Time for some spring cleaning

Published 2:08 pm Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring is here—time to spruce up your house, get rid of clutter and get things organized.

But this year, go beyond your home and yard when you do your spring cleaning and look for ways to rejuvenate your investment portfolio.

Of course, you don’t have to take an “out with the old, in with the new” approach just for the sake of changing things up. But to consistently make progress toward your financial goals, you may need to make adjustments in response to changes in the financial markets, the economy and your personal situation. And springtime is as good a time as any to take a fresh look at your investment situation.

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So consider these suggestions:

 Dispose of things that aren’t working. Whether it’s a burnt-out computer, a non-vacuuming vacuum cleaner or a treadmill that lost its grip back when “the Web” was reserved for spiders, we all own things that are no longer useful.

And the same may be true of some of your investments.

If one hasn’t performed the way you had hoped, and you’ve given it adequate time, you may be better off by replacing it and using the proceeds to purchase another investment.

Get rid of duplicates. If you went through everything in your house, you might find several items that do the same thing.

Do you really need two toaster ovens?

And how many radios can you listen to at one time?

If you looked at your investment portfolio in this same way, you might be surprised to find some redundancies.

For example, do you own several stocks issued by similar companies that make similar products?

This might not be a problem when the stock market is booming, but it could be a definite concern if a downturn affects the industry to which these companies belong.

Always look for ways to diversify your holdings. While diversification, by itself, can’t guarantee profits or protect against loss, it can help you reduce the effects of volatility.

Put things back in order. Over time, and inadvertently, the spaces in your home can get “out of balance.”

Perhaps you have too many chairs in one corner, your flat-screen television is crowding out your family pictures, or your new desk takes up too much space in your home office. With some rearranging, however, you can usually get things back in order.

And the same need for rearrangement may apply to your portfolio, which might have become unbalanced with too much of one investment and too little of another.

This situation could undermine your financial strategy, especially if the imbalance means you are taking on too much risk or, conversely, if your holdings have become too conservative to provide the growth you need.

So look for ways to restore your portfolio to its proper balance—one that reflects your risk tolerance, time horizon and long-term goals.

By giving your portfolio an annual spring cleaning, you can help make sure it reflects your current needs and is positioned to help you make progress toward your key financial objectives.

And you won’t even have to get near the dust cloths or furniture polish.