Investing is a way to set aside money while you are busy with life and have that money work for you so that you can fully reap the rewards of your labor in the future. Investing is a means to a happier ending. Legendary investor Warren Buffett defines investing as “…the process of laying out money now to receive more money in the future.”1
The goal of investing is to put your money to work in one or more types of investment vehicles in the hopes of growing your money over time.
Let’s say that you have $1,000 set aside, and you’re ready to enter the world of investing. Or maybe you only have $10 extra a week, and you’d like to get into investing. In this article, we’ll walk you through getting started as an investor and show you how to maximize your returns while minimizing your costs.
What Kind of Investor Are You?
Before you commit your money, you need to answer the question, what kind of investor am I? When opening a brokerage account, an online broker like Charles Schwab or Fidelity will ask you about your investment goals and how much risk you’re willing to take on.
Some investors want to take an active hand in managing their money’s growth, and some prefer to “set it and forget it.” More “traditional” online brokers, like the two mentioned above, allow you to invest in stocks, bonds, exchange traded funds (ETFs), index funds, and mutual funds.
Brokers are either full-service or discount. Full-service brokers, as the name implies, give the full range of traditional brokerage services, including financial advice for retirement, healthcare, and everything related to money. They usually only deal with higher-net-worth clients, and they can charge substantial fees, including a percent of your transactions, a percent of your assets they manage, and sometimes a yearly membership fee. It’s common to see minimum account sizes of $25,000 and up at full-service brokerages. Still, traditional brokers justify their high fees by giving advice detailed to your needs.
Discount brokers used to be the exception, but now they’re the norm. Discount online brokers give you tools to select and place your own transactions, and many of them also offer a set-it-and-forget-it robo-advisory service too. As the space of financial services has progressed in the 21st century, online brokers have added more features, including educational materials on their sites and mobile apps.
In addition, although there are a number of discount brokers with no (or very low) minimum deposit restrictions, you may be faced with other restrictions, and certain fees are charged to accounts that don’t have a minimum deposit. This is something an investor should take into account if they want to invest in stocks.
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