A Guide To Investing For beginners
Investing has adopted a myth among consumers that it’s a complicated thing that only wealthy individuals participate in. This is far from the truth, and may be costing you a lot of money for believing so. The truth is, that investing is actually very simple, exciting and has infinite financial benefits.
The Beginners Guide To Investing The Right Way
As a new investor, you probably have some basic questions to get your investment journey rolling. Among them might be:
- What is investing?
- Why should I start investing?
- How can I get started investing?
- What are good investments to start with?
- What are some good resources and advice for new investors?
Here we'll answer some of these questions and provide you with added resources and advice to get started.
What is investing?
Investing is anything that allows you to contribute money, time or talent with the expectation of a larger return in the near future. You invest in yourself when you spend money on education, because you expect to receive that money back and then some in the future from getting a well-paying job.
In reality, there are multiple forms of investing, but for sake of this guide, we’re going to show you what investing means in terms of money and finances, because that’s most likely why most of you reading this are here in search of.
There are multiple ways to invest your money including:
- Investing in the stock market
- Investing in real estate
- Investing in bonds
- Investing in loans (peer to peer lending)
- Investing in cryptocurrency
The most common investment vehicles are the stock market, real estate and bonds. Peer-to-peer lending and cryptocurrency are both more modern investment methods that haven't been around as long, but both could be great investments with the proper understanding of them.
Why Should I Start Investing?
One of the most common mistakes people make is NOT INVESTING! Myths such as "investing is risky", "investing is complicated" and "investing is for wealthy people" are all too common, and are simply not true! So, why should you start investing? Here are 5 reasons that investing is necessary to building a healthy financial plan.
- Investing is the only way to actually build long term wealth (this includes investing in the stock market, real estate, bonds, etc.)
- Planning for retirement at an early age may seem unnecessary. But opening an IRA and investing your retirement savings as early as possible will potentially allow you to live a very luxurious retirement.
- You need to invest to keep up with inflation. Inflation refers to the increasing costs for products and services - a house today may cost $300,000 but probably cost only $100,000 give or take 20 years ago.
- Saving for a long term expense such as education, purchasing a house, etc. can be accelerated by investing. If you invest in the stock market and your money grows an extra 10% each year, you'll reach your goal of saving for higher education, purchasing a house in 5 years, etc. much faster.
- Investing is a life long pursuit, and the earlier you start the better your long term financial health will be!
We are all at different stages in our life. Another common myth is "i'm too late to start investing now" or "i'm too young to begin investing". In fact those two myths are so common it's almost funny looking at them side by side! The fact is, the best time to grow an oak tree is 20 years ago. In other words, the earlier you begin, the better your financial future will be.
Ways To Save Money To Start Investing
The first thing to review when looking for discretionary money to start investing with is to take a look at your current budget. Chances are you are spending more than you think on one of the following categories:
- Fast food and restaurants
- Entertainment such as movies
- Number of services you are paying subscriptions for
- Gas and grocery shopping budget
These are just some starting points to take a look at. Sure it seems common sense, but i'm willing to bet that 9 out of 10 people reading this that actually follow the advice above will find an additional $50-$100 per month from eliminating expenses from some of these categories.
If reviewing your budget didn't free up some cash, here are 5 more ways to save extra money to invest:
- Limit how many times you eat out for lunch each week and take a home lunch to work.
- Use apps like Acorns to invest your spare change in the stock market.
- Start a side hustle for a couple hours per day or week to bring in some extra cash. You can make money doing almost anything such as a part time job, selling your handmade goods online on sites like eBay and Etsy, or by providing freelance services on sites like Fiverr and Upwork
- Sign up for cashback apps like Ibotta, Swagbucks or Paribus. These apps give you cashback for shopping at certain retailers on things you already purchase anyways.
- Sign up for a ride sharing service like Uber or Lyft and drive in your spare time for extra cash.
Using any or all of the following will free up some extra money to begin saving to start investing for your future.
Stock Market Investing For Beginners
Perhaps the most common type of investing is investing in the stock market. In fact, hundreds of billions of dollars are traded each day in the stock market. To invest in the stock market, you are essentially buying ownership of different companies that you believe in, and that you trust will continue to grow in value. This will result in your initial investment being worth more money in the future, and when done properly, it can make you a very wealthy person.
