I’ve always been a self-directed investor. This means I’ve never relied on a someone else to manage my money, and instead took the initiative to learn the basics of the stock market so I could start investing. I bought my first stock at age 25, and have been hooked ever since.
For most young people, the thought of managing their own investment portfolio is intimidating, particularly on top of juggling other financial responsibilities like student loans or saving up for a down-payment on their first home. Nevertheless, investing should always be part of your financial plan.
Despite what you might think, you don’t need a finance degree or a million dollars to get started in the stock market, and waiting until you do could be costing your dearly.
Why you need to invest
The truth is, you can’t afford not to invest. Most savings accounts are offering interest rates of 1% or less. If you’re hoping to someday retire with any kind of financial security, this rate of return is unlikely to deliver. In order to reach your financial goals, whether they be home ownership, financial independence, or even to own a Tesla (that’s mine), you need to make your money work for you.
And your money will work hardest in the stock market.
Historically, the stock market has returned an average of 8.5%, but we’ll play it safe and assume a return of 5%. If you were to invest $5,000 per year in a savings account generating a return of 1% and the stock market generating a return of 5%, you’d come out more than $240,000 richer as an investor than a saver after 35 years.
So why are millennials turning down hundreds of thousands of dollars by staying out of the stock market?
Why you’re probably not investing yet
A recent TD survey found that more than one-third (37%) of Millennials say they do not invest at all. Nearly half (46%) say lack of funds is keeping them out of the market, and 40% say it’s lack of financial knowledge. Needless to say, if you’re intimidated by the complexity of the stock market, you’re not alone.
Additionally, the survey found that 36% of Millennials aren’t even sure it’s the right time to invest, and nearly one-fifth (22%) are convinced it’s definitely not. Because many millennials came of age during the 2008 Financial Crisis, many still think of the stock market as a risky place to lose a lot of money. Few are aware that, not only has the stock market recovered from the 2008 crash, it’s soared to all new heights.
Fear, confusion, and doubt are terrible reasons to miss out on long-term financial security through investing.
How to overcome your fears and start investing
Calvin MacInnis, the Senior Vice President of TD Direct Investing, shared TD’s ABC investing guide to help millennials get started in the stock market. I’ve added some of my own advice to the ABC steps below!
Act now. Don’t let lack of funds hold you back! Most young people are surprised to learn they can open a brokerage account with as little as $1,000. You don’t have to wait until you have tens of thousands of dollars saved up to start investing in the stock market, you can (and should!) start right now.
Brush Up On Basics. If you have money to put in the market but investment knowledge is holding you back, there has never been a better time to learn. You can learn about investing in the stock market through books, seminars, online courses, and resources provided by your online brokerage. Platforms like TD’s Direct Investing WebBroker™ makes investing easier than ever, offering a number of updated with new tools, which make tracking investments more intuitive and comprehensive. You can even keep up with investing news and trends through social media platforms like twitter, by following accounts like @TD_DirectInvest.
Choose Your Own Adventure. I’ve always been an advocate of self-directed investing, first, because I think it’s important to always be in the driver’s seat of your financial future, but secondly because you know yourself best. Your investment portfolio should reflect your personality as an investor, and be designed to fit your investment goals and risk profile.
You will get better, and so will your portfolio
I’m a better investor now than I was 5 years ago, and much of my investing education came from learning-by-doing. What’s more, I’m glad I started when I did. Learning how to invest with only a few thousand dollars meant I made my mistakes on small trades. Now my portfolio is much bigger, but I’m a more seasoned investor that understands the ups and downs of the market and can feel confident managing my own portfolio. It might seem scary to put your first $1,000 in the stock market, but when you have $10,000 or $100,000, you’ll be glad that you did!
Investing, like any other skill, takes practice, but it’s worth learning. It’s actually worth over $240,000!
This post was sponsored by TD. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.