The 6 Steps To Take To Invest Your First Dollar – Yes, It’s Really This Easy!

I always say the first thing you need to do if you want to start investing is to just jump in. However, what if you don’t really even know how to start investing? If you are like many out there, you may not know how to start investing your money. Investing your money can be a…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: April 21, 2024

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I always say the first thing you need to do if you want to start investing is to just jump in. However, what if you don’t really even know how to start investing?

If you are like many out there, you may not know how to start investing your money.

Investing your money can be a scary, stressful, and overwhelming topic to tackle. With today’s post, I hope to make it easier than ever with my beginner investing tips so that you can start investing your money and building a retirement fund as soon as possible.

Just as a refresher, you want to invest so that you can:

  • Retire one day;
  • You never know what may happen in the future, so preparing now is important;
  • Allow your money to grow over time.

Investing is important because it means you are making your money work for you. If you weren’t investing, your money would just be sitting there and not earning a thing.

This is important to note because $100 today will not be worth $100 in the future if you just let it sit under a mattress or in a checking account. However, if you invest, then you can actually turn your $100 into something more. When you invest, your money is working for you and hopefully earning you income.

For example: If you put $1,000 into a retirement account that has an annual 8% return, 40 years later that would turn into $21,724. If you started with that same $1,000 and put an extra $1,000 in it for the next 40 years at an annual 8% return, that would then turn into $301,505. If you started with $10,000 and put an extra $10,000 in it for the next 40 years at an annual 8% return, that would then turn into $3,015,055.

Below are the steps you should take so that you can learn how to start investing your money.


1. Start saving your money.

One of my top investing tips is to start setting aside money for it right now. One of my favorite investing-related quotes is:

The best time to invest was yesterday; the second best is today!

In order to invest your money, you need to start setting aside money specifically for it. The amount of money you save so that you can invest is entirely up to you, but I think the more the better.

Side note: I highly recommend you check out Personal Capital if you are interested in gaining control of your financial situation. Personal Capital allows you to aggregate your financial accounts so that you can easily see your financial situation. You can connect accounts such as your mortgage, bank accounts, credit card accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and more, and it’s FREE.


2. Do your research.

Before you start dumping your money in the stock market and other investments, it’s a good idea to know what you’re putting your money towards.

Reading about various investment-related tips and research will help you in the long run if you want to know how to start investing.

Some articles you may want to check out include:


3. Find an online brokerage or someone to manage your investments.

There are two main things you could do with your money. Either invest your money yourself such as through an online brokerage or find someone to manage your investment portfolio for you. You will need to take part in one of these options to actually start investing your money.

There are many online brokers for you to choose from. My favorites include:

  • Betterment – Betterment offers an affordable way to invest your money. They have over 100,000 customers and over $2.5 billion has been invested through their service.
  • Vanguard – I absolutely love Vanguard and I recommend you check them out.


4. Decide how you will invest.

After you open your brokerage account, you will want to decide how exactly you will invest your money.

How you invest depends on your risk tolerance, the time period for which you are investing (when will you retire?), and more. Generally, the sooner you need your funds the less risk you will take on and the longer your time period then the more risk you may be willing to take on.

Choosing the stocks you invest in is not the easiest thing ever because no one knows what will happen in the future. However, you will have to choose things to invest in if you want to get started investing. I recommend researching the different options out there, researching specific companies, and more.

Please remember that I am not an investment professional and that you should do your research when choosing who/what to invest in. Receiving investing tips from a qualified professional is also a great idea if you have further questions.


5. Regularly track your investment portfolio.

So, you finally have invested your money.

The next step is to regularly track the things you have invested in. This is important because you may eventually have to change what you are invested in, put more money towards your investments, and so on.

Now, the key here is to not go crazy. You do not want to become a person who checks their investments every hour of the day. That won’t help you at all as small changes in the stock market most likely won’t matter to you, especially if you are investing for the long-term.

However, you do want to check your progress occasionally as things may change in the market, with what you’re invested in, and you may change yourself.


6. Continue the steps above over and over again.

To continue investing well into the future, you will want to continue the steps above over and over again. Now that you know what steps need to be done in order to invest your money, it only gets easier from here.

The hard part is done!

What beginner investing tips would you give to a person who is wanting to learn how to start investing? Have you started? Why or why not?

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Doing a lot a of research would definitely help you a lot when you decide to start investing. And if you are thinking about borrowing to invest you need to understand if the investment will be negatively or positively geared.

  2. Mark@BareBudgetGuy

    I think the best thing to communicate to beginners about investing is that “investing” does not just mean brokerage funds. The minute they start an emergency fund in a savings account, they are investing. I think sometimes they jump to quickly to stocks & bonds before having and short term cash savings or retirement contributions going.

    1. Yes, having an EF is definitely important as well.

  3. I got into investing a couple years ago and decided to stop because I found the money better spent going toward my student loan repayment. I think it’s hard to do both, so I’m choosing to get out of debt before I invest.

  4. I completely agree with the Vanguard suggestion. It was such an easy way to finally take the plunge from a CD that earned pennies to something more substantial. Plus, they were seriously the friendliest, most helpful people ever when we opened our accounts. I did make the mistake of checking the account almost daily for about a month. I’ve since relaxed, and I’m glad now that the market is doing its wonky little thing right now. Great tips!

