Before you begin your illustrious investment career, you need to take care of a few things. Use the following checklist. Have you:

___ Eliminated your high-interest credit card debt?

___ Finished your MBA?

___ Stashed away at least $350,000 in your trading account?

___ Quit your job so you can trade stocks full-time?

___ Selected a full-service broker who will tell you what to buy and sell?

___ Told your full-service broker just not to lose your money out there?

___ Learned about options, futures contracts, and day-trading?

___ Learned about candlestick charting, the McClellan Oscillator, trend lines?

___ Paid $1,200 for expensive software and stock-quoting devices?

___ Smiled and had a good laugh just now?

We hope that you checked the first entry and the last, and left the remaining ones blank. We're just kidding about the others, which we consider to be wholly unnecessary (if not harmful).

Unfortunately many people don't consider investing in stocks and mutual funds because they figure they'll need a lot of money, a lot of expensive information, and a lot of graduate-level training. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Your "to do" list should include:

___ Paying off your short-term, high-interest debt (read: credit cards)

___ Setting a few financial goals

___ Devoting a sum of money on a regular basis to add to your investments

Now you're ready to start making your money work harder. Hop on over to our investing area for some hand's on advice on everything from finding the best discount broker to picking individual stocks with the help of Fool analysts.