Investing Beyond the IRA

Probably like many of you, I didn't get much financial advice growing up. I knew nothing about money, other than that my family didn't have much extra of it, and I learned not to ask for things we couldn't afford. When I started babysitting, I started raking in the dough for myself, but that cash was as good as spent. I can't even tell you how many CDs I must've bought in high school. I remember blowing through the several hundred dollars I'd saved up for college within the first months on senseless things. Thankfully, I didn't end up with my own credit card, so I never ended up in debt. (This was an act of grace, not my own knowing better. Believe me.)

Since entering the job force in 2008, I've been trying to learn more about finances. I opened up a Roth IRA last year, and contributed as much as I could while still paying down my student loans. Even when I moved to DC where expenses were higher and my paycheck was lower, I still managed to stick away money each month and didn't tap into my savings, even though I was certain that I was absolutely going to have to! No, I just learned that all those "necessities" I had weren't necessary at all. I just learned to put a cap on my spending. Finding a balance between being savvy and being a financial fuddy duddy is still something I'm learning.

Now I'm adjusting once again with a new salary that gives me a bit more wiggle room, and now that I've finally gotten my first check, I'm figuring out just what to do with that extra dough. I have developed a few financial goals for this year:
  • Max out IRA
  • Up emergency savings by another $2500
  • Pay extra towards student loans
  • Diversify investments
Are you all intimidated by the stock market? I am. I have my IRA in an aggressive growth account, but I'm not really sure what it's invested in. I figure my broker can figure that for me. Probably not smart. Since that's long term investment, though, and my portfolio is pretty diverse, for now I'm ok with keeping it that way.

But I want to play a little bit. I just opened up an account at Scottrade, which has $7 trading, and only requires $500 to start trading. For me, I think this is just about perfect. I would rather do some small, regular investing rather than jumping in with a lump sum. And this way, I figure I won't panic if things don't go too well right away (hello bad economy). I read somewhere that investing in companies you know and care about is a good way to start, so that's what I did.

Do you all invest in the stock market? If not, why not?

No comments:

Post a Comment