Investing is a means for you to set money aside while you’re busy with your life and have that money work for you so that you may reap the rewards of your labor fully in the future. In other words, investing is a means to a happier ending.
The goal of investment is to put your money to work, and in this article, we’re going to show you how to do just that.
- Your Investor Type
- Online Brokers
- Investment Via Your Employer
- Account-Opening Minimums
- Fees and Commissions
- Mutual Fund Loss
- Reducing Risk by Diversifying
- The Cookie Jar Approach
Your Investor Type
Before you even think about committing your cash, you will need to figure out what type of investor you want to be.
When you open a brokerage account, online brokers will question you regarding your investing goals and the amount of risk you are willing to take on.
Some investors will want to play an active role in managing the growth of their money, while others will prefer to put it away and forget about it until the time comes to reap the rewards.
More ‘traditional’ online brokers will allow you to invest in bonds, stocks, and ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds), and more.
An Important Decision
Choosing what type of investor you want to be is a crucial decision, as it will determine the way that you invest your money, who you invest with, and what you invest in.
You can always talk to your brokerage about your goals for investment, and they will help you determine which investor type would suit you best.
Brokers will either be discounted or full-service. As the name suggests, online brokers provide investors with the full set of regular brokerage services.
This includes advice for healthcare, retirement, and anything else relating to money. They generally deal with high net-worth clients, and might charge high fees.
In the past, discount brokers were the exception, but they have since become the standard. Discount online brokers will provide you with tools to choose and set your own transactions.
A number of them will also offer set-and-forget robo-advisory. Online brokers have begun to include more features in their services.
More on Discount Brokers
Moreover, while there are several discount brokers that have low or no minimum deposit restrictions, you might face other restrictions.
Certain fees will be charged to accounts that do not have a minimum deposit.
You should consider this if you want to invest in stocks.
In the wake of the Financial Crisis of 2008, the robo-advisor, a type of investment advisor, emerged.
The mission of the robo-advisor was to use technology to decrease the costs for investors and make investment advice far more streamlined and accessible.
Eli Broverman and Jon Stein of Betterment are often credited as the first robo-advisors. Since the launch of Betterment, many more robo-first companies have been created.
More well-known online brokers have added robo-like services to their offerings. By 2025, it is expected that 58% of Americans will use robo-advice, meaning that this technology isn’t going anywhere.
If you are looking for an algorithm that can make your investment decisions for you.
These include those relating to rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting, then you may want to opt for a robo-advisor.
And, as index investing and its success have shown, if your goal is to build wealth in the long term, robo-advisors may be the best choice.
Investment Via Your Employer
If you are on a slim budget but still want to invest, then you should attempt to invest a mere 1% of your salary into the retirement plan that is available to you at your work.
In truth, you likely won’t even miss such a small contribution, but the rewards can be great.
Retirement plans that are work-based will deduct your contributions from your paycheck before taxes have been calculated, making the contribution much less painful.
After you have become comfortable with the 1% contribution, you can think of increasing it as you receive annual raises.
You Won’t Miss Your Contributions
You are not going to miss your additional contributions.
If you have a 401K retirement account at your place of work, then you might already be investing in your future with contributions to mutual funds and even the stock of your own company.
The majority of financial institutions these days have minimum requirements for deposits.
Essentially, they will not accept your application for an account unless you make a deposit of a certain sum of money. Some firms might not even let you open an account with a sum of $1,000.
Shopping around can pay dividends, and you should always read broker reviews online for the place that you are looking to open an account with.
Many reviewers will list the minimum deposits somewhere in their reviews, which can help you budget and plan your spending more accurately.
Some firms will not require you to pay a minimum deposit at all.
Whereas others might lower their costs, such as their account management and trading fees if your balance is over a predetermined threshold.
Still, other firms might provide a certain number of trades without commissions when you open an account.
Fees and Commissions
There’s no free lunch, as many economists like to say. However, many brokers have recently been rushing to eliminate or lower their trades commissions.
ETFs provide index investing to anyone that can trade with a bare brokerage account. Every broker has to make money somehow.
For the most part, your broker will charge a commission each time you trade stock, usually via selling or purchasing.
Trading fees can range anywhere from a low $2 per trade, to as high as $10, for certain discount brokers. Some might not charge any trade commissions, but they will get their money in other ways.
Depending on your trade frequency, the fees mentioned above can accumulate and influence your profitability.
Stock investment can become quite expensive if you jump in and out of positions frequently, particularly if you have a small sum to invest.
Try to be smart with your trading decisions and as frugal as possible.
Mutual Fund Loss
Other than the trading fee that comes with buying a mutual fund, additional costs are going to come with this investment type.
Mutual funds are pools of investor funds, which are professionally managed, that make use of a focused investing method, like US large-cap stocks.
There are plenty of fees that you can run into when investing with mutual funds.
One of the most essential ones to think about is the MER (Management Expense Ratio), which the management team will charge every year, based on the asset quantity in the fund.
You might notice a series of sales charges, known as loads, when you purchase mutual funds.
Some will be front-end, but you will also see back-end load and no-load funds.
Ensure that you understand whether your considered fund carries a sales load before you purchase it.
Reducing Risk by Diversifying
Generally, the only free lunch when it comes to investment is considered diversification.
In essence, by investing in different assets, you reduce the risk of one of your investments seriously harming your overall investment return. In layman’s terms, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
When it comes to the act of diversification, the most difficulty you will face will be from stock investments.
As we mentioned previously, the costs of investing in a high number of stocks can harm your portfolio. With a deposit of $1 000, it is almost impossible to have a portfolio that is well diversified.
The Bottom Line
Therefore, you need to be aware that you might have to invest in a couple of companies to begin with, which will increase your risk.
This is where the benefit of exchange-traded or mutual funds comes into play.
Both security types have more stocks and other investments within the fund, making them more diverse than a singular stock.
The Cookie Jar Approach
Investing money and saving it are closely related activities. You have to save some money up in order to invest it.
Doing so takes far less time than you might think and can be done in a few small steps. If you have never been frugal, start by putting away $15 a week.
That might not seem like much, but it comes out to nearly $800 over a year. You can deposit your money into a savings account, which is separate from your checking account.
You can withdraw the money with two days’ notice if you need it, but it is not linked to your debit card.
Start by saving small sums, then increase them as you become a better saver.
It may come down to deciding not to go to the movies or getting takeout and choosing to put that money into your savings instead.
If you are starting out with just a small sum of money, then investing is still possible. The process is more complicated than simply choosing the right investment.
This is difficult on its own, and you will need to know the restrictions you face as a new investor. We hope that this article sheds some light on these subjects!