Phil is a hedge fund manager and author of 3 New York Times best-selling investment books, Invested, Rule #1, and Payback Time. He was taught how to invest using Rule #1 strategy when he was a Grand Canyon river guide in the 80's, after a tour group member shared his formula for successful investing. Phil has a passion educating others, and has given thousands of people the confidence to start investing and retire comfortably.
By creating a budget, you can determine how much money you have to invest. You can assign portions of your income to various savings goals, ranging from shorter-term ones, like buying a house, to longer-term ones, like retirement. Before you allocate money to your investment goals, however, many financial experts recommend putting aside money for an emergency fund.
The direction of interest rates and inflation, and how these may affect any fixed-income or equity purchases.  When interest rates are low, more consumers and businesses have access to money. Consumers have more money to make purchases, so they usually buy more. This leads to higher company revenues, which allows companies to invest in expansion. Thus, lower interest rates lead to higher stock prices. In contrast, higher interest rates can decrease stock prices. High interest rates make it more difficult or expensive to borrow money. Consumers spend less, and companies have less money to invest. Growth may stall or decline. 
Before you begin investing, you need an overall framework for understanding the stock market. Ours is simple: We believe that the best way to invest your money in stocks is to buy great companies and hold them for the long term. The best investments don't need you to check on them daily because they are solid companies with competitive advantages and strong leadership. Patience is the secret to investing and making money grow.
If you have the option to do so, gaining full employer matching from a 401(k) or Thrift Savings Plan is the highest priority, because it’s essentially a 100% return on your investment up front, assuming they give you the typical 5% matching if you contribute 5% of your salary. Also, it’s tax-advantaged and automatic; it comes out of your paycheck before you get your hands on it, which is a strategy called “paying yourself first”.
Not if you can supply your own financial acumen and practical level-headedness. If you are not clueless about finances, or if you're personally acquainted with someone with considerable financial experience to share with you, there's no need to pay for advice. Having said that, however, the more money you have at risk, the more an advisor is worth hiring.
When looking for an advisor, choose one who charges you a flat fee for advice, not one who is paid a commission by the vendor of an investment product. A fee-based advisor will retain you as a happy client only if his/her advice works out well for you. A commission-based advisor's success is based on selling you a product, regardless of how well that product performs for you.
Purchasing a commercial property or home as an investment is one way to invest in real estate, but it might require more capital than you have readily available. Another form of real estate investing is through a real estate investment trust, or REIT. An REIT is a company that owns a property such as an office building, mall, apartment building or hotel. Individuals can invest in an REIT, and earn a share of the income produced through the real estate ownership — without actually having to go out and buy commercial real estate.
The decision between a high-risk, high-return investment strategy and a low-risk, low-return strategy should depend, in part, on your investing time frame. Conventional wisdom states that the farther you are from retirement, the more risk you can afford to take. That means a stock-heavy portfolio in your 20s, when you can afford to chase returns. Then, even if your portfolio takes a hit during a recession when you’re in your 30s, you’ll have time to make up your losses before you retire. By the same logic, the closer you are to retirement, the more you likely want to focus on preserving your gains and avoiding too much risk. The World's Worst Stock Investment Advice
While companies that issue common stock can offer a dividend, they aren’t required to and often don’t. If you want a steady payback on your investment, one of the things you can do is take a look at how often any particular company has paid out a dividend and in what amounts. Another avenue for more regular revenue would be the preferred stock discussed below.
Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to talk with three first-time investors. In addition to my friend's daughter mentioned above, I've also spoken with two friends in their twenties. One had never invested. The other had a 403(b), but really no idea how to create an investment plan or how to evaluate the mutual funds in his retirement account.
OptionsHouse doesn’t offer currency trading, and has limited commission-free and transaction-free offerings, but its 2016 acquisition by E*TRADE should help fill in those gaps as the two brokers continue to merge. OptionsHouse also falls short in mutual funds — it charges $20 per trade, as opposed to Ally Invest’s $9.95 — as well as currency trading, and commission-free ETFs, but for the active trader who know what they’re doing, it’s one of the best platforms available.
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.