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Guest Post by Howie Bick Investment banking is an industry known for high salaries, prestige, and big bonuses. It’s one of the industries that unlocks doors for people and presents opportunities for financial success that few have access to. But it has a cost as well. The time you'll have to invest, the energy you will be required to spend, and the sacrifices you’ll have to make are things very few industries ask you to do. Ultimately you have to decide if you’re willing to make the investment in your future and willing to sacrifice in the short term. Some people find it worthwhile and stay the course, while others don’t and decide to bail out. So you may be thinking at this point, why investment banking? Consider the following: Enjoy pay incentives Work with large scale companies Develop valuable skill sets Network with powerful people Meet high expectations Pay incentives The industry is all about time, experience, and expertise. As you invest more time and energy into the industry, the more you start to reap its rewards. The people at the bottom receive the toughest deal, working long hours for low price-per-hour wages. But as you rise up, gain experience, and develop expertise, you can start to see why it’s become such a lucrative industry. Banking comes with some really large pay incentives. People can see their salaries doubled in their year-end bonuses. A lot of this comes from the incredibly large and complex transactions you’ll be working on. The industry handles and orchestrates the largest transactions in the world and the financial intricacies that come with it. Work with large scale companies Investment bankers deal with companies on incredibly large scales. Sometimes that might mean issuing new equity or shares to public or private investors. It could mean offering new debt in order for companies to raise capital for a specific investment. It could mean trying to turn around a struggling company, that has had a considerable decline in sales. It could also mean taking a deep dive into a company’s financials or trying to find companies to merge or acquire. The projects and transactions you work on are incredibly large in financial terms, usually in tens of millions, often times even in billion-dollar figures. With those large figures, also come large fees for the investment bank you work for, which trickle down to you. The way they trickle down is through bonuses. The bonus structure is all about the deals you worked on, and the fees the team you worked on generated. With that in mind, the larger the deal, the more complex it is. That means more work, more parties involved, and more of a time commitment to making it happen. The deals can run for 6–12 months at a time, and sometimes even longer if circumstances change, the structure switches, or the parties change their mind. Develop valuable skill sets The banking world provides you with a lot of benefits that come outside of the dollar figures you receive. The reputation in banking extends way past the industry itself. After you decide to depart from banking, there are going to be a line of firms wanting to interview you and trying to recruit you to their team. A lot of this is due to the way you work in banking, and what you’re able to learn. The skillset you learn in banking is one of the most translatable skillsets you can learn in an entry level position. The amount of time you spend working in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, is incredibly valuable to companies in almost all industries. Almost every company and every industry are using these programs in the operation of their business, and the best place to learn them is banking. Another great skill you learn in banking is finance at a high level. Investment banking is the major leagues of finance, and you get to learn from the best of the best when you work in the industry. The people in banking, especially at the top are some of the best people within the world of finance. Network with powerful people You’ll have the opportunity to build an incredibly powerful and meaningful network of people by working on these deals. Most of the people you meet will have a lot of value to bring to the table and will be able to make decisions at a high level. These people will often have a career's worth of experience, and the expertise to go with it. Networking with these people is never a bad thing. Meet high expectations All of these benefits do come with the expectation that you will produce at an incredibly high level. Workdays are usually filled with tight deadlines and high pressure. Your superiors can request for you to complete work that normally takes you a week’s time within a day or an even shorter time frame. This means you’ll be working late that night to complete it. The industry environment is tough. If you aren’t able to produce at the level they need, odds are there won’t be much sympathy. There’s a time for you to train and onboard, but once you complete that, it’s time to hit the ground running. You’ll be placed onto a deal team, or in a subsector, and asked to produce work that will go up the ranks. If any of your work is flawed or has mistakes, it’s going to be you and the associate above you who’s responsible for it. Ultimately the associate above you is required to check your work and help you along the way. You and the associate are a team, your interests