long time horizons and ample risk tolerance.

An Aggressive Retirement Bucket Portfolio (ETFs)
This ETF-oriented portfolio is ideal for retirees with long time horizons.

A Moderate Retirement Bucket Portfolio (Mutual Funds)
This portfolio is geared toward retirees with a 20-year time horizon and moderate risk tolerance.

A Moderate Retirement Bucket Portfolio (ETFs)
This portfolio is geared toward retirees with roughly 20-year time horizons.

A Conservative Retirement Bucket Portfolio (Mutual Funds)

Geared toward retirees with shorter time horizons, this portfolio includes a heavy stake in bonds and cash.

A Conservative Retirement Bucket Portfolio (ETFs)
This ETF-oriented portfolio is ideal for retirees with shorter time horizons.