How Much Time Does It Really Take to Manage Your Investments?

Time and money are two assets that have at least one thing in common: both of them can be spent.

But what if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to learning how to invest? Or what if you want to spend your time learning how to make more money through investing?

You shouldn’t feel intimidated either way. The truth is you can be a successful investor whether you have a lot of time or no time at all to devote to managing your investments.

Erika Taught Me

  • Robo-advisors can automate your investments if you don't have much time to manage them.
  • Index funds, ETFs, and mutual funds can spread out your risk without you having to research individual stocks.
  • Target date funds automatically adjust your asset allocation based on a selected future date, like retirement age.

. . .

If You Don’t Have Much Time 

Don’t automatically assume that because you don’t have much time, you can’t be a successful investor. If you don’t want to (or are just unable to) spend a lot of time focusing on your portfolio, you have options. 

How should I invest?

A good investing method for time-strapped investors is dollar cost averaging

With this tactic, you invest the same amount of money regularly, regardless of how the market is doing. Over time, the amount you’ve invested will average out and you don’t need to spend hours actively managing your portfolio or worrying about timing the market.

You can also find someone (or something) to manage your investments for you. 

While financial advisors can be pricey and often require high minimum investment amounts, robo-advisors don’t have that barrier. A robo-advisor is an automated digital platform that uses algorithms to help determine your investments. 

Some examples of robo-advisors are Betterment, Ellevest, and Wealthfront, but more traditional firms like Fidelity and Vanguard also offer their own versions. Webull is another popular investing app that offers a robo-advisor component.

Robo-advisors help you decide how much to invest, where to invest, and when to rebalance your portfolio. And they are more affordable than financial advisors. 

Plus, you have the added benefit that you don’t have to take the time to meet with your robo-advisor like you would with a human advisor.

I’d also suggest rebalancing your portfolio once, or ideally twice, a year if you can find the time. If you can’t, remember that a robo-advisor can do this for you, too.

READ MORE: Webull Review: How It Compares for Beginner Investors

What should I invest in?

With little time to manage investments, you’ll want to pick index funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and mutual funds

These funds are collections of assets, such as various companies’ stocks or bonds. Since they spread your investments over a mix of companies and industries, this automatically helps to reduce your risk. You don’t have to spend time tracking individual stocks.

Another good thing to invest in is your employer-sponsored plan, or your 401(k). With your 401(k) you can typically choose investments like ETFs and mutual funds, but you can also select a target date fund

Target date funds are mutual funds that will automatically adjust the allocation of assets based on a selected date (typically retirement). 

These funds are handy because as the target date approaches, the types of investments shift from higher-risk to lower-risk.

READ MORE: Where to Start Investing: Effective Money Growth for Beginners

Time spent on investing: Minimal

Researching the best robo-advisors and other tools will be a bit of an initial time investment. However, just a couple of hours can help grow your returns and ease your mind in the future.

Beyond that, expect to allocate your time by:

  • Weekly: After initial research, you’ll likely only need to set aside 30 minutes of your week to check portfolio performance and weekly news. 
  • Monthly: Try to give another 1-2 hours to make minor adjustments.
  • Yearly: Look at 5-10 hours for thoroughly reviewing your portfolio and rebalancing.

If You Have a Moderate Amount of Time

If you have the gift of a moderate amount of time, you will be looking at the middle ground of being actively involved in your investments but also letting someone do the heavy lifting for you.

How should I invest?

You can still opt for an investing app to save time and money, but you may want to choose some of your own asset allocation and investments within the app, rather than letting a robo-advisor choose it all for you. 

A lot of investing apps come with educational materials to guide you, so as you spend more time in there, you’ll learn more and be able to make decisions quicker and with more ease down the line.

If you have the finances to do it, you could hire a professional financial advisor instead. This allows you to sit down and make a more detailed plan personalized to your situation. 

They do have a cost, but they will save you time in that they’ll manage your portfolio for you. 

You can find financial advisors through online advisor matching services, banks, and other firms. Make sure they are licensed through FINRA.

What should I invest in?

If you are willing to put in a bit more research time with your investments, consider moderate-maintenance assets like:

  • Stocks that pay dividends for dividend growth investing
  • Balanced funds that have fixed allocations of stocks and bonds 
  • Stocks that allow you to use simple buy-and-hold strategies
  • Sector-specific ETFs (such as tech or energy stocks)
  • Index funds and mutual funds 

All of these investments can still save you time — for example, you can set up your dividends to automatically reinvest for you, which grows your portfolio without you having to do anything beyond the initial set-up.

