If investing in shares is something you’re new to, it’s hard to know where to begin. Here are some quick tips to get you started.
When should I invest?
Once you’re consumer debt free
In my opinion, the best return you’ll get on your money is to pay down any consumer debts you have first. Think credit card repayments, Afterpay or any personal loans – once you’re free from this debt, then you can consider investing. HECS/HELP debt is generally not considered consumer debt when talking about being debt free.
Systematically, not sporadically
To ensure you’re investing strategically, consider a strategy where you take yourself out of the equation. Look at investing each month or at your own predetermined frequency to remove yourself from reacting to good or bad markets. If human emotions get involved, decisions can be made out of greed or desperation.
Ensure your income is consistent
Consider your spending habits and your current income. Do you have enough to survive with extra to save or invest? If you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, it’s time to be smart and make sure you have a buffer to get through any loss of shifts.
Set up your emergency fund first
If there are any ‘financial hiccups’ or drastic changes in your life (think COVID-19), having an emergency fund ensures you don’t need to sell down your investments to pay for your lifestyle and expenses until you’re out of the woods. You also may be selling investments at a time that is not great to sell. Think of it as setting up base camp before starting the big climb.
Ensure you balance other goals
What is the purpose behind your investment? Are you in this for the long haul or looking to cash out in the short term? If you’re saving for a holiday or new car is it worth investing only to withdraw in 18 months time? (hint: the answer is no).
How should I invest?
Your account is already set up (investing is for the long term, right?). Personal super contributions are now tax-deductible. Paying less tax is always a good thing.
Don’t pick single stocks as a beginner
Go back to your strategy – are you trying to time the market and catch a falling knife, or are you investing for the long term? Look for diversification and cost. Research exchange traded index funds (EFTs) as a starting point.
If you’re interested in more, listen to the my millennial money podcast episode on investing for a more in depth conversation on this topic.
Glen James is the creator & host of the my millennial money podcast.