Start to Invest
For centuries, only members of the upper class had any money to invest. The rest of us had only one way to make money: we earned it with a job or business. Since World War II, however, a growing middle class has started to become a lot more interested in investing. To meet this demand, there are thousands of financial counselors, experts, advisers, and scam artists to tell people how to invest their money.
There are also thousands of ways to invest your money. While your grandparents might have been familiar with stocks and government bonds, today an individual can invest their money in everything from gold bars to oil wells in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the growing number of things to invest in hasn't done much to improve the average person's financial situation. As investment options become more diverse, more people find themselves throwing money into things they don't really understand or that are simply the wrong investment for them.
Of course, it's not like anyone can simply hide their money in their mattress and hope for the best. Today, there are a lot more things that a person or family today needs to save for. Higher education costs are estimated to cost nearly $200,000 per student by 2030. While we discuss the reasons why we don't think this is true on our Education page, it can still be a major expense for anyone who has more than one child. Furthermore, few people have a defined benefit retirement plan from their employer, making it almost mandatory that people put money aside for their own retirement. Even if a company offers a 401(k), being able to save in one of these accounts successfully means understanding the hundreds of different investment options available. The financial advisers who run the company-wide meetings on these options offer their advice for free, but most of the time that's because they're getting paid to steer employees into high-commission investments.
Unfortunately, there are no easy, safe ways to save anymore. With low federal interest rates designed to boost the economy by encouraging spending, the days of government bonds earning 6% are gone. That means that if you want your savings to beat inflation, you're going to have to learn something about the stock market, bonds, and perhaps even real estate or commodities.
Disclaimer: These pages are not meant to be a comprehensive guide. Also, no one here is registered as a financial adviser, broker, or planner in all 50 states. We have no idea where you live. There are plenty of websites out there that are dedicated to investment strategy, and you could read some of them. What these pages will do is give you a basic guide to getting started.