Investing could be a smarter way to save and build your nest egg. But what’s the difference between saving and investing?
When you save money, you’re putting it into a relatively safe place to use in the future. Saving can be likened to ‘deferred spending’, for example saving for a holiday.
When you invest your money, you’re making an active decision to put your money into an asset with the aim of generating a profit.
All investing involves risk and different types of investment involve different levels of risk. As well as making a profit, you could also experience a loss.
Your investment goals, the level of risk you’re willing to take and your investment timeframe can all influence where you choose to invest your money.
You may have a property dream, want to set your kids up for the future, or be looking to save more so you can live comfortably in retirement.
If you’re wondering where to invest money to get good returns, the answer is that it depends on many factors and there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for a successful investment strategy. Whatever your goal, remember there are risks attached to investing as returns aren’t always guaranteed. You could make money, break even, or even lose money should your investment decrease in value.
With that in mind, here are some tips on investing for beginners and investment opportunities.
Where you could invest your money
Here are some of the more common types of investment.
1. Cash investments
These typically provide stable and low-risk income, but the income return is generally also lower. Cash investments can be held with a bank where you can get regular interest payment (such as in a term deposit), but it may also be managed like a managed fund. These may be a good option if you’re risk averse or working to a short timeframe or for the ‘liquid’ part of your portfolio.
2. Fixed interest investments
Governments and companies (both in Australia and internationally) can issue fixed interest investments (or bonds) for you to buy. If you purchase a fixed interest investment you are basically loaning money to the issuer of that fixed interest investment for a certain period of time in exchange for regular interest payments. At the end of that period of time (called the maturity date) your initial investment is returned. There are a number of types of fixed interest investments which have different levels of risks.
If you purchase shares (also known as equities or stocks) in Australian or international companies, you’re essentially buying a piece of that company, making you a shareholder. Depending on how the shares perform, your investment may increase or decrease in value.
There are many avenues that you can invest in shares, and deciding on the best method will depend on your financial goals and circumstances.
If you invest in property directly, whether it’s a piece of land or a building (residential or commercial) and rent it out as opposed to being an owner-occupier, you’ll generally receive a rental income, while potentially building equity in the property at the same time.
Common investment structures
Investments within these particular asset classes (cash, fixed interest, shares and property) can either be held individually, or via a number of common investment structures.
Some of the more common investments structures or vehicles include managed funds (where your money is pooled with that of other investors), superannuation (including self-managed super funds), as well as alternative investment vehicles like exchange traded funds.
What is diversification and why it’s important
When building an investment portfolio, you may want to spread your investments across a number of different asset classes. This is known as diversification and follows the principle of ‘not keeping all your eggs in one basket’. This can help to reduce your overall investment risk, so if your portfolio is well diversified, it means you’re less exposed to a single economic event. That being said, if one sector or asset performs badly, you won’t lose all your money.
How to start investing
The majority of us are already investors through our super and bank accounts.
When looking to invest, either on your own or with the help of a broker or financial adviser, get started with the help of these steps:
- Work out your current financial standing, and how much can you afford to invest.
- Work out your goals and when you want to achieve them.
- Consider risks and implications for the short/medium/long term.
- Decide if you want to invest yourself or with help.
- Ensure you understand what you are investing in.
- Track the performance of your investments and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Discover the importance of insurance and why it plays a central role in your financial wellbeing, helping to provide financial security for you and your family when it's needed most.
In the event that you suffer an illness or injury and are unable to work, income protection provides you with a monthly benefit of up to 75 per cent of your salary.
Life insurance helps alleviate the financial burden your family may be left with after your death. This is paid as a lump sum to your nominated beneficiaries to assist with medical costs, funeral expenses and help maintain your family’s lifestyle.
Total and permanent disability (TPD)
This provides a lump sum in the event of a total and permanent disability that prevents you from ever returning to work.
Trauma insurance is paid as a lump sum upon diagnosis of an eligible condition (eg cancer, heart disease).
Why is insurance important? Let’s look at five key reasons
1. Protection for you and your family
Your family depend on your financial support to enjoy a decent standard of living, which is why insurance is especially important once you start a family. It means the people who matter most in your life may be protected from financial hardship if the unexpected happens.
