There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when to start investing. The best age to start investing depends on your individual circumstances, including your income, expenses, and investment goals. However, some general guidelines can help you get started as a beginner investor.
In this guide, we will discuss when to start investing and how a beginner should get started!
When to start investing
When your monthly income exceeds your monthly expenses, you have some discretionary income that can be used to start investing. Once you have started saving for short-term goals, like an emergency fund, you can begin to think about investing for the long term.
The reason why you want to start investing as soon as you have sufficient funds in your emergency account is that if you don't, inflation will slowly start to eat away at the purchasing power of your money.
By investing, you will be able to not only protect your purchasing power but also grow your wealth at a rate that is greater than inflation.
What age is best to start investing?
Technically, even a child could start investing if their parents or guardians set up an account for them. However, most people begin investing in their twenties or thirties. There's no one age but the early twenties are typically when people start to have some discretionary income after completing their education and finding a good job.
If you're in your twenties or thirties and just starting to invest, don't worry! You're not behind. The most important thing is to get started and start building your investment portfolio. If you feel like you are too young to start investing, don't let this myth stop you!
In fact, one of the most famous investors, Ray Dalio started investing when he was just a preteen. Throughout his career, he has made some mistakes but through experience, he has learned from them and become one of the most successful investors in history.
The earlier the age, the more experience you will have to grow your wealth. If you are older, don't feel discouraged either! It is never too late to start investing.
The best time to start was yesterday but the second best time is today. And even if you don't reap the rewards of long-term growth yourself, you can pass on your investment portfolio to your children or grandchildren, who will.
When should you start investing for retirement?
As soon as possible. Many people wait for their debts to be repaid or for their children to finish schooling before they start saving for retirement but this is not ideal. The sooner you start investing for retirement, the more time your money will have to grow.
Of course, managing your debts and obligations as a provider for your family is important. However, there are ways to balance investing for retirement with these other responsibilities. For example, you can start by contributing to a retirement account at work or setting up a small automatic monthly transfer to an investment account.
The important thing is to start now and increase your retirement contributions as your income and circumstances allow. You might not think you have any breathing room in your monthly budget but if you think of retirement as a promise to your future self, it's worth making room in your budget for it.
Many people put off investing until they are near retirement but by then it's often too late to make up for lost time. It's better to start early, even if it's only a small contribution each month. Further in this article, we'll discuss how this works through compound interest.
But with that being said, playing catch-up, later on, is difficult, but not impossible. So, if you are already near retirement, it is still not too late to start investing. Although your contributions may have to be significant, being able to care for yourself in retirement is worth it.
Should I start investing at 18?
The simple answer is yes. At 18, many of us might want to spend our money on other things like cars or going out with friends. But if you start investing early, your money has a chance to grow through compounding.
Compounding is when you earn money on your investments, and then you reinvest those earnings to earn even more money. Over time, compounding can help your money grow exponentially. You might not think that investing is important as a younger person, but your future self will thank you for starting early.
Student loan debts may face a lot of us, but that shouldn’t stop us from investing. Investing early on can help you reach your financial goals quicker and easier than if you start investing later on in life. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources available to help you get started.
There are also plenty of investment apps and Robo-advisors that can help you get started with investing with very little money. You can start by opening a brokerage account and contributing to a 401k or IRA. These are just some of the ways you can begin investing.
The most important thing is to start now so you can take advantage of compounding and reach your financial goals. As an 18-year-old, you are likely just starting your career. Keep in mind that the company that you work for might offer a 401k plan.
If they do, you should take advantage of it. The company might also be publicly listed and you can become an equity owner rather than just an employee. When you're ready to start looking for an investment, there are a lot of resources that can help you get started.
How to start investing as a student
As we mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to start investing as a student because of things like student loan debt. But it is still possible to start investing while you are in school. One way to start is by downloading roundup apps like Acorns.
These apps allow you to automatically invest your spare change from everyday purchases. This is a great way to start investing without having to think about it too much. You may feel bogged down by studies and don't want to spend hours researching individual stocks.
Luckily, index funds offer a low-maintenance way to invest. Index funds track major stock market indexes like the S&P 500 and are a great way to get exposure to the stock market without having to pick individual stocks.
