If you’re not investing, you’re not alone. Recent research has found nearly half of Americans don’t own stocks.

That spells trouble when it comes to saving for retirement and other major life milestones, like paying for education. By not investing, you’re missing out on a historically proven way to build wealth. Keep in mind, history can’t predict the future, but we’ll get to that later.

Making Cents: Investing towards your retirement

Whether you’re starting a career in the military or your first job as a civilian, there’s a good chance you’re busy. Investing might seem too complicated or time consuming, but that’s simply not true.

“We turn on the news and hear about the markets. They’re up or they’re down, investors are buying and selling and as consumers, we don’t know what to make of it,” said Mathu Mathu, assistant vice president of operations at Navy Federal Financial Group. “In today’s world, there are tools to make it easier. You don’t need to be an expert or watch the markets every day.”

Of course, you’ll want to do some homework before you invest. Some banks and credit unions even offer tools and resources to help you get your bearings. “The most important part is getting started. Time is your friend and the earlier you start, the better,” said Mathu.

But just as life gets busy, it also gets expensive. Your budget, especially if you’re just starting your career, may keep you from investing. Luckily, there’s a solution. “You don’t need lots of capital to get going. There are plenty of options to invest with relatively small amounts of money,” Mathu said.

So just how much money do you need?

You can start trading stocks at just $25 dollars a month. That’s if you use EasyStart Investor, an online tool recently launched by NFFG. In addition to low costs, it offers a sample portfolio that’s already diversified. Both are nice features for someone new to investing.

At the end of the day, it’s all about finding a service that works for you.

More important are the contributions you make to your account. Regular, consistent contributions are the way to go. Systematic investing, similar to how you contribute to a TSP or 401k, gives you the best chance of using the market to your advantage with relative ease.

Investing risk and return

If risk is your reason for not investing, then you should think twice. It may seem counterintuitive, but holding all of your cash in a deposit account may actually be riskier than investing when you look at inflation risk.

The annual inflation rate for the US is right around 2 percent. Inflation is caused when prices for goods and services go up, meaning every dollar you own buys less of that good or service. Inflation is your biggest foe when it comes to holding cash.

On the other hand, the stock market has averaged an 8 percent annual return for the last 30 years. So if you’re looking to build wealth over the long-term, the stock market is a great way to protect your assets against inflation than holding cash. Investments can lose value but provide you the potential for higher returns over the long term compared to holding cash.

As mentioned earlier, the past is no indication of what’s to come, but it can be a guide. The market has recovered from every recession it’s faced, which makes up for lost ground in the long term.

Kickstart your future

Your decision to start investing can have a huge impact on your future. The longer you invest, the greater your chances are for success. See for yourself with Navy Federal’s investment return calculator.

“You can invest for a relatively low cost. You can overcome risk with patience and steady investments,” said Mathu. “And if you’re still not sure, make an appointment with a financial advisor at your financial institution. It’s something we encourage all of our members to do.”

With the wind in your sails, why not start investing today? When you reach your goals, you’ll be glad you did!

Nondeposit investment and insurance products are offered through Navy Federal Financial Group, LLC, (NFFG) and through its subsidiary, Navy Federal Brokerage Services, LLC (NFBS), a member of FINRA/SIPC and an SEC registered investment advisory firm. Brokerage and advisory products are offered through NFBS. These products are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guaranteed or obligations of the credit union, are not offered, recommended, sanctioned, or encouraged by the federal government, and may involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal. 1-877-221-8108.