How to Start Investing: Tips for First-Time Investors

As a beginning investor, you find yourself in the enviable position of determining where to place your hard-earned money. 

While the sheer number of options may seem daunting initially, the key is approaching potential investments in a methodical fashion. First, consider your financial situation and risk tolerance to establish achievable goals. Next, acquaint yourself with various asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate, to understand your choices. Finally, research promising opportunities like stock market predictions while diversifying to limit risk exposure. 

With diligence and patience, you will gain the knowledge necessary to make prudent investment decisions that align with your interests and aptitude as a novice investor.

Determine Your Financial Goals and Risk Tolerance

To start investing, you first need to establish your financial goals and risk tolerance. Your financial goals could include saving for retirement, funding your children’s college education, buying a home, or building wealth. The timeline for each goal will determine what types of investments are suitable.

  • Short-term goals, within 5 years, are best achieved through low-risk investments that provide liquidity, such as savings accounts, money market funds, and certificates of deposit. 
  • Mid-term goals of 5 to 10 years could utilize fixed-income investments like bonds. 
  • Long-term goals of over 10 years open you up to higher-risk, higher-potential reward investments such as stocks and real estate.

Your risk tolerance reflects how comfortable you are with the uncertainty and volatility of different investments. If losing money in the short term would cause you anxiety, you have a low risk tolerance. 

If you can handle more risk for the chance of higher returns, you have a higher risk tolerance. As a new investor, it is best to start with a balanced, diversified portfolio that matches your risk tolerance. You can take on more risk and higher potential rewards over time as you gain knowledge and experience.

Once you determine your financial goals and risk tolerance, you need to craft an investment plan to achieve those goals. This plan should detail:

  • The specific financial goals you want to achieve
  • The amount of money needed for each goal
  • The timeline for reaching each goal
  • Suitable investment for each goal based on the timeline
  • How much you need to contribute regularly to meet each goal 
  • How often you will rebalance or reallocate your investments

Choose the Right Investment Account for You

As a first-time investor, one of the initial decisions you need to make is choosing the right investment account. There are several options to consider based on your financial situation and goals.

Brokerage Account

A brokerage account allows you to buy and sell a variety of investments like stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. Brokerages offer different account types including taxable accounts for short-term goals, and tax-advantaged accounts like IRAs for retirement. Brokerage accounts typically charge fees for stock and mutual fund trades, so they may be better if you plan to buy and hold investments long-term.


Robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront are automated investment services that create and manage a diversified portfolio for you based on your financial goals. Robo- advisors charge an annual management fee but typically have no trading commissions. They are very hands-off and ideal if you want someone else to handle the day-to-day investing decisions.

Mutual Fund Company

Companies like Vanguard and Fidelity offer mutual fund accounts that allow you to invest in their funds with no trading fees. They provide a more limited selection of investments but often have very low expense ratios. Mutual fund companies are a good option if you want to take a passive, long-term approach to investing in the stock market.

The right choice for you depends on factors like how hands-on you want to be, account fees, and investment options. Don’t hesitate to open multiple accounts to take advantage of the benefits each provides. The most important first step is simply getting started, even if you start small. Over time, you can evaluate which accounts serve you best and make changes to your investment strategy.

Select Your Investments: Stocks, Bonds, ETFs and More

Once you determine your financial goals and risk tolerance, you can choose which investments are right for you. The three major types of investments for first-time investors include:


Also known as equities, stocks represent ownership shares in a public company. Investing in stocks potentially offers the highest returns over time but also the highest risk. Good for long-term goals with higher risk tolerance.


Bonds are debt securities issued by governments and corporations. When you buy a bond, you are essentially lending money to the issuer in exchange for interest payments. Bonds typically offer lower but more stable returns than stocks. Best for short-to medium-term goals or lower risk tolerance.

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

ETFs are baskets of investments like stocks, bonds, or commodities that track an index or sector. They provide instant diversification and typically have lower fees than mutual funds. ETFs can contain stocks, bonds, or a mix of both. Good for a range of goals and risk tolerances.

Other options include real estate investment trusts (REITs), certificates of deposit (CDs), mutual funds, and more. The key is to choose investments that match your financial objectives and comfort with risk. You can also work with a financial advisor to develop an investment portfolio customized to your needs.

Starting with a few stocks, bonds or ETFs is a simple way for first-time investors to get experience. Look for companies or funds in sectors you understand and believe in for the long run. 

Do thorough research to find value and limit downside risk. Start with a small amount of money and add to your positions over time as you gain knowledge and confidence. Following these tips will help ensure your initial foray into investing is a successful one.


As you start your investing journey, remember that time and discipline are key. Fix your financial standing first, consider credit repair if necessary. Start small and be consistent, putting money aside each month into low-cost index funds. Seek advice when needed, but don’t get overwhelmed trying to beat the market. Stay focused on your goals, review allocation periodically, and stick to your plan. Compounding gains can grow your wealth over decades. Be patient and think long term. Small steps today put you on the path towards financial freedom tomorrow.