    1. Haha good job on relaxing! It can be hard!

  5. My beginner investing advice is to stick to the easy stuff. Buy some mutual funds or target date funds through Vanguard and set up a monthly investment!

  6. My main advice woud be to invest enough in your 401K through work to at least get the employer match; otherwise you are leaving money on the table. Put it into an asset allocation or target date mutual fund and let it grow. My second piece of advice would be to learn about various investment offerings. Some make it expensive to invest small amounts of money; others do not.

  7. Amanda

    I’ve read great things about Vanguard as well. Thanks for this post!

  8. Simple, sound advice, And, even if you are new to investing and it doesn’t sound so “simple”, you should just get started now and learn as you go!

  9. Great article! Though not all the tips will work for me. For example, it is difficult for me to trust my money to a strange broker. Of course, money should work not just be in a draw but still it is too risky for e. Besides, now in Ukraine the bank situation leaves much to be desired – banks collapse without giving money back.

    1. I’m sorry, that really stinks 🙁

    2. Helen

      It’s sad….hope there will be piece and stability in your country!

  10. Ali @ Anything You Want

    This is a great overview. I think the best advice for someone starting out is to just dive in. It all seems really complicated, but it isn’t. Buy diversified funds with low fees and leave your money alone. Done.

  11. When it comes to regularly tracking your investing, the key is definitely not to go crazy. Check every month or so to make sure you’re OK. No need to check every day and drive yourself crazy.

  12. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar

    I felt really overwhelmed when I graduated and had to fill out my asset allocation in my 401k. You know what? I invested in there regularly and picked something generic like 75% stock/25% bond. And it grew. After a while (until I found Mr. Money Mustache and JL CollinsNH), I finally ended up re-arranging them to a more aggressive all stock portfolio since I’m not going to touch it for ~25 years. On top of all of this, I’ve rolled over pensions and that first 401k into IRAs with vanguard so it’s all in my own hands now. I feel very comfortable since I only invest in index funds! Getting regular, automatic amounts in is the key though!

  13. Connie @ Savvy With Saving

    Great tips, I love Vanguard too. It’s definitely important to start early. I think people have the misconception that you can’t invest with a small amount but the earlier you start (even with very little), the more return you’ll see later on.

  14. I will be bookmarking this post for when we have some money to invest. We’re making progress on paying off our debt, so that day should be upon us very soon 🙂

  15. Kayla @ The Jenny Pincher

    I got started investing via my 401K at work. Now that I’m self-employed I am going to rollover my 401K into my IRA so all of my investments are held at the same firm (cuts down on tracking accounts and how much mail I’ll get) and I plan to start contributing on my own now too.

  16. First I love the quote that the second best is TODAY! I think one important factor is the purpose why a person is investing. From this, it would be an easy task to do investing as a person is motivated to do things such as researching, making decisions, and so on.

  17. I love this Michelle, I have been doing my research for about 9 months now and just got a refund for a $1400 subscription back which I am going to use to make my first investment in the next couple of weeks so this article is very exciting! I do love that you write such valuable and genuine posts, keep it up they are awesome 🙂

  18. These are awesome tips Michelle, especially for an investing novice like myself. It can be so confusing when you have no idea what you’re doing. Thanks for this detailed investing guide to help me along the way 🙂

  19. I’m so glad you mentioned Vanguard…I’m a big fan as well. They also have tools on their websites to help you decide what types of funds you might want to invest in based on how risk adverse you are. I’m also a big fan of their low cost index funds.

  20. Helen Anderson

    I never invested my money anywhere, but I planned to start a business online. Real problem is where I’m gonna invest my money in small scale. Your tips are valuable and great to follow. Thank you for your tips.

  21. Investing in real estate is a great way to capitalize on one of your investing tips and really come up in making a fortune. It virtually guarantees passive income forever.

  22. Gina

    I haven’t invested yet because I thought that a person needed to have a lot of money in order to invest. Now I’m thinking that I might be able to start off small. Thank you for so much for doing this post! I’ve been on the fence about this for a while now and think that I will start looking into who to talk to in order to invest this week!

  23. Nice article. I think the first step you outlined is the toughest for a lot of people. I think the best way to overcome that hurdle is to make savings earmarked for investment as automated as humanly possible. Personally, I have payroll deductions for my 401k up to the match, a deduction to a online long-term savings account, and then another automatic allotment to my Scottrade bank/Roth/discretionary trading account.Every thing goes into it’s own bucket, leaving me only two things to think about: keeping a personal budget so I’m not dipping into savings and the asset allocation strategy for investments.

  24. Karen

    Good advice, I’ve actually read other articles about investing and it sounds like you are on track with your advice. Have you heard of the Motely Fool? I’ve been reading some of their stuff about investing, I guess it’s time to “jump in”!

  25. Erika Strain

    Everything I read about Personal Finance sounds fantastic… why oh why don’t they offer the service for us Canadians? So many things are just out of our reach… the last time this happened was when I wanted to link accounts to EveryDollar, a budgeting app I was using for a bit. Again, can’t do that from Canada. So irritating.
    However, can I just say how much I love your articles, and your blog. Always something to learn.Forever on my learning path.