Until a few months ago, all of my investing was done in either a Roth IRA or a 401(k) – I never put a penny of “real” non-retirement money into any sort of investment and part of the reason was fear. I easily dumped money into a Roth IRA or a 401(k) because it was the responsible thing to do, it was safe, and it was what I was supposed to do. Earlier in my career, after putting all that money away into retirement vehicles, I really didn’t really have much else left I could put into investments. I also didn’t want to deal with all the tax headaches of short term and long term capital gains and blah blah blah – I’d rather avoid all that by investing via retirement accounts. Now, with essentially two incomes, it’s no longer “correct” for us to just put the savings into a high yield savings account so it looks as though investing in whirlwind Wall Street is inevitable.
Ultimately, I believe all those excuses only served to mask the true reason I didn’t invest my real dollars in the stock market: I was afraid. It’s one thing to save $100 and earn a guaranteed 5%, it’s another to have to handle either a 30% gain or a 30% loss – especially since that money can be spent on something tangible. Honestly, it’s like gambling and while I do enjoy gambling, I don’t see gambling as a money making venture… I see it as entertainment and I’m not investing for fun.
So, what have we done? Well, we’ve put a little bit away into a Vanguard Target Retirement fund that we don’t intend to touch for a little while (our emergency fund sits in a high yield savings account) and it represents our third tier of funding (first is our regular checking accounts, second is our emergency fund). It’s not a full foray into stocks, it’s a little better than a high yield savings account .