Take the following example into consideration of someone investing just $1,000 in the stock market:
John Smith decides to invest $1,000 in the stock market. He purchases 10 shares of “ABC Company” priced at $100 per share ($100 per share x 10 shares = $1,000). ABC Company grows in popularity among consumers, and their sales and growth year over year average about 15% each year. After just 5 years of having his money invested in ABC Company, John looks at his investment account balance, and is surprised to see his original $1,000 investment is now worth $2,107.18, or about $210.72 per share! His money more than doubled value in just 5 years. Imagine if his initial investment was $100,000, or even $1 million dollars!
As you can see, investing in the stock market has many financial benefits. If the above example sounds a bit confusing at first, don’t worry, we will break things down for you in an easy to understand process so that you can see how simple the stock market really is.
What is the stock market?
Don't let the term intimidate you, its actually pretty simple concept once you think about it. When you hear the term "Super Market" or "Market" in general, chances are you think of a grocery store or a central location where people go to purchase goods. Now what do you think of when you think about the stock market?
The stock market is a central location where stocks, bonds and investment vehicles are bought and sold. Its a digital marketplace where buyers and sellers meet to negotiate buying and selling of different types of investments. The two main stock marketplaces today are in the United States are the "New York Stock Exchange" (NYSE) and the "National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System" (NASDAQ). While there are other large and well known stock exchanges, these two remain the largest and most well known.
I Don't Have Enough Money To Invest...
It's one of the most common excuses that people don't start investing in the stock market. The reality is, investing just isn't a priority for you if that's your response. If you knew that you could start investing with as little as $5 would you have the same excuse? That's just half the cost of a mediocre lunch!
Make investing a priority even if it's just a few bucks here and there. It ads up quickly, and before you know it you will have a nice pile of cash you forgot you'd been contributing to.
Clarifying examples of the stock market
The following examples may help clarify what the stock market is, and how it is very similar to other marketplaces you and I use regularly.
Example #1: Amazon
- We're all familiar with the eCommerce giant, Amazon. Amazon is a "market" where consumers go to purchase every day goods. Small businesses and individuals are able to list their products on Amazon and sell them at a competitive price, and customers will make a purchasing decision on whether they think the product being sold is really worth the asking price.
- Just like Amazon, the stock market is a central marketplace where investment vehicles, aka "securities" are bought and sold. The price of the investment vehicles is set based on what consumers are willing to pay for it.
Example #2: Walmart
- Walmart is perhaps the largest "brick and mortar" retail giant, with one of the largest online retail marketplaces. Walmart differs from Amazon in that they have a large physical presence in thousands of cities worldwide. The stock market originally started out as a physical location where buyers and sellers of investment vehicles met to exchange stock certificates, or physical papers/certificates of a share of stock.
As technology evolved over the years, the stock market is purely a digital location where investors and businesses meet to buy and sell investment securities. What began as a physical location where consumers and businesses exchanged stock certificates, evolved in to a digital marketplace that drives our economies today.
How to invest if you have no experience and can't hire an expert
A common reason many don't get involved in the stock market is because they are scared of making a mistake due to no experience or lack of knowledge. Don't let this be you, there are sure ways to address this issue.
Now days, you don't have to pay high commissions to a hired financial adviser, and you can begin investing with as little as $5. This leaves no excuses for new investors to get involved in growing your money.
Using innovative investing companies like Acorns allows you to invest your spare change by rounding up your daily purchases to the next whole dollar.
Upon account set-up, they ask you a few basic questions to determine a good stock portfolio mix, and they take care of the rest. The cost? $1 per month (you'll probably make that back the first day you sign up).
What is a stock?
A stock is a share of ownership in a publicly traded company. As mentioned previously, the stock market originally began as a place where buyers and sellers traded stock certificates. The certificates represented a percentage of ownership in a publicly traded company. Not all companies hold shares of stock that are publicly traded on a major stock exchange.
Publicly traded refers to a company that offers shares of stock to the public to buy and sell in exchange for ownership in the company. Most local small businesses you may be familiar with in your local city are most likely privately held companies. This means they are simply owned by a person or partnership and do not offer shares of ownership (aka shares of stock) to the public.
When does a company decide to offer stock shares to the public?
When a company first starts as a small business, and gains traction among the public with their product or service, they need extra capital to expand and grow the company. One way of achieving this is by offering public shares of stock to anyone wanting to buy into the growth of the company.
One example of this is the now publicly traded company, Facebook. What began as a private company that grew in popularity to the point that they needed more money to sustain the growth of their business, soon became a publicly traded company offering shares of stock to the public. Facebook offers you and I a share of ownership in the company, in exchange for our money to contribute to the growth and expansion of Facebook.
