Investing 101: Be Your Own Mechanic

I was driving back from a camping trip last weekend with a girlfriend who told me a story about how when she was in college she and another friend of ours would do their own car repairs. They bought a manual, borrowed tools from our friend's dad, and figured out how to change their oil, replace brake pads, and repair an alternator. To say the least, I was impressed. I don't even know what an alternator is! mechanic Needless to say, car repair DIY is not my specialty, so if that's what you're here for, you made a wrong turn somewhere. But as we were talking about all things life -- cars, houses, money, emergency preparedness kits (for reals) -- I realized that the apprehension I feel about trying to repair an alteriminator (that's what it's called, right?) is similar to what many of my friends feel about finances and investing. And I suspect these are similar apprehensions in that they're really not so scary once you dig in. Once I knew I wanted to invest in something other than the underside of my mattress, figuring out *how* to do so was a surprising hurdle. I had a 401k through Fidelity from my workplace and a Roth IRA that my mom had helped me set up in 2001 through Edward Jones, and I had heard of investment banks like JP Morgan and websites like eShares, but I didn't really understand what any of these places did or how they were different. I was overwhelmed and ultimately paralyzed by the range of choices, so I did nothing. This all changed in 2010 when I traveled to South America (more…)

By Cheddar Pie, ago