Fearful of what the future holds for your money and investments? Learning to invest—and perhaps losing money along the way—is not unlike some other risks we’ve learned we can take…driving a car, starting a business, getting married, having children, moving.
While it’s never too soon to make that first investment, many won’t start because they:
- think investors must be wealthy,
- worry it’s not the best time to invest,
- aren’t experts in finding investments, or
- are afraid they’ll make a mistake.
True, these are real worries that can stymie any potential investor…fear of the financial unknown just presents too much risk for many. Yet surprisingly, the biggest risk associated with investing is financial procrastination or not investing at all.
Yes, getting ahead financially involves some risk, but not taking a risk leaves you behind.
But where should you start…stocks, bonds, real estate, and commodities all sound complicated, scary and boring? Here are some tips:
- Invest in learning to invest. Make it a habit to boost your financial knowledge and learn the lingo. Read investment publications. Use the library. Join an investment club. Talk to other investors. Find a mentor.
- Practice what you learn. Just like good baseball players, good investors don’t swing at every pitch and don’t get a hit with every swing. Practice makes perfect, so practice. It’s okay to make mistakes…and most investors do. Concentrate on investing in what you understand, not what others say are great investments. Knowledge beats hot tips.
- Start small. We don’t expect babies to run before they walk. Becoming a good investor is a series of learning steps, too. Make progress on a small scale first. Dividend Reinvestment Programs (DRIPS) are an excellent learning tool. Check out acorns, dripinvestor.com, www.buyandhold.com, www.sharebuilder.com
- Stick with it. Develop the habit of investing, do it often and continue for a lifetime. Those small amounts add up over time. Ordinary people in ordinary jobs can—and have—amassed fortunes by investing regularly. You can too.
As author of Stock Market Pie: Grandma Helps Emily Make A Million, I often see enthusiasm about investing, the stock market and building wealth begin in fifth and sixth grade. Why not take advantage of kids’ natural curiosity?
We spend thousands of dollars to build music, athletic, dance and other skills in our children. Learning to invest doesn’t require fancy equipment, uniforms, special shoes, or lots of money. Gaining skills that could help you and your children become wealthy is not an expensive proposition…but failing to learn is.