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Investing in startups and early stage ventures is no longer the exclusive domain of the wealthy anymore, thanks to the JOBS Act. However, nearly 50% of millennials aged 25 to 34 say that they don’t have the money to invest, but staying away from the stock market could cost them over $3M in their lifetime. That means there’s a huge chunk of wealth that young people could miss out on. Investing may seem scary, but don’t let fear dissuade you from educating yourself on financial literacy and learning how to secure long term wealth. Here are three things that could be helpful for you to know:

1. Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Being brand new at something is an uncomfortable feeling for most of us. Remember how unfamiliar it felt to drive a car for the first time? Educating yourself on the basics of investing and the stock market should be mandatory before taking your wallet out. Bad money moves generally stem from a lack of basic financial understanding. Your pocketbook will thank you because investing is a key way to build long-term wealth and financial security, so it behooves most of us to muster through the discomfort and give it a try. #PayMeInEquity

2. Investing ≠ Gambling

The lack of financial education in schools can lead many to lump gambling and investing together in the same boat. This couldn’t be further from the truth; they are polar opposites. Nearly all gambling is dependent on pure luck whether you win or lose. Investing however, requires you to be knowledgeable about markets, industries, key sectors and regulatory policies that influence a targeted investment. This means that when you ‘place your bet’, it’s based on facts and statistics that allow you to make an educated and informed decision.  Investing gives you the potential to almost always conserve principal [the money you spend] and/or make money. No matter how much anyone gambles, they’ll rarely beat the house or win the lottery.

3. Your risk tolerance

With regards to investing, Warren Buffett’s advice is to “only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.” This conservative, long-term approach is a lesson for beginner investors when considering their risk tolerance. How long are you ok having your money tied up? Answering this question is essential to determining what investments might make sense for your goals and circumstances. Diversifying investments is a common strategy to manage risk, so getting clear on your tolerance level will provide guidance on the ratio of stocks vs bonds vs. commodities [etc.] that would be appropriate for your investment.

For the 43% of millennials who aren’t investing, the OTC markets offer a Wall Street adjacent experience that’s traded online. Investments in OTC listed companies is certainly an affordable starting point for beginners who are entering the ecosystem. As always, of course, no matter what market, you must always do your due diligence to help ensure your financial protection.