Now that you are in your own place, it's time to get your financial house in order. While it is important that you master your day-to-day budgeting, you also need to think long-term. This means making investments. Educate yourself so you can make good choices and build your nest egg.
Get Your Finances in Order
Don't start investing while you are still up to your nose in debt. If you have money to invest, you have money to pay your existing obligations. Take care of those first, then open a brokerage account. If you're constantly worried about cash flow, it's going to be tough making consistent deposits into an investment account and keeping it there.
Take a Class
If you don't understand the difference between a mutual fund and an annuity, it's time to learn. Take a financial-education class online or in person. Several universities offer free online classes in investing and personal financial management. Community colleges and adult-education programs may also offer noncredit classes in investing. Your bank, credit union or even your employer may also sponsor workshops for beginning investors: If they don't, ask for one.
Financial planners are professionals who can help you understand your financial needs and make appropriate investments. You have to be careful though, as some financial planners make their living from selling you insurance and other financial products. These financial planners may not have your best interest at heart.Verify whether your financial planner is certified by a recognized professional association for financial planners such as the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. You can also find out if your financial planner has a history of problems with regulators by checking her out on the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) website, sponsored by the SEC. Incidentally, some companies offer a financial-planning benefit to employees, so ask the benefits manager at your office if this is available.
Books and Other Media
There is a wide variety of investing books and websites. The trick is learning how to evaluate the quality of information. Spend some time reading reviews and researching the reputation of the book or website's author. Several government websites contain good information on investing, credit, budgeting, finance and avoiding scams. They include the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Personal Financial Advisors
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: Consumer Protection
- Generation X Finance: 20 Free Online Finance Courses – Take Money Classes From the Comfort of Your Home
- Federal Trade Commission: Investments & Business Opportunities
- The Motley Fool: Treat Every Dollar as an Investment
- Nolo: Prioritizing Debts and Investments: Advice for Recent Graduates and Young Professionals
- Investment image by Svitlana Boldyryeva from Fotolia.com