are aligned, and both of you are there to put together a cohesive package to present to your superiors. You and the associate have to create and provide the essential deal documents needed to move the deal along. This includes the presentations, memos, and financial models the higher ups want to see before moving forward with the deal. This could also mean any other research or market intel they request and would like to have as part of their decision-making process. The bottom line The banking industry has earned its reputation for being demanding with good reason. The work you're expected to produce is difficult and time consuming, and your managers may be tough to please. Because of the compensation you're given, you'll be expected to produce at a very high level. You’ll be making six figures plus when its all said and done with your bonus, and your bosses will demand that level of work production in return. This often means sacrificing your free time, social life, and other lifestyle comforts you used to enjoy outside the office. But if you believe in banking, the opportunities it can provide to you, and the path it offers, it might be worth your while to explore the industry. Howie Bick is the founder of The Analyst Handbook. A collection of 16 guides created to help current aspiring analysts advance their careers. Prior to founding The Analyst Handbook, Howie was an analyst in Finance.
Guest Post by Maggie Potter Some seasons like the time around Thanksgiving and Christmas encourage more charitable giving than others. However, as a business, giving isn’t something that should be only seasonal. In fact, an increasing number of organizations are realizing that giving can be one of many keys to success. Business giants like Walmart, Wells Fargo, and Chevron are evidence of this, as they spend hundreds of millions on charitable giving annually. While one of the core purposes of every business is to make a profit, there is always room for giving, too. In many ways, it could help boost your finances as well as improve your brand image. If you’re a business that hasn’t started giving or feels more can be done, keep reading. Here is how the art of giving can help you financially. Improves the community As a business, you should have an idea of the role your business will play in improving the community and the world around you. What legacy do you want your business to leave and what difference do you want to make? Charitable giving can help you materialize this goal as it’s an opportunity to help further causes that align with your mission and vision. Giving is a way to help make communities better places for people to live and work in, on top of reaping personal benefits in your business. That said, look for a charity or cause that you’re passionate about and that aligns with your business values. You don’t want to give to just any charity, however, as some have earned notoriety for spending more on paying salaries than they do on the actual cause they claim to represent. You should do your research to ensure the ones you’re considering are transparent and have a track record of good financial management. Whether the charities are funded by billionaires or everyday people, ensure they’re reputable and have pure intentions. You can easily access information on charities thanks to modern technology. It also makes giving to or partnering with such organizations a lot easier. If, for instance, you were interested in empowering women, you could look online for an initiative that gives female entrepreneurs more access to technology. This would be a great one to contribute to as increasing their access to technology could encourage business growth. Boosts your corporate image If you were an animal lover and found out that the supermarket you buy your groceries from helps abused and neglected pets, how would that make you feel? You may be drawn to shop there more often and might even become a loyal customer. The reality is that giving is good for your business because it can help boost your corporate image. In fact, 87 percent percent of businesses found that acts of corporate responsibility positively affected their company’s reputation, therefore inviting more customers who value being socially conscious. This goes to show that there are people out there who care about how a business functions within its community and what they give back. How does a better image help you financially? First, it can improve the relationship you have with your customers by boosting engagement and loyalty. A 2014 Nielsen survey even found that customers are willing to pay more for products and services if the companies offering them are socially responsible and environmentally conscious. Second, it also makes your business more conspicuous as you’re likely to stand out from competitors, especially if they themselves aren’t big on giving. If you, personally, had to choose between spending your money with a charitable business and one that wasn’t, which would you be more likely to choose? Many are likely to gravitate towards a business that is charitable as their money contributes to a greater good. Ultimately, choosing to give back as a business is a form of conscious capitalism. This means the focus is not just on profit, but also how businesses can make a positive impact on the world at large. This results in stakeholders, the community, and the environment all benefitting. Provides