Today we are going to introduce investing on our journey to financial independence. Savings accounts interest rates are at rock bottom, inflation is sky high and you basically earn next to nothing leaving your money in a traditional savings bank account these days. But there are other options, other investment products that have higher returns to help you reach your long-term financial goals.
Investing is better in the long term; you really should look at investing for a minimum of 5 years. Although, the longer the better. Markets can crash, it’s normal, it’s all part of the process. But if you are investing in financial products with your Christmas money hoping to make a little extra, you aren’t giving the market enough time to run, you are taking on too much risk. Anything can happen in the short term. So, take a long-term low risk, or lower risk, approach to your investment decisions and don’t invest with money that you know you are going to need in the short term.
There are various ways you can build an investment portfolio,
- Index Funds
- Mutual funds
- Property investments
Buying individual company stocks is common for people starting their investment journeys. This is where you can choose which specific company or financial institution you want to invest in. Each share is a small percentage of each company. Your goal is that the price of the share will increase in the future, and you will sell it for more than you bought it for.
- You pick the exact company or companies that you want to invest in.
- If the company does well over that year, the share price may increase, and you may be paid out a dividend.
- Picking individual companies is difficult to do.
- You need to diversify your holdings, rather than just holding stock of one company.
- It’s high risk not to diversify your portfolio, but that comes down to each individual investors risk tolerance.
I was introduced to Premium Bonds in 2019 by a work colleague and I got started straight away with them. In the UK the best place to go is – Premium Bonds | Our savings Accounts | NS&I (nsandi.com).
With NS&I Premium Bonds, you don’t gain interest on a monthly or annual basis. The interest on the total pool funds a prize draw that takes place every month. Prizes in the draw range from £25 to £1M! Any prizes you win can be paid into your bank account directly or can add to your total investment.
- Tax-free savings
- Could win a big prize – up to £1M!
- Not guaranteed investment returns
- Inflation could erode your savings over time
- Maximum you can invest is £50k
- Quick cash withdrawals – good place to keep your emergency fund for quick access
Index Funds Investing
Index Funds are a group of shares. These are shares in different companies that make up a specific group, some of them you will have heard of before.
- FTSE 100 – Top 100 companies in the UK
- S&P 500 – Top 500 companies in the US
- NASDAQ 100 – Top 100 Technology companies
The beauty of investing in an index fund is that you choose one fund, but within that index, you have shares in 100-500 different company shares. So if a big company was to go to the wall and you had everything invested in that one company, you would have lost all of your money. But investing through an index fund means that company will drop out of the index and be replaced by an up and coming company.
Index funds take the pressure off trying to guess right on single company stocks. They are the basis of the book – The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins, which I highly recommend checking out! Index funds are the darling of the financial independence community as they are an effective way of reaching your investment objectives.
- Diversify your asset allocation by investing in 100-500 companies all at once.
- Will need to open a brokerage account with a company such as Vanguard.
- Passive investing – pay monthly, doesn’t require active management.
- There are different index funds to choose from, all with different associated costs.
- Not immune to market price drops.
- The S&P 500 includes companies such as Apple, Amazon, Tesla, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs.
A mutual fund is an investment company that pools money from different investors and invests their money in securities such as stocks, bonds, and other short-term debt. The combined holdings of the mutual fund are known as its portfolio. Investors can buy shares in the mutual fund and each share represents an investor’s part ownership in the fund and they receive a percentage of the income it generates.
Benefits of using mutual funds are they are managed by professional fund managers. Fund managers will research and make changes to the investments based on their performance. They will keep the investments diversified and try to manage risk as well as maximize the returns.
Some of the biggest mutual fund companies in the world are,
- BlackRock Funds
- Vanguard Group
- Charles Schwab
- State Street Global Advisors
- Fidelity Investments Inc.
Cryptocurrency is all the rage right now. We have all heard of Bitcoin by now, but there are literally THOUSANDS of different coins you can invest in, some of them have different uses in the real (albeit very techy) world.
Bitcoin was created from the ashes of the 2008 global market crash. Created by an unknown entity, known only as Satoshi Nakamoto as a decentralized worldwide digital currency. Being decentralized means that Bitcoin is not tied to any one currency, it isn’t run by banks, wall street or any one country. So you can buy something from someone on the other side of the world, there are no currency exchange fees, no bank fees and no banking delays as there is no bank involvement at all. You cut out the middleman altogether.
There are even different crypto brokerage services that are offering their own debit cards where you can spend certain currencies and gain cashback in the form of crypto for using your card day to day.
This sounds scary to think about as we are all used to using traditional banking services or companies like PayPal for handling sending and receiving money around the world. But Bitcoin, and many other Crypto coins are secured using something called Blockchain technology. I will cover this all in more detail in future articles, as I believe that Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology are the future.
