Introduction to investing

Learn the fundamental investment principles to start on the path to financial empowerment today.

A smiling little boy helps his father plant a tree, indicating that big things grow from a small beginning.

Image source: Getty Images

Starting out

Imagine you're holding a tiny acorn in your hand. It might seem insignificant, but it can grow into a towering oak tree that provides shelter for years in the right conditions.

Like an acorn, your investment journey starts small but has the potential to grow into something truly remarkable. Considered investing can provide a path to financial stability, empowerment, and the opportunity to achieve financial freedom. 

In this section, we'll break down the barriers and misconceptions that might have held you back. 

We'll start by exploring fundamental investing principles that will set you on the path to building your financial future. We'll explain the importance of time, compounding, and diversification in investing and the relationship between risk and returns. And we'll highlight some common investing mistakes you'll want to avoid and dip into the tax consequences of investment decisions. 

As you embark on this journey, remember that financial empowerment is within your reach. Your investment choices can be the key to unlocking a brighter financial future. Whether you're just starting your investment career or approaching retirement, investing is not an exclusive club for the wealthy. It's a powerful tool that can benefit everyone.

Why investing matters

Investing is not just a tool for the financial elite. It's a means through which the average person can build financial security, achieve long-term goals, and improve their quality of life. Let's start with the most enticing aspect of investing: the potential for financial growth. Investing is a way to make your money work for you. By putting your money into suitable investments, you create the potential for it to grow over time.  

Imagine you have $1,000 to spare and decide to invest it. Over the years, with smart investment choices, that $1,000 could turn into $2,000, $5,000, or more. The magic of compound interest, which we'll delve into later, can grow your money exponentially.

Investing is pivotal in securing a comfortable future, especially in retirement. While retirement might seem far off when you're young, it's never too early to start planning. The earlier you begin, the more time your investments have to grow.

Consider this scenario: You start investing $200 a month at age 25, continuing this disciplined approach until you retire at 65. Assuming an average annual return of 7%, you could have more than $500,000 saved up by the time you retire. These funds can provide financial security and peace of mind in your retirement.

Investing is also an effective hedge against inflation. Inflation is a silent thief that erodes the purchasing power of your money over time. Prices of goods and services tend to rise, and if your money is growing at a slower pace, you'll find it harder to afford the same things in the future. 

Investing strategically, however, can allow you to earn returns that outpace inflation, thus ensuring your money retains its value and can continue to grow.

Welcome to investing: What to expect

Now that we've explored why investing matters, let's delve into the foundational principles of investing. In the following articles, we'll cover:

Basic investing concepts

This article introduces essential terminology and ideas fundamental to understanding investing. You'll learn how the stock market works, what stock market indices are, and the difference between bull and bear markets. This knowledge will serve as your foundation for making informed decisions. 

Click on the link to read the article on basic investing concepts.

Different types of investments

Understanding other investment options is crucial for anyone embarking on an investment journey. It's akin to having a toolkit with various tools, each suited to a specific task.

You'll discover a wide array of investment options, each with its own set of risks and rewards. From shares and bonds to real estate and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), explore investment options in this article to help you find the right fit for your financial goals and risk appetite. 

Check out different types of investments here.

Time and compounding

Time and compounding are two of the most potent factors in investing. They can turn a modest initial investment into substantial wealth over the long term. Understanding their importance is critical to making informed investment decisions and maximising financial success.

Here, we explain the time value of money and how compounding can work to supercharge your investment returns. Click on the link to fina out more about time and compounding.


Here, you'll learn why it's important not to put all your financial eggs in one basket.

Diversification can mitigate risk and increase the potential for stable returns. It involves spreading your investments across different asset classes, as well as various industries and regions. But beware of over-diversifying, which can be counterproductive.

Learn how to strike the right balance with a well-rounded portfolio with enough variety to spread risk but not so much that it becomes unmanageable. Check out our diversification article to discover more.

Risk and returns

Investing involves risk. Understanding the relationship between risk and returns is fundamental for investors. It will guide your decision-making, help you set appropriate financial goals, and enable a more informed approach to managing your investment portfolio.

Knowing how risk and returns are connected can help you make strategic choices that align with your risk tolerance and financial objectives. Read more about risk and returns here.

Common investing mistakes

Even seasoned investors make mistakes. Here, we share some common pitfalls to avoid, ensuring a smoother path on your investment journey.

Investing emotionally, trying to time the market, and ignoring fees and expenses can have costly consequences. By understanding these common mistakes, you will be better positioned to circumvent them. Here's an insight into common investing mistakes.

Tax considerations

Taxes can have a significant impact on your investment returns. Some investments may generate ordinary income, while others may produce capital gains or dividend income, each with its tax rates.

By considering the tax implications of your investments, you can minimise the amount of money you owe in taxes, thus maximising your after-tax returns. Our article on tax considerations provides insights into optimising your investments from a tax perspective.

The Motley Fool's Investing Philosophies

At The Motley Fool, we have developed distinct investing philosophies that underpin our approach to wealth creation. At the heart of The Motley Fool's investment philosophy is a long-term perspective, which emphasises the value of patience and discipline in building a successful investment portfolio.

We encourage individuals to take control of their financial futures, make informed decisions, and avoid following the herd. Our approach is rooted in the belief that investing should be accessible, transparent, and empowering for everyone. Learn more about our guiding principles to help you build a strong foundation for your investment journey.

Foolish takeaway

As you embark on this exhilarating investing journey, remember that it's not just about growing your wealth — it's about empowering yourself financially. 

Investing is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your dreams, whether it's a comfortable retirement, funding your child's education, or pursuing your passions. It's how the average person can build financial security, achieve long-term goals, and improve their quality of life.

This article is just the beginning of your investing education. 

We encourage you to dive deeper into The Motley Fool's Investing Education series for comprehensive learning and guidance. You have the potential to turn that tiny acorn of an idea into a flourishing financial oak tree. 

The road ahead is exciting, and we're here to help you every step of the way. Get ready to watch your money grow and your financial future flourish. 

So welcome to the world of investing, where your financial dreams can become a reality!

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This article is part of Motley Fool Australia's comprehensive Investing Education series, covering everything from budgeting and saving to basic investing concepts and how much money you'll need to start.

Packed with easy-to-understand and regularly updated information, our articles contain the answers to your most frequently asked questions about share market investing.

Motley Fool's Education series is tailored for beginner and experienced investors alike and also includes helpful tools and resources, an A-Z glossary of Investing Definitions, and guides to specific topics of interest, including retirement planning, gold and property investment.

This article contains general educational content only and does not take into account your personal financial situation. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be considered, and you may need to seek independent financial advice.

To the best of our knowledge, all information in this article is accurate as of time of posting. In our educational articles, a 'top share' is always defined by the largest market cap at the time of last update. On this page, neither the author nor The Motley Fool have chosen a 'top share' by personal opinion.

As always, remember that when investing, the value of your investment may rise or fall, and your capital is at risk.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.