how to: invest your money

Saving money and learning about investing is always a smart plan. Even if you’re newly hitched, it’s never too soon to start planning for those golden years. Think about it: Do you imagine yourselves lying on a beach or working behind a desk? If you picked the beach (or travel, or golf, or anything other than the 9-to-5 grind), you’ve come to the right place. We have all kinds of investment advice, including the basics of how to invest wisely and what all those financial terms really mean. Not sure where to begin? Start with our five easy steps to invest your money. We also have investing advice and Q&A on all kinds of financial basics about investing -- learn the difference between a 401(k) and an IRA, how to invest your savings, and your options if you can only invest a small amount. Our basic investing advice will help you get ready. But before you invest your money, you should be sure you’re out of debt: Use our debt calculator to help plan your payments, and follow our simple steps to go from credit card misery to debt free. And if your problem is a lack of cash, we’ve got tips for you, too. Learn the habits of spending-savvy couples, and find easy ways to save more of each month’s paycheck and stick to your budget. Don’t want to go it alone? Check out our local pages to find a financial planner in your area for some in-person investment advice.

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Help! My 401(k) Is Shrinking!

Q.

The Nest Q&A

My 401(k) is getting lower and lower, and I’m struggling to contribute each month. Should I think about changing my strategy?

A.

The best thing you can do right now is keep funding your retirement plan and be assured that your 401(k) is working for you, despite what you see on your monthly statement. For starters, each month, a small portion of your paycheck is invested in mutual funds that buy stocks -- most likely all over the world.

This means your 401(k) is helping you to buy low and sell high, which is what all great investors strive to do. You’re actually picking up shares of great companies that are still making plenty of money, but their prices have been beaten down because of the overall market. You’ll wind up owning more shares at reasonable prices than if you invested in stocks only during the good times.

401(k)s are taking full advantage of something called dollar cost averaging. This is a time-proven investment strategy in good times and bad. Over time, as the market fluctuates, your consistent investment grows while your cost basis averages out.

Nestpert Pam Krueger, cohost of MoneyTrack on PBS and author of The MoneyTrack Method

-- The Nest Editors

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