Many people want to learn how to start investing their money. Investing is possible even on a modest budget. Start with low-risk investments and work your way up to more complex investments over time. Once you have mastered risk management techniques, you can consider adding other asset classes, such as commodities or real estate, to your portfolio.
There are many forms of investing, but we’ll focus on low-risk investing for this guide. Low-risk investing is a great way to grow your finances over the long term. The most common investment vehicles are stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Each has its own risks as well as rewards. Keep reading below for some tips that will help you get started.
How Much Money Do You Need to Start Investing?
There’s no magic number regarding how much money you need to invest. But a good rule is to start with 10% of your income. That way, you can still cover your essentials and have some wiggle room in your budget. If you’re unsure where to begin, try starting with a low-risk investment like a savings account or a certificate of deposit (CD). As you get more comfortable, you can start venturing into higher-risk investments.
Remember that the amount of time invested will be the most important factor in how much you’ll earn. You’ll likely need to keep your money there for at least five years to make big bucks on investment. It takes time to see the rewards because most stocks take a while to fully appreciate. To beat inflation, which is generally about 3%, you want your return on investment (ROI) to be at least 6%. The best way to do this is by playing it safe with your initial strategy.
Once you have your investment plan in place, you need to determine how much of your money to put into it. Before deciding on a dollar amount, figure out what amount of risk you can tolerate and when you’d like to see a return on your investment. If you’re just getting started with investing, try starting small with just 1-2% of your income. It will help you understand how much money is needed while allowing room for growth.
Short-Term vs. Long-Term Investing
Are you looking to make quick cash or grow your money over time? Your investment timeline will play a significant role in deciding which type of account is right for you. Short-term investing means getting the most return on your investments within the next year, while long-term investing typically means saving and growing your assets until retirement. If you want to invest in stocks or funds (see below), it’s usually best to do so through an IRA or employer-sponsored 401(k) account; this way, if you change jobs and don’t have access to these accounts anymore, the government won’t penalize you with penalties and taxes.
You can also open up a brokerage account (no tax benefits but no restrictions either) or choose to keep your investments in ultra-low-risk places like high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit. You’ll need to consider how much risk you’re willing to take on as well—higher risk yields higher potential returns, but also comes with serious potential losses.
Make sure you know what kinds of stocks or funds you want to invest in before opening any new accounts. Mutual funds are professionally managed by people who study different types of investments, which can lower the risk for investors just starting. ETFs are similar to mutual funds but trade more quickly on exchanges, making them easier to buy and sell than mutual fund shares.
When choosing where and how to invest your money, no one-size-fits-all solutions exist! Your risk tolerance level should be considered alongside your financial goals and timeline.
Investing vs. Savings Accounts
The main difference between investing and saving is that when you invest, you’re using your money to earn more money. With a savings account, you’re just keeping your money in a safe place where it will usually earn a bit of interest. You can still make pretty good returns with suitable investments, but those investments are inherently much riskier than a savings account.
In long-term investing, you generally can’t withdraw funds from your investment accounts without significant penalties, so you should consider building an emergency fund to make sure you have cash available if you need it. An emergency fund should have enough funds to cover at least 3-6 months of expenses.
Next Steps for New Investors
Investing is a great way to grow wealth and save for your long-term future. However, it can be daunting to get started if you don’t know the basics. This guide will give you the foundation you need to start investing today.
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