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Fulton Bank

How to make investing easy (for people who hate managing money).

You've heard that investing is one of the best ways to grow wealth over time. Yet, even when your income starts to exceed your expenses, you may feel stuck. Maybe you don't want to spend time pouring over the numbers or stressing about moving your money at the “right time." So how can you be smart with your money without diving into the ins and outs of investing and becoming obsessed with checking the market?

First, let's be clear on the answer to this question: What is investing?

What is investing?

Investing is a step beyond saving. When you save money, you gradually set it aside instead of spending it. When you invest money, you buy an asset that you expect will increase in value over time, generating future income. It's a way to grow your wealth, ideally without too much effort, but it does mean that you don't have immediate access to your money the way you do with a savings account. While investing does come with some risk, it also has a higher potential for bigger returns over time.

3 Simple Ways to Start Investing

Now that you know what investing is, let's talk about easy ways to start investing —ones that don't require you to research market trends or pour over company outlook reports to manage your investment portfolio. Remember, when it comes to investing, experts agree: The sooner, the better. So don't wait until you feel like an investing expert to start. It's okay to learn as you go. Either way, you'll enjoy the benefits of compound interest. This means that even if you only invest a little bit, it can still grow to large amounts if done early in your life.

Once you have adequate savings set aside, and ideally an emergency fund, try these simple ways to start investing.

1.Stick to the basics. If your employer offers a retirement plan, typically a 401(k), take advantage of it. These are an especially good option if your employer offers any form of contribution matching (that's basically free money!). Plus, when you ask your employer to put a percentage of your paycheck into your 401(k), you put your investment plan on autopilot. Every time you get paid, you add to your investments without any effort.

2.Try a robo-advisor. This could be in addition to your regular retirement plan. Robo-advisors use algorithms and software to manage investment accounts—and they don't require a minimum balance, so you can often start with what feels like spare change. Many take just a few minutes to get started. Rates vary but are typically lower than traditional portfolio management services, and many offer educational content and tools as well.

3. Use an app. Many well-known names in investments offer apps to manage investments. Some are focused on educating beginners on how to start investing on smaller budgets. It is a simple way to learn the basics.

4 Tips to Stay the Distance and Reap the Rewards

The key to investing is taking a long-term approach. This means that once you've started investing, you should expect to be patient. Below are some low-effort tips for investing for the long haul.

1.Automate your contributions. If using an employer retirement account, set a monthly amount that you can comfortably continue to invest. Ideally, you'll invest an amount each month that's equal to your employer match if offered, and you'll be open to increasing that amount as you get raises. If you don't have an employer account, you might consider an individual retirement account (IRA). If you do, you can also automate a monthly transfer from one of your bank accounts into your IRA.

2. Schedule reminders to review your investments. While you can essentially “set it," that doesn't mean you want to “forget it" when it comes to investing. Regularly check in on your investment accounts to stay updated on their growth and ensure you're comfortable with where your money is invested.

3. Make adjustments as your life situation changes. As your income goes up or down, remember to adjust your investment contributions accordingly. This also applies to risk. If you're young with few responsibilities, you may be comfortable with high-risk, high-reward investments. But there may be times in your life when you'll want less risk. It might be when you're about to become a parent, send a child to college or are nearing retirement. During those times, consider adjusting your investment portfolio. Sell the riskiest assets and acquire safer ones.

4. Try not to worry about everyday market fluctuations. Once you start investing, it can be tempting to watch the market's ups and downs —and react to them. In general, it's best to keep the long-term perspective in mind, especially if you still have a good amount of time before you need to get cash out of your investments.

Not sure whether you want to invest, especially during economic uncertainty? Consider working with a financial advisor for help and advice. These professionals can guide you as to how investing fits into your overall financial picture, including budgeting for now, planning for retirement, managing your taxes and more.

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