tax benefits If you’re worried that your business doesn’t have enough to give away, it may be time to revisit your finances. See how your business can cut back on unnecessary spending and save money. More importantly, you should know that charitable giving can save you even more money in the long run, as it could result in tax benefits. Seeing as most small businesses end up paying almost 20 percent in taxes, it’s enough to make tax season a dreadful time of the year — however, you can lower the amount you pay by giving to charity. Your business can deduct, cash contributions, in-kind contributions, and travel expenses incurred because you’re working for a charitable organization. Note that the 2017 tax reform law has made it so that you can’t deduct more than 60 percent of your adjusted gross income. In some instances, there could be anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent limits. Improves staff retention Another way that giving can help your business financially is through staff retention. Research found that 50 percent of people find it important to work with a company that shares similar values to them. If giving back happens to be one of their values, the chances of them sticking around longer could be higher. As you already likely know, a high turnover rate not only results in losing talent, but it can also be financially exorbitant. Aside from this, staff may be more engaged and productive if they connect with the positive things you’re doing for people in need and the environment. Because culture influences charitable giving, making it a part of your business ethos could have a positive effect on all of your employees. Aside from creating a greater sense of solidarity in the workplace, being a part of a company that donates their time and resources could inspire employees to do the same. Giving is something that should be done by every business, no matter how small. What better way to show appreciation to the people who keep your business going and the environment that makes running a business possible? Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time and covers a variety of topics. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book.
Guest Post by Emily Morgan Once you launch a business, you often use your personal assets as investment or your credit score to get the necessary funding. However, when your business starts bringing you profit, it’s imperative to craft a boundary between your business and personal finances. This way you will not only be on the right side in the corporate world but also will know exactly how your company operates and how much profit it really makes. Here are some of the benefits of keeping your personal and business finances separate: Lower the taxes Increase stability Strengthen your professional Image Pay yourself a salary Build business credit Why do you need two separate accounts? When you start a business, it’s essential to understand that it’s a separate company and its finances should be independent of your personal funds. You may use your own money to start, and it’s quite normal. The results of the SBA Office of Advocacy from U.S. Census Bureau survey have shown that the two top sources of startup capital were personal savings (57%) and personal credit card (8%). As your startup starts to grow and develop, you need to see how well it’s doing and whether it’s a profitable business. Thus, being a business owner, you need to separate your business from personal finances and make it an independent entity. Another good reason for keeping these parts separate is that your company will pay separate taxes. It will be easier for your accountant to do the work, and you will see the real performance of your company. 1. Lower the taxes According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were almost 6 million firms and small companies in 2016. This number is constantly growing as new startups are being launched daily. Now there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States. The raise is impressive, right? Who doesn’t want to turn his startup into a successful venture? One of the most useful benefits of separating your business and personal accounts is that you may reduce the amount of taxes. This way you will have a clear record of the finances strictly connected with the business. Once you decide to file for the taxes, you will make it separately for your company. If you have a business account, then it’s possible to deduct some of the expenses from the whole amount. Deductible expenses connected with business are phone costs, advertising expenses, rent, etc. It’s important to keep all invoices and receipts so that you can easily track the expenses and take control of them. 2. Increase stability In reality, it’s quite challenging to make your startup grow and develop, even survive the first year. According to the small business credit statistics, only 80 percent of small businesses created in 2014 survived until 2015. In 2019, the statistics are not better. A lot of businesses failed during their first year. In other words, even if you have a brilliant business idea, nobody can tell you it will become a successful enterprise. If you are determined to start this gamble, you need to understand that there may be hard times and financial loss. If you set a certain part of your income aside, it will help you stay financially afloat and survive through difficulties. 