long term vs short term

Long-Term Vs Short-Term Investments: Which is the Better Strategy for Your Portfolio?

In the same way, that you have a goal in mind while saving, similarly investing works.

Having a goal in mind while investing would help you determine how long you should hold that investment.

Setting up an investment goal would require clarity on your objectives, risk tolerance, and the type of investment you prefer.  

There are two major 2 types of investment based on time—short-term and long-term. Let’s define each of them.

Short-term Investment

These are the kinds of investments you hold for a minimum of a few months or less than a year. The objective here is to capitalize on immediate opportunities and potentially generate quick profits. Cash equivalents, money market funds, and short-term bonds are typical short-term investments.

Technically, any asset can be a short-term one, but most of them fall under 2 categories

  • High Volatility: This means their asset prices move quickly. They’re up today and down tomorrow. This makes it easier for investors to cash out quickly.
  • High Liquidity: This means short-term investments are easier to buy and sell. You don’t have to wait for a long time for this to happen.

Types of Short-term Investment

1. Money Market Funds

These funds put their money to work by investing in highly liquid and low-risk securities like government bonds, CDs, and commercial paper. They are well-liked for being reliable and easily accessible, making them appropriate for short-term objectives or emergency funds.

2. Certificates of Deposit (CD)

This certificate is a time deposit with a set interest rate and maturity date. Although they are regarded as secure investments, they have a restricted amount of liquidity because you frequently cannot withdraw money without paying a penalty before the maturity date.

3. Treasuries Bills (T-Bills)

T-Bills are short-term government securities that can mature in as little as a year. Since they are regarded as essentially risk-free, investors who are searching for a secure location to park their money frequently temporarily use them.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Short-term Investment

They are low-risk investments which makes them also stable assetsThey typically have lower rates of return because they’re held for a short period.
Short-term investments can help mitigate risks by avoiding prolonged exposure to market volatility and fluctuations.Their taxes are high when you make money from them.
Because they’re highly liquid, you can access your funds quickly when needed.Their fast-paced nature can induce stress and anxiety, especially if market movements are unpredictable.


Long-term Investment

These types of investments are held for at least a year or more. Investors with long-term goals usually save for retirement or goals that are for the future. The idea is that the investment would grow in value despite the short-term volatility.

Types of Long-term Investment

1. Stocks

Purchasing a single share of a company’s stock entitles you to ownership. Long-term returns on stocks could be significant, but they are more volatile. Having a diverse portfolio of assets across markets and sectors can reduce risk.

2. Bonds

These are debt securities that have been issued by enterprises or governments. The principal is returned upon maturity, and they pay interest regularly. In comparison to corporate bonds or stocks, long-term government bonds are thought to be safer but may also yield lesser yields.

3. Real Estate

Residential and commercial real estate assets have the potential for long-term appreciation and rental revenue. Due to transaction costs and the possibility for value growth, real estate investments are frequently viewed as long-term.

4. Retirement Accounts (401(k)s and IRAs)

401k are employer-sponsored accounts that help you earn towards retirement. Whereas IRAs are investment accounts that you set up yourself to plan towards your retirement. These types of investments are long-term so your returns can grow with time.

5. Index Funds and ETFs

These investment tools provide diversity while following a particular market index. They can be kept for a long time and offer exposure to a variety of assets without the requirement for active management.

Read Also: How to Build a Diversified Portfolio for Long-Term Success

6. Mutual Funds

To invest in a variety of assets, mutual funds aggregate money from multiple participants. They are suitable for long-term aims since they may be customized to fit various risk profiles and investment objectives.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Long-term Investment

Compounding benefits: Because it’s long-term, you benefit from the compounding effect your returns generate over time.Less Access to Money: Long-term investments can lock up your money for a while, so it’s harder to use it for emergencies or unexpected costs.
Long-term investments can help you handle market ups and downs by smoothing out fluctuations, so you can handle short-term drops betterChanging Markets: Because you’re investing for a long time, you’ll go through different economic situations, and your investments might go down at times.
Potential for Bigger Profits: Holding on to your investments for a longer period can create potential for bigger returns compared to short-term investments.Harder to Change Plans: It might be tougher to adjust your investments as things change because long-term investments don’t give as much flexibility.
Tax Advantages: Some places give tax benefits for long-term investments, like lower tax rates on profits, which means more money for you.
They’re good for reaching big goals like planning for retirement, saving for education, and growing wealth for a long time.

Factors to Consider When Making Investment Decisions 

Having explored various investment options, the question now is: How do you pinpoint the investments that align perfectly with your needs?

Your investment decisions are influenced by several crucial factors: time, purpose, risk tolerance, potential returns, market dynamics, and the type of assets you possess. These elements collectively determine whether your investment journey should lean towards the short-term or the long-term.

Let’s delve into these factors and see how they shape your investment path.

FactorsLong-term InvestmentShort-term Investment
Time horizonHeld for extended periods, often years to decadesHeld for a shorter duration, typically less than a year
purposeAims at building wealth and achieving long-term goalsUsed for immediate needs or opportunities
Risk and returnHigher returns potential, but also higher risk and volatilityLower returns, and lower risk due to a shorter time frame
Asset typeStocks, bonds, real estate, retirement accountsMoney market funds, CDs, short-term bonds
Market fluctuationCan withstand fluctuations and benefit from potential recoverySensitive to market changes, less time to recover


The decision between long-term and short-term investments should be made in alignment with your financial objectives, level of risk tolerance, and time horizon. To meet various needs and objectives, a well-balanced portfolio may contain a combination of both investment kinds.

I hope you found this information helpful. Download the Trove app to start your investment journey

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