As my best friend and I strolled the streets of Philadelphia recently, she told me about how she had saved up a small sum of money and was planning to invest it. Because I write about money day in and day out, I often jump into financial conversations — and this was no exception. I knew the key phrases to throw her way. The terms to tell her to Google. The books to recommend.
But when it came to offering specific advice, I was stuck. Outside of retirement accounts, like many twenty-somethings, I didn't actually have any experience investing.
It's not that I didn't have good intentions. I knew that investing is the best way to truly grow your money. Legendary investor Warren Buffett calls investing in index funds "the thing that makes the most sense practically all of the time." And self-made millionaire David Bach says that consistently investing, a strategy he calls paying yourself first, is the key to building wealth.
Yet investing sat unchecked on my list of goals for 2017 and earned a fresh spot on my list of goals for 2018.
I couldn't use lack of funds as an excuse, either. After saving up an adequate emergency fund, I made setting aside money to invest my next big goal. Over a few years, I had diligently saved up thousands of dollars earmarked to be invested outside of a retirement account, but I hadn't put that cash to work yet.
It wasn't much, but it was a start. So I decided to stop procrastinating. I was finally going to invest the $7,000 I had saved and I was going to make it count.