3. Strengthen your professional image Another significant thought here is your professional image or how your enterprise is viewed by other colleagues, investors, or even consumers. Remember that you’ve started a new company, not a hobby, so you need to separate everything including your finances. Having a business account will present you as a serious entrepreneur who cares about establishing his or her company identity. 4. Pay yourself a salary If you are wondering how to separate your business from your personal finances, here is a tip. You should start paying yourself a regular monthly salary just as you would have if you were an employee. This easy trick will help you distinguish your business funds and create a line between them and your personal funds. 5. Build your business credit The last but not least essential benefit is to build your business credit. You may have used your personal savings at the beginning, but now it’s time to create a separate account for business. Once your venture starts to grow, you may need to take out a business loan to cover expenses. Business credit is mandatory if you apply for a loan. Otherwise, your personal credit score may be used to assess whether you will be approved for a loan. Those who have bad personal credit score won’t be able to receive extra funds from the lending institutions. These are the main reasons for every entrepreneur to separate their personal and business finances. Turn your startup into an established entity, and your brave business idea will bring you success. Emily Morgan is a professional writer who is passionate about finance since 2013. Today, Emily is a member of the Fit My Money team aimed to help people improve their financial literacy.
Do you struggle to remember passwords and get locked out of your device frequently? Is the idea of money being managed online frightening to you? Are you concerned about someone hacking into your online account? Most people share these common concerns. Online banking can seem scary and often has many negative connotations due to a lack of understanding. But online banking has never been safer or easier. Here are eight reasons why you should have an online banking account: 1. Lower fees Online banking tends to have lower fees because these banks don’t need the funding for branch maintenance. With typical brick and mortar banks, fees help to cover the costs of buildings and staff members as well as advertising and handling fees. Even if it is only by a few percentage points, the larger your balance, the more money you will save with little to no fees. 2. Better interest rates As with lower fees, online banks are able to provide better interest rates because they do not have the costs of traditional banks. Online banks can have up to six times higher interest rates than traditional brick and mortar banks. 3. Convenience Unless you live right across the street from the bank, it’s probably not convenient to drive to the bank and deposit or withdraw your money. With online banks, you can get all of your banking needs done by the touch of your phone or laptop. No more waiting in lines for 20 minutes just to make a simple deposit. Now you can check your balance, make a deposit, or transfer funds in just minutes. 4. Free ATM access Traditional banks have ATMs all over major cities, but online banks have agreements with ATM networks which provide surcharge-free withdrawals. Online banks will often reimburse their customers for using ATMs as well. 5. Security While many may argue that going to the bank is safer for your money and you are less likely to get hacked, it certainly is not true. Data theft is a real thing; however, if you choose an online bank backed by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp), your losses are covered up to $250,000, which is the same for any other banking customers. The important thing to remember though, is to avoid online banking on shared computers or shared Wi-Fi connections. Make sure the online bank you go with has encryption and fraud monitoring. 6. Free checking Traditional brick and mortar banks used to provide free checking accounts to anybody, but it is more common today to have a required balance in your account for a checking account, or automatic paychecks every month. Now, online banks are the only banks that have truly free checking accounts. Additionally, some even have interest rates on your checking accounts, even though they won’t be as high as savings account interest rates, it is still better than what you would earn at a traditional bank. 7. Stellar customer service We all know what it feels like to be waiting in a line at the bank for what seems like forever, just to talk to a representative or teller who is exhausted and grouchy and doesn't seem at all concerned that we are in a hurry. With online banking, you don’t have to deal with a teller who’s ready to go home for the day. You can literally manage all of your finances online, and if you need help, a friendly service agent is literally a chat box away. 8. 24/7 access With traditional banks, they are only open during business hours on business days, online banks however, are open 24/7. Transactions might not be approved instantly, but online banks are open all day everyday, with constant customer service available to help solve all of your banking needs.
