#1. Pay off Your Debt
First off, this is not some kind of get rich quick scam. This is a simplified version of the same thing people do that have more money than you. They also don’t want to work their whole life or already don’t work. If you have credit card debt or loans with an interest rate higher than ~5% you should pay those off before you start investing.
#2. Save up Some Money
You are going to need some money to start with, and I mean the kind of money that you will be able to forget about for 10 years and not the few hundred you have in your savings in case of emergency. There are tons of ways to save money or make overtime/side money. Figure something out.
#3. Have Some Hooligan From the Internet Teach you About the Stock Market
Okay, so you’re pretty well setup now. You have all your credit cards paid off and you saved up some extra money by following my fast food diet or inherited money from the neighborhood raccoon… now it’s time to understand a thing you might have seen before called the S&P 500. The S&P 500 is basically a list of the 500 largest companies in the United States and those 500 companies combined have ~80% of all the money in the stock market. You have probably heard of most of these companies as the top 5 largest include Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Exxon Mobil. Now sure, you can invest into individual companies but the associated risk of that is much higher and exceeds the level of this article.
What we are going to discuss here is something called an Exchange traded fund or ETF which is a group of companies that you can buy or sell in the same way you would buy 1 stock. For example, you can buy 1 share of Apple(AAPL) right now for $150.70 and if you buy that you will own $150.70 worth of Apple corporation. If you buy 1 share of an ETF that follows the S&P 500, for example we will use SPDR S&P 500 ETF (known as SPY), for $240.30 you will own a small portion of 500 different companies. The reason to use an ETF is less risk, if Apple goes bankrupt tomorrow your stock could be worth $0, but if you had bought SPY instead as soon as Apple is 501 it will be removed from the list and whatever company was 501 is now 500 and replaces Apple. The ETF will automatically sell your investment in Apple for you and buy the other company.
#4 Understand Risks and Rewards of Investing
Now that being said, there is still certainly risk involved. If a war starts or a recession or solar flare or ET lands on the moon or whatever and the stock market crashes YOU CAN LOSE MONEY (if you sell). The best thing to do in that situation is not to sell which is going to be opposite of what everyone is saying/doing. If anything this is an excellent time to buy more if you have extra money, however make sure to keep enough reserve money on hand for unexpected things that come with a bad economy such as losing your job. In most cases the economy will recover in 3-5 years in which case if you didn’t sell you will be making money again, not to mention the dividends you collected the whole time. I am not responsible if you lose money, although if you do it’s probably because you didn’t follow directions and sold in a recession.
The reason this article is titled this way is because the average amount of money you will make in a year (called return) is about 7% for an S&P500 index. Some of the money you make is because of the stock/ETF price going up and some of the return is from the money they pay you just for owning their stock (called a dividend). Say you put $1000 in SPY in May of 2007, even with the whole housing crash and recession and all that crap, in May of 2017 that $1000 investment would be worth ~$1,950. Check out this link if you wish to calculate other time periods.
Now that you have a brief overview you are going to need to choose a trading platform. Basically you are going to open another bank account associated with a program/company that will let you buy and sell stocks using money in this account. There are several options to do this and you should do some of your own research before you choose. I have personal experience with Etrade and Robinhood and if you don’t really care about researching companies and just want to use the S&P 500 ETF I would recommend the Robinhood app. This app is free, doesn’t have trading fees and is simple to use from a smartphone. Etrade is an excellent option if you want to research or if you want customer support and also isn’t limited to a phone app, you can use a computer or call them on the phone.
#6 Leave a Comment About how Awesome This Website is and Then Wait 10 Years.
Remember: A warrior’s greatest weapon is patience. I hope this is simple enough to get you guys into investing, as it can be overwhelming with all the charts and bullshit associated with the stock market. There is certainly thousands of ways you can invest money, and if nothing else this is a good place to start. There is plenty of information available online to fit your risk profile from a savings account and bonds to day trading, options, and penny stocks.