I don't have time. I can't figure out my financial software. The dog ate my checkbook. Do any of these complaints sound familiar? Let's make 2008 the year to sweep aside excuses and start investing. Consider these ideas for getting around the obstacles that have stopped you in the past.
I don't have any money
You can wait around for a spare $5,000 to magically appear in your pocket -- and keep waiting until you see pigs soaring through the trees with the sparrows. Or you can take steps toward investing while amassing your cash. Start thinking like an investor by opening a brokerage account. You'll need one anyway. Find one with low or no minimum deposit requirements, and you can use it as your savings account while build up your investing pool. (Remember, don't plan to buy stocks with any money that you'll need in the next five to seven years.)
I don't understand investing
Not everyone wants to spend their spare time reading annual reports and studying spreadsheets. If you have the desire to become an investor, you probably already understand that the stock market offers the best opportunity to see your money grow over a lifetime. Here's another pretty simple concept that can turn you from an investing wannabe into a bona fide investor: You can own your own little slice of the stock market -- and beat most investing pros -- with an index fund. It's so easy, you can learn pretty much everything you need to know to get started in 60 seconds.
I don't have any time
If you want to build up a portfolio containing hundreds of stocks and commodities futures, you'll need to quit your job to manage your money full-time. That's no fun, and The Motley Fool doesn't recommend that you own more stocks than you can realistically manage, anyway. If you can't spend a lot of time overseeing your investments, make the backbone of your portfolio an index fund, then add a stock or two as you find the time and inclination to manage them. You'll see this called the "index plus a few" strategy, and it can save you time while offering the chance to beat the market.
If you're looking for ideas, take a gander at the stocks that some of my fellow Fool contributors think might be among the year's best bets. This list includes many companies whose products you may use every day, including Johnson & Johnson
I don't have any time or money
Busy and broke. Who hasn't been there? That doesn't mean you have to hang up your investing dreams until you're richer and abounding with free time. Join the other busy folks and look to index funds as an easy, low-maintenance way to get your money working in the market. If you're short on cash, bypass index mutual funds and their several-thousand-dollar minimum investment requirements. Look instead to exchange-traded funds. They're like mutual funds, but they're bought and sold like stocks, meaning that you can buy as much or as little as you want.
If you have a minute to spare, you can learn the basics of ETFs and their pros and cons. Among their advantages, they shun those minimum purchase requirements, and they commonly sport very low expenses. Among the disadvantages, they could cost you something every time you buy. Be careful not to spend too much of your hard-earned money on fees with frequent buying.
Take a look at these additional articles and blast away the rest of your excuses:
- Brush up on your investing basics.
- Find out how easy it is for a beginner to make millions.
- Learn what to look for in a mutual fund.
Find more money for investing with personal finance advice from the Motley Fool Green Light newsletter. It promises at least $450 of money-saving ideas in every issue.
Fool contributor Mary Dalrymple lacks money and time, but she owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, an Income Investor recommendation. She welcomes your feedback. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy never complains.