With the rise in mobile banking and online-only banks, it’s easy to wonder if traditional banks are taking a hit. I asked financial experts from around the world for their input on this controversial question, and here’s what they said: People are moving to online banking for the higher APYs “There is no doubt online banks have exploded in recent years. Even traditional brick-and-mortar banks are realizing this trend and are developing online versions of their bank. This is happening for two main reasons. 1) With the rise of the smartphone people expect access to anything and everything at a moment’s notice. No more driving down to the bank...to wait in line... to speak with a bank teller... to deposit your check. All of that can be done easily with a few taps on your smart phone 2) Typically online banks have higher interest rates because their overhead is much lower than traditional banks. This is causing a lot of people to move their savings from traditional to online banks.”— Michael Kern, Talent Financial Traditional banks are still the largest “Online banks are becoming popular because of what the internet has provided most industries: convenience at a low cost. In banking this translates to fewer fees and better interest rates. This is good for customers, but finance is an intricate topic that many people want assistance with. Although there is customer service in online banks, brick-and-mortar banks have a customer service advantage because they can meet with customers in person. The trade-off is cost. Although online banks are growing, traditional banking still reigns. For context, the largest U.S. bank is Chase with $2.7 trillion in assets while Ally Bank (a popular online bank) has $140 billion. If online banks are going to kill traditional banks, they have a long way to go.”— Steven Nuckols, Wealth Compass Financial Small businesses are looking elsewhere for loans “Traditional banks are facing stiff competition from so-called challenger banks and the wider alternative finance sector across the world, and not just when it comes to consumer banking. Since the financial crisis, banks in the UK have been increasingly reluctant to lend to small businesses, and this is why alternative lenders have sprung up to plug the leak. A recent study from the British Business Bank found that awareness of alternative finance amongst small businesses is growing year-on-year. In 2018, 52 percent were aware of peer-to-peer lending (which is up from 47 percent in 2017) and 70 percent were aware of equity crowdfunding (which is up from 60 percent in 2017). If the banks are to survive, they’ll need to invest in technology to improve speed, likelihood of approval, and transparency. This is especially important if they want to accommodate the new breed of ‘digital native’ entrepreneurs.”— Williem van Lynden, Boost Capital Traditional banks must adapt to what their customers want “The American Bankers Association revealed that 70 percent of banking is done digitally and among those aged 18–34 and 35–44, and 51 percent and 40 percent respectively said they used mobile the most. It’s safe to say that online and mobile banking has overtaken a branch visit. Yet a survey by Accenture indicated that 66 percent of respondents favor face-to-face interactions with banks, and 56 percent surveyed want to see banks blend physical and digital services. In fact, the PWC 2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey also indicated that 65 percent of respondents feel it’s important to have a local branch when choosing a bank. However, consumers also want personalized services like overdraft alerts and as many as 83 percent of consumers are prepared to share data in exchange for better advice and deals (Accenture surveys).The challenge for traditional banks is to bridge the online and offline experience and be able to provide the same personal and seamless customer experience among all channels. Traditional banks are not dying. That is, if they are willing to change and adapt to the needs of customers.”— Mark Van Zuklekom, Esendex Banking isn’t like it used to be “I remember the first business day of the month was the day my mom and I would always pay the bills together. Mom would work and work in the days before our outing to open all of the bills, record everything on her monthly ledger, write out every check, and balance the checking account to the penny. I would put on my Sunday best, and my mom would drive me around town to the water company, then the gas company, followed by the phone company, and so on. It was an adventure.As a small town girl in rural Arizona, it was easy to get to know all of the tellers. I quickly learned who would and who would not give me some sort of treat when I stopped in to see them.Those were the early 80s and how things have changed. With direct deposit, auto pay, online bill pay, and apps the need for the brick and mortar utilities has gone to the wayside. As for the future of traditional banks, the need is becoming less and less.With ATM machines, cash back at the grocery store, and apps that allows you to apply for a mortgage or deposit the infrequent paper check, the public is stating how they want to do business. So, as society’s needs change, I do foresee the same future for the brick and mortar banks as what happened to the utilities. When the majority no longer does business in person, the doors will close.”