Beginners Guide to Investing
Maybe since your divorce you’ve been bad about investing. You probably haven’t made investing a priority. Or, maybe you were never much of an investor, but now that you are divorced, you want to get started investing. Whatever your reason, you don’t need to be an expert to get started. There are a number of really simple, easy ways that don’t take tons of knowledge, skills, experience, or even money to get started. This is the beginners guide to investing which will teach you how investing works, and offer many different investment tips for beginners.
An index fund is a type of fund that is created with a myriad of stocks, bonds and other investments to match or track the performance of a market index, such as the S&P 500. The biggest benefits of investing in an index fund are the following.
- Low Operating Expenses
- Diversified Portfolio
- Low Costs
- Above Average Performance Over Time
- Stability – Low Investment Turnover
I definitely like index funds for all of these reasons. If you don’t fully understand how investing works, and do not know where to start, you can begin investing with index funds. The thought process behind investing in index funds is not that you are going to “beat the market” (which is nearly impossible for even the most seasoned investors), but rather that you will match it. Considering the past performance of the stock market, this approach has worked significantly well for individuals investing for the long-term. Why invest in stocks when you can invest in index funds?
No-Load Mutual Funds
A no-load mutual fund is a fund that consists of a group of investments that are available to you with no commission or sales fee. This is available because you are buying the investment directly from the mutual fund company itself, not from a commissioned salesperson or broker. There are hundreds of mutual fund types you can buy, such as stocks funds, bond funds, index funds, real estate funds, and so much more. I personally have no-load mutual fund accounts with T. Rowe Price and Vanguard, both of which I am extremely happy with. I also like no-load mutual funds for those who are beginners in investing.
Automatic investing (also knows as a SIP or Systematic Investment Plan) is not so much of an investing approach, but rather it is a savings approach to investing. This beginners guide to investing teaches you that you can apply automatic investing to either of the investing strategies listed above, (index funds or no-load mutual funds). Automatic investing involves contributing a regular dollar amount on a consistently scheduled basis to an investment. For example, you could have $100 drafted from your checking account weekly to purchase a no-load mutual fund with Fidelity. Or, you could purchase one share of the index fund, IVV (iShares Core S&P 500 ETF, [full disclosure, I own this fund]), each month.
The approach of automatic investing is two-fold. First, it allows you to factor in dollar-cost averaging. This is a great investing tip for beginners. This month you buy at one price, and the next month a different price. This allows you to average the cost that you paid for your investment over time. There is no trying to time or beat the market. You are giving yourself the best odds to perform well over time. Second, it allows you to invest a smaller amount of money over a longer amount of time. So, with the help of compound interest, you can build a large investment portfolio with relatively smaller amounts of weekly or monthly contributions that build up over time.Which sounds easier? Investing $6,000 to your ROTH IRA in a single lump sum, or investing $115 each week when you receive your paycheck? The result is the same. Click To Tweet
Acorns is an app geared toward beginners and has some great investment tips for beginners. Acorns lets you invest your spare change. Don’t be fooled, it can add up fast! First, you link your debit card and/or credit cards to the app. Next, you just go about living your daily life. Every time you make a purchase, BOOM, they round up the amount of your purchase to the nearest dollar. That’s it. Now you are an investor. There is no lazier way than Acorns to get started investing today. It is easy and efficient!
Here is How Acorns Describes The Process
- Invest your spare change
- Set aside the leftover change from everyday purchases by turning on automatic Round-Ups
- Save for later
- Get ready for later in life using Acorns Later, the easiest way to save for retirement
- Learn how to get more from your money with easy-to-understand articles and videos from financial experts
Acorns has other features as well that lets you put automatic savings into effect with regular weekly or monthly contributions to invest, as well as customizing your Round-Ups and other features of the app. The beginners guide to investing absolutely recommends that you download Acorns today.
Target Date Funds
A target-date fund is a mutual fund portfolio that will match your level of risk based on the date of the fund. For example, if you are 40 years old, and intend to retire at age 60, you would pick a target-date fund with a date that is 20 years from today. This year is 2020, so you would pick a target date fund of 2040. I currently invest in my ROTH IRA in the T. Rowe Price Target Date Fund 2040. Why invest in stocks individually when you can invest in a target-date fund?
Side Note: Target-date funds also work well for college savings. All three of my kids have target-date funds which are dated the year in which they will start college.
The purpose to a target date fund is to manage risk. When you are 20 years away from the target date, the mutual fund manager will invest with more risk, allowing more time for market fluctuations and aggressive growth. The more time you have, the more risk you can take. This will potentially reward you with more gains over time. As the target date approaches, the risk is reduced and it becomes a safer investment. This will allow you to mitigate any unnecessary risk and reduce fluctuations as the time comes near when you will need the money (i.e. retirement, college, etc.).
How Lazy Investing Works
Investing for beginners doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, I prefer it to be easy. You can implement one or two items from the beginners guide to investing above and you will be well on your way to lazy investing. As you learn and grow, you can add more items from the list, or even begin more advanced investing techniques. The key is to just get started. If you need some extra money to get started investing, check out the article on The Top 10 Foods That Are Actually Cheaper at Costco.
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Side Note: If you still aren’t sure how to make some extra money to invest, be sure to read the article regarding 6 Ways to Make Extra Money During the Coronavirus Crisis. Then follow me on Facebook or Instagram. Good luck!