Your Questions About Investing Tips For Beginners

Linda asks…

What are some good ways to invest for starters (ie stocks, cd, mutual funds, t-bills)?

Hi, I want to explore and learn about investing my money. What are some good ways to start with a small amount of money (ie $1000 — beginners gotta start somewhere).

I’ve only researched about t-bills. From my understanding, it seems like you earn about 5% by buying a discounted t-bill. Are there any better options?

Websites, info, tips, and explanations are appreciated.

John answers:

You do not find too many potential investors that have actually taken the time to some research. You are exactly correct. T-bills pay about 5%, a little under right at the moment. The main problem is that there is a $1000 minimum, but since you have $1000, that is of no concern to you. T-bills are considered one of the safest investments. Another advantage is that the interest is tax free from state and local taxes, making the after tax return even more favorable.

What I suggest you do, is take a trip over to your local library and check out a couple of books on investing. They should have dozens.

In my opinion, actually not shared by many responders, is investing in mutual funds. The main problem with this approach is that 70% of mutual funds underperform the market in general. That is the main critique. However, there are some good ones out there that have excellent long term records. Others recommend index funds. The main advantage of these is that they have low expenses and do not churn their holdings as many mutual funds do.

With only $1000 as a beginning, investing in a particular stock is somewhat risky. All eggs in one basket so to speak.

Chris asks…

Good camera for beginners?

I’ve always been into photography and have dabbled with digital cameras for a few years now, but with some Christmas money i have received i’d love to invest in a more impressive camera! High pixel count etc etc. I am still very much a beginner, but could use some advice as to which would be a good start! A friend of mine bought the Canon EOS 50D very recently- He’s quite into his photography and got very excited about it. Would that be a good camera to start with? Any tips appreciated. x

John answers:

I just started getting into photography as well, and for Christmas my dad got me the Canon Rebel XS. I absolutely love it. I learned how to use it the first day. It’s a great camera and I definitely recommend it.

Donald asks…

How should I start investing money online?

I just started on my first job in U.S. The pay is low but so are my expenses since I’m still young (recent graduate) and partially supported by my dad (hopefully, this will change soon). I’m SO naive when it comes to investing. But what I know about myself is:
1) I’m willing to take risks (on 50% of my investments)
2) I intend to invest 50% of my monthly earnings

Given these information, could you give me tips on where to start, is it worthy to put %50 of my investment budget on high risks short term investment. What is the best online broker for beginners, and do you think that it is good idea to learn by trial, because whenever I grab a book to read about investing, I get lost and bored quickly!
Sorry for the long question, but what I mean is, could you give me your experience on how you started, where you started, what are the killer mistakes to avoid.


John answers:

Register yourself with some stock trading game and play with fake money. Once you understand you can start to invest.. Start by little until you feel comfortable. Then youy decide the amount you can risk, might be 20-30% of your savings in high risk and about 50% in low risk, and remaining in secured savings/CD to be safe all the time. Good luck! Btw please feel free to reach me if I could help you in anyway.

Tdameritrade is good one and I like.

Lizzie asks…

Where do I begin photography?

I want to take up amateur photography seriously. I live in NYC and i find inspiration around me everyday! But I have an otherwise full time job that will not allow me to take proper courses at least for the next few years…and i cant wait that long! What camera should a beginner like me invest in (the cheaper the better, nothing too fancy), and what software is a good and easy one to work with? Also are there any online tutorials on using light, photography techniques etc, that might be useful? any tips would be appreciated!! Thanks!

