How to start investing in stocks?

Beating the market

Before we delve into discuss how to start investing, it’s crucial for you to grasp a fundamental concept: “beating the market.” But what exactly does this term signify? “Beating the market” entails striving to achieve a superior return on your investments compared to the overall performance of the stock market.

The market typically yields an approximate annual return of around 10%. When we talk about “beating the market,” it refers to achieving investment returns that surpass this 10% benchmark on an annual basis.

S&P 500 decades performance

As an investor, it’s crucial to ask yourself whether you want to strive for returns that outperform the stock market’s typical performance or if you’re content with accepting what the market naturally offers.

However, it’s important to remember that when you take on the risk of aiming for returns higher than the market, there’s also the potential for achieving returns that fall below the stock market’s performance.

As previously mentioned, investing is a long-term endeavor, and even small percentage gains can have a significant impact. So, when it comes to the decision of whether you aim to outperform the market or simply accept its natural returns, it’s a personal choice.

However, it’s essential to recognize that beating the market is an exceptionally challenging task, even for professionals who often fall short. For the majority of investors, approximately 90%, opting to accept what the market provides is the most advisable strategy.

Now, let’s shift our focus to the practical steps you can take to begin your investment journey. Once you grasp these methods, you will be in a better position to determine whether you want to pursue the goal of beating the market or not.

We are aware of various investment products such as stocks, bonds, and commodities. Within these categories, we also find investment vehicles like individual stocks, mutual funds, index funds, and ETFs. If you decide to invest in an individual stock, you have the option to buy it directly. or you can invest in mutual funds.

When you choose to invest in individual stocks or invest through mutual funds, your goal is to outperform the stock market, aiming for returns higher than what the market typically offers.

Conversely, if you opt for an index fund or an ETF, your objective is to mirror the market’s performance, settling for a proportional share of the market’s returns. In this scenario, when the market rises, your returns align with the market gains, and when the market declines, your losses correspond to the market’s downturn.

However, in the first scenario, if you invest with the intention of outperforming the market, your goal is to achieve better performance. When the market rises, you aim to see even more significant gains, and when the market falls, your aim is to experience lesser losses, ultimately striving to surpass the market’s performance.

If you’re an active investor, you can also attempt to outperform the market by utilizing ETFs or index funds.

Active and passive investing

active vs passive investing

Active and passive investing are two distinct approaches to managing investments in financial markets.

What is active investing?

Strategy: Active investing involves actively selecting and managing individual investments or securities with the goal of outperforming the overall market or a specific benchmark index. Active investors believe they can use their knowledge, research, and analysis to make informed decisions that lead to higher returns.

Decision-Making: Active investors frequently buy and sell assets within their portfolio based on their analysis of market conditions, economic trends, and company performance. They aim to identify undervalued or overvalued securities and adjust their portfolio accordingly.

Costs: Active investing typically incurs higher costs compared to passive investing. These costs include trading fees, management fees for actively managed funds, and potentially higher taxes due to frequent buying and selling.

Risk: Active investing carries a higher level of risk because success depends on the investor’s ability to make accurate investment decisions. If the investor’s choices are incorrect, they may underperform the market and experience losses.

Time Commitment: Active investing demands a significant time commitment for research, monitoring, and decision-making. It often requires continuous attention to the portfolio and the financial markets.

What is passive investing?

Strategy: Passive investing, in contrast, involves building a diversified portfolio of assets with the primary goal of matching the performance of a specific market index or benchmark. Passive investors aim to “ride the market” rather than trying to beat it.

Decision-Making: Passive investors make fewer investment decisions. They typically invest in index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track a specific market index. These investments are designed to replicate the performance of the underlying index.

Costs: Passive investing tends to have lower costs because it involves minimal trading and management fees. ETFs and index mutual funds are popular choices for passive investors.

Risk: Passive investing is often associated with lower risk because it does not rely on the investor’s ability to make successful stock selections or market timing decisions. Instead, it aims to provide returns in line with the broader market.

Time Commitment: Passive investing requires less time commitment compared to active investing. Investors periodically rebalance their portfolio to maintain the desired asset allocation but do not need to constantly monitor individual securities.

The two primary approaches to embark on your investment journey are passive investing and active investing. The choice lies in whether you prefer to initiate your investments in a more hands-off manner or take a more involved and strategic approach to potentially outperform the market.

In passive investing, the strategy entails investing in an index fund that mirrors the overall market, with regular contributions over time. This approach requires less active decision-making and is suitable for those who prefer a stable, long-term investment strategy. The aim is to capture your fair share of the market’s performance consistently.

On the other hand, active investing involves a more dynamic approach. It attracts individuals who seek to outperform the market by making active investment decisions. This may include selecting specific securities, rebalancing portfolios, and adjusting asset allocations based on market conditions.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that outperforming the market is a challenging feat. For most investors, passive investing is the recommended path because it offers a reliable way to secure a portion of the market’s returns without the complexities and uncertainties associated with active management.

Nevertheless, some individuals, who possess a deep understanding of financial markets and have the expertise to make informed decisions, opt for active investing. They take this route because they aspire to achieve returns that surpass the market’s average performance.


You might come across individuals on social media promoting various investment strategies, such as “invest in this” or “buy and hold,” among other things. However, it’s essential to be cautious because many of these methods are not effective for achieving long-term financial success.

When you decide to invest your hard-earned money, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what you’re investing in. If you lack this understanding, it’s advisable to refrain from investing because doing so could lead to the risk of losing your entire investment.

If you’re a beginner looking for a straightforward approach and don’t want to get involved in complex strategies, passive investing might be the ideal choice for you. With this approach, you can steadily invest a portion of your money each month for the foreseeable future. One popular method is selecting an ETF, such as SPY, which tracks the overall market, and consistently purchasing shares of it every month. Over time, you allow your earnings to compound.

This method is often considered one of the best and simplest ways to build wealth. Many people don’t opt for it because it requires patience and time. However, even though it may take time, when you reach retirement, you’re likely to find yourself in a more financially secure position compared to your peers who didn’t take this straightforward step towards wealth accumulation.

Conversely, if you aspire to increase your wealth through intensive effort, research, active portfolio management, and a range of other strategies, there is no single, straightforward path to follow. Achieving success in this realm requires a commitment to learning and applying this knowledge in the real world. It will undoubtedly take time to gain a comprehensive understanding of these concepts.

However, if you possess the motivation to pursue this challenging route, it’s worth giving it a try. You can access extensive learning resources about active investing through xlearn’s investing module, which will equip you with the necessary knowledge and tools.