Pay your future self – Best way to save money in your 20s & 30s

Saving money in your 20s and 30s
 
Saving money and getting started investing in your 20s and 30s is something everyone knows you should do. However life gets in the way and saving can take a back seat to fun and entertainment when you’re young.

There’s nothing wrong with clocking up experiences, smashed avo brunches and great dinners out, but living pay-cheque to pay-cheque isn’t sustainable as you get older.

As a (reformed) lover of spending my dosh I’m here to strongly encourage you to start saving now. Today! The reason why is simple, saving money earlier in life has an EXPONENTIAL impact on your long term wealth. Start 10 years later and the maths could make it impossible to get where you want to be.
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Why you won’t beat the share market (but many still try)

Won't beat the share market

Four things you will learn:

  • Why picking stocks or trying to time the market is pointless
  • Why fund managers have become ‘the market’ (and what that means)
  • How behavioural biases lead us to make bad investment decisions
  • Why index investing is the smart investor’s choice

The US election is the perfect demonstration of the futility of trying to beat the share market.

Those who tried to time their market entry were whipsawed in all directions, share markets initially fell 6% before staging an 8% recovery to close up for the week. Not only did most ‘experts’ call the election result wrong, they completely misjudged the impact that Trump would have on markets.

Meanwhile those with portfolios focused in popular yield-sensitive sectors of the market like property saw their investments crushed due to events in bond markets that were completely outside of their control.

None of this is unusual… time after time, finance commentators have their predictions proved wrong by the market. Those who try and beat the market by timing entry and exit points, or picking stocks or sectors, are outsmarted by each other.

So why is it so difficult for even the experts to get it right?
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Meet the team: Alice

Meet the team: Alice
 
It’s 30 degrees outside, the siren calls of delicious gelato are getting louder, the beach is on everyone’s mind in the Stockspot office, everyone’s that is, except for one person…

Enter Alice. Awesome snowboarder, adventure sports obsessed, epic coder and our resident front-end developer (the person who make things look good). Her advice to anyone considering a career as a developer – be passionate and write excellent code. Sounds spot on to us!

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Investment update: US election

US election
 
Does this feel like deja vu? After the market reaction to Brexit earlier this year, the US election result seems like we’ve been down this road before.

Unexpected political result causes wild market movements

Before you make any investment decisions based on politics, it’s worth considering what it actually means for your investments over the long-run. The answer, which may surprise you, it’s actually very little.

Market commentators and your emotions may lead you to believe the different policy positions (and personalities) of the candidates will lead to different market returns. However, history repeatedly shows us markets will overreact in the short term and pay no attention after that. In fact, investment markets often move in the opposite direction to what you would expect due to currency movements or because everyone is already positioned one way.

Take Brexit as a perfect recent example. After the surprise Brexit result, which was considered by many ‘investment experts’ to be a disaster for the UK economy, British shares rose 25% over the next 3 months.
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Australian ETFs add $10 billion in 2 years

ETF Update - Quarter 3, 2016
 
Our quarterly update on the Australian ETF market as at October 2016.

Highlights

  • ASX-listed ETFs have added $10 billion in new funds under management since October 2014, representing 31% p.a. growth.
  • Quarterly growth of ETF funds under management was 7%, from $22,404M in June 2016 to $23,971M by the end of September 2016.
  • After some volatility in the first half of September, the Australian share-market stabilised near a 12 month high.
  • Gold and small Australian shares have performed best over the last year with oil, ‘Bear’ and some currency ETFs performing worst.
  • Fixed income ETFs continued to attract new funds at the fastest rate of all sectors as more investors and Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) add fixed interest to their portfolios to balance equity risk.

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What is an ETF?

What is an ETF?
 
At Stockspot we believe Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are the building blocks for the best investment portfolios.

