One of the best ways to achieve your long term financial goals is to invest in the stock market. Historically, investing will allow your money to grow at a faster rate than a traditional savings account — although there are risks as well (more on those in a moment). If you’ve found investing daunting, try taking some of these steps to get started.
Think Things Through
The first thing you need to do is figure out how much you want to invest, and what kind of investor you will be. Go through your budget and see what you can afford to invest in the market. Money you need in the short-term (next 3ish years) should be kept in safer havens. Money you don’t need for longer is your investing stash. Once you have a figure in mind, think about what kind of investor you are. Do you want to be hands-off or hands-on? Can you tolerate a lot of risk, or just a little?
If your employer has a 401(k), start your investment journey there. This is an easy way to get into the investment game. If your company has a 401(k) match, do whatever you can to make sure you’re hitting it, as that is free money.
As USA Today notes, the best starting point for investing is usually index mutual funds. You can buy these shares from any investment company. Mutual funds are less risky and typically less costly to trade than individual stocks because they allow you to own thousands of companies with a single purchase, providing important diversification (i.e. not putting all your eggs in one basket).
Do some research about investing and trust us — don’t pay attention to any experts who claim they know how to outsmart the market. They don’t.
Play the Long Game
The key to investing? Keeping your eye on the longterm prize. Remember that the market will go down. And then remind yourself that it will go back up. Try your best not to get caught up in the daily/monthly ups and downs of the market. The more you stay focused on the long term, the more rewards you’ll reap.