— Heather McInelly, EmptyNestin.com Physical banks are being replaced by ATMs “Because modern ATMs can now handle single and multiple check or cash deposits and withdrawals, the trend of closing down fully-staffed branches will continue. "Errand banking" is simply not worth maintaining labor, real estate, and marketing expenses. Inconvenienced customers are either driving to busy branches when they need personal service, or figuring out how to bank online. Unless a traditional bank locations can fiscally outperform online banking, they are a ‘dead bank walking.’With online, mobile phone, and ATM banking technologies continuing to reduce both customer and bank teller interactions, face-to-face banking relationships are thinning across the board.”— Baron Christopher Hanson, RedBaronUSA Traditional banks and credit unions have a personal touch “At the end of the day, most people choose to bank with people, not companies. Inherently, the biggest challenge for financial institutions will always be rooted in building relationships. Because of this, I believe traditional brick-and-mortar branches will remain critical to the long-term health of financial institutions of all types, as it takes that personal touch to truly understand the financial goals of each individual customer.”— Adam Marlowe, Georgia’s Own Credit Union Cryptocurrency threatens traditional banks “People are beginning to see the developments in the world of cryptocurrency. Now, if this upward trend continues, we could begin to see a threat to the traditional banks. Normally, when you make a transaction, your bank is one of the many middlemen between you and the entity you’re paying. This means they get a small slice of the pie. However, with a cryptocurrency transaction, you cut every middleman out entirely. The transaction is verified via a network of peers (the blockchain) and the transfer is made. No middleman, and no banks.The effects of this feature can be observed all throughout developing African nations today. As these countries’ economies falter, the people see their national banks as corrupt, unstable, and unreliable. Why would they trust them with their money? In response, many African citizens have found financial stability in cryptocurrency.”— Ian Cogswell, Pelicoin Other countries haven’t moved on to online banking yet “I sincerely think traditional banks are dying because nowadays people just want things to be more convenient: fewer fees, less red tape, fewer actual visits to the bank, less paper, but with more security. I live in the Philippines and we still use checks over here, but every time I travel, people just use their cards, their phones, apps, etc. It's just so easy and fast. I still bill my clients manually and receive and make payments manually. It's really a big time-waster. I believe it's one of the reasons why our economy is behind.”— Karla SingsonOnline-only banks are causing a shift in the finance and banking industries. Though they aren’t close to overtaking traditional banks, they are on the rise. However, traditional banks are anticipating the changes and adding mobile banking options to their platform. If you’re considering signing up for an online bank account, check out our reviews of the most popular online banks.
Young adults face financial complexities such as student loans, new mortgages, or car debt, coupled with low-paying entry-level jobs. With so much on their plate, those in their early twenties might feel overwhelmed by the words “saving,” “retirement,” or “investing.” If you’re in this situation, is it too early for you to start investing? Paying off debt vs. investing If you’re paying off debt, it may seem counterintuitive not to put every cent towards that goal. The key is to make sure that the amount you earn in interest in your investments is larger than the amount you are paying on your debt. Michael Kern, founder of Talent Financial, says, “The return you get from investing in the stock market varies greatly, but most people say you can conservatively expect around 5 to 7 percent return. So, if your debt carries about the same interest rate as the average return on the market, then it makes a lot of sense to pay it off rather than invest.”For example, let’s say you have a mortgage at 4 percent. With an average 401(k) you can earn an interest rate between 5 and 7 percent and take advantage of employer matching. In this situation, it might make sense for you to opt for a lower monthly mortgage payment and put your extra dollars towards investing. Steven Nuckols, founder of Wealth Compass Financial, says, “If you had the money to pay cash for a house, you would save on the 4 percent interest, but you would have an opportunity cost of 10 percent on average by passing up on investing in the stock market. You would also be passing up the tax write off of a mortgage interest deduction.” However, other factors to think about before this decision might include taxes associated with investments, the reliability of your income, and the emotional security that comes from living debt free. Some debt, like credit card debt or personal loans, carries high interest rates. Financial advisors like Rick Vazza of Driven Wealth Management agree that debtors should strive to pay off their credit cards as soon as possible. Vazza says, “Without question, we always encourage paying off credit card balances prior to investing. Most of the rates are into the 20 percent [range] and an investor will benefit from paying these balances off prior to investing.” Finding balance