And with ING, you don’t even have to change banks! The Orange Savings Account through ING is linked to your existing checking account. It really makes things easier. Withdraw funds from this account only for the most dire emergencies or to move it to the third step.
As your savings grow, you’ll be able to buy investment products such as index funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs), which can grow your money at rates much higher than savings accounts. In the beginning, stay away from stocks until you learn how to properly evaluate a company and its financial records.
Also avoid leveraged ETFs, which may follow well-known indexes like a traditional ETF, but use borrowed money to purchase option contracts, financial derivatives, and futures. Typically a leveraged ETF provides $1 of debt for every $1 of investor equity, and are marketed as 2X funds. These are too risky for all but the most savvy investors.
How to get started investing
To begin investing, you’ll first need to set up an investment account, also known as a brokerage account. Once you’ve saved $500–1,000 or so (generally the minimum required to set up an account), contact a major financial services firm such as Scottrade, Etrade, TradeKing, tradeMonster, or Zecco. I personally use Scottrade and love how easy it is to use their site.
Which investments should you buy?
In general, beginner investors should not buy individual stocks, bonds, commodities, options, futures, or other financial derivatives that are typically not well understood. Instead, focus on Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and index funds. These types of investments allow you to buy a large assortment of other individual investments in groupings, such as stocks or bonds, through one low- cost fund or ETF.
One final note:
There is a fourth requirement to building wealth albeit a negative one: Don’t waste your money!