By Brian McKay
Starting anything for the first time can be a nervous occasion, and this is multiplied tenfold when money is at risk. Getting involved in investment, therefore, can be slightly daunting, something that is thought better left to city-slickers in designer suits. However, anyone can start investing, even those without tons of disposal income to waste.
If you’re a beginner investor and aren’t sure where to start, there are plenty of resources available offering support and advice and you can find a helpful selection of beginner tips below to get you on your way.
Image source: Pixabay
Don’t risk it all
When you’re just starting out in the investment game it is important to not get carried away. You may have dreams of getting rich quick by playing the market, but it often doesn’t work that way. Don’t treat the market like a game of blackjack and, most important of all, only invest money that you can afford to lose.
Making a few small profits here and there can be extremely addictive when trading stocks and shares, but don’t give in to the temptation of gambling more and more. Trading, after all, is a risk and there are no guarantees, so even if an investment looks sound on paper, in reality it can turn sour quickly. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding how much to invest in shares.
Don’t be overwhelmed
If you’ve never been involved in any form of market trading before, all the talk of assets, derivatives and equities can become a little overwhelming. It’s easy to be scared off from investing before you’ve even started. For anyone in this situation, however, you should know that it has never been easier to begin buying and selling stock. All you have to do is choose a stockbroker to work with.
Choosing your stockbroker will ultimately depend on how much money you want to put towards trading and how hands-on you want to be. The most basic option is an online or discount broker, who will essentially just buy and sell the stocks that you request. There’ll be no office to visit, with everything being conducted online or over the phone and you can begin trading straight away without requiring huge amounts of money. However, you will not receive any investment advice, aside from maybe a few online resources. You’ll be completely on your own concerning the buying and selling.
Alternatively, you can choose to partner with brokers that offer assistance or even a money manager to look after your entire portfolio of stocks and shares. Essentially, the more help you want, the more it’s going to cost you. For any beginner investors that want to get up to speed quickly or invest larger sums of money, then getting extra support is advisable. Full-service stockbrokers will require face-to-face meetings to discuss your best options, but if it leads to more sensible, and lucrative, investments, then it will be an extra expense worth paying for.
Be aware of the different markets
Once you’ve decided to invest, you’ll quickly discover that there is no single market in which to trade. Some of the main options include the stock market, bonds, the foreign exchange (Forex) market, derivatives, physical assets and specialist markets. Deciding which market is right for you is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
The stock market is perhaps the best known of these and, in the simplest terms, allows you to buy shares in publicly listed companies, which then go up or down in value. Bonds are generally seen as less exciting than stocks because when the market is growing they can offer smaller returns. However, the security and stability that they offer can prove useful, particularly in a bear market.
The foreign exchange market is the largest in the world, driven by the fact that many business deals and transactions now take place across different currencies. Investors that are involved in the forex market speculate as to which currencies will go up and which will go down, transferring their assets accordingly.
Derivatives are slightly more complicated, being a type of security that derives its value from a particular asset, like stocks or a physical object. The key thing to recognize is that there are a multitude of ways to get involved in investing and several markets that might be of interest to you, so make sure you explore all your options.
Just as with anything else, you probably won’t become an expert market trader overnight. Even if you’ve conducted plenty of research and thought long and hard about your investing options, you won’t know if you enjoy investing, or are any good at it, until you’ve tried it for yourself.
The key here is to not get ahead of yourself. Starting small, with something like penny stocks, is a good way of getting involved in investing without taking too much risk. It is true that penny stocks are extremely volatile, with many of the companies listed on the market ultimately doomed to failure, but as stock prices are generally lower than $5 per share, there is less of a temptation to over-invest. Getting started with penny stocks is a great way of exposing yourself to the risk and reward of investing.
Better yet, an investment simulator provides an excellent starting point for a curious investor that is not yet confident enough to start spending his or her own money. Depending on the level of complexity being offered, your stock market simulator will function just like the real-life version. You’ll start out with a specified amount of money to invest and a choice of stocks to purchase. From then on the game seeks to mimic reality, with share prices going up and down as a result of market fluctuations. It can be a great way to get up to speed with broker fees, commissions and learn some finance basics. It is, of course, just a simulation, so success here doesn’t mean you’ll be a guaranteed millionaire in the real world.
As a beginner investor, it can be difficult to know what would constitute a good return on your investment and when is the right time to sell. The best advice you could receive would be to think long-term.
Share prices can be volatile, but don’t be disheartened if one of your investments loses value. Even the most successful companies are susceptible to falls in share price, so don’t be tempted to pull the plug on your investment as soon as things start going badly. Just as stocks go down, they also go up. Looking for long-term growth in your portfolio will provide better returns and save you from a heart attack every time you switch on the financial news.
Don’t miss out
In the not too distant past, keeping track of your investments was a lot more difficult than it is today. You needed to have the utmost trust in your stockbroker to update you on sudden market changes as soon as possible. Today, however, advanced computer programs can automate some aspects of the buying and selling process, giving you greater personal control over your investments.
Automated trading systems can work on criteria that you specify yourself, which can be as complex or as simple as you wish, and ensure that you never miss out on a purchase or sale. Certain markets which may be operating at times where you are not available, like the foreign exchange market, can benefit from an automated approach. Using a VPS Forex for automated trading, for example, guarantees 24/7 uptime, so your investments are being monitored constantly. For a beginner investor, in particular, missing out on an important deal can be disappointing, but with the right digital tools you can prevent this from happening to you.
Know your limits
When you buy or sell stocks, there are two main methods of doing so. The first is known as a market order and specifies that you want to buy or sell stock at its current price. However, because prices can fluctuate on a daily basis, this means that you could end up buying stock at a higher price than you envisioned or selling at a lower price than you hoped. Market orders are quick though and offer a higher likelihood of a trade being accepted.
Conversely, limit orders let you specify the lowest price that you’d be willing to sell for and the highest price that you would buy at. This approach gives you greater control, which may be appreciated if you’re just getting started in the world of investment.
Stick to what you know best
Investing, like many other things in life, works best if you have as much knowledge as possible. So, if you have expertise in the world of social media, then companies that work in this field represent a great starting point for your investment journey. If you do not know anything about petrochemicals, for example, then maybe they don’t represent a great financial opportunity for you. If you stick to what you know and are interested in, then your investments will have a higher likelihood of success.