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. [6]
Mutual funds. A mutual fund is a basket that contains a bunch of different investments — often mostly stocks — that all have something in common, be it companies that together make up a market index (see the box for more about the joys of index funds), a particular asset class (bonds, international stocks) or a specific sector (companies in the energy industry, technology stocks). There are even mutual funds that invest solely in companies that adhere to certain ethical or environmental principles (aka socially responsible funds).
Because index funds take a passive approach to investing by tracking a market index rather than using professional portfolio management, they tend to carry lower expense ratios — a fee charged based on the amount you have invested — than mutual funds. But like mutual funds, investors in index funds are buying a chunk of the market in one transaction.
IF YOU WANT TO BUILD your wealth, making smart investments early on is key. And if you've collected some extra cash, and you don't need to pad your emergency savings account or dig yourself out of debt, it's an ideal time to try your hand at investing. With that in mind, we asked a handful of financial experts to give their suggestions for investing $1,000, a low sum for a veteran investor but a decent amount for beginners.

One type of broker isn’t necessarily better for everyone. In fact, many people use both types of services over their lifetime. A saver who is just starting out might have more reason to use a discount broker, so as to save money while accumulating assets for retirement. Given a full-service broker might charge you as much as $500 in fees to invest $10,000 in a fund, whereas a discount broker might charge as little as $5, the cost difference alone is reason enough for new investors to use a discount brokerage firm.
Our second pick, Fidelity Investments offers new investors an easy-to-use website and quality on-site education. While Fidelity's learning center is impressive, the broker does a fantastic job with its in-house market research and financial educational articles, Fidelity Viewpoints. Of all the brokers, I share and bookmark Fidelity Viewpoint articles the most. As far as subject matter goes, the broker's retirement education is exceptional. Read full review
Put simply: Buying stocks online is easy, and yet it’s incredibly complicated to do it well. It’s almost always the best idea to let a professional handle it. With the current level of technology, you don’t need to even pick a professional — you can pick a program that a professional designed. That’s going to help you to grow a significant retirement nest egg, provided that you can leave the money sitting in your account long enough.
IF YOU WANT TO BUILD your wealth, making smart investments early on is key. And if you've collected some extra cash, and you don't need to pad your emergency savings account or dig yourself out of debt, it's an ideal time to try your hand at investing. With that in mind, we asked a handful of financial experts to give their suggestions for investing $1,000, a low sum for a veteran investor but a decent amount for beginners.
Invest in ETFs. Mutual funds usually aren't an option with just $100. They often require much larger initial investments. Enter ETFs. They combine a variety of securities into one investment. They often don't charge annual maintenance fees. But, you do pay a trading fee when you buy or sell them. We recommend sticking with ETFs that track index funds, such as the S&P 500.

When you first begin investing you’ll be far better off with mutual funds and ETFs than plunging right into stocks. Funds are professionally managed, and this will remove the burden of stock selection from your plate. All you need to do is determine how much money you want to put into a given fund, or group of funds, and then you’re free to get on with the rest of your life.


If you have a more complex financial situation or you’d rather have a dedicated advisor to talk to, a traditional financial advisor may be a better fit. An advisor matching tool like SmartAsset’s can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to up to three registered investment advisors who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in-person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.
Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2019 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc.2019. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2019 and/or its affiliates.

These days, there's really no reason to avoid opening a brokerage account. Those of you worried about rehypothecation risk should opt to open a cash-only brokerage account, not a margin account. Make sure you are covered by SIPC insurance. If you are smart about the firm with which you are working and are only buying ordinary domestic common stocks, you can probably get away with trading costs and commissions for less than a trip to your favorite coffee shop. 
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2. Robo Advisor: Outside of a 401(k) there are other options. One of the easiest and least expensive options is an automated investing service, which has become known as a robo advisor.  These services typically cost around 25 basis points plus the cost of the underlying ETFs. The only decision an investor must make is how much to invest in stocks and how much in bonds. Once that decision is made, the robo advisor takes care of the rest, including rebalancing and dividend reinvestment.
One of the best aspects of a retirement account is that you can build up money in the plan without actually investing any money until you’re ready to do so. You can keep it all in a money market account within the plan until you feel comfortable adding stocks and funds to the plan. Blooom is one of the easiest tools to maximize your retirement returns.
Preferred stock, meanwhile, represents an ownership share in a company as well, only if you hold preferred shares, you're entitled to a predetermined dividend that's likely to be larger than what common stockholders receive. Furthermore, in the event of a liquidation (which is when a company shuts down operations and sells off all of its assets), preferred shareholders get paid before common stockholders, making preferred shares a less risky investment. On the other hand, preferred shareholders don't get voting rights on company matters.

Discounted cash flow (DCF) model: the value of a stock is the present value of all its future cash flows. Thus, DCF = CF1/(1+r)^1 + CF2/(1+r)^2 + ... + CFn/(1+r)^n, where CFn = cash flow for a given time period n, r = discount rate. A typical DCF calculation projects a growth rate for annual free cash flow (operating cash flow less capital expenditures) for the next 10 years to calculate a growth value and estimate a terminal growth rate thereafter to calculate a terminal value, then sum up the two to arrive at the DCF value of the stock. For example, if Company A's current FCF is $2/share, estimated FCF growth is 7% for the next 10 years and 4% thereafter, using a discount rate of 12%, the stock has a growth value of $15.69 and a terminal value of $16.46 and is worth $32.15 a share.
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Buy undervalued assets ("buy low, sell high"). If you're talking about stocks and other assets, you want to buy when the price is low and sell when the price is high. If you buy 100 shares of stock on January 1st for $5 per share, and you sell those same shares on December 31st for $7.25, you just made $225. That may seem a paltry sum, but when you're talking about buying and selling hundreds or even thousands of shares, it can really add up.
Our second pick, Fidelity Investments offers new investors an easy-to-use website and quality on-site education. While Fidelity's learning center is impressive, the broker does a fantastic job with its in-house market research and financial educational articles, Fidelity Viewpoints. Of all the brokers, I share and bookmark Fidelity Viewpoint articles the most. As far as subject matter goes, the broker's retirement education is exceptional. Read full review
You can also buy or trade stocks yourself, but you must go through a licensed broker. This can be as simple as an online interface where you are on your own, or as complex as hiring a fee-based money manager who handles all aspects of your finances. In-between, there are discount brokers offering minimal advice for slightly higher fees and full-service brokers that take the time to meet with you and understand your goals and needs.
Something that might be confusing for new investors is that real estate can also be traded like a stock. Usually, this happens through a corporation that qualifies as a real estate investment trust, or REIT. For example, you can invest in hotel REITs and collect your share of the revenue from guests checking into the hotels and resorts that make up the company's portfolio. There are many different kinds of REITs; apartment complex REITs, office building REITs, storage unit REITs, REITs that specialize in senior housing, and even parking garage REITs. The World's Worst Stock Investment Advice
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