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5 tips for new investors

Key takeaways

  • Start from solid ground. To establish a solid foundation for investing, make sure you have emergency savings, have paid off any high-interest debt, and are taking advantage of any employer matching programs.
  • Determine goals. Setting goals will give your investing a purpose and provide a finish line for your hard work.
  • Learn the basics. The more you know and understand about investing and financial markets, the better suited you can be to make educated investing decisions.
  • Don't worry about starting small. Investing small amounts frequently can add up over time.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Consider building out your investment team with professionally managed accounts.

Investing can seem intimidating if you haven't done it before, but there are great resources for beginners to get started. Here at Fidelity, we have many articles, videos, and tools to jumpstart you on your journey. Before you dive in, here are 5 helpful tips.

1. Make sure you're on solid ground financially

Before you start investing, build a solid financial foundation. We suggest that you should have some emergency savings before you start investing elsewhere. This could be anywhere from 3 to 6 months of essential monthly expenses. Also, make sure you have paid off any high-interest debt such as credit card bills. It could be wise to take advantage of all employer matching programs for contributions to accounts like your 401(k) or HSA too. 

2. Determine goals

Setting goals will give your investing a purpose and provide a finish line for your hard work. To determine your goals, spend some time figuring out what's important to you. A goal can include everything from paying your monthly bills to buying a new car or home, or even saving more for retirement. We suggest physically writing your goals down, and placing them somewhere you regularly see, so that you are reminded of what you are working toward.

Once you have your goals, try to determine the cost and timeline of each of those goals. Based on that information and your risk tolerance, you can come up with an investment strategy for each individual goal. For more resources on setting goals and keeping track of progress, visit the Fidelity Goal BoosterSM.

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3. Learn the basics

When you first begin, investing can seem like a new language. There's a lot to learn when it comes to securities and financial markets—but don't be intimidated. Remember that many investors started from where you are now. And people start in many different ways, from buying stocks and bonds, to contributing to a 401(k).

We suggest beginning with the basics and then working toward the more complicated topics. For example, it could be a good idea to learn the differences between stocksmutual funds, and ETFs before diving into more complex topics such as asset allocation, diversification, and risk tolerance. Listen to podcasts (such as Fresh Invest) and read books about investing. In the Fidelity Learning Center, we have educational content to learn the basics of investing. The more you know and understand about investing and financial markets, the better suited you can be to make educated investing decisions.

4. Don't worry if you're starting small

Regardless of the amount you're investing, putting your money in a position where it has growth potential may not only increase your wealth, but also help establish financial habits that can benefit you throughout your life. Plus, investing small amounts frequently can really add up over time. With mutual funds and ETFs, you can have diversification even when investing small amounts. And with fractional shares, you can invest in companies or ETFs based on how much you want to invest, not necessarily based on their share prices.

5. Don't be afraid to ask for help

With investing comes important decisions that may seem beyond your expertise. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Many investors use managed accounts to help with defining goals, understanding their current situation, and identifying key steps to move forward. Think of it as adding someone to your team.

Robo advisors, such as Fidelity Go®, could provide a way to tap into the benefits of professional money management.

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This information is intended to be educational and is not tailored to the investment needs of any specific investor.

Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is general and educational in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Tax laws and regulations are complex and subject to change, which can materially impact investment results. Fidelity cannot guarantee that the information herein is accurate, complete, or timely. Fidelity makes no warranties with regard to such information or results obtained by its use, and disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or any tax position taken in reliance on, such information. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.

Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time, and you may gain or lose money.

Diversification and asset allocation do not ensure a profit or guarantee against loss.

Fidelity Go® provides discretionary investment management, and in certain circumstances, non-discretionary financial planning, for a fee. Advisory services offered by Fidelity Personal and Workplace Advisors LLC (FPWA), a registered investment adviser. Brokerage services provided by Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC (FBS), and custodial and related services provided by National Financial Services LLC (NFS), each a member NYSE and SIPC. FPWA, FBS and NFS are Fidelity Investments companies.

Fractional share quantities can be entered out to 3 decimal places (.001) as long as the value of the order is at least $1.00. Dollar-based trades can be entered out to 2 decimal places (e.g. $250.00).

Exchange-traded products (ETPs) are subject to market volatility and the risks of their underlying securities, which may include the risks associated with investing in smaller companies, foreign securities, commodities, and fixed income investments. Foreign securities are subject to interest rate, currency exchange rate, economic, and political risks, all of which are magnified in emerging markets. ETPs that target a small universe of securities, such as a specific region or market sector, are generally subject to greater market volatility, as well as to the specific risks associated with that sector, region, or other focus. ETPs that use derivatives, leverage, or complex investment strategies are subject to additional risks. The return of an index ETP is usually different from that of the index it tracks because of fees, expenses, and tracking error. An ETP may trade at a premium or discount to its net asset value (NAV) (or indicative value in the case of exchange-traded notes). The degree of liquidity can vary significantly from one ETP to another and losses may be magnified if no liquid market exists for the ETP's shares when attempting to sell them. Each ETP has a unique risk profile, detailed in its prospectus, offering circular, or similar material, which should be considered carefully when making investment decisions.

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