If you're just starting out, beginning an investment program may be something that hasn't been on your radar. You may be more concerned with how to pay for items like food and gasoline. However, if you can scrape together even a small amount of money for investment purposes, you'll be on your way to creating a much rosier financial picture in the years to come.
In addition to making for uncomfortable sleeping, stuffing your money under a mattress does little to mitigate the impact of inflation over time. Putting your money in a regular bank savings account won't help much either because of the typically minuscule interest rates. While placing your money in investment vehicles, such as stocks and mutual funds, introduces an element of risk, you stand a much better chance of outpacing the inflation rate throughout a period of years.
Saving for Retirement
Depending solely on Social Security benefits as your source of retirement income probably won't cut it unless you plan to subsist on a diet of rice and water. Unless your company offers a sizable pension plan, you will probably need to start an investment program as early as possible to ensure a comfortable retirement. IRAs offer an easy way to invest for retirement and also provide certain tax benefits. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you can benefit from the matching funds that many companies will deposit in your account on your behalf.
Putting Your Money to Work
If you have a job, you're undoubtedly familiar with the concept of working for your money. Investing allows you to turn the tide by making your money work for you. Through the magic of compound interest, for example, your accumulated interest actually earns additional money without you having to lift a finger. Consequently, your original investment can multiply greatly over time. For example, if you invested $1,000 at an interest rate of 7 percent compounded annually, your investment would grow to $7,612.26 after 30 years.
Some investments can fulfill more than one financial purpose and serve as a valuable resource. For instance, when you purchase a home, it may appreciate in value and yield a handsome profit when you sell it. Additionally, as you make your monthly mortgage payments you build up equity, which is the amount of your ownership stake in the property. You can borrow against your accumulated equity by taking out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit to help you more immediate financial needs.