How the F do I start investing?

Getting Started Guide: How the F do I start Investing?

This post is catered to aspiring investors. If you are new to the stock market or haven’t made any investments yet, then this post is for you.

General Guiding Principles (For beginners)

  • Only invest in companies and businesses that you would own.
  • The “100” principle. 100 – (Your Age) should be the % of your money dedicated to stocks, the rest in bonds. If you are 20, you want 80% stocks, 20% bonds. Sometimes this is “120 rule” for people who want more risk and reward.
  • There is no true “ideal” portfolio size. However, I find that 10-15 stocks are the best so you are diversified, but you can also keep track of what investments you’ve made. If you can’t name all the stocks you own off the top of your head, you’ve spread yourself too thin.
  • Invest at least $500 in each company/stock you buy.
  • Stay away from mutual funds at the beginning. Instead, use ETF’s.

Basic Steps

  • Step 1: Save money. The first step to investing is saving money. If you don’t have at least $500 right now to readily invest, then start getting some spare change wherever you can.
  • Step 2: (Only applies to people who are financially independent). Save 6 months income and store it in an emergency fund. This emergency fund is not to buy a car or to fund your dating habits. This is emergency as in LAST resort.
  • Step 3: Continue to save money. The general principle is to save & invest at least 10% of your income (do this monthly/bi-weekly). Ideally, you want to save 15-20% of your income. However, the younger you are, the more aggressive you should. If you are also working on step 2, then allocate half-half of your money to your emergency fund + your investment fund.
  • Step 4: Continue Reading!

Okay, now you’ve got a pool of cash, your “investment fund”, and you are ready to enter the scary stock market.

Where do you begin?

First, you have to ask yourself:

1) are you willing to put the work into researching specific companies and making your own financial investments? This means you are putting your own money at risk of purchasing stocks after doing research. This could take hours every week and a lot more dedication. If you are willing to do this, then kudos to you! Make sure to check my stocks page where I discuss stocks and companies I personally invest in and think have great potential.

But there IS an alternative:

2) using ETF’s and automatic investment platforms.

Quick breakdown: ETF’s are like stocks. But they aren’t actually stock of a single company. Instead, they are stocks of several companies. So, when you buy an ETF, you could be potentially buying (very small) portions of maybe 500 of the largest & best American companies. If you want to learn more about ETF’s, read this post: What the F is an ETF?

 Automatic investment platforms. Simple as it sounds. You pay someone (a platform) to invest your money for you. They take a small % fee and manage your money passively. The funny thing is though, most of these automatic investment platforms just end up purchasing a mass supply of identical ETF stocks for their X amount of customers.


Let’s break down path 1 first: picking your own investments.

Pros: Higher potential gains because you might be able to find the next Amazon. If you purchased $2,000 of Amazon stock 20 years ago, you’d be sitting on about $1,136,000 in Amazon stock (as of 2017). That’s a return of 56,821%!!!

Cons: Higher rewards = High risk. You will have to do a lot more work and research for making your own investment decisions. You could lose a lot of money at first. A lot more stressful too! 

First, you need a brokerage account or platform. Before everything became digitized and easily accessible online, individuals would have to go to either the bank or call a stockbroker to make investments for them. Now we can all just easily do it with online platforms.

I personally use ETrade brokerage to make my investments. The biggest crutch though is that I pay $5 for each trade (both on a sell and buy end). That means I pay $10 in fees at the end of the day when I want to take my profits on a specific stock. This is partly why one of my guiding principles is to always invest at least $500 in each trade. (For my Canadian friends, you can try Quest Trade Brokerage)

However, if you are a beginner, or any type of investor really, I wholeheartedly think that Robinhood is easily one of the best platforms out there. Robinhood is an app. You can easily invest in stocks right on your smartphone. It’s super easy to navigate and has a great UI/UX. Best of all? THERE ARE NO COMMISSIONS. Yes, free trades for days. (The only reason I don’t use Robinhood is that it is only open to Americans right now)

Use this Robinhood referral link and when you sign up, you’ll receive a FREE random stock. Could be worth $5, but it could also be an Apple stock worth $200. 

Once you’ve signed up for a brokerage account/platform, it’s all up to you now to make your own financial investments.

Other DTF Articles


Breaking down Path 2: ETF’s and Automatic Investment Portfolios

Well, path 2 comes in two parts.

You can invest in ETF’s by yourself, so you’d need a platform to do that on. As I mentioned earlier, I use ETrade, but I recommend you use Robinhood if you are American.

ETF’s are a whole other discussion, which you can read about here: What the F is an ETF?

Here are some quick ETF’s you should take a look into though:

  • Tracks the S&P 500: [SPY] [VOO] [IVV]
  • Tracks NASDAQ (Tech companies): [QQQ]
  • Tracks Dow Jones: [DJIA]
  • China ETF: [CXSE] [CHIM]
  • India ETF: [INDY]

Automatic Investment Platforms: 

This is pretty straightforward. As I mentioned, you sign up on a platform, and you pay other people to essentially buy stocks for you. 

  • Pros:
    • Passive; you don’t do much work
    • Other people essentially create wealth for you.
    • Simple, easy to set-and-forget. It’s a no-brainer!
  • Cons:
    • Over the long term, you can be paying large amounts of money to these platforms to manage your money.
    • Less potential for massive profits, as these managers generally look at safer, well-established companies.
    • No freedom to pick your own investments. What if you found the next Apple?

Here are the platforms I recommend:

  • Acorns For Americans. Is an APP
    • Acorns is an AUTOMATIC investment portfolio app that you can access right on your phone! Basically, Acorns will do all the investing for you, and you just sit back and watch your wealth increase. I personally think Acorns is one of the best automatic investment portfolio apps available because of how simple it is to use. Use this REFERRAL LINK (my referral) and we both get a free $5 to our investments.
  • Mylo For Canadians. Is an APP
    • Mylo is the Canadian version to Acorns. Check it out! What’s great is that they automatically can round up your transactions and purchases with your credit/debit card, so you’ll be saving money and investing spare change without even knowing it! Use this REFERRAL LINK (my referral) and we both get a free $5 to our investments.
  • WealthSimple Available both for Americans & Canadians. App and Website.
    • WealthSimple has a bit more features and is a great company. You have the option to choose socially responsible investments (SRI), and tax-advantaged accounts (RRSP, and ROTH IRA) and has a great customer service. Use this referral link to get $5000 managed for free for a year.

Other DTF Articles:

WTF Explanation Series:

If you have more questions, please feel free to reach out. I will gladly help you with any concerns, and we can hop on a call/chat if you want.

Email me: downtofinanceDTF@gmail.com

Follow me on social media! Instagram: @DowntoFinance


Disclaimer:

I am not a professional financial advisor or planner as much as I’d like to be. All thoughts on the DTF Website are strictly my opinions unless otherwise stated. I understand there may be errors in my writing. My articles are not meant to be offered as professional advice, as I am currently learning a lot about finance myself. Please always do your own research and due diligence when it comes to financial decisions. Money is very important! I may own some stocks discussed in this article.

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