In investing, it matters whether you win or lose. You need to win. But you can't win if you don't play.
If you've been sitting on the sidelines for a while now, wondering when you'll work up the nerve to make your first investment (or your next one), you're not alone. When the market gets jittery, no one's comfortable taking on additional risk -- you naturally want to wait until things settle down a bit before getting started.
Never a dull moment
The problem is that the stock market never really settles down. Sometimes, as we saw in the second half of 2006, the market moves straight up without stopping for breath -- a perfect scenario for investors who own stocks. Yet even then, skeptics can always point to statistics and history to point out that periods of prosperity have often ended badly for investors, urging newcomers to wait for the inevitable correction before committing their hard-earned cash.
When the downturns come, however, it's even harder to pull the trigger. Take what happened this past February, for example. The Shanghai Surprise reared its ugly head and sent stock markets tumbling around the world. It took nerves of steel to buy into that fear, yet those who did have been rewarded -- the S&P 500 is up over 10% from its winter lows.
Out of the frying pan
It's even harder when you think about how you're going to invest. The options seem endless -- thousands of individual stocks, thousands of mutual funds, and an ever-growing number of new exchange-traded funds compete for your hard-earned money. You may not be able to explain what makes companies like Goodyear Tire
Yet funds don't solve the problem, either. Finding the right balance of different types of funds is a challenge that even experts struggle with. With so many funds underperforming their benchmarks, you might feel safer just keeping your money in a savings account.
But keeping your money in your mattress won't really make you more secure. The fact is that you need the higher returns that riskier investments provide. You're probably not going to be able to meet your financial goals earning the 1% or so that most banks pay their customers.
That's why this month's issue of Motley Fool Green Light includes advice for novice investors who are understandably nervous about making investments right now. In addition to explaining why turbulent times in the market offer some of the best opportunities to start a portfolio, Green Light also includes specific stock recommendations and the tools you need to find other ideas on your own. You'll learn some simple ways to evaluate companies that interest you to see if they're on sale -- or marked up beyond belief.
Most importantly, getting the help you need will give you the confidence to move forward in your financial life. With Green Light, you can take your first step into the world of successful investing, with the knowledge that you have the information you need to do it right. Try it out for free today and put your investing fears behind you.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger started investing at age 15 and has never looked back. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. Whole Foods is a Stock Advisor recommendation. With the Fool's disclosure policy, you don't have to fear.