How to Start Investing Responsibly at Every Age (and Every Budget)

In my early 20s, as I stumbled through my first years of financial independence (in New York City on an assistant's salary, no less), "I'll worry about it later" became my unspoken maxim: I'd think about things like maxing out my 401(k) and putting aside money for a down payment on a home when I was a capital-A adult. But now that I've settled into my career and can no longer pretend that I'm still getting on my feet, I have the nagging feeling that "later" is fast-approaching.

It's a sentiment I share with a lot of my millennial friends. Another? Thinking about our financial futures is really overwhelming, and we have a lot of questions. For starters, when should we start investing?

"As soon as possible," says Rachael Factor of Wealthsimple, a socially conscious investment app. "The earlier you start, the more time your money has to take advantage of compound interest."

One myth I've struggled to shake is that you need to have a lot of money squirreled away before you start investing. But thanks to new digital services and apps that make it more accessible than ever, says Factor, you only need a dollar and internet access. That said, "there are a few things you should take care of before you get started," she notes. Keep reading to learn exactly which steps you should take to start investing, no matter your budget or age.