ETFs have been around for roughly 20 years and are fast becoming the most popular investment option. Each year more money leaves managed funds and goes into ETFs. This is because they can easily be traded on the stock exchange, they’re low cost and offer instant diversification.
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We need to talk about finance

We need to talk about finance
 
I love emojis. Admittedly I was a latecomer to the emoji party I (to my shame) thought I was above them. I was then convinced by a clever friend that they’re like modern hieroglyphics and a valid form of communication. I’m not going to argue with that.

What do emojis have to do with finance? Aside from my personal desire to see the finance news reported in a variety of smiley, joyous or sad faces, not a great deal… but this blog is about why we need to talk about finance more.
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$59 billion trapped in Fat Cat Funds

2016 Fat Cat Funds Report
 
Our latest Fat Cat Funds Report, the largest analysis of superannuation and managed funds in Australia, has found that the money managed by Fat Cat Funds increased to $59 billion, up from $53.5 billion in 2015.

We believe Australians deserve greater visibility around where their money is invested and how it is performing so we have been producing this report to highlight the issues of high fees, poor transparency and conflicts of interest within the investment industry.

This is the 4th year we’ve run the report and this year we compared a record 3,800 funds to assess how they have performed after fees.

Unfortunately for consumers, almost nothing has changed since our first report in 2013 as the big 4 banks and AMP continue to dominate the distribution of Fat Cat Funds.
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Why you shouldn’t rush into tech stocks

Chasing tech stocks
 
It’s easy to get swept up in the hype of a hot sector, but there are big dangers when the music stops.

Investing in the hot stock or sector de jour is a always strong temptation, especially in markets where there are very clear winners and losers. These days global technology is that hot sector – particularly the big US tech giants. They’ve all doubled, tripled or quadrupled since 2012 so have easily beaten the broad market. Their returns have trounced Telstra, BHP and Woolworths.
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Active vs Index investing – what’s the difference?

Active vs Index investing
 
Active investing and index (or passive) investing are 2 different ways to grow your wealth.

Actively managed funds aim to beat the returns of a given investment market. Passively managed funds, on the other hand, are designed to mimic the returns of a specific market as measured by a particular index like, for instance, the S&P/ASX 300. This is why they are also known as ‘index’ funds.

Most of the money in Australia is managed by active funds but passive investing has been growing fast, particularly since 2008. We look at some of the key differences and why index investing has been growing in popularity.
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How can I save and invest for my kids?

How can I save and invest for my kids?
 
Let’s be honest – saving and investing isn’t something a lot of kids think about. Life is mostly about friends, school, sports, parties, fancying someone, studying, learning to drive and trying to work out what to do with the rest of your life.

When it comes to talking about finances, the vast majority of people want to close their eyes, put their hands on their ears and sing ‘lalalala’ really loudly. Probably because the government, media, parents and well intentioned bloggers do a royal job of making it DULL. And scary. And way more difficult than it needs to be.
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SMSFs in the fintech age

SMSFs in the fintech age
 
We recently became the first robo-advice business to announce a partnership with Class Super. For those who haven’t heard of Class, the business was founded in 2009 and in just 8 years has grown to be the largest independent administration software provider to Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs).

What does that mean? In a nutshell, Class has built software to help SMSFs get their data and compliance in order – saving accountants and advisers many hours each year.
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Meet the team (intern): Mason

Meet the team: Mason
 
Stockspot has been offering internships to uni students over the past year to help develop future industry talent outside of traditional career paths. We want to give students the opportunity to broaden their experience through working in a fintech start-up.

In this edition of ‘meet the team’, we speak with our young blooded intern Mason.
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How are ETFs taxed?

How are ETFs taxed?
 
ETFs: Everything you need to know about tax on ETF investments in Australia.

One of the reasons exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have gained popularity with Australian investors is because they are tax efficient. If you’ve invested in ETFs on your own, through a broker, or with the help of an automated investment service like Stockspot, here are some tax issues to consider.

Keep in mind that this article is general information only and doesn’t consider any individual’s personal circumstances.
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Should you rentvest instead of buying a home?

Rentvest or buying a home?
 