However, they’ll still take a bit of time in that you’ll want to research which assets offer dividends, fit certain sectors, etc. 

READ MORE: How to Manage Your Own Investment Portfolio

Time spent on investing: Moderate

Even if you have some time, you should still use it wisely. Prioritize the tasks that will significantly impact your investments. 

Even with a financial advisor, you’ll want to take the time to read financial news and keep up with trends and economic changes. Plus you’ll want to make sure your portfolio is getting rebalanced. 

  • Weekly: Look to spend 3-5 hours a week on research analysis and making minor adjustments to your portfolio. 
  • Monthly: An additional 4-5 hours a month can be spent rebalancing and assessing changes in your goals. 
  • Yearly: Spend 10-15 hours on tax planning and portfolio analysis. Plus, you’ll want to make time to meet with your financial advisor if you go that route. 

If You Have Lots of Time

The sky’s the limit if you have a lot of time to dedicate to investing. And the cool part is, you can save money on a professional financial advisor.

How should I invest?

With a lot of time, you can be a more active investor by selecting individual stocks and other assets, since you’ll have the time to research them.

While some investing apps are a bit bare bones, there are others, like Webull, that offer charting and analysis tools — so you can get pretty deep into research if you have the time. 

If you plan to be an active investor who wants lots of data at your fingertips, spend some time researching which apps offer the info and trading features most important to you.

What should I invest in?

In addition to having a well-diversified core portfolio of stocks, bonds, and funds, people with an abundance of time can also look into:

  • Value investing (seeking out stocks that are undervalued or trading for less than their actual worth)
  • Growth stocks (companies that are showing rapid growth in the market, such as tech developers and start-ups)
  • Options and futures trading (contracts that are connected to an underlying asset, rather than owning an asset itself)
  • Alternative investments (like real estate, art, crypto, gold, and oil)
  • Sector rotation strategies (tracking which markets are likely to do well at certain times)
  • Day trading (buying and selling securities daily to try to beat the market)

Keep in mind that a lot of the more time-intensive investment tactics, like growth investing and day trading, also come with more risk. So you’ll want to make sure you also have the risk tolerance to potentially lose money in addition to your time. 

READ MORE: Active vs. Passive Investing: Which Is Best?

Time spent on investing: A lot

You have a lot of time — great! But there are different things you can focus on each week, month, and year.

  • Weekly: Expect to spend a total of 15-30 hours a week. Most of your time is going to be spent on research, market analysis, and monitoring/trading. Set time aside to examine financial statements and keep up with the latest market news. Time will be spent executing the trades and making changes to your portfolio depending on market conditions. 
  • Monthly: Spend a total of 10-20 hours on portfolio review and rebalancing to make sure your investment goals are being met. You’ll also want to dedicate time to continuing education and improving your skills. This includes things like reading books and articles (from Erika.com wink, wink) taking investment courses, or attending webinars.
  • Yearly: Spend another 50 or so hours on things like investment planning, comprehensive portfolio analysis, and tax planning. 

FAQs

When should you consider a financial advisor for your investments?

A financial advisor is handy when you have enough time to meet with them to discuss your goals, but you don’t have enough time to actively manage your portfolio on your own.

However, advisors often require you to have a minimum portfolio size, which could be several thousand dollars. They also charge a fee, which is typically a percentage of your assets under management — so you'll want to factor that into your budget when deciding whether to work with one.

How long does it take to see a profit from your investments?

This depends on the type of investment and the time you have to monitor the investments. 

Short-term investments are volatile but can see some huge returns — think individual stocks through day trading.

More medium-term investment strategies, like dividend growth investing, can take a few months to see dividend payouts. 

Index funds, ETFs, and retirement accounts can take years to see real growth and profit. 

TL;DR

Whether you have no time, a bit of time, or lots of time, you can be a successful investor. 

If you are short on time, a robo-advisor or financial advisor can sort out your investments for you. Plus, certain types of investments, like index funds and ETFs, are better for the more passive investor.

But if you have a lot of time, you can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing what you’re doing as you capture gains in the market. 

For more investing insights, check out these episodes of the Erika Taught Me podcast:

. . .

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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.