Updated: 25 January 2021
It’s still (just about) New Year so it’s worth revisiting a few money and investing habits that could help you grow your wealth without too much thinking on your part! Here are some of the best habits of successful investors.
You could speak to a financial advisor or do a plan yourself on one of the many online tools offered by companies like Fidelity. Creating a plan for yourself – even if it’s just a rough idea of what you’re aiming for, how much money you would like to accumulate and when by – will give you goals and help to inform your investing levels on a monthly basis.
Revisit this plan once a year to see if it’s still what you want and if you are on course to meet your target. If things are not turning out as you were hoping it could be time to pay for financial advice to turn things around. Vouchedfor.com has a list of rated and approved advisors around the country, so try them if you don’t have an advisor of your own.
This is one of the simplest wealth-creation habits to get into. Set up standing orders from your current account to go into savings accounts and investments at the beginning of every month or whenever you pay your household bills. This way you set up a savings habit that you don’t even have to think about. The money goes out of your account before you have a chance to spend it on bars and restaurants (when they’re open), clothes, DIY or whatever you spend your disposable income on.
For the first couple of months it might feel like you have less money to play with (you do!) but you get used to it very quickly and cut your cloth according to the money you have left in your account.
Once a year it’s a good idea to review how much you are putting away each month and, if possible, increase it.
There’s a persistent myth that in order to invest safely one needs to be rich already. This is even more clearly untrue now that anyone can invest directly into the stock market without hiring an expensive stock-broker to do the work for them. Most funds allow a minimum of £25 as an investment, lower than most people expect.
But obviously the more we put in the more we get out. That’s where the discipline of keeping to a budget (even a loose one) with daily spending can help long-term wealth. Like the old adage says, “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.” Saving on the small stuff will free up far more pounds to put into investments that will turn into tens and hundreds of pounds later on.
So do a budget, or use one of the budgeting apps like Emma, Plum or Hyperjar, and get into the habit of sticking to it in order to free up extra cash to build up more wealth down the line.
Two of the main barriers to long-term wealth are greed and fear. Greed makes people vulnerable to fraudsters and scam artists of all types and can lead people to put far too much money into one, often over-attractive, product.
Fear is what stops people moving their money out of apparently ‘safe’ investments such as savings accounts into slightly riskier products that will beat inflation in the long-term. It’s also FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that makes people buy at the top of the market when everyone else is buying and then good old-fashioned fear that makes them sell at the bottom when everyone else is piling out.
The successful investor watches out for both fear and greed, and builds up the courage over time to go against the herd and invest in a contrarian way, making money from other people’s fear and greed. As Warren Buffett said: “we simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.”
The only real way to protect your investment portfolio is to spread your bets. Even houses are not ‘safe as houses’. Aside from Funding Circle, make sure you have some money in a few different ‘asset classes’: primarily shares, bonds and/or gilts, savings and, if possible, some property (if you own your own home, that’s enough for the property side). You might also have some in other products like cryptocurrencies, collections, gold and other commodities.
There’s no hard and fast rule as to what percentage of your money should be in each one. I have a semi-retired friend who has about 90% of his money in equities and the rest in gilts. He made the decision that he knew what he was doing and would take the consequences. Other, much younger investors might have a much lower appetite for risk and put the bulk of their money in bonds, property and cash with just a small amount in equities. We are all different and it depends not only on your age, your aims and your liabilities but also what enables you to sleep at night.
So make your own mind up on this but, whatever you decide, make sure you have a decent spread of investments.
One shouldn’t ‘let the tax tail wag the investment dog’, but why waste money paying tax on profits if you don’t have to? Every year do your best to max-out your tax-saving vehicles such as ISAs (£20,000 per tax year) and pensions (£40,000 per tax year). We have an annual Capital Gains Allowance (currently £12,300) which is worth remembering when it comes to realising profits on assets outside pensions and ISAs too.
Don’t ignore charges either. Over time the amount you’re charged annually for investment funds and platforms will compound and eat into your long-term wealth. Cheap isn’t always cheerful but fund managers that charge more than others need to demonstrate that their performance is significantly better to make it worth it.
Day-to-day habits that keep us awake, active and aware all feed into our ability to make sharp and informed investment decisions. Developing healthy habits of early sleeping, early waking and regular exercise keep us mentally and physically fit and ready to attack the day.
Jasmine Birtles is founder of MoneyMagpie.com and a TV and radio personality.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not represent those of Funding Circle. Funding Circle is not authorised to, and does not, provide investment, tax, legal or regulatory advice. To the extent permitted by law, Funding Circle does not accept any liability for any loss or damage which may arise directly or indirectly from the use of, or reliance on, such information contained here. If you have any questions, please speak to your professional adviser or seek independent specialist advice.