For a first-timer, learning how investing money works can be very overwhelming.
Not only can it feel like you are risking your future by putting all of your savings in investments, but there are also mountains of information available online that can make everything even more confusing.
However, investing doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Yes, not everyone will be equally capable at it, but the type of fast-paced investment you see in movies is not how everyone deals with their investments.
If you’ve decided to take the step toward making your money work for you, here are the basics of what you need to know.
Best Way to Invest Money
As usual, there is no one right way of investing money. The kind of investment you choose will depend on your needs, your abilities, and your goals.
If you are planning on investing money for short-term goals such as traveling or purchasing a property in the next year, you will probably need to look into riskier ventures with higher returns.
If, however, you are thinking long-term such as investing for retirement, saving for college, or buying your own house ten or twenty years from now, there are many low-risk options available.
Short-term investments require a more hands-on approach, and while it is possible to hire someone to take care of your investments for you, that service does not come cheap.
How you invest your money will depend a lot on who you are as a person. Your view on acceptable risk and reward will vary greatly according to the type of person you are.
Your worldview affects how you manage your money, so here are a few types of investors so that you can see where you fit:
- Investors who think the market will collapse and don’t trust the financial system prefer to invest in more “permanent” assets, such as gold or real estate.
- Investors like you see in movies who sit all day in front of their TVs, keeping track of each market change, manage their investments on a more short-term basis.
- Investors who diversify and invest in many markets to see a slow but steady increase in their investments are in it long-term and have indexed investments.
Why You Should Invest Money for Your Future
The greatest advantage of investing versus saving your money comes from compound returns. Compound returns are a wonderful concept that will allow you to grow a single dollar into a million if you leave it long enough.
Instead of leaving your money in your savings account, putting it to work even in a low risk investment can yield great results over time and help you achieve your long-term goals, such as saving up for retirement or buying your dream home.
Whether you invest for 10, 30, or 50 years, it cannot be denied that making your money work for you will be helpful whenever you choose to withdraw your investments.
How to Invest Money
Once the decision has been made, you have two options: you can take care of your investments yourself, or you can hire someone to do it for you.
Both options have their pros and cons, but it all depends on whether you are able or willing to manage this on your own.
Getting started can be intimidating, but you can ease into it and go slow until you find your footing.
You can also get in touch with experts who are willing to do the heavy lifting for you. In exchange for a fee, of course.
However, you can also take advantage of the digital era we live in and start your investment journey with robo-advisors.
Robo-advisors are apps that give you the best financial advice for your investments based on algorithms. They are easy to use and much more affordable than traditional management firms.
Is It Worth the Risk?
As is the case with everything worth doing, investing does have its risks. We’re all familiar with people who’ve lost everything due to a crash in the stock market, or people who lost all of their savings due to falling victim of a scam.
There will always be a risk, but you can manage and reduce that risk if you make wise investments.
This is one of the good things about starting on your investments young. You are more likely to invest for the long-term, which significantly reduces the risks.
As long as you’re careful while taking your first steps, not investing can be riskier than investing. If you never take the risk, that can cost you more money than a setback due to a bad investment.
The sooner you begin saving money and investing it, the more money you’ll eventually have.
How Much Money Do You Have to Invest?
While financial advisors usually require you invest a minimum amount, you can start investing with as little as $5 a month.
Yes, the more money you invest, the more money you’ll get in return, but you do not have to save for years and years before making your first investment. In fact, it’d be better if you don’t.
Waiting until you have an “acceptable” amount of savings to invest can make you lose valuable time that you could be putting your smaller savings to work.
If you are not used to saving, start by setting aside just $15 a week. It doesn’t look like much, but it’ll quickly add up to more than $500 at the end of the year.
Or if you want to start investing right away, you can put the $60 you saved the first month straight to work.
Save Money to Invest More Money
If, however, you are used to saving more than you spend, that will be a great advantage. You can make a bigger initial investment, which will yield better results and keep adding your monthly savings to your investment.
Of course, the more you invest, the more you gain. Already being in the habit of saving a portion of your income will help you grow your investment much quicker than if you start with a smaller amount and struggle to save for monthly payments.
Places to Invest Money
A good rule of thumb is to keep things simple. There are two factors that make a successful investor, and neither of them are the funds or stocks you choose:
- The total collection of investments in your portfolio and how they are allocated
- To avoid making emotional decisions, such as selling during a market crash
The information in this article will only scratch the surface of all the places where you can invest your money, but here are some options for you to get started.
Many long-term investors and those who want to stick to low-risk options choose how to invest in real estate.
It used to be that you had to have millions before you could think of investing in real estate, but that is not the case anymore.
Investment properties are also a good option because of the cash flow, which comes from the rent of each property after you’ve paid all expenses.
Real estate investing is one of the best ways to invest your money.
This is one of the best places to get a good return for your money, but it can be difficult if you are just starting to get into the world of investments.
If you decide to manage your own investments, you should start off slow and steady until you get comfortable with managing individual stocks.
You should start with no more than 10% of your portfolio in these investments.
Don’t be afraid to dip your toes in the stock market, but keep in mind that you need to know what you are doing in order to make the most out of your investments.
This is the best option to start with if you are a first-timer. In mutual funds, a professional investor will manage your money by putting it together with other investors’ and buying securities with the pooled money.
This enables you to invest in a diverse portfolio of bonds and stocks, which means a low-risk investment.
It is also a less expensive way of investing because you will only pay the trading commission for one transaction instead of paying a commission for each stock you buy on your own.
Bonds are also a relatively risk-free investment option. All investments have some risk, but government bonds are as little risk as it gets.
When you invest in bonds, you are “loaning” money to a government or a company. The entity that sells you the bond will pay interest for however long the lifecycle of the bond is.
While bonds are not as risky as investing in stocks, for example, it is also true that their returns are also lower (less risk generally means less returns).
Savings accounts are not the best way of investing your money, but they are the least risky investment.
Savings accounts are putting your money in the account and letting it generate interest.
Like we said before, less risk means less return, and because saving accounts are almost risk free, the returns from saving accounts are almost none.
However, this is a good way of allowing your money to grow for a while in a risk-free account before using that amount you saved in other investments.
You can also take advantage of retirement savings accounts offered by employers, like the 401(k).
With a 401(k), you can allocate part of your salary toward investments, and it has the benefit of your employer matching your contribution up to a limit.
There are other retirement savings accounts that are not employer-sponsored but that have other tax benefits, like the Roth IRA or the traditional IRA.
Each of those accounts has their own benefits and their tax benefits (mostly related to whether you invest before or after tax money), but they are both good long-term investment options.
You can even combine these three types of accounts and invest in all of them until you reach the limit.
Gold, Silver, and Other Commodities
Finally, another option is to invest in physical commodities like gold or silver, for example. These are investments that are physically yours.
Many investors invest in these kind of commodities as a safeguard for difficult economic times or for market crashes. Since you physically own the investment, it is not tied to the fluctuations of the market.
You can also invest in gold ETFs, which are bought and sold through the stock market.
When Should You Start to Invest Money?
The answer is right now. There will be no ideal time to begin investing money just like there is no ideal time to buy your first home.
There will always be drawbacks, but remember that the money you are not investing is not generating returns.
Some times are riskier than others, but investing and generating some returns is better than not generating anything at all. Just like saving a little bit is better than not saving anything at all.
This is just the basic information you need to have before getting started in the investment world.
This is by no means the whole picture, but this article will give you an overview of what you need to consider before making your first investments.
The bottom line is that you have to create your own system and your own strategy for investing and stick with it. This is the key to success when you invest in the stock market.