What's the easiest way start investing?

The first thing to do is to read a reputable personal finance website to learn the investment basics. Search online or go to a local library and read a basic book on investing to get a sense of the terminology and investment methods. Many people fail to realize that, despite a crashing stock market, you can make money from a stock losing value (called short selling). There are almost infinite combination of investing so you will need to understand the investing basics and what financial tools are available.

Each investment strategy is an individual decision, based on what you have (money, property, etc.), where you are in your life (single, young kids, empty nester, retired, etc.), your tax status, how much you make, when you plan on retiring, the amount of risk you’re willing to accept, etc. Many brokerages have tools (online or deadtrees guides) that will help educate you.

What to Start Investing in?

You need to think of how you would like to invest and it really depends on what specifically your goal is, for what duration, and how much risk your willing to take.  There are lots of options: Mutual Funds, Stocks, Bonds, Futures.

Most professional investors recommend starting with investing in mutual or index funds. Choosing a mutual fund or index fund provides you with diversification, minimizing risks associated with just one stock. Most tend to have very low expense ratios, and usually outperform actively-managed mutual funds.

It’s good advice for investment beginners to avoid individual stocks, especially when your just getting started. With individual stocks, you’ll be spending a lot of funds in investment fees, and your risk will not be diversified.

The stock market is 4 to 6 months ahead of time, so if you invest now you should be thinking about what will do well in July, not what is doing well today in February. Don’t lose sleep over the chump change, stocks go up and down consistently, so don’t worry if its down one day. Most important investment advice is to set up a regular investment schedule that you can afford, and stick to it for the long term.

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