I was talking about the stock market with a few friends from work. We all have various different stocks and periodically discuss how they are doing and get ideas from one another about different equities and ticker symbols.
Well one of the guys that just started working with us asked, “Why should I invest stocks?” I started to think about it and realized why that question never came to me.
When I was in high school, one of our teachers taught an after school program that allowed us to trade stocks in fake accounts in order to teach us how it works. This is called “paper trading” because it doesn’t actually trade real money.
That spring, I turned my “$10,000 account into $13,000 and I recognized instantly the power of the stock market.
Fast forward to today when a new acquaintance asked me the question, “Why should I invest stocks?” I was lucky enough to have this question answered to me when I was a junior in high school so I never really thought about the answer to this until recently when I went to answer the question for my new co-worker.
The following is how I answered him and I wanted to share it with my readers as well.
1. Invest to Make Your Money Grow
People invest in stocks because they want to make their current money grow into more money. Pure and simple. If someone has $100 and puts it in a bank account that earns 1.5% interest over the year, after 10 years they would have $116.19. The average rate of inflation is 3% so technically having the money sit in a savings account at 1.5% is losing your money.
Let’s say that $100 is in an investment (such as stocks) that makes an average of 10% annually for ten years. This is the average performance of the S&P 500 index from 1928 to 2016. That $100 would be worth $271.84. That’s quite a difference! Obviously, the more you invest, the more you can potentially make.
2. You Can Start Investing With Little Money
You can go to any brokerage of your chose and open an account for free and start buying stocks in the very same day in lots of cases. Brokerages have made opening an account so simple and some even give you a free stock or two just for signing up with their service.
Webull for example offers you a free stock for signing up (valued between $2.50 and $200) and then another free stock when you make your first deposit of at least $100 (valued between $8-$1000). You can check out my Webull Review for an inside look or just go straight to their brokerage here.
You can literally be investing within the same day of depositing in many brokerages. That’s the fastest type of investment you can get into. Obviously, every stock has a different price so if you only had $100 dollars you’d have to choose stock in companies with share prices below $100.
3. The Major Stock Index Returns More than Inflation
The United States average inflation rate from 1913 to 2019 is 3.22% The average investor that invests with a portfolio that follows the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) would have received an average of 9.91% which is an incredible difference and includes the massive losses of the Great Depression and the setbacks from the more recent 2007 recession.
Investing in stocks over a longer period of time historically always outpaces inflation. When your money is sitting in the bank collecting 0.25 percent, it is technically losing value each year as inflation outpaces it and its value shrinks.
4. Investing Allows You to Plan for Goals
Do you want to someday buy a house? Maybe you want to pay for your daughter’s wedding or maybe you want to pay for YOUR wedding. Is there a trip to another country that you’d love to save up for? Well depending on how far out these goals are, investing in stocks may achieve these goals faster than a savings account.
Most commonly, people invest for retirement also and use stocks to amass wealth. Depending on how far retirement is, this may be a good or bad idea. We’ll get more into this later.
5. Own Part of A Company That You Believe In
If your own stock, your own part of a company. The more shares your own, the larger stake in the company you have. Someone that has 100 shares of a company owns 10 times the amount of the company than someone that only has 10 shares of stock.
Is there a brand that you think is incredible and that you believe is going to change the world? If someone said you had the opportunity to get in on that company and benefit from its success, would you take them up on that offer? Well, that’s what owning stock does.
Let’s say you have a favorite coffee shop and that coffee company has just opened 30 shops in your city. You might be thinking, these shops are popping up all over the place!
Well if you believe that the company is going to amass incredible wealth as a result of this change in your surroundings, you could invest in their stock and profit if your investment grows.
Note: The reason I’m using the example of a coffee shop is because I actually knew someone in 2011 that told me a story about how he saw a small coffee place opening in Seattle, WA of the United States. He noticed this company was literally taking over the city.
He took $10,000 and put it into that stock (in 1990.) At the telling of the story, he had amassed that $10,000 investment into over $300,000.
Now I haven’t seen him in the last 7 years because I changed jobs. I don’t know if he ever sold his stock shares of Starbucks, but if he didn’t, they would be worth in excess of $1,400,000 as of the writing of this post.
When Should I Start Investing?
Don’t wait around on the sidelines. As we already discovered, even a small amount can make a huge difference.
If your money is sitting in a bank savings account, it is literally depreciating in value every year since inflation is outpacing your interest rate return. Investing gives you opportunities to grow your wealth and leverage it to be worth more later in spite of inflation.
If you have a lot to invest, then you can do that. If you only have a small amount to start with, start with that. The most important thing is to take control of your money and invest it into something that is going to grow and help you achieve your goals.
You can do this a couple of ways. Either start with a small amount right away and start investing that and let it collect value over time or keep adding to your investment weekly, monthly, or yearly and grow your investment faster.
Whatever you decide, taking any action at all will be a step in the right direction for investing in your future.
How to Determine the Amount to Invest
This is a very personal decision. Obviously your need to determine if you should invest based on your unique financial decision.
For example, if you have 5 high-interest credit cards with a balance on them, you’re way better off paying off your debt first. If you are living pay check to pay check and have to decide whether to pay the gas or electricity, focus on your bills and do not put your money in the stock market.
Only invest money that you are willing to risk. After all, all stock investing comes with inherent risk! The reason you can make > 1.5% a year in stocks vice having it in a bank is that you’re assuming some amount of risk for the possibility of increasing your investment. Historically, as we pointed out, the S&P 500 has gone up an average of 10% a year. Some years, it went up more and some years it lost money. You never know how the market is going to go exactly.
This uncertainty actually leads me to the “100 Rule” which is a shortcut method of determining what many advisers recommend for a balanced portfolio.
Take the number 100 and subtract your age. Whatever is left is the percentage of money that you should allocate (at a maximum) in stocks. The rest should be maintained in cash or fixed-rate assets like CDs or bonds.
So if you’re 40 years old, 100 – 40 = 60% is the maximum amount of money you should invest in the market.
Where Can I Get Started?
There are many ways to get started with investing. Check out my article on how to invest spare change where I show you an app that rounds up purchases you make every day and invests the change in an account.
If you’d rather invest in companies like I described above and want to invest in actual stocks, you can start investing using Robinhood which is an app that allows you to trade stocks without paying any commission fees.
There are many ways to get started and we have lots of information on this site to show you the basics. If you have any questions or want to share an experience or add to a discussion, please feel free to do so below.
Also, if you know anyone that could benefit from this article, please share it with them. I want to make sure as many people as possible learn how to take control of their future.
Let’s start investing!
Eric Baglio has been investing for over ten years and learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way. He has helped numerous people start investing on their own and founded Let’s Start Investing to help anyone willing to learn how to build wealth. His favorite brokerage is Webull and his favorite stock advising service is Motley Fool Stock Advisor.