The market's vast array of potential investments looks doubly daunting to many new investors. With so many companies to choose from, how can you possibly know which stocks will be the best bets for your hard-earned bucks?
For young investors with steady income, it looks like the stock market is a smart risk -- any strategy for that demographic?
We've enlisted a panel of Fools to suggest their single best idea for newcomers to the market. Their suggestions aren't ironclad picks -- just candidates for your own further research. Still, the strategies they recommend, and the clues they use to find these stocks, could help you unearth your own ideal investments.
Save like an animal!
Morgan Housel, Fool contributor
Last week, Warren Buffett said, "My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest."
Since you're young, presumably American, and lucky enough to have a stable income, my only advice is: Don't forget the secret weapon of compound interest. Work like a machine. Save like an animal. Whatever material luxuries you're forgoing today are probably trivial to the wealth you'll accumulate by starting young. You won't regret it.
When you're young with a long time horizon, focus on investments with staying power. My favorite company for a long, long-term perspective is probably Costco (Nasdaq: COST ) . There aren't many companies as profitable and encased in a milewide moat as Costco. Its membership-based business model makes its competitors' barriers to entry pretty thick. You can be fairly assured it'll still dominate its market space 10, 20, and 30 years from now.
The sweet smell of success
Dan Caplinger, Fool contributor
With a steady income that covers a normal budget, and an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, young investors can afford to invest aggressively in the stock market. With 30 to 40 years before retirement, you have plenty of time to ride out market ups and downs and cash in on long-term growth in the stocks you own.
Two stocks worth looking at are Mosaic (NYSE: MOS ) and Agrium (NYSE: AGU ) . Both are fertilizer companies well-positioned to benefit from the increasingly important problem of producing food for a growing global population. True, both of them have suffered recently from temporary earnings setbacks and uncertainties about their immediate future. But long-run trends are incredibly supportive for their businesses, and even a modest recovery in earnings could send shares soaring higher.
Go with Goo
Tim Beyers, Fool contributor
The best way to get started investing? Just start investing. Buy some stocks. Dollar-cost average into a small portfolio with very low transaction fees. And most importantly, don't buy anything complicated.
On this last point, I recommend Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) . Everyone knows the business, and most of us use its search engine daily. In that sense, it would be like buying shares of McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) or Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) ; you know and use the products, and the chances of the stock going to zero are, well, close to zero.
But Google also has the advantage of growth. Unlike cloud computing, cheeseburgers and soda aren't new. And The Big G is a big-time innovator on the Web. Google Apps is challenging Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Office, and Google TV could forever change broadcast advertising.
Opportunities such as these could enrich young investors' portfolios for decades to come, and only Google offers them.
But wait! There's more!
Thanks to Millerum06 and all the Fools who've sent us questions via our Twitter feed. We've gotten so many great suggestions from the know-it-alls here at Fool HQ that we couldn't fit them all in this article. Stay tuned for a second installment with even more strategies to get a brand-new portfolio off the ground.
In the meantime, if you've got questions about investing or personal finance, we'd love to help. Tweet them to us @TheMotleyFool, or leave a comment in the box below!