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4 steps to getting over your fear of investing

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

Danielle and Phil Town have over 40 years of investing experience combined, and the father-daughter pair are sharing their tips in their new book, “Invested.”

Despite her father’s success as an investor, Danielle struggled to take the leap into investing herself. While she says she was a good saver, what pushed her toward investing was the realization that just saving would never get her close to a comfortable retirement.

“It’s so important to invest rather than being a really good saver because inflation is a thing that affects your savings,” she says. “Your actual savings account will diminish in its value over time. The number of dollars will be the same but the buying power that they have is going to sink. That blew my mind: it meant I couldn’t just save, I needed to do something to grow my money.”

Danielle says she had a fear of investing, something Phil says opened his eyes to why so many people resist beginning to invest.

“Fear is a component of other people’s investing that’s keeping them and preventing them from stepping into this world that’s really quite simple,” says Phil, who has written two other investing books, “Rule #1” and “Payback Time.”

Danielle and Phil shared their four steps to getting over fear and becoming a confident investor.

Step 1: Look at your own buying habits

Danielle began to learn about investing by simply looking at the choices she was making everyday.

I started out by looking at my Amazon account to see what I had been buying lately,” she says. “I thought about what I buy at the grocery store, I thought about what kind of car I own. I have a opinions about a lot of these companies already and they’re public.”

Danielle says this basic research will show you that you already have a lot of knowledge about a company’s success and their values, which will help you decide if it could be a good investment for you.

“The practice of investing is about educating yourself first and then making smart decisions,” she says.

Step 2: Feel confident in your investment

“It boils down to this: you’re sitting here today looking at this company, and you say, ‘is this going to be more productive in 10 years?’” Phil says. “If you can say yes to that, you’re very close to having a great investment you can handle.”

Phil says people tend to overthink investing in stocks, but many people are already taking an investment risk to save for retirement: buying a second home.

Think about how comfortable people are with buying that house down the street to start building for retirement,” he says. “That’s investing: if you’re not able to buy a company at that level of confidence and simplicity, then you’re making a mistake.”

Step 3: Understand financial freedom is possible

Once you do begin to invest, the possibility of financial freedom becomes more real, but it’s not just about having a lot of money to fall back on.

“Financial freedom means that we can make choices in our life,” Danielle says. “I have the choice to spend time the way I wish, and to just generally chuck all that [financial] stress out the window and focus on the things that make me happy in life.”

Step 4: Be patient

Phil warns people should be prepared to wait it out and watch their money grow over time.

“It is not rocket science, it’s simple, but you have to have the ability to be patient and do nothing,” he says. “Honestly, as crazy is this sounds, we don’t make money when we buy a company and we don’t make money when we sell them. We make money while we wait.”

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