This is intended for someone who has had little if any investment experience. It may be a bit simplified but you’ll learn the very basics of investing. It's arranged in Chapters or Lessons, each just a few minutes long. When you've read them, you'll be ready to invest. A glossary of investment terms is here.
CHAPTER/LESSON 1. WHO SHOULD INVEST? WHEN TO START?
Everyone needs to invest. Your money simply won’t grow enough in a savings account to keep up with inflation. Investing helps your money work for you, and allows you to earn more money than you can anywhere else. It can be one of the most essential ways to plan for your future. As you will see here, there are many ways you can go about it -- and it doesn't need to be intimidating.
The point of investing isn't to take risks, it's to reap the rewards from your risk (and those rewards can be huge, such as a simple strategy which would have turned $11,000 into $1 Million in the 17 years ending in 2004). But we won't be shooting for those types of returns. Instead we'll look at different investments which carry varying levels of risk (for instance stocks are riskier than bonds) so that you can tailor conservative investments that let you sleep soundly at night.
But before you begin investing there are at least two things you should do:
Wait until you’re debt free – Don’t forgo paying bills so you can invest. Pay off all your credit cards and personal loans before you start investing. And develop the discipline to pay all your credit cards in full every month, so there is no interest.
Have An Emergency Fund – After you’ve paid off all credit cards and personal loans, build a budget, save up an emergency fund, and then start investing. A fund for the unexpected, not just unexpected expenses but an unexpected stop in your income. How much to put in this fund depends on several factors, including your living expenses and how solid (i.e., dependable) your income stream is. Go here to see where to put this money.
In each of the next chapters we'll cover some basic investment concepts for stocks, bonds and real estate. Yes, real estate, because it can offer income greater than bonds and growth comparable to stocks without the volatility (i.e., the ups and downs). I don’t cover commodities and other types of investments because I don't know enough about them and I don’t recommend them for beginners.
Please click on one of the buttons below to go to one of the other chapters on Investing.
1 This was updated in Oct. 2019. The views expressed here are mine and at times may depart from the norm. In preparing this article I first read several articles, and ideas or phrases from those articles may have unintentionally crept into mine; I am happy to remove any plagiarism if alerted.