Ask DN: What's the best way to get started with investing?

over 7 years ago from , Digital Maker

I'm interested in building a stock portfolio, but really have no clue where to start. I've looked at some sites and applications but they all seem really complicated (and ugly, hey I'm a designer and UX engineer, what can I say!). I'd really like something simple with an excellent user experience, with clear documentation and getting started guides. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I was invited into the Acorns beta a while back, their full site launched today so check it out if you have not heard of Acorns. And I love what they are doing, but don't think I can afford the dollar roundup method at this moment (I'd rather have a concrete investing number to work with), and I'm hesitant because of my lack of investing experience. If I already had a grasp on the basics of investing I could see myself joining Acorns, but at this time I don't think it's for me.

I do invest in my IRA, save, and budget, but now I want to go to the next step of short-ish term investing. Any thoughts or advice from the DN crowd?


  • Johnny JuiceJohnny Juice, over 7 years ago

    I Love both Betterment and Acorns, I think they are great ways to get younger people interested in investing. Betterment doesn't roundup (you can do auto deposits), but I love the passive approach to roundup investing.

    Both of those providers, by virtue of their investments, are intended for longer term investing.

    It's is also worth noting that both of these sites presume that you don't know much about investing. You tell them your risk tolerance (conservative to aggressive) and they set your allocation accordingly. You aren't picking individual stocks/funds/ETFs. I wouldn't let lack of investing knowledge keep me away from these.

    For shorter term investing, I'd recommend options. By nature they are short term and they also require less money to invest. You can invest in Apple or Google without dropping the hundreds of dollars per share. There is certainly a higher learning curve to options, but http://www.dough.com has a great visual approach and has a bunch of educational resources.

    I got started by reading http://www.fool.com and buying their monthly newsletter ($49) which I would recommend

    2 points
    • Bruce Vang, over 7 years ago

      Agreed on dough.com and options. If people knew they could invest $100 and double it with a vertical option, they would trade options instead of stocks.

      0 points
  • Lin ZagorskiLin Zagorski, over 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    I highly recommend Betterment if you haven't already heard of it. (Shameless referral link, but hey, you get $25 if you sign up. )

    The UX is much more user friendly than the other three investment firms I had money in before. It's easy to set up short term or long term goals with auto-deposits, track investment progress, and see the distribution of how much money is invested in stocks vs bonds.

    [[Edit]] Betterment is no longer giving people $25 for signing up with a referral link, but rather credits your account 30 days for free. Depending on how much money you deposit, that could be a better deal.

    I'll also say that in 9 months since I first posted this comment, my dad switched from UBS after a year negative returns, paying three times more in fees, and noting that its website hadn't changed since the early 2000's. He loves Betterment. I also got my 18-year-old brother to start an account with the money he makes being a lifeguard.

    2 points
    • Caleb Sylvest, over 7 years ago

      I like the looks of Betterment. Will investigate further, and there is no shame in sharing referral links, it's helpful to both parties ;)

      0 points
  • David KeeganDavid Keegan, over 7 years ago

    Hey Caleb,

    Director of Design at Acorns here :) The dollar roundup feature is optional, you can get started with a fixed reoccurring investment amount if you want a concrete investing number to work with. The idea behind the roundup feature is to connect spending to investing to make it a part of your everyday life, but it's just one of the ways to fund your Account. You can enable or disable automatic round-ups at any time.

    Hope you check it out, and if you do please let me know how it goes!

    1 point
    • Caleb Sylvest, over 7 years ago

      Thanks for the reply David! Acorns is certainly at the top of my list and something I will strongly consider using :)

      1 point
  • Andy Johnson, over 7 years ago

    Already been said, but another thumbs up for Betterment. Outstanding product.

    0 points
  • Clay MacTavishClay MacTavish, over 7 years ago


    0 points
  • Lee MunroeLee Munroe, over 7 years ago

    I started by using Wealthfront. Similar to Betterment it does the investing for you, based on your risk factor.

    9.5% overall return after about 9mths.

    I also used Wall Street Survivor to do some training and fantasy stock market style investing, and One Up On Wall Street is a good book on the stock market.

    Shameless referral link. Wealthfront manage up to $10k for free, or $15k with this referral.

    0 points
  • Phil RauPhil Rau, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Here's a site that lets you set up a portfolio like legos. Its fantastic for testing ideas.


    I work as a designer for alot of banks and finance companies. What I've gleaned from hanging around finance people is that the vast majority of financial professionals won't beat the market. So you should just invest in an ETF that tracks the market, like IVV.

    Put 85% of your money into a large-cap, broad-market ETF and the remaining 15% into bonds or international funds. Raise this amount depending on your age (if you're young, keep it small) or if you want more security (if you're wary, make this higher).

    This is the portfolio I built using my ideas.


    Feel free to use it!

    (Also, I'm waiting on Robin Hood to come out, because its going to be free trades)

    0 points
  • Parag RParag R, over 7 years ago

    I'd check out MotifInvesting.com. Allow you to invest in ideas like new iPhone coming out, etc.

    0 points
  • Patrick McLaughlinPatrick McLaughlin, over 7 years ago

    To learn the basics before investing, I'd read the very short, and very simple "The Little Book That Still Beats the Market". Here's the Amazon link -> http://www.amazon.com/Little-Book-Still-Beats-Market/dp/0470624159

    As for the actual investing, I've been using Scottrade since 2007, ($7 a trade) but unsure of any newer alternatives are out there.

    Good luck!

    0 points
    • Caleb Sylvest, over 7 years ago

      Cool, I'm all about reading books! I'll check it out, and consider Scottrade when the time comes to invest.

      0 points
  • Eric Chu, over 7 years ago

    Read about Bogleheads and their strategy. Index funds are the way to go.

    0 points
    • Caleb Sylvest, over 7 years ago

      Thanks dude, I'll check it out. The landing page boggles my head, but the wiki is easier to read and I'll investigate.

      0 points