Getting Started in Investments
If you are anxious to get your investments started, it may be prudent to walk before you attempt to run. You could start by being a conservative investor with a low risk tolerance. This will give you a way to making your money grow while you learn more about investing.
Start with an interest bearing savings account. You may already have one. If you don't, it would be a good idea to open one. A savings account can be opened at the same bank that you do your checking at - or at any other bank. A savings account should pay 2 - 4% on the money that you have in the account. It's not a lot of money - unless you have millions in the account - but it is a start, and it is money making money.
Next, invest in money market funds. This can often be done through your bank. These funds have higher interest payouts than typical savings accounts, but they work much the same way. These are short term investments, so your money won't be tied up for a long period of time - but again, it is money making money.
Certificates of Deposit are also sound investments with no risk. The interest rates on CD's are typically higher than those of savings accounts or Money Market Funds.
You can select the duration of your investment, and interest is paid regularly until the CD reaches maturity. CD's can be purchased at your bank, and your bank will insure them against loss. When the CD reaches maturity, you receive your original investment, plus the interest that the CD has earned.
If you are just starting out, one or all of these three types of investments is the best starting point. Again, this will allow your money to start making money for you while you learn more about investing in other places.
For many people, the next logical step would be to consider investing in stocks. Some first time stock investors think that they should invest all of their savings. This isn't a sensible strategy. To determine how much money you should invest, you must first determine how much you actually can afford to invest, and what your financial goals are.
First, let's take a look at how much money you can currently afford to invest in stocks. Do you have savings that you can use? If so, great! However, you don't want to cut yourself short when you tie your money up in an investment. What were your savings originally for?
It is important to keep three to six months of living expenses in a readily accessible savings account - don't invest that money! And don't invest any money that you may need to lay your hands on in a hurry in the future.
So, begin by determining how much of your savings should remain in your savings account, and how much can be used for stock investments. Unless you have funds from another source, such as an inheritance that you've recently received, this will probably be all that you currently have to invest.
Next, determine how much you can add to your investments in the future. If you are employed, you will continue to receive an income, and you can plan to use a portion of that income to build your stock investment portfolio over time. Speak with a qualified financial planner to set up a budget and determine how much of your future income you will be able to invest.
With the help of a financial planner, you can be sure that you are not investing more than you should - or less than you should in order to reach your investment goals.
Golden rules to follow include never borrow money to invest in the stock market, and never use money that you have not set aside for investing!
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