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Investing 101 | A Guide for Beginners

Investing is an important part of any financial portfolio. It can help generate passive income and build personal wealth. But there are some basic investing for beginners tips you should know before you start.

What is an Investment? 

It is any financial action taken with the intent to grow wealth. A typical investment included giving funds with the intent to see larger returns on those initial funds later. 

A very common type is stocks or shares. Buying stocks in a business gives you a small percentage of ownership in that business. This can lead to higher returns later as the company does well. 

How Does Investing Work? 

Investing is a symbiotic financial relationship that can potentially benefit both parties in the transaction. 

A stockholder gives funds to a business, which in turn helps that business have the funds it needs to be successful. The business's success then leads to higher profits that grow what the stockholder originally funded. 

It is always important to calculate the potential risks alongside the potential rewards with any investment. Knowing how to calculate Return on Investment (ROI) can help beginners weigh the pros and cons for themselves. 

Types of Investments

Stocks 

A stock is a small portion of ownership over a company. They can also be called a "share." When you help fund a company with your own money, you are making a financial investment in that company. 

A stockholder also financially owns a portion of that company. Many companies will have different tiers of investors to distinguish between small and major investors. 

Bonds 

Bonds are a type of loan you give to either a company or the government. You purchase the bond and that money is then lent to the organization that needs it. Later, you can get that money back plus interest. 

Mutual Funds 

A mutual fund is like an investment group. Instead of working alone in a single stock, you can join a mutual fund that allows you to invest in more places for less. 

Mutual funds can be great for beginners or anyone who doesn't want to spend too much personal time managing their accounts. 

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) are similar to mutual funds, but their value can change throughout the day while mutual funds change on a day-to-day basis. ETFs can hold assets like stocks, bonds, currencies, and commodities. 

Certificate of Deposit (CD)

A certificate of deposit (CD) is like a savings account, but it is locked for a period of time to accumulate interest. 

Investment 101 Vocabulary 

Annuities 

An annuity is a type of contract that outlines a sum of money to be paid to the annuity holder. This type of contract is often made between an individual and their insurance company. 

Assets 

An asset is another term for a resource or investment. Assets are property that has value. This might include things like your house or vehicle. 

Dividends

A dividend is a sum of money regularly paid to shareholders for holding onto their stocks in that company. It acts almost like a reward or incentive for shareholders to keep their shares in the company rather than selling.  

Interest 

Interest is usually shown as a percentage of monetary growth on the principal amount. Initial investments, or the principal amount, grow because of their interest. 

How to Invest

Investing for beginners can be as complicated or as simple as you choose to make them. There are ways to make it extremely easy and other ways that can make the process very complicated. 

Here are some of the basic steps to take when you start: 

Step 1: Research 

The first thing you need to do is research. Research stocks, companies, brokerage accounts, everything. 

You can do everything yourself or you can get outside help to manage your accounts. 

For a beginner, you might want to consider mutual funds or hiring a broker. One of the simpler ways to start is to join a mutual fund that takes care of itself. 

Apps can also make the process very simple and automate a lot of the process for you. 

CDs can also be a very safe way to make your first investment with as little risk as possible. 

Once you choose how to invest you can look into which investments you want to make. 

Step 2: Create a Plan and Budget 

Now that you've decided on the how and the what, you can start making plans for your budget. 

Most investments are going to include using your own funds in some way. If this funding is a regular payment, then include that payment in your personal budget. 

If you need to save up to make a one-time, lump-sum payment, then include those savings into your personal budget as well. 

It's also important to plan for the future. Interest often needs to accumulate for a long time before the ROI will be worthwhile. 

Make plans now for how much you'll invest and for how long you'll leave those investments alone to accumulate interest. 

Step 3: Open a Brokerage Account 

A brokerage account is where you'll keep your investment portfolio. Some brokers will provide full-services, managing your account for you, while others will require more personal management on your part. 

A full-service broker might come with management fees, commissions on trade, or advisory fees, but those fees could be worth it if you're getting professional management that helps your money grow. 

These are the kinds of pros and cons you'll need to weigh when shopping for your brokerage account. 

Step 4: Start Investing 

Once you have the how, what, and who all figured out you can start! Remember, investments can take time to accumulate profit, but if you've weighed your pros and cons then the ROI will be worth the wait. 

In Conclusion,

Investing is for everyone. Anyone can do it, especially with the online investing tools available today. 

Use Check City's tax preparation services to account for your investments this year and get the most out of your refund this year. 

Check City does not offer investment, advisory, or brokerage services and does not advise investors to buy or sell any specific stock. This article is meant to provide some basic information only about investing in general. For professional investment advice, reach out to a professional investment advisor or broker.