Each of us come up for reasons to not do certain things all of the time. We talk to ourselves in a way that will justify our actions or lack of action. Investing in the stock market is no different. I’ve heard all of these reasons and myths that individuals tell themselves as it relates to why they are not investing. They cling to them out of fear of the unknown.
So let’s go through and debunk each of these investing myths, one by one, to identify why they should not be the reason for holding you back from investing!
10 Investing Myths Debunked
1. You need a lot of money to invest
There is not a specific number you have to have in your bank account as a prerequisite for investing. What’s important is that you start as early as you can and invest as often as you can.
Building the habit of investing, even if it means starting with small amounts, will be a game changer for your entire financial future.
If you do NOT have high interest debt, then I could make a strong argument for the majority of people as to why they should begin to prioritize long term investing right now.
Start where you are.
2. Investing is really complicated and hard to understand
This is one of the most common reasons I hear when people answer why they don’t invest. There’s too much to know – it’s too complicated – it’s over their head – and because of that, they do not invest despite understanding the future potential and financial security it could provide to them one day.
Investing is actually quite simple. It is arguably the easiest part of building wealth. Investing in the stock market has never been as accessible as it is today nor have there been the amount of resources to learn about investing as there are right now.
It may be new for you. It may be unfamiliar. But it isn’t hard. Do not confuse your current lack of understanding of it as a sign that it’s beyond your understanding.
Note: I am not going to deny that there are certainly parts of investing that are complex and complicated, but much of that style of investing is for high net worth individuals – is typically very expensive – and the performance is often times not worth the risk.
3. Investing is only for the wealthy
I’m going to keep this one simple…investing is not only for the wealthy, it is what will be a major driving force and contributor to making you wealthy.
4. I need a financial advisor to invest
Financial advisors are wonderful resources for those who truly need them, want a very hands off approach to investing and for those with a net worth high enough to require an additional need of financial planning services.
But you do not need one to invest. There are so many incredible platforms for retail investors like yourself to invest all on your own and to be given every opportunity to invest similarly to how your financial advisor would.
You have options as an individual to invest on your own without the need for a financial advisor. In many circumstances in the beginning stages of investing, with a little education, you will be fully capable in doing it yourself and setting yourself up for financial success.
5. Investing could mean I lose everything
The longer you stay invested, the less likely you are to lose money.
The process of day trading and trying to time the market is playing a game I’m not interested in at all and one that often ends with few winners. Long term investing, with a time horizon of greater than 10 years is a recipe for financial growth and appreciation. You have the time to wait out the short term volatility and because of that you will likely benefit from significant long term compounding growth.
Warren Buffett said it best, “The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.”
Note: Also, a friendly reminder that you do not *lose* money until you sell. You may have an investment account that fluctuates and goes up and down continuously with the market, but it is neither a gain or a loss until you sell those investments.
6. Investing takes a lot of time
Investing does not require a lot of time. In fact, you could easily open an investment account at a brokerage firm, set up automatic transfers and invest in the investments of your choice within 20 minutes.
Long term investing does not require you to actively buy and sell frequently, spend hours every week researching your investments or staring at your account for hours on end. In fact, I strongly advise against the latter.
Time in the market > timing the market. Succeeding in investing does not equate to spending a lot of your time investing, but rather your investments having a lot of time to grow.
7. I have to be a good stock picker to have success with investing
You don’t have to choose individual stocks or make a bet on any one particular investment. Index funds were created in the 1970’s and they are one of the best ways to invest for both beginners learning how to invest and sophisticated investors looking to build wealth.
Why? Because they are one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get exposure to the market as a whole.
Index funds have low fees, provide diversification, are low maintenance, are tax efficient and could be a meaningful part of any investors allocation despite their level of wealth.
Index funds do all the work for us as an investor. They provide diversification and broad exposure to a market at a fraction of the time it would take for you to do yourself or the cost for you to pay someone else to do for you. Win win.
8. Investing is too risky
Yes, there is risk associated with investing as the market can be volatile for periods of time. There is also risk in keeping all your assets in cash as you run the risk of losing purchasing power over time due to inflation.
But you have to remember that you can control the amount of risk you take on. You don’t have to build an allocation of investments that is 100% stocks with more inherent risk associated with it. You could bring in other assets classes like fixed income that will reduce your earning potential but will also reduce your risk.
You control the level of risk you take on. If you want less risk, that doesn’t need to mean ALL cash, it could simply mean less equity/stocks and other less risky alternatives.
I wrote a blog post specifically on how to harness a healthy investing mindset. Read it here!
9. It’s too late for me to invest
If you have a time horizon of greater than 5-7 years – it is not too late to invest.
I could even make a compelling argument that if you are in your 70’s or 80’s with some additional cash and wealth on the side that you will not need or want – there are some strategic options for investing that money or gifting those assets to be invested with the goal of passing wealth on to the next generation.
Bottom line – it’s never too late.
10. It’s not worth investing with a small amount
This one always gets to me.
Let’s assume you invested into an S&P 500 index fund during the time frames noted below and received an average annual rate of return of 8%….this would be the outcome…
- $20 per month from age 20-60 –> An investment of $9,840 over 40 years that grows to $73,000 at age 60
- $100 per month from 20-60 –> An investment of $49,200 over 40 years that grows to $364,000
Sure, an individual investing $1,000 per month will likely end up with more in their investment account over a 40 year period than someone who invests $20 per month. But that’s not the measure of success – comparing your assets to another. The measure of success is that you chose a path that allowed for the money you did have, to grow far beyond what it would have had you done nothing.
Don’t let these investing myths hold you back
Start where you are, with the means that you have and small change after small change …small win after small win..the momentum will take you places you never thought possible.
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