- Crypto market conditions are VOLATILE! It isn’t for the faint of heart. Start with small amounts to learn the ropes.
- Security is paramount. You do not give anyone your access keys, ever. Crypto fraud is becoming more and more common. Protect your crypto investment accounts!
- The sheer number of different coins is a lot to get your head around. Only research and learning will resolve this for you.
- Takes a decent level of computer literacy to get involved – although there are lots of guides to follow out there if you aren’t the most tech-savvy.
- Did I mention it was volatile? Well, it is, it’s really volatile at times!
- The risk is higher, but so are the potential gains.
- Be aware that profit from cryptocurrency is considered capital gains. In the UK you are given a capital gains allowance of £12,300, profit above this will be taxed.
There are lots of different ways to get into property investing. Here are some of the different types of investments you can get involved with,
- House flipping
- Buy to lets
- Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS)
Is when you buy a house that has potential that you can improve and sell on at a profit. This could be a house that is run down and in need of repair or somewhere that has potential to increase in value by making a few changes to the property. Ideally you could do the work yourself, but if that isn’t possible you want to keep costs as low as possible. You will only be eating into your investment profits if you need to pay someone to do all the required work.
Buy to Lets
Is buying a property with the intention of renting it out either in the short or long term. Have someone else pay off the mortgage for you on a second house, sounds good to me! You will require to have a few things to go down this route though.
- Buy to Let Mortgage
- Landlord insurance products
You are also going to be liable for repairs needing done on the property and you do run the risk of paying the mortgage yourself if you go through a period without a paying tenant.
REITS are investment trusts that specialise in the real estate market. They are publicly traded companies that individuals can buy shares in. These companies which are listed on the stock market, invest in properties.
If you think real estate is going to be a part of your retirement plans then speak to local financial advisors and tax experts. They can give expert tax advice to help with your retirement planning and can maybe even advise you on potential tax advantages available to you.
The Sky is Falling!! Sell everything!!
As previously mentioned, the markets can crash and definitely WILL crash again, it’s just a matter of when. But the problem with not knowing when the market may crash makes people hesitant to get started.
The following are thoughts most of us will have as beginners with investing. But it’s how we deal with these negative thoughts that will make the difference to reaching your long-term goals.
‘What if I put everything in and the market crashes the next day?’
Even the best in the world CANNOT time the market! They can make assumptions and try to predict, but no one truly knows what is going to happen. If the experts can’t predict it, you definitely cannot.
You can put your money in one day and the market crashes the next day. But does it really matter when the market crashes? Would you feel better if it crashed a month or a year from that date? No you wouldn’t. This is your ego talking. You don’t want to feel like you made a mistake. So you avoid taking the chance to protect yourself from embarrassment. Get over yourself and forget about your investments in the short term.
‘The market is sure to crash soon, I might as well wait!’
If you wait, you also run the risk of the price increasing in the short term. You wait on the price dropping to start investing, but what if this is the cheapest price for the next 12 months? The cheapest price the stock will ever be again? You just don’t know.
‘The market is down; I have lost 50%! What if I lose everything?! I better sell quick!’
Yeah the market is down. Your initial investment is down. You are currently losing money. But you still own the stock, it’s just valued at less than you bought it for at the minute. If you sell in a panic, you have bought high and sold low, the loss is locked in, that’s the opposite of smart investing. But if you buy and hold through downturns, then add to your investment positions, you are in a much better situation when the market conditions recover. Train your brain to see downturns in the market as opportunities to acquire cheap stock, it’s just on a temporary sale.
‘I’m a genius! This is easy money!’
Hold up hotshot! You are not a genius because you got lucky and bought just before an upturn in the market. You simply got lucky, so don’t get complacent or start taking unnecessary risks.
‘I should have sold when I was up; I am not cut out for this’
Ok you had the chance that you could have sold high on your investment, you held and now the value is down. The stock is now on sale, you can add to your position at a cheaper price and increase your holdings.
- Invest from a place of financial security
- Always discuss with a professional when you are financial planning for your future
- Speak to an investment advisor if you are unsure with investing
- Invest for the long-term – ignore short term market volatility.
- Market is down? Buy more if you can afford to
- You cannot time the market
- Leave your ego at the door
- Be aware of capital gains tax on any investment profits – including Crypto!
- Did I mention already that Crypto is VOLATILE?!
Thank you so much for reading this introduction to investing, I hope you learned something new! Investing is so important in the process of building wealth and achieving financial independence. Remember FI is when we can live off of the returns from our investments, so this is an important step! In the next article on iSpyFi, I am going to break down the mathematics behind reaching FI and how it actually works!
A reminder, I am not a financial expert, this blog is for information and entertainment purposes. Financial markets can go down as well as up and past performance is no guarantee of future results. So please only use money that you can afford to potentially lose. Please speak to a professional personal finance expert if you are planning to do anything involving your finances.