Even if you have never invested before or have a small amount of money, investing might just be worth the risk to grow your nest egg.
According to Stephanie Genkin, New York-based independent fee-only financial planner and adjunct instructor at NYU School of Professional Studies, investing, when done right, can really add to your bottom line.
“One should invest so that savings will outpace inflation. Your dollars left in a savings account for a long-term goal like retirement is guaranteed to lose purchasing power. For most people, investing in stocks and bonds is the best way to ensure that you don’t outlive your money,” she tells MadameNoire. “Most of us will not earn enough at our jobs to produce the kind of savings we need.”
PJ Wallin, CPA and founder of Atlas Financial, points out people can invest with a specific target in mind. “A person should invest to save money for a longer term future goal (i.e. retirement, children’s education, etc.). Dollars invested in a safe place like a low-interest bearing CD account unfortunately will be outpaced by long-term inflation (3 to 4 percent),” Wallin tells us. “As a result, investing in a certain mix of stocks and bonds will provide a better return (historically 6 to 11 percent) over the long term.”
Investing can have many financial perks. “Investing is like becoming an owner in many different companies as well as a lender to corporations and governments. In exchange you have the potential to enjoy capital appreciation and dividends as an owner of stocks and earn interest (and sometimes enjoy growth) from bonds,” Genkin points out.
And while women tend to shy away from investing, they really should consider the option over the typical savings route. “Women in particular should invest money long term. We still earn less than men, we take time out of the workforce to care for children and aging parents and we live longer than men. All of this means that we need to find a way to grow our money,” explains Genkin.
But remember investing is never a sure thing, “even with a low-cost, diversified portfolio, sometimes you’ll lose money. Sometimes a lot of money,” reports Business Insider.
If you need to start small, try going with just $100. “It can be worth investing small to test the waters and see how you react as an investor. Investors are happy when stocks prices go up. What about when the value of your investments decline. Investing small could help you understand what it feels like and how you will react without inflicting a lot of damage. But you still have to do your homework,” says Genkin.
You may find many individual stocks, but skip those for now if you are investing small. “I don’t recommend investing in individual stocks. It’s like gambling. You want to buy shares in a low-cost fund. Buying a few shares of a financial sector index fund, for instance, could let you stick a toe in the water and for $100, you’d own four shares of a fund that invests in top U.S. banks and is up more than 14 percent this year,” explains Genkin.
Look for investments that match your dollar amount. “As many mutual fund providers have minimums starting at $1,000, I would suggest using a service like Acorns if one was just getting started or had $100 to invest. This service is similar to Bank of America’s ‘Keep the Change’ program except instead of moving the balance of a transaction to a savings account it instead goes into an investment account (i.e. if I buy a coffee for 1.50, .50 goes into an investment account and invests in a low cost, diversified ETF strategy based on my risk preference),” Wallin explains.
For a $1,000 investment Genkin advises, “Consider opening an IRA –either traditional to get a tax break or a Roth to enjoy tax-free growth on your investments. Then pick a low-cost well-diversified fund. If you have 10-plus years until you need the money consider a Vanguard Fund like Vanguard 500 Index Exchange Traded Fund which has no minimums and owns 500 stocks that make up the S&P 500. So when you hear that the S&P 500 is up 12 percent this year, you know your investment is doing the same.”
Got $10,000 to invest? “You want to make sure you hold stocks and bonds. So if stocks rise, your investments are likely to rise too and if bonds have a good year, you’ll be earning more interest. Consider owning three low-cost funds–one total U.S. stock fund, one total U.S. bond fund and one total International stock fund. Each is made up of thousands of stocks and bonds so you don’t take on too much risk but your money should grow if you leave it in long term. Again 10-plus years,” says Genkin.
Researching and learning as much as you can about the market will make you a smart investor. But never forget the risk of investing. And prepare and organize your finances before you start investing.
“You can be a smart investor by investing long term and diversifying your investments in a wide array of funds: large cap, small cap, international, bonds, emerging markets. This way you capture return no matter which corners of the market are doing well. Prudent investors choose low fee well diversified funds and hold them long term,” says Genkin.