Whether you are interested in planning for a traditional retirement, an early retirement, or just hoping to be move financially savvy learning how to invest your money is one of the best ways to grow wealth. Today I am going to explain how to get started with investing in the stock market. It is not as intimidating as you might think.
Employer Based Retirement Accounts
The very first and most obvious choice is to be investing in retirement accounts such as a 401K, 403B, or if given the option a 457 that are offered by your employer.
Most employers will offer some sort of matching program. You should always take advantage of this perk if you have it as an available option. It is one of the easiest ways to get started with investing. Because what ever your employer is able to match and contribute to your retirement is a bonus.
What If You Are An Independent Contractor?
If you work for yourself as an independent contractor, freelancer or independent artist than you don’t have the option of starting up a 401k with an employer to match a percentage of your investment.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way for you to get started with investing in the stock market.
Instead you can open up an IRA (individual retirement account). I recommend using Vanguard to open either a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA.
Individual Stocks or Index Funds?
When you hear the word “stock” people automatically conjure up images of wall street day traders shouting on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. But in fact you can get started with investing in individual stocks or index funds from the comfort of your own home without hiring a financial advisor.
If You Want To Get Started With Individual Stocks
In today’s world where there are literally apps for everything. It is not surprising that there are also a vast number of investing apps available. With a smartphone you can be investing in just a matter of a few clicks.
This is great news for both stock wizards and nuanced investors to get their feet wet. The world of stocks, ETF’s and even cryptocurrencies are now at the ease of your fingertips.
The popular trading platforms such as E-Trade and TD Ameritrade now compete with a newbie platform called Robinhood. Robinhood was created as a mobile app first before adding a traditional website model. That in itself speaks to its bend towards appealing to a millennial audience.
But you don’t have to be a millennial to appreciate the ease at which Robinhood functions.
Its platform is great for beginners for one main reason: there are no fees to trade.
That’s right, no fees. This is especially appealing if you are just starting with investing and don’t have a lot of money to use.
It also makes investing less fearful because learning to invest adds risk. So if you are less worried about additional fees, than you may be more apt to give investing a try.
Fees are something that usually deter new investors from getting started in the stock market to being with.
As an added bonus, Robin Hood even provides new investors with a free stock just for using its platform. A free stock is a fun way to start tracking an investment. You can begin to track its progress without ever having to spend any of your own money out of pocket.
Now some of you may be thinking: How Successful Can Someone Be Using The Robinhood App?
The truth is, that the sky is the limit with investing. During my research for this article I came across a great piece on the blog, fitnacial$. This article of a husband and wife explain the direct success they had trading specifically using the Robin Hood app.
One of their strategies included picking stocks that were valued at no more than $20 per share.
Small stocks like that tend to be more volatile. But they can have a better payoff if you pick the precise time to buy and sell.
Next they tracked those investments through the platform Stockcharts.com which does have a monthly fee involved, about $15 to start. But with tracking their stocks they were able to pick the most optimal time to buy and sell their stocks.
Now, for those just starting out this can feel risky. I suggest playing around in the Robin Hood app for at least a month. This way you will get a feel of what you are doing and you will naturally become comfortable with trading.
Not everyone needs to be a day trader to make money.
Just like you may invest in a 401K at work, which is most likely a well diversified portfolio aimed at a steady gain over time, you can also invest in the stock market this way with the Robinhood app.
It doesn’t have to be constant buying and selling. Instead, for a longer term investing strategy you should aim to invest in mostly ETF’s (exchange-traded-fund), which are various indexes with a wide mix of stocks, bonds and commodities. Basically when you buy shares of ETF’s you are buying a small portfolio of assets, and investing in this overtime is more stable.
Another safer bet for investing long term should be in stocks that have held their value over an extensive amount of time, such as Apple, for example. When you look at its five year history for reference, you can see some gains and losses but year after year it is always netting in the positive.
Now of course, nothing is for certain. This is the stock market after-all. But it can be much more of a well thought out investment than a risky gamble if you do your homework. The more you read up about current events and keep tabs on the economy the more insight you can gain into investments.
Some good resources for market information include:
If your looking for other ways to cushion your finances, consider starting a blog (I give you step-by-step tips here), start freelance writing, or simply start slashing your spending by making some cuts to daily spending habits.