John answers:

Inspiration is a pretty strong motivator! And you mentioned an interest in reading! Almost ALL of the amateur, semi-pro and professional photographes I know started out by reading. I’m going to give you a long list of URLs to check out, some are photography sites that you can see photo galleries but they all have tutorials and/or free lessons that you can read. Secondly, I am going to suggest that you get the most versatile camera you can, NOT the most expensive one, but the best camera for learning; it is a camera that you can grow with and enjoy for a few years, rather than outgrow it in a few months. I am referring to the Nikon N80. You can use this camera totally automatic (it sets the aperture and shutter speed for you with auto focus OR manual focus; semi-auto with EITHER aperture priority OR shutter speed priority, has 3 great metering modes, and many similar features you’ll find in more modern cameras! It is built to last, and it is ergonomically built to fit comfortably in your hands. You can get a great deal on this camera at and you can also look for EITHER the Nikkor 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6D or the older and more affordable 35-105mm f/3.5-5.6D-macro (make sure it says either micro OR macro); these are the most versatile lenses made and with great optics for great image detail; you can use these as wide angle (28-35mm), “regular” (45-55mm), portrait (85-90mm), a short telephoto (105mm) or as a macro lens for extreme close photos (of insects, flowers, etc) and the best place to find these lenses at the most affordable prices is:

Here’s the list of sites for you to check out; I suggest that you save “bookmark” these so you can always go back to them to read or browse through the photos:

IF, however, you’re interested in starting off with a digital camera, let me suggest the Nikon D70S with the kit lens, which you can find at a good and affordable price at for a used one at a great price or you can check with www.bhphotovideo (located in NY, Ninth Avenue, by 34th Street) and look for the used camera department.

Alternatively, you can check the Nikon D50 with the kit lens, which is a good entry level camera, at (or go to their store on 9th Avenue by 34th Street). They’re open Monday thru Friday (closes at 4pm Friday and closed on Saturday) and open on Sundays. Speak with Steve at the used camera shop and ask him questions; tell him that Calico, the short guy with the leather vest and ponytail referred you to him.

Good luck and best wishes.

Mary asks…

What’s a good guitar for beginners?

My husband wants to learn to play the guitar. No lessons, he wants to learn on his own and take tips and notes from his sister who has played for 10 years. But we need to get him a guitar first!

I wanted to get him the guitar for Christmas and I don’t know where to start: what’s good, what’s not, brands, prices. What’s a guitar supposed to cost?

I see one on sale in the Best Buy ad for $70 “Parlor Size Acoustic Guitar Pack – Maestro Gibson”. Then there’s also the cheap ones at places like Target in the kids sections; some are smaller for the kids, but there are some that seem to be big enough for adults; how different are those from say, the Maestro Gibson on sale at Best Buy?

I’m not looking for the highest quality guitar out there. I just want to get him something to start learning on, and if he decides that he likes it, then we can talk about investing in something better later on. I just want to make sure that the one I get is realistic to the player in sound, feeling, and maybe maintenance, and fairly realistic to the listeners.

John answers:

Don’t mess with Best Buy or any other place like that but go to a Guitar Center or pawn shop and get a used one.

Since it’s his first guitar the brand really won’t matter; you can get the economy version of good stuff like Gibson has the Epiphone brand which is similar to Lexus VS. Toyota in cars.

Definitely don’t get anything less than a full size otherwise his fingers’ muscle memory of the chord shapes won’t translate well when he does get a full size. In my experience it’s much easier to go big to small than small to big.

Make sure you don’t get a classical guitar, either, which is the kind with the nylon strings because while the plastic strings are nice on the fingers the neck is wider than a standard acoustic which will make learning harder.

When you do buy the guitar make sure the strings are light or preferably extra light as anything thicker will be crucial to virgin fingertips and require much more hand strength.

Check the action on the guitar neck as well. Action is the distance between the fretboard and the string and the smaller the distance the better. If the strings are too close to the frets they will buzz, however, but if they are too far it’ll be hard to play.

Finally, once he does start playing, I suggest he learns barre chords first as he will only have to memorize a few chord shapes but will allow him to play plenty of songs and strengthen his hand more than so called cowboy chords (the ones all at the top of the neck). With barre chords you can also slack a little in the beginning and just play the first 2 or 3 notes (power chords) until he gets better. Another thing he’ll need to concentrate on in the beginning is rhythm which is the pick hand; tell him to make 1 chord and strum it for hours until he gets the feel for the motion, hand placement, and pick grip.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

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