Starting to Invest in the Stock Market or Mutual Funds?

For many, it would be thrilling to make a good investment that yields a solid return. However, for investing novices, it's important to gain stock market knowledge before investing your hard-earned money. If you think you're ready to conquer Wall Street, take a step back and lower your expectations.  Good stock market investing really isn't sexy, it's slow and steady and you won't get rich overnight, but if you're disciplined and make smart money moves, you can improve your financial picture and build a solid investment portfolio.

If you're not willing to take a huge risk with individual stocks, consider investing in mutual funds, which a groups or funds that are a collection of stocks and can be part of a diversified investing portfolio and a solid choice when making your personal investment decisions. Research any mutual fund before you purchase it and check and see what individual stocks are in it and the projected annual returns (although mutual fund returns are only estimates and not guaranteed).  You still can lose a lot of money with mutual funds, but at lease you're not invested in just one stock, where the company could go bankrupt and your investment could go to zero.  By choosing mutual funds, you spread your risk of loss over many sticks, not just one.  Many 401k plans and IRA plans use some mutual funds, but you need to realize that there's still risk involved. This can help you to make a decent investment decision and somewhat diversifies the amount of stocks you are invested in. 

Use patience and control in your investing strategy. The stock market tends to have many investment opportunities that could be great one day, but awful the next day due to market fluctuations. By thinking long term with your investing strategy, rather than chasing short-term profit opportunities, you may build wealth over time.  Don't try to get rich quick in the stock market.  Most of the "gurus" that you see on social media talking about how rich they're getting in the stock market are just lying to sell you a course or "system" and it's their course sales that is really making them money, not they're investing strategy.

Think about your retirement goals and the age that you will want to start living off your investments. Try not to touch the principle, interest or dividends you accrue, and reinvest those back into your retirement account until you reach the age that you need to draw from them to pay your bills. With time, the power of compounding interest could grow your investments to an amount that you will be proud of.  Over time, you may build a substantial portfolio that will carry you in later years.

Before you choose to invest any money at all in the stock market, it may benefit you to practice and to consult a licensed professional, such as a certified retirement planner, licensed stockbroker, and/or licensed financial planner. If you invest in mutual funds, keep track of the the price you purchased them and the date, so you can measure your annual returns.  This should also come in your mutual fund statements. Remember your reasons for wanting to invest in the first place. As you watch your mutual funds over time, you should develop a sense of how the process works and what type of returns you may get during normal years

Remembering that investing takes time and money. Not only can mutual funds provide you with decent returns if you reinvest and compound over several years, but you also will learn a thing or two about the market if you have regular talks with your financial advisors. CFP's or certified financial planners may charge for their services, but unless you're ready to get certified yourself and learn what they know, their help may be benficial to help you with your investing strategy and in meeting your retirement goals. 

If you are a new investor, it's tempting to just dive in and pick individual stocks, but remember that is a very risky way to invest if you don't do your research or understand what you're doing. Therefore mutual funds may be a better long term investment, as there will definitely be times when you hold mutual funds for a long time,and because the risk is spread out. You may want your mutual fund portfolio to be set up to weather losses, so diversify the types of mutual funds that you choose and diversify the companies that provide or sell those mutual funds. If all of your money is one sector of the stock market, a recession could cause much financial stress or even wipe you out, so make sure you diversify your mutual fund portfolio and your investment portfolio in general.

If you must invest in single stocks, make sure you do your research and don't invest more than you can afford to lose. Some people start by trying penny stocks, but you still must be careful. The term penny stocks applies not only to stocks that are worth pennies, but many types of stocks that have values or trade for less than a couple dollars. Since penny stocks can be inexpensive, even a movement of just a few dollars in the stock price could mean a decent gain. 

This could be an efficient way of trying out the stock market, but you still need to be careful and only invest what you can afford to lose for a trial.  You may want to open an account on Etrade.com or Tradestation.com and see if you can try investing a couple hundred of dollars. Both Etrade.com and Tradestation.com have good reviews, but you still want to verify your online stock trading websites. When you first start trading in the stock market, you'll want to make sure you do hours of research on any stock you invest in. You might research websites or newspapers for your Internet trading information, but don't put rely only on Internet information when your thinking of investing.  Consult a licensed professional.

Investing could change your life for better or worse, depending on your strategy and results, so please be careful and consult a professional. In order to succeed investing in the stock market, you need to be careful, do your research, educate yourself, and consult a licensed investing advisor.  There are some online investing software, investing tools, and investing services which may help you with investing, but you still will want to consult a licensed professional before investing.

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