If you or I believe Facebook is a strong company that is going to grow over the years, we would purchase shares of Facebook stock. Those stock shares represent a percentage of ownership in the company. If the value of the company grows over time, we can then sell those shares at a higher price for a profit.
What determines the price of a share of stock?
The easiest way to understand how the price of stock is determined is to compare it to an auction. Picture a local auction that is selling famous paintings to the public. The auctioneer stands on the podium and announces the painting and the starting price. What do you think determines the selling price of that painting?
It all comes down to the basic economic law of supply and demand. Is the painting rare? Or are there thousands of similar or more popular paintings available? If it is a rare painting and it has a large number of people who want it, the price of that painting is going to keep going up until it reaches a high point, resulting in the auctioneer shouting out "SOLD! for $XXXX to the guy in the back row".
The stock price of a company is determined in the exact same fashion, just a much...much larger public auction. The larger the audience is with interest in said company, the higher the price will go. The smaller the audience is with interest in said company, the lower the price of the stock will go. This is why stock prices rise and fall from day to day.
Why invest in the stock market?
Now that you understand the basics of the stock market and how it works, you're probably wondering "OK, that all makes sense, but why would someone invest in the stock market?"
While that question has a potentially very broad response, the quick and easy answer is...TO MAKE MONEY! Some invest in the stock market to grow their money for retirement, or to save money for a large purchase they plan to make in the next few years, and others buy and sell stock shares daily to make quick gains. They buy the stock at a price, and sell it for a profit when the price rises. This is called "Day Trading", and is very risky way to participate in the stock market.
Just like the social media giant Facebook began as a small local business, it's now a large worldwide company. Imagine if you had invested in Facebook when it was in it's infant years? Remember that each stock share represents a percentage ownership in the company, not a dollar amount.
So if you owned a share of Facebook when it was first publicly traded at $38 per share of stock, and you bought 100 shares (total of $3,800 purchase price), today those same 100 shares of stock would be worth roughly $200 per share (as of this writing) equating to a total of $20,000! Not a bad return on investment!
The stock market as a whole historically rises over time. The idea of buying stock and holding onto it for years to come has held to be sound investment advice that has made many people multi millionaires and even billionaires (like Warren Buffet, for example) today.
Investing In Real Estate For Beginners
Similar to the stock market, real estate naturally increases in value over time. Why? It all comes back to the basic law of supply and demand. As time goes on, land becomes more and more scarce. As homes are built, their location respective to other communities may be better suited for most. These two concepts are what create high demand, and a higher demand for these homes and land results in real estate prices increasing.
Think of supply and demand like an auction; An auctioneer stands on the stage with a painting to auction off. He starts the bid at $100. If there were a crowd of just 5 people, what are the chances of that painting selling for much more than the starting price? Pretty slim. But if you take the same scenario and say there is a crowd of 500 people, what are the chances of that painting selling for a lot more than its starting price? Much better than the scenario with a crowd of 5!
The higher the demand (aka the more people who want the product or service, in this case, real estate), the higher the price rises. Here's the details about how real estate investing works, and how to include it into your investing portfolio.
What Is Real Estate?
Real estate is physical property such as land, buildings and even the air space above the land and buildings, as well as the ground below them (bet ya didn't know that!). This is where the name "Real" comes from in real estate. Investing in real estate has it's benefits similar to those of the stock market. You can purchase property if you believe the land will be needed by developers in that area in the coming years, and thus sell it for a profit.
You can also purchase residential or commercial real estate and make money from the ever increasing value. However keep in mind that real estate values fluctuate like the stock market and can also lose value. Lastly, you can purchase real estate and rent the building space out and create a recurring income from the rent fees.
How To Invest In Real Estate
There are many ways in which you can start investing in real estate. The path you choose depends on how hands on you wish your investment to be, and your ultimate objective for the investment. For example, you may wish to buy a property at a great price, update the property with renovations needed, and sell the property for a profit all within a few months time. This is a more passive approach to investing in real estate, and often requires mentor-ship, previous experience, or a partnership to help carry out the heavy work.
If you're more of a passive minded investor, you can invest in real estate through a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), or purchase real estate through modern investment apps such as Fundrise or Diversyfund, which are both similar to how a REIT works. Lastly, you can purchase the actual real estate property and rent it out to tenants, thus making money on the appreciation of the property, and the rental income cash-flow of the property. We'll cover each of these real estate investment strategies in detail.