Retirement Investments Beginners Guide

Making sure you pick the proper investments and setting up a retirement account that makes the most sense for you and your family is paramount to making the most of your retirement savings.

As the average life expectancy continues to become longer, it’s mission critical that you over-budget your savings and put planning at the forefront from an early age.  While saving money is one part of the equation, having the right mix of investments is the largest factor when it comes to retirement investing, and today I’m going to share with you my approach that I’ve taken to safeguard my retirement and make the most out of it through good times and bad times.

How Much Should You Save for Retirement?

Financial advisors normally provide a range of 10% to 15% of your income, but everyone’s approach is different.  Retirement calculators exist to help people for the most part, but it really comes down to how you want to live your life in your golden years.

What is the Right Number to Invest in Retirement?

When you figure out a number that you’d like to put away each month, you need to decide how much money you want to invest, and where.  There is no shortage of products you can invest in when it comes to retirement savings, and everyone’s profession and career path varies and provides different options.

Some folks will be lucky enough to have a 401(k) or similar plan through their employer, and some even offer company-matching contributions, and you should definitely contribute whatever the company will match if you are afforded that opportunity.  In addition, there are things you can do outside of your employers plan that can help you escalate your retirement savings and provide more diverse investments.

Diversifying for Retirement

The first thing I did after nearly being wiped out by the economic collapse in 2008 was to start allocating some of my wealth into precious metals.  After looking back at what savvy investors did to not only see 70%+ losses that I personally experienced, and notice that some people who invested in gold and silver actually doubled, and even tripled their investments, I was keen on taking a closer look.

There are many gold IRA firms that can help you allocate a percentage of your retirement to precious metals with ease.  I invested around 17% of what I had liquid into a mix of gold and silver and within two weeks from my first consultation, had the account ready to go and my metals securely shipped to a depository I chose to store them in based in Texas.

Since doing so, the price has risen sharply for both gold and silver, while three banks have collapsed, and more could be on the horizon.  Let’s not get started on my equities portfolio having a lackluster 20%+ drop since making this move, either.  These facts proved to me that gold and silver are the ultimate inflation hedge and this strategy of diversifying to counteract market turbulence is my #1 recommended retirement move you can make.

—> Get a Free Precious Metals Investing Guide.

Other Ways to Invest for Retirement

Again, diversification is key.  I personally own equities, have cash, own businesses, (both in day to day operations and invested inside my Self Directed IRA) and hold precious metals and even digital currency.  Outside of that, here is a range of other investment vehicles that are popular investments for retirement.

  • Mutual funds:  funds managed by professional fund managers have been popular for years, but recently more passive routes called index funds have been popular due to their low costs and simplicity of ownership.  My Uncle (also named Tim) is a huge advocate for investing in the S & P 500, which you can buy with the traded ticker INX.
  • Index Funds:  you won’t have a fund manager in charge of selecting these investments because these funds buy shares of all of the securities in a given index, like the aforementioned S&P 500.  This also keeps costs down for the investor.  A lot of attention has been brought to index funds by none other than Warren Buffet.
  • Exchange Traded Funds or ETFS:  these are similar to mutual funds in the respect that these can be traded when the market is open on any exchange.

Buying Stocks and Bonds

A more refined, and perhaps risky approach is to dig into individual companies and purchase their stock.  When building a portfolio, it’s important to know the risk of each company and sector you are investing in.  For example, you’d be wise to spread your money across many industries rather than investing in purely “travel” type stocks.  This way if an industry suffers a downturn, your entire portfolio won’t suffer.  It’s also smart to buy dividend stocks to create cash flow.  You can even choose to re-invest the dividends into the stock each time they pay, something that will take advantage of lower prices should the stock decline.

There are even dividend stocks that pay monthly if you are looking for more frequent cash flow.

You can also buy what’s called a bond ladder, where you purchase bonds that mature over a varied number of years to help you generate cash flow while managing the interest rate.


Income streams that you can’t outlive make people feel safe, and this is exactly what an annuity is.  When you purchase an annuity, you move the risk away from you to the insurance company that guarantees you pay an income stream for life.  These can be pricey, on the flip side.

Use a Financial Advisor

The ideal financial advisors will understand your positions and have your best interests in mind when making decisions on your behalf.  You can choose one locally or find a robo-adviso that leverages computer models to help you craft the perfect investment portfolio.

How to Decide on a Retirement Strategy

Your retirement strategy can be aggressive in the early stages and take a lot of risks because there is plenty of time for the portfolio to grow and yield results.  You may want to de-risk your portfolio as you near retirement age if you feel you are over-aggressive and want to keep your savings intact.

You should ask yourself this question as well:

Do you feel there will be market turbulence ahead?

If so, you should really consider inflation hedge investments for 5-20% of your portfolio.  This can safeguard your savings in the event the economy tanks, as I spoke about above.  This is another reason I chose metals ahead of this current environment we’re in, and it’s playing out nicely so far.

Also read:  Why Gold is a Great hedge against Inflation

If you want to learn more about the process of investing in precious metals, read this rollover guide as it explains what you can expect along with my first hand notes after going through this process.

What is the Best Retirement Account to Use?

Now that you have an idea of the variety of investments available to you, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the various types of retirement accounts.  You can use a mix of the following:

  • An Employer Sponsored plan (401k / 403(b), / 457(b) and even pension plans.
  • IRAS, either traditional, Roth, or both.
  • Small business or Self employed IRA (Sep IRA, Simple, 401(k) and profit sharing.

I’ve been self-employed since the age of 23, and have a SEP IRA that is Self-Directed, which has allowed me to really diversify my investments across many verticals. I also max out my Roth IRA every year via a back door Roth IRA where I open a traditional IRA and then convert it to a Roth IRA.  If you have questions about any of these accounts, please reach out to me.

Note, I consulted NerdWallet in creating this article. Not investment advice.


Tim Schmidt


Tim Schmidt is an Entrepreneur who has covered retirement investing since 2012. He started this website to share his expertise in using his Self-Directed IRA for alternative investments. His views on retirement investing have been highlighted in USA Today, Business Insider, Tech Times, and more. He invested with Goldco.