While investment vehicles and strategies may seem complicated, learning to understand and put them to use is critical to your financial future. The rewards of getting into the markets are tremendous. Investing is the best way to generate inflation-beating returns and reach your financial goals. The sooner you begin the more wealth you can amass.

Stocks, bonds, cash and alternative asset classes all play different roles in a portfolio because of their risk/reward characteristics. Properly allocating your funds is important to lowering volatility, increasing returns and meeting your particular needs. Most people invest through mutual funds, a low-cost option, but many investors also buy individual securities and need to carefully choose the right broker to assist them. Your tax status should always be a consideration when investing, and many tax-advantaged plans exist for college savings and retirement.