2. Reduce stress during difficult times
None of us know what lies around the corner. Unforeseen tragedies such as illness, injury or permanent disability, even death – can leave you and your family facing tremendous emotional
stress, and even grief. With insurance in place, you or your family’s financial stress will be reduced, and you can focus on recovery and rebuilding your lives.
3. To enjoy financial security
No matter what your financial position is today, an unexpected event can see it all unravel very quickly. Insurance offers a payout so that if there is an unforeseen event you and your family can hopefully continue to move forward.
4. Peace of mind
No amount of money can replace your health and wellbeing – or the role you play in your family. But you can at least have peace of mind knowing that if anything happened to you, your family’s financial security is assisted by insurance.
5. A legacy to leave behind
A lump sum death benefit can secure the financial future for your children and protect their standard of living.
Self-managed super funds
What are the benefits of establishing an SMSF?
The main rationale for establishing your own SMSF is the increased level of control you have, as well as the investment choice and flexibility. You become the trustee of your fund and therefore make decisions on your fund's investment strategy and the type of assets that are held within your fund.
Your SMSF can also invest in investments not usually available in a public super fund (please note, however, that these investments are subject to certain limitations and legal restrictions). This will allow your fund's investments to be customised to suit the precise requirements of members, before and after retirement.
Furthermore, similar to all complying super funds, an SMSF is taxed at a concessional rate. The top tax rate for investment earnings from your SMSF is 15 per cent. This tax concession, however, is only available for complying funds – which are SMSFs that fulfil all the rules set out by the ATO, the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) (SIS) Act 1993 and the SIS Regulations.
What is a Self-Managed Super Fund?
You can manage your own superannuation with a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF).
Rules & regulations:
As the Trustee or Director of the corporate trustee of your SMSF it is essential that you understand the stringent rules that apply. Here we look at some of the key rules.
SMSF Tax Basics
Self-managed super funds can offer Trustees more control over the taxation of their superannuation however like all aspects of SMSFs there are rules that apply
- Investment control
- Greater investment flexibility
- Capacity to pool your super with up to three other individuals
- Estate planning
- Effective tax management
- Adding value with property
- Always consider the risks
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
- Who are the governing bodies?
- Understanding the obligations and rules associated with an SMSF
- Sole purpose test
- Separation of assets
- Fiduciary responsibilities
Planning for retirement is one of life's most important financial considerations. The actions you take today will determine your lifestyle in the future.
Like any new chapter in your life, preparation can go a long way in ensuring you’re emotionally and financially ready for the road ahead.
There are so many things you need to consider such as:
- Do I have enough to retire by a certain age?
- How much money will I need for retirement and where will I get it?
- What recreational activities are on my to-do list?
- How and when will I access my super?
- Will I be eligible for government entitlements?
- Will I be entering retirement debt free?
- Do I have other matters that need addressing?
- Will I relocate or downsize?
- Do I want to make any final super contributions?
Retirement is a complex area so it’s worth investing in professional advice. A financial adviser can recommend a strategy that best fits your income, capital and longevity needs.
Often, we assume estate planning simply involves making it clear in a Will who we would like to inherit assets when we pass away. However, while a Will can help ensure your estate is distributed according to your wishes, it may not be effective in dealing with a significant portion of your wealth.
For example, the proceeds from superannuation funds and life insurance policies don’t automatically form part of your estate, which means that addressing these investments in your Will may be ineffective unless you take some important additional steps.
A well-prepared and executed estate plan can ensure that your wishes are carried out so that the right assets go to the right people at the right time, in an efficient and tax-effective manner.
It can also ensure that if you’re unable to make important financial and lifestyle decisions for yourself, the right person of your choice is able to step in on your behalf.
Getting older is a fact of life and with any luck, you'll live to a ripe old age. As we age many of us will require some assistance care. Choosing an aged care service can be overwhelming. Whether it's for yourself or a loved one, your adviser is here to guide you through. It's never too early or late to have this important discussion.
The need for aged care can be sudden, often triggered by unexpected changes in health. Also, it can be an uncertain and overwhelming experience for you and your family. On top of the personal and emotional challenges, there are a number of important considerations and decisions such as:
- Which facility is suitable for you.
- What fees will you need to pay and how should you fund them.
- What should you do with your family home, and
- What impact will the move have on social security benefits.
Careful planning and the right advice can help you get the care you need without a lot of the stress.