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Related topics: stocks, investing strategy, stock market, mutual funds, ETF

The editors at MSN Money have put together this Beginner's Guide to Investing to help you start putting your money to work.

Your investment strategy will depend partly on how much time you have and how much money you want to put to work.

(Watch the video below for details).

A few options to consider:

$50 a month or more, with no lump sum

It may not seem like a lot, but even small regular investments in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds can add up through compounding. (Read: "The power of compounding.")

A lump sum of less than $10,000

You have more options in this range, as many mutual funds have minimum-investment requirements of $500 to $2,500. The key is to make sure all your eggs don't end up in one basket. Invest in five or six different types of mutual funds. If U.S. stocks aren't doing great, your holdings in international stocks or real estate may help keep your overall portfolio afloat.

A lump sum of $10,000 or more

The trick here is not to jump into the market all at once, potentially putting all your money in just before stock prices tumble. One approach: Put one-twelfth of your money into the market each month for a year, a technique known as dollar-cost averaging.

Power of time

Time is a crucial element to any investment strategy. The sooner you start socking it away the better. How much, though? Check out the calculator below to see how far $50 or more a month goes. Once you're done, continue to part 2 of the beginner's guide.

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