Full disclosure, guys, I’m married to a man who lives and breathes stocks and bonds and investing and all that stuff. I love that about him; but does it mean that I know how to invest myself? Let’s just say that I’m learning. That made me think about y’all. Some of you might be thinking about investing, too, but don’t know where to start. Like trying anything new, (ziplining, bungee jumping, skydiving…), you’ve simply gotta take that first plunge and be ready for a thrilling ride of ups and downs!

So, where do you start when you don’t know where to start?

First, you’ll need a broker. You’ll have to decide if you want to go with a broker face-to-face or online. Being able to talk with someone regarding concerns about a particular stock may make you feel more at ease when going for those first investments. Or, maybe you’d feel more comfortable to go it alone because you don’t like these types of meetings (and would rather research like crazy) or maybe you have a non-traditional schedule where meeting between 9-5 won’t work; an online broker just might be ideal for you. Identify your personal needs to help you make a decision. The WSJ offers insight on what to do after you decide between an brokerage firm or online trading here.

What if you don’t have much money?

Don’t let this stop you. You can begin with what you have; however, for first time investors,  NerdWallet suggests you invest only the amount of money you can afford to lose. This means, don’t tap into that money you’ve been saving for a car or a down payment on a house. Set aside an amount that is not related to savings, retirement or emergency and start with that.

Buying stocks: Can I do it myself?

With so much information available to you online and in bookstores, you can definitely buy stocks yourself. You might want to ask yourself some questions that aren’t directly related to investing:

1) How much patience do I have for learning new things?

2) Can I stomach the volatility of the unknown?

3) Do I like to do things myself or have someone else do them for me?

4) How do I manage the victory of success and the pain of defeat?

Once you’ve got clear answers on the above, you should know if you can/want to buy stocks yourself. If you find that you don’t, you can definitely hire a broker or go to a top brokerage firm like Charles Schwab, Fidelity or Raymond James. If you do, follow the adage that many investment professionals like Chief Investment Officer John Rogers offer: buy stocks in companies where you already shop. Buying stock is like a partnership after all. Learn more about buying stocks directly here.

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