Timing the market can also be an exhausting task. Some professionals even refer to it as a "fool's errand". Rather than trying to find the best entry and exit points, dollar-cost averaging can be a better approach, and help you take the emotion out of investing.
Dollar-cost averaging is when you invest a fixed sum of money into security or securities at set intervals. This technique can help you average out the cost of your investment over time and reduce the effects of timing the market.
As a student, discipline is important. Being disciplined in your studies can help you in your future career. The same goes for investing. Creating and sticking to a budget can be difficult, but it is important if you want to be a successful investor.
Your discretionary income might not be much due to your lack of time to work, but through side jobs and minimalistic budgeting, you can still save enough to start investing. There are numerous other ways to get started investing as a student.
These are just some of the most popular methods. The important thing is to start somewhere. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t invest a lot of money. Don't FOMO (fear of missing out), and don't try to time the market. Just start investing now in a stable investment vehicle and you’ll be on your way to a bright future.
How should a beginner start investing?
The best way for a beginner to start investing is to start small and gradually increase their investment over time. A good rule of thumb is to invest no more than what you can afford to lose.
This will help you avoid making any rash decisions that could jeopardize your financial security. Another important thing to keep in mind when starting to invest is to have a diversified portfolio.
This means investing in a variety of different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. This will help protect you from losing all your money if one particular investment fails.
Although it's important to invest in your circle of competence (what you understand), it's also important to remember not to put all your eggs in one basket. Investing can be a great way to secure your financial future.
However, it is important to do your research and understand the risks involved before making any decisions. If you take the time to learn about investing and make smart choices, you can potentially make a lot of money.
However, if you don't take the time to learn about investing and instead make rash decisions, you could end up losing all your money. So, if you're thinking about starting to invest, make sure you do your homework first.
Practice writing an investment thesis and develop a strategy that matches your risk tolerance. Beginners can be prone to panic selling and making investments based on speculation rather than fundamentals so it’s always best to start small and increase your investment over time.
Remember that index funds are a common (and highly recommended) investment for beginners as they provide broad market exposure and low fees. As you progress and learn how to find undervalued stocks, you can begin to add individual companies to your portfolio.
At what stage in life should you invest?
Now, that brings us to compound interest. When we think of stages in our lives and when to start investing, we should think about compounding. Compound interest is when you earn interest on your principal, plus any accumulated interest from previous periods.
This "interest on your interest" is what makes compounding so powerful. The earlier you start investing, the more time your money has to grow through compounding. So, if you want to maximize the effects of compounding, you should start investing as early as possible.
Even if you can only invest a small amount of money, that's okay. The important thing is to start now and let compound interest work its magic.
Investing early example
Here's an example of the magic of compound interest at work. This story is fictitious but the numbers are accurate.
Mrs. Magic didn't believe in the stock market's ability to compound her wealth but after reading an insightful article on the internet, she decided to give it a try. At age 25, she started investing $100 per month into her retirement account.
She continued this for 40 years and by the time she retired at 65, her account was worth $614,128.04 (assuming an average of 10.5% annual return). Not too shabby for someone who only invested $100 per month!
Now, let's say Mrs. Magic visited another universe and witnessed an alternative version of herself where she waited until she was 45 to start investing. In this universe, everything is equal except for this one factor. In this universe, she would have only had $73,493.59 saved up by the time she turned 65.
By starting just 20 years earlier, Mrs. Magic was able to retire with over $540,000 more. As you can see, compound interest can have a big impact on your retirement savings.
So, if you're wondering when to start investing, the answer is: as early as possible. Don't let the confusion of the markets deter you. An index fund that tracks the S&P 500 with automatic contributions each month in a tax-friendly account is all you need to get started.
Once this is set up and automated, it feels effortless and one day you will look up and be amazed at how your portfolio has grown.
A common saying is, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." The same goes for investing. The earlier you start, the more time your money has to grow. That being said, it's never too late to start investing.
The best age to start investing is whenever you can begin. Most of us can begin much sooner than we think - even if we're still in school. If you're not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources available to help you.
However, remember that simply investing in an index fund that tracks the S&P 500 is a great way to get started. At what age did you start investing? Let us know in the comments below.