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5 Common Investment Myths Debunked

mature couple receives investment education from financial advisor and learns about investment myths

Key Takeaways

  • You don't need a lot of money to start investing. Many firms have low or no minimums.
  • Past performance of an investment does not guarantee future results.
  • 401(k)s are not the only option for retirement savings. IRAs allow you to invest up to $7,000 in 2024.
  • Investing involves calculated risks, not blind gambling. You make informed decisions based on research.
  • Diversifying across many stocks is safer than betting on just one. Don't put all your money on a single stock.

Investing is not black magic. Among many people, it certainly has that reputation. With so many moving parts and unpredictable possibilities, it's not surprising that investing myths are common. Many people fall prey to these common misconceptions, passing down secondhand knowledge that may confuse potential investors or discourage them from investing at all.

Things are not always as they seem. Learn the truth about some of the most common investment myths, and challenge your existing investment education.

Myth 1: You Need a Lot of Money to Invest

One of the biggest excuses people make for not investing is a lack of funds. When they think of investors, they imagine high-powered Wall Street types with millions of dollars at their disposal. But anyone can invest! Many investment firms have small minimum requirements or none at all. Some people even use mobile apps to invest both small and large amounts, sometimes even spare change.

Myth 2: Past Performance Guarantees Future Returns

A fund or stock doing well in the past is no indicator that it will do well in the future. There are no sure things in investing.

For example, if you bought $1,000 worth of stock from any of the (now) successful Silicon Valley startups in the 1990s, your initial investment would now be worth a considerable amount. This doesn't mean you'll be rich in 20 years if you buy $1,000 worth of the same stock today. Successful investing is about a fluid approach to market volatility and understanding the risks involved.

Myth 3: A 401(k) Is the Only Way to Save for Retirement

While 401(k)s and other employer-based retirement plans are popular, they're not the only vehicles you can use to save for retirement. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are one option if you don't have access to a 401(k).

There are two primary types of IRAs: Roth and traditional.

  • Retirees can withdraw money from a Roth IRA without paying taxes on the qualified distributions.
  • Traditional IRAs allow you to deduct your current eligible contributions on your taxes, letting you claim a smaller income.

You'll pay taxes when you're retired and ready to withdraw money from a traditional IRA, and there are requirements that must be met to withdraw tax-free from a Roth IRA. Note that there are additional limitations and requirements for each type of IRA, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).1

Myth 4: Investing Is Gambling

Because there are no guarantees in investing, some people compare it to gambling. With gambling, you're taking an uncalculated risk when you pull a lever on a slot machine There are many unknowns and risks involved in investing. When you choose to invest, you're making a calculated decision based on your understanding of those factors.

Myth 5: Investing in Individual Stocks Is Best

Every day, there's a new hot stock on the market. While these stocks garner substantial media attention, they're not necessarily worth your consideration. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Many successful investors take its message to heart by diversifying their portfolios and spreading out their investments over a variety of stocks. There are always risks involved with investing. By choosing only one stock to invest in, you could leave yourself open to losing everything if the company goes under.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, what's important is not how much money you have, but that you don't let myths and misinformation stop you from taking advantage of the benefits smart investing has to offer.


  1. 401(k) limit increases to $23,000 for 2024, IRA limit rises to $7,000. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/401k-limit-increases-to-23000-for-2024-ira-limit-rises-to-7000.

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Information provided is general and educational in nature, and all products or services discussed may not be provided by Western & Southern Financial Group or its member companies (“the Company”). The information is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal or tax advice. The Company does not provide legal or tax advice. Laws of a specific state or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of this information. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change. The Company makes no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use. The Company disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or reliance on, the information. Consult an attorney or tax advisor regarding your specific legal or tax situation.