The decision to start investing is an exciting and important one – because it’s the foundation for your long-term financial health and thus the quality of your life. However, it can be very daunting to enter this world of jargon, complexity, and potential confusion if you have never invested before.
In this article, we’re going to run through some of the basics and give you some key considerations to make when you’re starting your investment journey.
What Are the First Steps You Should Take?
Getting started with investing requires a systematic approach to ensure that you have a plan that is suited for your needs and that you understand the important principles that are at the heart of investing success.
Here’s a general process that you can follow:
Assess your risk appetite.
Investing is a very personal thing and your decisions will depend greatly on your specific life circumstances. As such, the first thing to do is to evaluate your risk appetite – ie. how much risk are you willing to take at this stage of your life? All investments come with associated risk and when you factor in your age, your income, your personality, your financial status, and so on – you can identify what level of risk is suitable for you. You never want to risk a failed investment causing you financial ruin – so getting an honest view of what risk you can take is crucial. We’ve written more about this in another blog post, so for more details – check that post out.
Gain some financial literacy.
The next step is a bit of self-education. As with anything, the more you know, the better decisions you’re going to make. Unfortunately, financial literacy is not something that is widely taught and so you’re going to have to take this into your own hands. Luckily, the internet has near-infinite resources that can help you to upskill and learn some of the basics of what investing is all about. Here are a few resources to get you started: 1,2,3.
Decide on Your Investment Approach.
Once you have a basic understanding of some of the principles, it’s then time to pick an investing approach. For simplicity's sake, we’ll categorize these into active strategies and passive strategies. Active strategies refer to when you are spending time and effort to do your own research to make investment decisions yourself – rather than using professional advice and curation. This is a great approach for someone who has a good understanding of the market and has the time and energy to deploy to looking for opportunities and acting upon them. However, for most people – this is just not practical and we often recommend a passive strategy to start. Here, you would identify the asset classes that you want to invest in and then utilize the services of a professional investment firm that can help you execute on that strategy. They manage the risk for you, monitor developments in the market, and often can give you a clear indication of the returns that you can expect. This is great for people who don’t have the expertise, or the time necessarily to be more active in their investing.
Pick your asset classes of choice.
Now you can pick which sorts of investments you’d like to make. You can invest in a number of different asset classes and having diversification across them is always a good idea. But at the same time, you want to invest in things that you understand and believe in. Here at Bulkestate, we focus on real estate (which we think is a crucial part of any portfolio) but your portfolio will depend on your risk appetite and your current financial needs. It’s also important to evaluate the level of capital that is needed to get into different assets. Our crowdfunding model allows investors to get into real estate with very little in terms of upfront capital – so look for opportunities like that when you’re getting started.
Use technology to make your investments.
Lastly, it’s time to put that money to work. In today’s modern age, you’ll want to use technology platforms that can give you real-time access to your investment information – rather than having to go through a broker of some sort. This gives you control over the process and allows you to make decisions easily and efficiently.
Lastly, we want investing to become a habit, so it is a good idea to automate some regular investments so that you’re continually building your portfolio as your income comes in. This is the key to long-term wealth because the compounding effects of regular investing are where all the magic is, and by making it truly passive – you can maximize your long-term success.
Those are the basic steps toward making your first investment and there’s never been a better time to start than right now. We know it can be daunting, but once you get stuck in and familiarize yourself with some of the basic principles, you’ll be off on a journey that can truly change your life.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
We thought we’d finish this post by discussing some of the more common mistakes that first-time investors tend to make. If you can avoid these you’ll be ahead of 99% of people and put yourself on the right path for the long term:
Speculating, rather than investing.
Investing is about long-term growth and not short-term speculation. You should never be investing in something because you think you can make quick money. Focus on investments whose fundamentals are sound and avoid things that seem too flashy, or too good to be true.
Getting caught up in the hype.
Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea for you. Investing is intrinsically personal and you should aim to make decisions without emotion and taking into account your specific circumstances, rather than just following someone else.
Starting too big.
When you’re first getting started, there is no need to go too crazy in the beginning. Start with small investments to get your feet wet and then you can always expand over time. Bulkestate is a great example because thanks to the crowdfunding model, you can get in on exciting real estate deals with a very small upfront investment.
Not having clear goals.
If you haven’t set appropriate goals for yourself, you have no idea where you’re going. Identify what matters to you in terms of where you want to be in the future and that will help you to clarify the investment decisions that you need to make along the way to get there.
We hope that this has been a helpful introduction to the basics of investing – and that you have a roadmap to follow to get started. Remember to start small, educate yourself, and do what is right for you. From there, the world is your oyster!