A lot of personal finance is the long boring slog.
I am what’s politely described as a ‘flexible organiser’. You can assume by that, that I’m not particularly organised, in addition I choose to use my organising skills mostly at work, where it’s more important. It means that I’m not very good at periodic tasks. I’m also lazy, really lazy. To compensate, I have pretty much everything set up as auto-magical.
One of the things that is automagical is my investing. I invest through work in a stakeholder pension – exactly enough to get the match – and I also invest in a stocks and shares ISA. I use these financial products to save money in tax, but I just think of them as my investment accounts.
At the moment, I have £400 a month going into investments each and every month. I started my investment accounts with £70 a month when I got my first job.As you can probably tell, the amounts have generally increased over time, although I’m not sure whether that’s always been true, I could easily have taken an accidental break because I didn’t open a new account in time or something.
…takes a while to build momentum…
Money just rolls into the accounts every month, but I’m not yet at the stage where it’s built up into a massive sum of money. Off hand, I think I have in the region of £10k-£15k in my investments. That might sound like a lot of money, but I think I’ll need something in the region of £1m or more to retire. It can feel like it’s not really worth the effort – the money goes in but doesn’t seem to work for me.
The recent performance of the stockmarket doesn’t help. I’m primarily invested in FTSE All Share index funds, which over the past 4-5 years has been up and down massively, but is pretty much back where it started. 0% growth isn’t exactly what I’m hoping for long term.
…but when it gets going, it really goes
Fortunately for me, I can still remember the basics of mathematics. The power of compounding returns is really just an example of how exponential growth is so much larger than straight line growth. The money I’m putting away now won’t really work hard for me for another 10-15 years, but once it does it’ll just keep powering on.
And I’m savvy enough to realise that you can’t rely on the stockmarket in the short term, but chances are pretty good that you can in the long term. I’m still young, I’ve got just under 40 years until retirement and I’m confident that the stockmarket is most likely to be up over that period.
So, I’m going to keep going with my current plan. I’m about 20 years away from fundamentally needing to alter my investment strategy into a more conservative asset allocation. For me, investing is not fun, but it’s also not something to worry about. It’s more like brushing your teeth, something you do without particularly thinking about, because it’s going to be good for you in the long run.
- the importance of looking at fees
- basic guide to Stocks and Shares ISAs part 4: all about allocation
- the great ISA stampede