Boulder Real Estate Blog November 8, 2017

3 Tips for First-Time Investors

There isn’t a worker in America who doesn’t know he or she should be saving money—especially given today’s economic conditions. Whether you’re saving for a home down payment, college tuition or a retirement nest egg, investing in the future is a wise financial decision. Understandably, the two most pressing questions usually are: “How much can I afford to save?” and “What is the best way to make my money grow?”

Financial experts agree that long-term investing is the surest way to build savings—and also that you do not need a lot of money to get started. What is critically important, however, is that you save on a consistent basis.

There are classes you can take, books you can read, and experts you can consult in order to learn the finer points of investing. To begin with, however, there are three fundamental steps you must take:

1. Determine your savings goals. You need to know what your savings goals are in order to figure out how to get there. Let’s say you want to retire at age 65 with the same standard of living you have now. You can find retirement calculators online to help you determine how much money you will need in order to reach that goal.

2. Evaluate the stock market. Guaranteed investments and savings bonds are great for reaching short-term goals. They generally return about 2% to 5% at best. But if you have some time to reach your goal, investing in the market will likely be your best approach. Averaged out over the last 25 years, despite some trying times, DOW returns have paid around 9% or 10%. Here’s the difference: Over 25 years, a $10,000 investment at a 3% rate of return will grow to $26,000. A 9% return will give you $86,000.

3. Understand that time is money and plan accordingly.
To be successful at saving money, it must be approached as a long-term plan—get-rich-quick schemes rarely, if ever, work. Therefore, the earlier you start to save, the more money you will have down the road. In these scenarios, assume a 10% rate of return compounded annually:

  • Begin investing $100 per month at age 30 until you reach age 65. At that point, you will have about $345,000 in investments. You will have put in $42,000 over the 35 year span. The other $303,000 is from the growth of your money over time.
  • Begin the same $100-per-month saving plan at age 20. At age 65, you will have about $916,000. You will have invested $54,000. The other $862,000 is from the growth of your money over time.