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Investing 101: What You Need to Know

Following are some retirement-related topics worth knowing about.

Saving for retirement is a journey, and regardless of how far down that path you are, it’s never too late to boost your investment knowledge. It’s important to remember three major concepts in how you prepare financially for retirement:

Stocks and bonds

Stocks, or equities, as they’re also called, are shares of ownership in a company. When individuals buy stocks, they essentially become part owner in that company. Bonds, also known as fixed income, are loans that an investor makes to an issuer, such as a company or government. When individuals buy bonds, the borrowers (e.g., companies or governments) pay interest on the loan to investors until it is paid off. Stocks are historically more volatile investments than bonds but have the potential to provide greater returns over the long term, while bonds are generally considered a lower-risk investment but offer lower returns. Investing in bonds still involves risk, though. Bond prices generally fall when interest rates rise.

Regarding your retirement plan, you probably have the option to choose from a menu of investment funds that have been selected by the plan sponsor (usually your employer). These funds invest in underlying stocks and/or bonds (or other securities) in accordance with each fund’s Principal investment strategies.

Asset allocation

Asset allocation is the mix of different types of investment asset classes—such as stocks, bonds and cash—in a portfolio, that can help you meet your objectives and build a financially secure retirement. To determine the asset allocation that’s appropriate for you, you’ll want to consider a number of factors such as your age, investment goals and tolerance for risk when it comes to investing. For help as you identify the asset allocation that aligns with your long-term investment objectives, check out this Investment Questionnaire*.


Diversification is the strategy of having investments in various asset classes and different types of markets, sectors, industries and securities so your exposure to a single area of the market is limited. Think of the phrase: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversification can further reduce risk and volatility in your retirement account over time, while also helping you with your asset allocation decisions. With a properly diversified portfolio, when one area of the market declines, the rest of your portfolio’s value would still be relatively insulated by your investments in other areas. It is important to note that diversification does not guarantee investment returns or eliminate the risk of loss.

To keep building your investment vocabulary, check out this Glossary.

No matter where you are at in your retirement journey or if you are just beginning, it’s never too late to begin investing. Make sure to set some time aside to become aware between the differences of stocks and bonds, diversification, and asset allocation as you being setting your financial goals for investing for your retirement.


The statement made in this publication is by a client of Mutual of America and is not a paid testimonial. This testimonial may not be representative of the experience of other clients and is not indicative of future performance or success.

*Information and interactive calculators are made available as self-help tools for independent use and are not intended to provide investment advice. We cannot and do not guarantee their applicability or accuracy in regard to individual circumstances. All examples are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes only. We encourage individuals to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding all personal finance issues.

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You should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the investment funds and, if applicable, the variable annuity contract, carefully before investing. This and other information is contained in the funds' prospectuses and summary prospectuses and the contract prospectus or brochure, if applicable, which can be obtained by calling 800.468.3785 or visiting mutualofamerica.com. Read them carefully before investing.


Mutual of America's group and individual retirement products that are variable annuity contracts are suitable for long-term investing, particularly for retirement savings. The value of a variable annuity contract will fluctuate depending on the performance of the Separate Account investment options you choose. Upon redemption, you could receive more or less than the principal amount invested. A variable annuity contract provides no additional tax-deferred treatment of benefits beyond the treatment provided to any qualified retirement plan or IRA by applicable tax law. You should consider a variable annuity contract's other features before making a decision.