Is Now a Good Time to Invest? A Financial Planner Weighs In

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Here’s a provocative question: Is this a good time to invest in stocks?

It’s a good question, too. After all, the stock market this year has been shooting up and down like a roller coaster. It’s been volatile. Unpredictable. Wild. We can understand if you might feel reluctant before wading in.

So we asked a certified financial planner for advice. Robin Hartill, a CFP who’s also an editor and financial advice columnist for The Penny Hoarder, weighed in.

Her advice: Take the long view. The stock market will grow your money over time, so you might as well get started sooner rather than later.

“The timing of your investment matters much less than how much time you have to invest,” Hartill says. “The S&P 500 has delivered inflation-adjusted returns of about 7% per year on average for the past 50 years. The cost of waiting for the perfect time to invest is high. You’re missing out on long-term growth.”

Again, you have to take the long view here. That’s what investing is all about.

“If you were hoping to make a quick buck off the stock market, now may not be a great time,” she says. “We’re still in a recession, but the stock market has recovered. But true investing isn’t about making a quick buck. It’s about growing your money over time.”

How to Start Investing — and a CFP’s Recommended Strategy

Not sure how to get started? You could start small. 

Investing doesn’t require you to start throwing thousands of dollars at full shares of stocks. In fact, with an app called Stash, you can get started with as little as $1.*

Stash lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio. It makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals. 

Plus, you’re investing in fractions of shares, which means you can invest in stocks you wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

For instance, Amazon stock has been doing pretty well, but a single share of Amazon stock costs more than $3,000. With Stash, it’s easy to buy a piece of Amazon if you can’t afford a whole share.

Hartill recommends budgeting a certain amount of money to invest each month, no matter what.

“Rather than trying to time investments based on what the market is doing, the best way for most investors to build wealth is to practice dollar-cost averaging,” Hartill says. “Budget a certain amount each month to put in stocks and automatically invest it, regardless of whether the market is up or down. 

“Some people may not like this approach because they’re hoping to pinpoint the exact moment the market has bottomed out, but it rarely works out that way. Instead, people miss out on the best days of the market that often follow a crash and often wind up overpaying for stocks. Consistency is a much better strategy than market timing.”

If you sign up for Stash now (it takes two minutes), Stash will give you $5 after you add $5 to your investment account. Subscription plans start at $1 a month.**

*For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

**You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.