Money doesn't grow on trees" (Dad: Circa 1990, I was age 5). Fast forward to: Now! My father and I maintain a fairly large brokerage at my financial firm that I'm employed at. It spits out interest and "Leftovers" of company profits of the companies stock that we own (Dividends). It's free money, and it's coming from stock of companies that you've heard of. But what is free money? It's money that you make no real effort to get, and is money that really just magically appears. You didn't have to flip burgers to get it, nor slave away at a PHD for half a decade. It just showed up in your account, Imagine that! It's as if the money grows on trees, and you come along every so often and pick it off, like leaves. Welcome to the world of investing in the stock market.
Please register the anxiety that just ticked up within your bloodstream right now when I said: investing in the stock market. This anxiety is unnecessary. We live in a time where the entire compendium of all human knowledge is held within our watches (at least until Siri on your AppleWatch gives out and you have to pick up your 5 inch pocket computer phone). So why do you have to have anxiety about learning how to make money grow from trees? You won't anymore if you do a little research, like I'm talking one evening of your time, and then you will be enabled to start planting, farming, and growing your own money trees ripe for harvest 10, 5 or even 2 years from now. After that you'll be addicted to it. And, even after that, you will be what we call "Wealthy".
The reason you need to invest, and pretend your investments are like money trees, is because your life revolves around money. You try to convince yourself it doesn't, but as the great Thanos once said "Run from it, hide from it, destiny arrives all the same." No profession is exempt from money matters. The roof you live under, the food you eat, whether it's your food or your roof is irrelevant. If you’re alive, there is a cost to living, even if you're homeless, somewhere there is a financial transaction that is taking place that's keeping you breathing. This transaction is tied to money, money is tied to currency and interest rates, which is tied to the stock market.
To invest, you don't need know anything about investing, nor do you have to be a child progeny in the concept either. I'm not here to tell you how to invest, but I can give you the resources to learn the subtle nuances of it. The resources are fairly obvious. The biggest goal is to buy low and sell high, unless you like losing money. Do you know who modeled this successful investment theory for us as we grew up and became familiar with the world around us? Our parents (or adults). Whether they did or did not raise you in a physical/traditional house, the idea was there. People buy and hold real estate for the appreciation in value of it. Thus, you already have the fundamental, 10 commandments, baseline, at-the-cellular-level understanding of growing money trees.
"But Adam, I don't want to lose all my money!" That's completely understandable. Please remember that giant multinational corporations can fluctuate in value, but they don't Poof into thin air like all those people in The Leftovers on HBO. A company’s value isn't going to go from $100 Billion one moment to $0.00 dollars the next. So, your money in your investments in those companies doesn't just disappear, even if, you know, we have another 2008 financial crisis. If the zombie apocalypse is upon us, yes, your money would disappear. But, if that were to occur, money wouldn't matter anymore, and we would need to be stock piling guns, canned food, and swords.
"But Adam, I REALLY don't know anything about how the stock market works." Ok do you know anything about how plants grow? Or how people grow? Generally? I don't. Is that going to stop me from planting a tree? Or getting fatter? Of course not, and it certainly won't stop me from hiring someone to plant trees for me (or go to the gym, or hire a doctor). Everything you need to know is online. As I was writing this, this window froze, and in the mean time I just Googled "best resources for learning how to invest" and the feeling of websites lining up in my Google search just waiting to educate me for free, was palpable. Do the same search, and click on whatever you feel like. You don't even need to finish this article!
"But Adam, I want to grow money trees but I just don't want/need/care/fill-in-the-blank to learn how to do it". Enter: The Financial Advisor. This persons life is devoted to taking this burden off your shoulder. They are the new stock brokers. Those movies from the 80’s/90’s that glamorize selling stock like Wall Street, or Boiler Room, these people don’t exist anymore. They were the ones with the stock broker licenses, giving off the vibe of seedy stock scams at play. That era is over. The new stock broker is The Financial Advisor, however they cannot become an advisor without passing certain governmental exams to earn licenses where they are certified as financial fiduciaries. A financial fiduciary is someone who, by law, absolutely must have your own personal financial best interest in mind, and most always act as such. It is illegal for them to sell certain financial assets to you without an extremely good reason, and if they attempt, let alone do sell you some sort of unusual investment without good cause, they will at minimum pay a fine, and at maximum go to jail, by law. These people cannot screw with you, and make a living off of guarding your money tree farm, as well as watering it. They act as your attorney in financial world, representing you and your financial future.
Financial advisors are your old friends from college working for Merrill Lynch, Northwestern Mutual, or other financial firms, that started working for these places as interns in college, and now it’s their job to hunt down assets to manage. They’ve cold called you 5-10 times over the post grad years, because they know that they know more than you about investing, and they absolutely do know more than you. Their sole job is to guard your money, and make sure it increases in value, to make you wealthy over time. They’re your financial coach, helping you open certain accounts for certain life occurrences. Get a new job = Retirement account. Marriage = joint investment account. Child Birth = Specialized college fund. Family money movement = Trust funds. They make a living of, no longer pitching you the next hot stock, but on coaching you for what is the best financial move to make in your life.
So, the resources you have at your disposable are: All the knowledge of the investment world at your fingertips, or, someone who knows how to navigate the investment world. The internet, or people. These are your options, and they’re all you need. As with all things in life: Either you do it yourself, or you hire someone to do it for you. However, to not act, and be complacent in your financial situation, you are actively giving up your potential to reap the harvest of the money trees. Do yourself, your significant other, and every generation after you the golden good deed of consulting a financial services professional, or educate yourself on the investment world. To not do so, would be to invite the same financial ignorance and arrogance for your future generations, that your own high school curriculum taught you, by teaching you the difference between a Sine and Cosine, when they should have taught you the difference between a stock and a bond, or a traditional IRA and Roth IRA.