Consult an Advisor
Before we begin, now is a good time to seek out a financial advisor. While we strive to provide a great experience on stockBLOWER.com, we do not know your own personal situation and we are not financial advisors. Your investment goals are unique to you, and a good advisor can help you better understand and navigate your investments.
Build an Emergency Fund
While we expect our investments to grow over time, there can be some unexpected twists and turns along the way. A market crash, loss of employment, or surprise expense could leave you needing quick access to cash. If all of your money is tied up in investments, you may need to sell at a bad time and suffer big losses. Having to pull from a retirement account can be even worse, causing tax penalties as well.
To combat this, it pays to set up an emergency fund. You want to keep this money where it is easily accessible and extremely safe, such as a savings account. A common rule of thumb is to put away 3 - 6 months of living expenses.
Set Your Investment Goals
Remember when we said to consult an advisor? Hopefully they’ve already helped you out here. There are two main areas to focus on:
How much time do you have to let your investment grow? Are you saving for a retirement that is decades away? If so, there are accounts intended for this purpose such as an IRA or 401k. Want to grow your money over the next couple of years? A brokerage account might be right for you.
Will you hang on through large market swings or will you sell at the first sign of trouble? A conservative investor may want to focus on more stable investment, such as CDs and bonds. An aggressive investor may opt for individual stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. Most people fall somewhere in between.
Open an Account
Based on your investment goals, you should know what type of investment account you would like to open. Many banks offer investment accounts, so be sure to check what your bank has available. There are plenty of online only options as well, so spend some time looking for the lowest fees and best offers. If you are looking to set up a 401k, that must be done through your employer.
It’s finally time to start investing! Take some time to go over your investment choices. When you’re ready, start moving money into those choices and watch it grow!
· A great place to start is your company’s 401k plan (if one is offered). Many companies will match a portion of what you put in, which makes the investment grow even faster. There are great tax benefits as well. In most plans, there are a limited number of funds that you can invest in. This makes selecting your investments easier.
· Timeframe and risk should be looked at together. It can be hard to say if the market will be up or down over the next year, but given enough time you can expect prices to rise. If you have a long timeframe, you can take on more risk. As you get closer to needing the money, start shifting to more conservative investments.
· Index funds can be a great way to add diversification to your portfolio. They are designed to follow an index (such as the S&P 500) and usually charge very low fees. Since these funds are composed of many different stocks, and individual company’s performance won’t have a huge impact on the price.