Are you new to investing? Investing for beginners is not as tough as you think! Whether you're considering real estate, IRAs, stocks, or your crazy uncle John's “next big thing”, there are lots of ways to invest to make your money work for you. Learn ways you can prepare for your future — no matter your financial goals.
Do you ever get stressed out when you think about the future? What’s gonna happen? Do we have enough to retire? Can we pay for the kids’ college? Spending too much time in “what if” land can scare you to death if you let it! If you want to get started with preparing for the future, then consider investing.
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Investing allows beginners and pros alike to be proactive about your future rather than just letting your money sit in a savings account while hoping and wishing that it will result in more money later on. A word of caution before you begin: Investing, credit cards, and finances in general are very personal topics. Find what works best for YOU by researching the options available to you!
KNOW YOUR BEGINNER INVESTING GOALS FOR SUCCESS
Ask yourself, “Why am I investing money?” You may wish to save money to purchase a house. Or, you might just want to have a financial cushion to handle unexpected expenses. Maybe you just want to plan for retirement and a trip around the world with your spouse in the future — there is no wrong answer! (Just bring us with you on your world tour, mmkay?)
The first thing to do before investing your money as beginners is to be clear about what your current goals are for your money. In clarifying your financial goals, here are a few important things to consider:
- What is Your Current Budget Situation? – Our best advice is to make sure your family is financially secure before investing. Secure means that you have paid all pressing debts and built savings for emergencies. Once those things have been accomplished, then, by all means, invest!
- How Much Can You Afford to Lose? – There's no telling how investments will do, so any money that you put into an investment shouldn't cause damage to your family finances in any way. If you will have trouble making payments in a given month because of investments or if you have to pull from savings to invest, then it’s best to avoid it. A good rule of thumb is that if your family would be in financial trouble if the investment doesn't pan out, then don’t invest.
Pro Tip: Money that you invest is gone FOR-EV-ER. Who else always pictures Squints from The Sandlot when they say that? Investment accounts are not easily drawn from in times of hardship or for everyday budget use. You should consider investment dollars as spent, and never look back. If that thought strikes fear in your heart, reconsider whether you are ready to invest that money.
INVESTING FOR BEGINNERS 101 – WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?
There are SOOOOOO many options available for investing your money that it can make your head spin — especially when you're investing beginners. It can be difficult to make heads or tails of all the options — let alone decide which is best for you. Here are some research resources that we’ve used:
- Introduction to Investing – The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s UH-MAZING site dedicated to teaching the basics of investing.
- Ways to Invest – Mint.com’s Ways to Invest page has so much info on options depending on your investing goals.
- Find A Brokerage – Mint.com can match you with a brokerage investment account from their list of partners.
- Retirement and IRA Accounts – Learn from CNN Money’s Ultimate Guide to Retirement
- Using Credit Cards for Investing? – See what Bankrate.com says about buying stocks with a credit card and whether you should.
- Short Term Investing – See the 7 best short-term investments for your money.
- Is Insurance an Investment? – CNN Money has a helpful article on whether insurance should be used as an investment.
- Investment Apps – The convenience of investing for retirement right at your fingertips. Check out the Acorns mobile app to see how you can begin investing today with just your spare change.
Spend some time BEFORE you reach out to an advisor or make investment decisions based on what’s available to you. You will know based on your goals which options you are interested in and which ones scare you to death! Go with your gut and continue down the path of what speaks to you.
FOR BEGINNERS: CHOOSING THE RIGHT INVESTMENTS
Once you have decided on your financial goals and learned the basics, it’s time to pick the best investment options for you. Here are a few basic questions to ask yourself as beginners to help you make the best decision for your family:
- How Quickly Can You Get Your Money Back? – Stocks, bonds, and shares in mutual funds can usually be sold at any time, but there is no guarantee you will get back all the money you paid for them. Other investments, such as limited partnerships, often restrict your ability to cash out your holdings.
- What Can You Expect to Earn on Your Money? – While bonds generally promise a fixed return, earnings on most other securities go up and down with market changes.
- What Type of Earnings Can You Expect? – Yes, this IS different from the last question. Will you get income in the form of interest, dividends, or rent? Some investments, such as stocks and real estate, have the potential for earnings and growth in value. What is the potential for earnings over time?
- How Much Risk is Involved? – With any investment, there is always the risk that you won't get your money back or the earnings promised. There is usually a trade-off between risk and reward: the higher the potential return, the greater the risk.
It can be difficult to go it alone when making investment decisions. Again, we highly recommend seeking out the help of a trusted financial advisor for advice on your particular financial situation. Seriously — you can do it alone — but WHY would you when it comes to your money?
A FEW MORE THINGS FOR INVESTING BEGINNERS TO CONSIDER
Yay, you! You’ve started investing for your family and things are going swimmingly. Once you are solid on the basics, there are a few extra things to consider to make sure you're set up for long-term success:
- Are Your Investments Diversified? – Putting your money into a variety of investment types can help to reduce your overall risk and secure your cash. Some investments perform better than others in certain market situations.
- Are There any Tax Advantages to a Particular Investment? – Does anybody really want to give all their money away to Uncle Sam? Look into investment tax breaks. For special goals like paying for college and retirement, tax-deferred investments are available that let you postpone (or even eliminate) the payment of income taxes.
Investing in your financial future is a very important and personal decision. While we hope you find our tips useful, we are NOT professionals. It’s worth repeating: you should always seek the help of a qualified advisor to make decisions about your money.
Looking for more great ways that you can take charge of your family's finances? Don't forget about our AMAZING online budgeting program, Budget Boot Camp! It's a super fun video program that makes money easy to understand.
Looking for more advice on improving your family finances?
- See our viral “7 Bank Accounts Every Family Should Have” post
- How to get started with a budget if finances are tight
- Learn 55+ ways to save extra money
Cheers to your future!