Making a list will also help if you are saving for your children’s future. For example, do you want to send your children to a private school or college? Do you want to buy them cars? Would you prefer public schools and using the extra money for something else? Having a clear idea of what you value will help you establish goals for savings and investment.
One of the keys to investing money to build wealth is by saving more money to invest. By increasing your amount invested on an automatic and yearly basis you will create discipline and consistency without having to remember on your own. It is a great strategy to use when starting out, when you have limited knowledge about how to add to your investments. In the long term, you will wake up one day and be surprised how much money you have in your account. A fundamental truth of Investing 101 is to start as early as possible and keep increasing how much you invest every year. Then you will be on your way to creating lasting wealth. Start today and open an account!
We hope your first stock purchase marks the beginning of a lifelong journey of successful investing. But if things turn difficult, remember that every investor — even Warren Buffett — goes through rough patches. The key to coming out ahead in the long term is to keep your perspective and concentrate on the things that you can control. Market gyrations aren’t among them. What you can do is:
The business cycle of an economy, along with a broad macroeconomic view. Inflation is an overall rise in prices over a period of time. Moderate or “controlled” inflation is usually considered good for the economy and the stock market. Low interest rates combined with moderate inflation usually have a positive effect on the market. High interest rates and deflation usually cause the stock market to fall.
That means you can start with as little as 1% of each paycheck, though it’s a good idea to aim for contributing at least as much as your employer match. For example, a common matching arrangement is 50% of the first 6% of your salary you contribute. To capture the full match in that scenario, you would have to contribute 6% of your salary each year. But you can work your way up to that over time.
Diversify. Diversifying your portfolio is one of the most important things that you can do, because it diminishes your risk. Think of it this way: If you were to invest $5 in each of 20 different companies, all of the companies would have to go out of business before you would lose all your money. If you invested the same $100 in just one company, only that company would have to fail for all your money to disappear. Thus, diversified investments "hedge" against each other and keep you from losing lots of money because of the poor performance of a few companies.
Since stock prices can be volatile, it is unwise to invest too heavily in any one company or sector (such as energy, technology, finance, etc.). Diversify to minimize risk, and adjust your asset allocation periodically to reflect either changes in the stock or changes in your needs (this is known as rebalancing your portfolio). A rough rule of thumb is to invest your age in bonds or more conservative investments, and the rest in stocks (at age 25, keep 75% of your investments in stocks). Even though stocks typically shine over the long haul, they can be quite risky over the short run. That is why savvy investors distribute some of their capital into other asset classes such as bonds, real estate and money markets.
Growth investors look for companies whose sales and earnings are expected to increase at a faster rate than that of the market average or the average of their peers. The key difference between the growth and value philosophies is that the former places much more emphasis on a company’s revenue, unit sales, and market share, and somewhat less on earnings. Thus, growth investors tend to buy stocks that are already in favor and to pay prices that are relatively high in terms of P/E ratio. In the bull market of the late 1990s, growth investors tended to do very well, and growth returned to favor after the Great Recession.
A stock broker is a person or an institution licensed to buy and sell stocks and other securities via the market exchanges. Back in the day, the only way for individuals to invest directly in stocks was to hire a stock broker to place trades on their behalf. But what was once a clunky, costly transaction conducted via landline telephones now takes place online in seconds, for a fraction of what full-service brokers used to charge for the service. Today, most investors place their trades through an online brokerage account. (A little lost? Check out our explainers on brokerage accounts and buying stocks.)
It’s important to consider transaction costs and fees when choosing your investments. Costs and fees can eat into your returns and reduce your gains. It is vital to know what costs you will be liable for when you purchase, hold, or sell stock. Common transaction costs for stocks include commissions, bid-ask spread, slippage, SEC Section 31 fees , and capital gains tax. For funds, costs may include management fees, sales loads, redemption fees, exchange fees, account fees, 12b-1 fees, and operating expenses. 
Mutual funds. Mutual funds are similar to ETFs; they're both bundles of stocks with subtle differences. For instance, ETFs trade throughout the trading day and mutual funds trade at the end of the day at the net asset value price. The main differentiator: ETFs generally have lower management fees and commissions than mutual funds. Mutual funds (and some ETFs) also often require at least $1,000 to get started and many have a higher minimum. However, some mutual funds can be found for $1,000 or less, like T. Rowe Price and Vanguard.
Invest in companies that you understand. Perhaps you have some basic knowledge regarding some business or industry. Why not put that to use? Invest in companies or industries that you know, because you're more likely to understand revenue models and prospects for future success. Of course, never put all your eggs in one basket: investing in only one -- or a very few -- companies can be quite risky. However, wringing value out of a single industry (whose workings you understand) will increase your chances of being successful.
The question you need to answer is how much time you want to spend on investing. If you have the time and desire to research individual stocks, active investment could be the way to go. If not, there's nothing wrong with passive investing. In fact, billionaire investor Warren Buffett believes that passive investing is the best way to go for many people.
Online discount brokers -- This label is generally given to the companies you see on the list here. While discount brokers are increasingly offering “extras” like research on stocks and funds, they primarily exist to help you place orders to buy investments at a very low cost. Many investors don’t need the handholding of a full-service broker, and would prefer to pay a low commission on every trade to save money and ensure more of their money goes toward their investment portfolio, not paying for frills.
Don't look at the value of your portfolio more than once a month. If you get caught up in the emotions of Wall Street, it will only tempt you to sell what could be an excellent long-term investment. Before you buy a stock, ask yourself, "if this goes down, am I going to want to sell or am I going to want to buy more of it?" Don't buy it if your answer is the former.
When it comes to investing, time is your most powerful tool. The longer your money is invested, the longer it has to work to create more money and take advantage of compound growth. It also makes it far less likely that one harsh market downturn will negatively impact your wealth as you’ll have time to leave the money invested and recover its value.
Different investors are going to prioritize different things. A day trader, for example, requires speed and flexibility. A first-time trader may value educational resources and reliable customer support. But one thing every trader should care about is cost. Not paying attention to investment expenses is like revving your car engine while filling it with gas. That's why we spent a lot of time balancing price with what each site offered.
Use a college cost calculator to determine how much you will need to save for your children’s college, how much parents are expected to contribute and the various types of financial aid your children may qualify for, based on your income and net worth. Remember that costs vary widely depending on the location and type of school (public, private, etc.). Also remember that college expenses include not only tuition, but also fees, room and board, transportation, books and supplies. 
Your strategy depends on your saving goals (and how much money you’ll allocate to each) and how many years you plan to let your money grow, says Mark Waldman, an investment advisor and former personal finance professor at American University in Washington, D.C. “The longer the time frame associated with your goal, the higher percentage you should have in stocks.”
There’s good news: You largely can, thanks to robo-advisors. These services manage your investments for you using computer algorithms. Due to low overhead, they charge low fees relative to human investment managers — a robo-advisor typically costs 0.25% to 0.50% of your account balance per year, and many allow you to open an account with no minimum.