The stock market has historically been an intimidating place for most people. Just like many other endeavors if one did not have, an inside track, someone in the family that was involved, or it just was not part of your personal journey, you may have steered clear. After all, the word financial infers that it is going to involve money. Money is a very personal thing and having to share that kind of personal information stops most people from getting involved. The financial markets have a vocabulary all to themselves.

The people that transact the actual instruments of investment seem to be shrouded in mystery, and hidden in some mythical place called Wall St.

The legends and myths surrounding the Stock Market crash of 1929, Black Monday in 1987, the crash in 2000, and most recently the decline that almost took our entire economy back to the depression days, in 2007 & 2008, has created even more trepidation for the uneducated would-be investor. By the way, it is important to note that markets have always recovered (over time) and marched on to higher levels at some point.

Millennials now have a vehicle for early investing

The good news for the millennial generation is that things have changed, and mostly for the better. In the thirty years since the Black Monday crash in 1987, slowly but surely financial Investing has become more accessible to the general public.

The realization that there are only four assets in which to invest or put your money, has simplified that accessibility. Generally speaking, the choices for individuals to invest their money are as follows: cash, stocks, bonds, or real estate. the commoditization of these classes (and individual markets as a whole) have made it easier for individuals to own a piece of the asset class, without having to have thousands of dollars to invest!

Some financial services firms will offer a fifth alternative, maybe almond trees or something exotic like that, but those aren't yet considered mainstream investments. You can add Gold to that list, if you don't mind holding a purely speculative investment, without an obvious rate of return. Education and the simplification of the financial instruments themselves have made a big difference, too.

The evolution in our lifetime began with something called mutual funds and has grown into the ETF

or exchange-traded fund. And, without complicating the issue more than necessary, these little 'do-dads' allow you to purchase a piece of the asset (stock, bond, cash or real estate) in proportion to what you have to invest. Now we would all like to know exactly what returns we are going to get when we put our money up or invest. And, it would be great if there were a crystal ball that had such information. However, I am afraid that knowledge of future returns is akin to fortune telling and will always be included in the perils of investing because you cannot know exactly what your returns will be.

What we do have is a historical track record covering about 100 yrs, for the assets mentioned. Keep in mind, what is more, important is that you are investing, and diversifying or spreading out your investment assets (cash, stocks, bonds, real estate). The following is a broad brush analysis of what your expected returns might look like according to asset class: Stocks 9-10%, Bonds 5-6% and Cash, less than 1%,

Real Estate varies widely and is less liquid than the other three investments, but let's say 4%, annually. By-the-way, cash is what you put under your pillow or in a bank savings account. But after all the boring stuff just covered, it is good for you to be reminded that it is not how much you are going to earn, but that you invest - so that you can earn - that you should be more concerned about.

Fortunately, there are simple dashboard like apps that give you an opportunity to do everything from investing your spare change, to buying and selling individual stocks, from your mobile device. With investment sites like Acorns, Stash, Betterment and Robinhood, there is no longer any excuse not to take some money from your paycheck, and invest on a weekly or monthly basis!

Investing finally made easy for millennials

These mobile investment Apps will simplify the entire process, and most importantly for saving, automate it. All four sites will take you by the hand through a dashboard like setting in order to make your deposit and investing choices obvious. The more novice investor sites of the four, are Acorns and Betterment.

They will give you choices for how to automate deposits & withdrawals into and out of your investment account with them.

They will also give you a simplified menu of investments that will give you the opportunity to choose which asset classes you want (stocks, bonds, cash and perhaps real estate). As we alluded to earlier it is the asset class and the historical returns of that asset, that you want to consider in your early days of investing. These sites will have different fees depending on your level of commitment. But, this should look familiar and comparable to other online membership commitments.

Particularly for first-time investors, you want to focus on how much you can afford to automatically deposit regularly ($5, $10...$100), and what your tolerance for risk is.

This is easier than it sounds. If you are someone that cannot tolerate even small losses in your account, you will want to be involved in a 'Conservative' portfolio choice (some combination of stocks, bonds, & cash ), if you have a little more tolerance for market fluctuations with the possibility for higher returns, you would choose a 'Moderate' portfolio, and so on and so forth.

In the end, all one needs to remember is that long-term investing should be the goal. There really are only four asset classes, and you can own them - in proportion. And, regular deposits to savings and investment accounts, however small, at a young age, is the key to gaining wealth.

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