A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Anyone who wants to grow wealth over the long term must have thought about investing in stocks. After all, history proves that those who made it to the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans got there because they invested in a large block of shares in private or public corporations.

The concept is simple – you put your money to work for you. That way, you won’t have to slave away by working extra hours or by taking a second job so that you can increase your earning potential. It’s an excellent way to purchase a home, fund your kid’s education or save for your retirement.

If your goal is to yield a portfolio that far outpaces the most modest income, you’ll need to learn how to invest wisely. The question is, how can you get started? To give you a head start on how to invest in the stock market, take a look at this step-by-step guide for beginners:

STEP 1: Establish Your Investing Budget

Unless you want to be like a person who jumps into the deep end of the pool but doesn’t know how to swim, take a long, hard look at your finances before investing in stocks. Although you don’t need a significant amount of money to start, you’ll have to consider your monthly utility bills, payments for loans and credit card balances.

STEP 2: Read Up on the Basics

Anyone who’s enjoying a profitable outcome in stocks was once sitting right where you are. You don’t need to have superior IQ or be a topnotch financial guru to invest. However, it would be impossible for you to make wise financial decisions if you won’t try to learn all you can about investing in stocks. Harmful decisions can cause you to lose a lot of money or savings.

Making informed investing decisions starts with you learning some basic terminology and knowing the difference between bonds, stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, and certificates of deposit (CDs). Plus, you can’t be well-equipped if you won’t familiarize yourself with financial theories that include portfolio optimization, diversification, and market efficiency. It’s also wise to read books that were authored by successful investors. Also, you can find a slew of basic investing tutorials online.

STEP 3: Set Your Investing Goal

Setting a goal will help you determine the ideal investment vehicle that fits that goal. Every investor who’s trying to make some money has different needs. For instance, someone who’s about to retire should probably use a traditional IRA or a tax-deferred savings account. Furthermore, when you’re forming your investing goal, consider certain factors such as safety of capital income and capital appreciation. Keep in mind that what works best for you will depend on your age, position in life, and your circumstances.

STEP 4: Know How Many risks You’re Willing to Assume

A person’s risk tolerance varies according to his age, income requirements, and financial goals. Are you the type of person who loves the thrill of a risk? Perhaps you’re someone who enjoys safety more than anything. Keep in mind that higher-risk investments generally offer higher potential for return. Conversely, investments that carry lower risks offer a lower rate of return. You can’t pick a stock that’s right for you if you don’t know how much risk you’re willing to assume.

STEP 5: Learn the Costs of Investing

In case you’re not aware, certain costs can cut into your investment returns. If you’re starting with a small investment, you’ll need a discount broker since their commission is reduced. However, if you’re buying mutual funds, know that these charge management fees and load fees. As a general rule, strategies that involve passive investing have lower fees compared to strategies that involve active investing such as trading stocks.

STEP 6: Choose a Financial Advisor or a Broker

When you’re trying to choose a financial advisor, consider their reputation, performance, fees, and other additional services they’re able to offer. If you’re willing to pay more, you can go to a full-service brokerage firm. However, before you can open an account, you’ll need to meet their minimum asset level requirement. Bottom line – your risk tolerance and the amount of time you’re willing to spend on your investments are two important factors to consider when you’re choosing a financial advisor.

STEP 7: Construct Your Portfolio

Once everything’s ready, you can now choose the investments that will make up your investment portfolio. While doing so, be sure to balance risk and reward through asset allocation, which involves dividing your money between three asset classes – cash, equities, and fixed-income. Also, be sure that you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket by keeping your portfolio diversified. Remember that your goal is to balance high returns with manageable risk.

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