One of the great misconceptions about investing is that you have to have big bucks saved up before you get can get started. To which I say: Au contraire, my dear Fool. Indeed, getting going now is the best way to build up those bucks, even if you only have a small amount to put to work.

It's a miracle
That's true in large measure thanks to what's known as "the miracle of compound interest." You'll want to add additional sums as you go along, of course, but with compounding, your nest egg can grow with absolutely no effort from you -- beyond taking that all-important first step.

Consider, for example, the growth of just $100 invested 10 years ago in each of the following stocks:


Annualized Return*

Growth of $100*




Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD)



Best Buy



Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC)



*Through July 2006

Impressive, yes?
If, as I hope, you're impressed enough by the figures above to think that maybe, just maybe, you ought to go ahead and dive on into the market, your next question should be how, exactly, to proceed.

Not coincidentally, that's a question we strive to answer each month in Motley FoolGreenLight, the newsletter service designed with money-management newbies in mind.

Among other things, we've prepared a step-by-step "take action" plan that walks you through the process of opening a discount brokerage account and we've chatted with Fool honcho Tom Gardner about the best way to put $5,000 to work.

Stretched thin
OK, so maybe $5,000 is a bit of a stretch.

Not to worry: You still have options aplenty. Long-haul overachievers such as Vodafone (NYSE:VOD), Home Depot (NYSE:HD), and Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), for example, are currently trading more than 20% below their 52-week highs. What's more, in the issue of GreenLight that we're prepping now, we highlight a clutch of compelling investment ideas that Fools on a budget could easily get going with right now.

The Foolish bottom line
The main point to bear in mind is that, when it comes to investing, time really is on your side. Yes, you have to invest wisely -- in the Foolish way, of course. But once you've zeroed in on the picks that make sense for you in terms of your timeline and tolerance for risk, the right time to get going is ... right now.

Why put off until tomorrow what you can put off until next week is a perfectly fine anti-maxim when it comes to lots of things. (Cleaning up and organizing that chaotic garage anyone?) When it comes to investing, though, your best bet is to go ahead and dive on in. For long-term types, the water really is fine, and with GreenLight, your financial kickstart is only a mouse-click away.

Shannon Zimmerman runs point on the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter serviceand the co-advisor for GreenLight. At the time of publication, Shannon didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. Best Buy is a Stock Advisor pick. Home Depot, Vodafone, and Symantec are Inside Value picks. You can check out the Fool's strict disclosure policy by clicking right here.