PHOTO: TAX CREDITS
The idea of investing your money can be scary. We hear so much conflicting advice from investment "experts"—from financial gurus on TV to the friend who boasts about having the hottest stock tips—that we don't know who to listen to.
That's not a bad thing in itself; investing, first and foremost, is about risk, so you're smart to hesitate to jump into something you don't fully understand. But there are varying degrees of risk, and if you can safely set aside a portion of your earnings toward wise investing, it can be an excellent way to grow your money. So how do you learn to invest wisely?
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a nonprofit agency authorized by Congress, can help. FINRA provides free, unbiased educational tools for investors on their website—all designed to help you calculate how much risk is safe for you, choose your money-growing options wisely, and protect your investments.
For the rookie investor, FINRA's Prepare to Invest page lays out the minimum level of financial stability you'll want before even thinking about putting any money into the market. Once those basics are covered, you can put your knowledge of key investing concepts and the different types of investments to good use, either with the help of a well-qualified professional or by investing directly online yourself. There are even handy tools and calculators you can use to compare thousands of mutual funds, protect yourself against scams, and even investigate a particular broker's background.
While there's no such thing as a risk-free investment, it's good to know that watchdogs like FINRA work hard to provide you with the knowledge you need to navigate the world of finance in the smartest way possible. Total beginners and seasoned investors alike will find lots of relevant information on their website—and knowing it's offered without bias or commercial interest makes it even more valuable.