This is a guest blogging post by James who blogs at DINKs (Dual Income No Kids) Finance .
Many people reach a point where they want to get started investing, but are unsure how to begin. Below are some thoughts that might help novices get started.
1) Get Educated: This is really important. There is a wide, wide variety of investment choices to sample from. The best way to make informed decisions which benefit you is to become educated. This doesn’t mean that you need to take a four year degree in finance, but you might consider attending a community college course or two. At a minimum, you should probably consider a trip to the public library. Try working through a copy of Personal Finance for Dummies or a basic textbook on investing. Another possibility is joining a group. Talking with others who have more experience can be valuable. Even a little bit of education would help build your confidence a great deal.
2) Set Up a Brokerage Account: The reason why you need a brokerage account is so you can buy stocks and bonds. Regular checking or money market accounts can’t do this. Get the account anyplace you feel comfortable. If you want a little more help, get set up with a full service place like Smith Barney or Ameriprise. If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, you might consider a Schwab or Scotttrade account. In this case, you’ll want to strike the right balance between cost and the amount of help you’d like. Generally speaking, the full service places like Smith Barney are more expensive, but you get personalized service.
3) Just Do It: Feel free to take action towards getting started. You will inevitably make mistakes, everyone does. Unless you totally screw up (like go bankrupt), don’t worry about it because mistakes are part of the learning process.
Also, keep reading personal finance blogs. As you know, it happens here first!