Chart your investments every quarter

Calculator on paper with interest rates

You should follow investments on a regular basis but don't obsess over daily fluctuations in stocks and mutual funds -- especially if they're in a 401(k) or IRA retirement account.

Saving for retirement or a kid's college education requires long-term thinking. Adjustments should be made two or three times a year -- not two or three times a month.

The decision to buy or sell a particular stock or fund should be based on its performance over a period of years.

The best way to filter out the market's short-term volatility is to evaluate the change in value four times a year, at the end of each quarter (March 31, June 30, September 30, December 31).

It's also a great time to add up the total value of your investments, celebrate your progress and use it as an incentive to keep saving.

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