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Investing 101: How to Invest
Investing 101: Make Your Money Work for You
Our How-To Investing Guide Gets You Started
Let’s talk Investing 101. Investing is the process of buying assets—such as stocks—with the expectation that they will increase in value and provide income. It’s about having a long-term strategy for building wealth.
If you want to begin but aren’t sure where to start, we’re here to help. Before getting started on investing, it’s important to prioritize your emergency savings fund and pay off any high-interest debts. After these are accounted for, investing is the next step to growing your wealth.
How Getting Started on Investing Now Can Impact Your Finances Tomorrow
The good news is that it doesn’t matter whether you are building your career or are an established professional—you can learn how to invest. When you’re getting started on investing, you can begin with a 401(k) through your employer and evolve into more investments down the road. As you build your career and grow your family, you can maintain riskier, growth-focused investments and may choose to invest for your children’s future. Then, when you get closer to retirement age, you may want to consider switching to lower-risk options to protect your investments.
Every investment involves some risk, whether you’re purchasing stocks, bonds, precious metals, real estate or other assets. A good investing guideline is that your asset allocation should be based on your investment objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance.
In general, the lower the risk, the lower the expected return. Lower-risk investments like Treasury notes, Treasury bills and Treasury bonds are issued by the U.S Treasury and are backed by the government. When you invest in those, you’ll earn more than a savings account without a lot of additional risk. Corporate bonds and money market mutual funds are also investments typically considered low-risk.
On the other hand, higher-risk investments can result in higher returns. As an investor, you’ll need to decide the level of risk you’re comfortable with. You’ll also want to consider how long you’ll be investing. If you won’t need the funds for some time, you may be able to take on higher-risk (and potential higher-reward) investments. As your needs change, you can adjust your investment options.
How to Invest and Exploring Your Investment Options
When getting started on investing, you have several options to diversify your investment portfolio. Some feature varying volatility but lower probability of a permanent loss over time. Here’s a quick investing guide:
- Stocks: Also known as equities, stocks are securities that represent the ownership of a fractional portion of their issuing company.
- Bonds: These are like loans taken out by a company. They get their money from investors who buy the bonds, and in exchange, the company pays the investor interest at predetermined intervals and returns the principal amount on the loan’s maturity date.
- 401(k) or IRA: A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement account in which you regularly contribute a percentage of your paycheck to save for retirement. Employer matching may also be offered with these plans.
- With a traditional 401(k), contributions are made pre-tax. The money in the account grows tax-free and is taxed when it is withdrawn.
- With a Roth 401(k), contributions are made after taxes and grow tax-free, but the withdrawals are not taxed.
If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan (and even if it does), you can set up and contribute to an individual retirement account, also known as an IRA. Setting up an account early in your career will give you more time to build wealth. But even if you’re starting a little late, there can be significant benefits in creating a designated account for retirement.
- Real Estate and Precious Metals: Many people like investing in these because they are tangible assets. Real estate investments include purchasing property for lease, purchasing houses to renovate and “flip,” and purchasing stocks in real estate investment trusts (REITs). Gold, platinum and silver can be made into art or jewelry, and platinum and palladium have industrial uses.
When to Invest: How Do I Know It’s the Right Time?
So, you have an idea how to invest, but when is the best time to invest? You should consider putting money toward investments if:
- Your emergency fund is in good shape: You’ll want to have at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses set aside.
- You’ve paid off high-interest debt: Credit card debt can really hamper your ability to save and invest. Knocking down that debt can free up money you can put to better use.
- You’re thinking about retirement: Everyone wants enough to retire comfortably, and the sooner you start building your retirement fund, the bigger it will be.
- You want to build a college fund: If you have young children and want to save for their college education, you can invest in a tax-deferred 529 education savings plan or a high-yield savings account. Investing can help you build a college fund for your children, lessening the high-cost burden later.
Let’s Talk About the Risks of Investing
It’s true that every investment involves some degree of risk. But it’s still wise to minimize that risk whenever you can. Watch for these warning signs and red flags to spot the difference between an appropriate and inappropriate level of risk when you’re learning how to invest:
- Be wary of the way investment opportunities are presented. Too often, legitimate products like living wills, trusts, or financial and retirement planning services are peddled in high-pressure seminars. These seminars tout “free” advice and perks like complimentary lunch or dinner. But that free meal comes with a side of high-pressure sales pitches on “limited-time opportunities.”
- If you receive unsolicited calls, emails or letters with “exciting investment opportunities,” don’t take the bait—especially if these offers include promises of guaranteed returns or no-risk investments. Because, again, every investment involves risk.
Investing can be the key to growing your wealth, so it’s important to be aware of common risks and scams before beginning.
Need an Investing Guide or Financial Advisor?1
Our financial advisors are here to help you learn how to invest and make the right choices for your portfolio.
1Wealth Management Services include WesBanco Trust and Investment Services (WTIS), a division of WesBanco Bank, Inc.; WesBanco Securities, Inc. (WSI), a wholly owned subsidiary of WesBanco, Inc. and a member of FINRA and SIPC; and WesBanco Insurance Services (WIS). WIS is licensed in the states of DC, IN, FL, KY, MD, MI, OH, PA, VA and WV. WTIS may invest in insured deposits and nondeposit investment products. WSI and WIS invest in nondeposit investment products. Nondeposit invest products are not insured by the FDIC, not bank guaranteed, not insured by an government entity and are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Investment options identified in this article may not all be available through the various WesBanco entities.
Content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of WesBanco.
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