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Investing 101: #6 Getting Started

If you’re used to saving regularly, progressing to investments might not be a stretch for you. And, if you’ve some money set aside already, that’s even better.

Here are some tips for getting the ball rolling, if you’re ready to explore the idea further.

Have a chat with a financial advisor

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Your bank or insurance company should be able to help you with this, or you can search for an independent financial advisor yourself.

The important thing to remember is that they’re not there to simply point you at a fund or investment provider. Financial advisors generally play a big role in helping you get a holistic sense of your finances, which is just as important.

They can help you look at your current financial situation, help you get a better handle on your income and outgoings, estimate what it takes to help keep the ‘everyday’ ticking over and allow some room for the unexpected.

They can look at any existing policies, benefits or assets you have provided information on and once that’s clear, work out what else you can do, to help reach your goals.

They can also help you assess your appetite for risk, which will be important when you come to make decisions about where you want to invest and how much.

It’s not difficult and it won’t take long. The financial advisor will drive the conversation and use their experience to ask the right questions, so you can create a plan that’s tailored specifically to you.

Give them as much information as you can

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Your financial advisor will ask about things like how and where you’d like to live in the coming years, how soon you’d like to retire, where you’d like to spend your retirement and how you’d like to provide for any children or other dependents.

How you answer the questions will give real shape to your short and long-term goals and then you can look at creating a financial action plan to help achieve them.

Start planning

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If you want to get a head start and go to an advisor armed with some information, you can use this simple checklist to start the financial planning process yourself.

Step #1: Think about what’s happening now

you-here-graffiti - analyze your investment situation

What do I earn?  Include all sources of dependable income.
What do I spend?  Use bank and credit card statements to get a picture of your spending habits over the last year and double check you’re not spending more than you earn.
Where do I spend?  Do regular ATM visits mean you spend cash more readily? Are your bills high? Could you get better value or bundle deals elsewhere?
Do I have debt?  High interest rates on loans and credit cards are instant red flags and should be prioritised as they’ll slow any progress you could make as a saver or an investor.
Budget  Use the information and learnings to create a realistic monthly budget for the year ahead, including any money you intend to save or invest.

Step #2: Then look forward

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Where will I live?  Do you own your home? Plan to move or extend? Want to upgrade?
What about kids?  Do you have kids? Want them? Plan to pay for college, weddings etc?
Quality of life  Do you want holidays? A second home? To work less?
Retirement  How early do you want to retire? How do you want to spend your retirement years?
Dependents  Are you likely to have to look after a family member in future years?


There are lots of questions here, but you get the idea. The more you ask of yourself, the more your plans can take account of where you want to be and the investment choices you make can be more aligned with your aspirations.

Your financial advisor can help with all of this and help you decide on appropriate investment products. Remember, they’re on your side, so the more information and insight you can give them, the better advice they can give back.

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