Logic proves that you can’t live a normal life now if you put all your money to saving for the future. Everyone has monthly bills. In contrast, it’s unwise not to save any money for the future. Gage Kemsley, vice president of Oxford Wealth Advisors, says that young adults must learn to “balance between paying off debt and saving for the future. I usually see the scale tipped too far one direction — someone throwing their entire paycheck to the debts they owe, like a mortgage, car or student loan with nothing going into their 401(k), Roth IRA, or savings account.”Matt Ruttenberg, a financial expert and co-founder of The Money Twins, recommends keeping in mind your short-term savings goals so that you won’t need to take out your long-term savings or investments. “Many young families know there are a lot of things to check off the ‘grown-up financial checklist’ and investing for retirement is usually what comes to mind first. But most of the time, that is their longest-term goal. And, when it comes time to check off their short-term goals, like purchasing a home, they tend to pull money from their long-term bucket. This can be a very costly mistake with taxes and penalties from the IRS when cashing in your retirement accounts too early.”Russell Robertson, owner of ATI Wealth Partners, adds, “I tell clients that investing should only be undertaken with long-term money; that is, money that they don't plan on touching for at least two years. I tell people to have 6 to 12 months of expenses in cash as an emergency fund, then additionally keep any money you know you will need in the next one to two years in cash as well.” A great option to grow your short-term savings is to put your money in a high-interest savings account such as those provided by many online banks. See our rankings of the best online banks here. In regards to preparing to invest by creating an emergency fund and making sure you have enough money for upcoming purchases and bills, Jonathan DeYoe, author of Mindful Money, says, “Saving is not the same as investing. Saving is a prerequisite to investing.” Starting to invest If you want to invest, make a monthly budget of your expenses and income. This will show you how much you have left to put towards investments and where you can cut back on spending. With a budget in place, you can make a plan for your investments. Azhar Hirani of ZT Corporate advises, “For young adults who are interested in investing, the number one piece of advice is to get a plan down. It is important to have a clear picture of what you are trying to achieve in the long and short-term. Short-term investments mean that you’ll expect a return within five years. Examples of short-term investments include high-yield savings accounts, CDs, money market accounts, treasury bills, and government bonds. Long-term investments are equity type investments, such as private equity funds, stocks, real estate, etc. — returns that increase over time.”Automatic investments make investing simple. Jeff Badu of Badu Tax Services says, “Set a monthly budget and put an investment amount (say $5 a day) in the budget. You can start small and increase your investments as your income increases. Try to use an automated investment app, which will make this similar to how people contribute to their 401(k)s. Once you establish a habit of investing, you’ll be an investor for the rest of your life.”As you begin your investment journey you must remember that it’s just that, a journey. Patricia Russell, founder of FinanceMarvel (now known as Credit Repair Expert), says, “It is important to remember that investing is the proverbial marathon as opposed to trying to find a stock that will double overnight.” Robert Johnson, a finance professor at Creighton University, says, “Trying to pick winners, for most, is a loser's game. The solution is to invest in diversified funds and you don’t need to pick those winners.”Todd Murphy, a financial advisor, talks about what a diversified stock portfolio looks like: “ a good investment portfolio of 50 percent large U.S. companies (S&P 500 Index), 30 percent mid-sized U.S. companies (Russell 2000 Index), and 20 percent international companies (MSCI EAFE Index – Europe, Asia & Far East) has historically earned about 6-7 percent compound annual growth.”David Bakke, an investment expert at Money Crashers, says to watch out for fees when you’re investing, “One key thing to look for is a low expense ratio (which is basically the fees needed to manage the account). What you want is one that is 0.50 percent or less.” Other kinds of investments Remember that not all investments include putting your money away to earn interest. As an up-and-coming professional you can invest in higher education, certifications and licenses, business ventures, and opportunities to increase your earning power. Bobby Casey of Global Wealth Protection agrees that not all investments look like stocks: “You need to focus on building a business or capital assets that can create passive income for your future. There are many avenues to achieve this; build a business that you later sell for $X millions, build a real estate portfolio, or build a cash flow business that is not directly tied to your time input.”A financially stable foundation now will positively influence the rest of your life. Is it too early to start investing? The experts say no. You have investment options for any stage of financial growth.