How to Start Investing in the Stock Market

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Investing in the Stock MarketWant to start investing in the stock market, but don’t know where or how to start? You’re not alone. Investing in the stock market is a broad topic that many don’t understand for a variety of reasons. Many find investing in the stock market difficult and simply don’t begin to invest.

You’ll find a number of articles on Sprout Wealth about investing and how it helps you grow wealth for the future. While investing in the stock market seems hard or impossible it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it can be very simple if done in a certain way, but you do have to start. If you’d like to know how to start investing in the stock market, this post is for you.

Investing in the Stock Market is Vital to Building Wealth

Before we get to how to start investing in the stock market, I do want to touch on the fact that investing in the market is vital to building wealth. It is part of the site’s name after all and I would be remiss not to mention that fact. 😉

Other than real estate, I’m hard pressed to think of other areas you can go into that’ll allow you to grow true wealth over time. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, just that it’s more difficult to find those opportunities which will allow you to build wealth over the long term.

With that in mind, before you do get started investing a key is to determine your investing goals. Are you wanting to:

  • Save for retirement
  • Save for college expenses
  • Save for some other long term need

Determining those goals is going to help you immensely as you invest in the stock market over the long haul.

Educate Yourself

Many think they can’t invest in the market because they lack the education or experience. The simple fact is that shouldn’t be something that holds you back. Yes, investing in the stock market can be difficult but a little education can go a long way at easing that. Trust me, if I can do it then anyone can.

You may be thinking that getting education is great and all, but where can I get unbiased information? There are two great, and usually free sources for that: your 401(k) provider (assuming you have one) and most online brokerages. There are many investing books out there that provide great information for beginners, though I tend to recommend A Random Walk Down Wall Street or The Essays of Warren Buffett as they’re clear, actionable and easy to understand.

Find a Place to Invest

If you’re going to invest in stocks, then you obviously need a place to do that in. 🙂  The two best sources for beginning investors to invest is either through their 401(k) offered by their employer or an online broker.

With regards to your 401(k) plan, if you don’t know where to start then pick the lowest fee funds so you have more of your money working for you. Hopefully you also get a 401(k) match, which is nice because it’s free money…is there any better? 🙂

Outside of your 401(k), you can also select an online brokerage to invest with and tend to prefer Scottrade, or Motif Investing. Scottrade is a great option due to their sheer number of tools, though for those just starting to invest I lean towards the latter as you can start investing with as little as $250 with Motif Investing.

Beyond those two, there are a plenty of other brokerage options to choose from so make sure you find one that meets your needs…meaning one that doesn’t charge too much and has all the tools you want. If you’d like to have someone manage your investing for you, a robo-advisor like Betterment takes care of all the facets of investing at a low-cost.

Determine What You’re Going to Invest in

Now that you’ve become somewhat comfortable with investing and have found a place to do your investing, you need to determine what you’ll invest in. Assuming you’re new to investing, then my suggestion is to keep it as simple as possible.

The easiest way, generally speaking, to do this is to invest in low-cost index funds. I’ll be doing a post on index funds in the future, but this essentially allows you to invest with the market as opposed to trying to beat it. Index funds, speaking plainly, are a basket of stocks that track a certain index or industry and can give you broad exposure to the stock market as a whole.

If that is too simple for you and you want to invest in individual stocks then my suggestion is to look at your daily habits. What do you use around the house? What is an item you use on a regular basis? They’re likely made by companies who’re in the stock market and usually pay somewhat nice dividends.

The last thing you want to do, especially if you’re a newer investor is to waste money on fools errands like trying to actively trade, time the market or investing in penny stocks. That’ll likely only cause you to lose money in a variety of ways and defeat the purpose of your longer term investing goals.


How did you get started investing in the stock market, or are you not doing so yet? Assuming you are, how are you using it to grow your wealth?


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  1. I got started a long time ago with my work retirement plan, but only put in the minimum to get a match, which was an OK start I guess. I would not let fear or lack of knowledge stop anyone. If you really have no clue, then just pick a broad index fund, like a total stock market fund, and use that until you can educate yourself. Time is money with investing. If I had it to do over again, I’d make sure my investment percentage of income hurt a little bit. If you don’t miss it, then you probably aren’t investing enough. We are throwing a ton in right now and I always cringe a little every month, but it’s awesome to see the balances go up, and if they don’t, it’s time to throw in some more!
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  2. With many 401(k) plans these days they have an option for the target retirement fund. These are great “no hassle” vehicles for retirement investing that take almost all of the work out of things. As long as you have this option and the management fees are reasonable (less than 0.8%), then this is a GREAT option!

  3. Good post John! I think investing is something that scares many, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Just by starting is the best way to grow your wealth. I would say education is really important. Just a general understanding of the basics can get you going!

  4. I agree with you John, especially the part where you need to educate yourself if you want to invest in the stock market. I know some people who got bankrupt because they don’t have enough knowledge on running a business. I think this must be the first requirement in business making.
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  5. I started investing in high school. I took an economics class and fell in love with it. I took my extra cash and invested in a stock that made me a good amount of money. Of course, since I was under 18 at the time, the account was a custodial account and my mom had to make the trades for me. Looking back, I probably should have been charged a fee by her for all of her work!
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    • Thanks David! Are you meaning someone like Betterment or Motif Investing? Those are the main ones I’m familiar with. I think they can be ok as long as you’re well aware of whatever fees might come into play and you can find something that fits your needs/wants. I personally wouldn’t use them as I’m comfortable managing my own investments, but for someone newer to investing or does not have the time they could be a good fit. Just depends on your situation I guess.
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  6. I think educating yourself is the most important tip. If you jump in the water with the other sharks and don’t know what you are doing, you stand to really end up in a bad place. Thankfully, as this article suggest, there are dozens of good resources to help you learn more about investing in just a couple of hours!
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