Buy or rent? Rent to own? Or avoid investing in property at all? If you’re planning to be a first homeowner it’s likely you’ve heard the term ‘rentvest’ as an alternative to buying a home.

Rentvest is the latest portmanteau (also known as a word blend, ie ‘hangry’ or ‘brangelina’) given to a recent millennial buying trend.

Rent-vesting lets you buy an investment property without living in it

Millennials living in metropolitan Australian cities can no longer afford to buy a home in their chosen suburb. Many now opt to buy an investment property in a more affordable location which they rent out while also renting in their chosen location.

It’s a foot onto the property ladder and because the deposit and mortgage payments are lower, the millennials penchant for a flexible lifestyle still allows them to travel, eat out and the freedom to move around.
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How to quit your job and travel

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It’s okay to quit your job and travel. Dropping out of ‘the real’ world for a while is good for your health. It’s fine to go and find yourself, travel the world, become a digital nomad or bake cakes every day for 3 months. If your career is holding you back from achieving a dream or a life goal you probably need to quit your job.

I quit my job to travel in November 2015, I was in my early 30s and cruising up the career ladder. I had a great London job at an awesome company, lots of perks and brilliant minds. Not the most ideal time to take time out.

But sometimes life happens and you realise the amazing career is less important than taking time to clear your head, hike up big mountains or start a business selling organic beef burgers at farmer’s markets.
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The need for a royal commission into banking misconduct

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The 2 major parties in Australian politics have been left scratching their heads over what it is the people want. If the result shows anything it’s that the people want their government to listen and stop putting the interests of big corporates before the benefit of the general population.

If our new MPs and senators do an effective job, a Royal Commission into the banking industry’s financial advice and remuneration practices should be one positive to emerge from the political disarray the country finds itself in. As the crossbenchers jot down their negotiation wish list, ‘royal commission into banking misconduct’ should be at the top.
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Investment update: UK Exit (Brexit)

brexit-banner
 
The UK voted to leave the European Union after 43 years of membership. This surprised markets which had assumed only a small chance of the UK leaving.

What does it mean?

Nobody actually knows what the medium to long term implications are for the UK or global economy, due to uncertainty around how the exit will play out.

Not surprisingly share markets reacted negatively with all global markets initially falling. The good news is defensive assets like bonds and gold rose. Both assets are key parts of Stockspot’s portfolios and have helped minimise the impact of share market falls.
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How to build an awesome investment portfolio

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Clients sometimes ask us how we built the Stockspot portfolios, and why we selected 5 assets to invest in rather than 2, 3 or 10!

It comes down to the purpose of the Stockspot portfolios which is to maximise returns for each level of risk. Five assets allows us to give clients the best possible combination of returns, risk and costs.

To do this we leverage the benefits of diversification. Diversification simply means that by combining investments with different characteristics you can improve the quality of returns in your portfolio.

Quality of returns is measured by how much risk you need to take to earn a certain return. Since all investing involves taking some risk, the aim is to minimise the risk you need to take to earn the return you want. Diversification across assets enables you to take less risk to earn better returns.
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When is a good time to invest?

when-to-invest-banner
 
Markets can go up and down over the short-term and it’s almost impossible to pick the market top or bottom (even for professionals).

So when is a good time to invest in shares?

Instead of trying to time your entry point, dollar-cost averaging is a strategy to invest gradually over a few days, weeks or months. This helps reduce the impact of short term moves in the market because you invest at an ‘average’ price over a period of time.

Dollar cost averaging can help smooth your initial investment returns by reducing the risk that you’ve invested everything just before a dip in the market. By buying over a period of time you get to take advantage of any market dips and buy at the lower prices if markets fall.
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ETFs surge 6% in May

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Our update on the Australian ETF market as at June 2016.

Highlights

  • ASX listed ETFs grew by $1.35 billion for the month as confidence returned to share markets after a surprise interest rate cut and expectations of low interest rates remaining.
  • Monthly FUM growth was 6%, from $21,905M in April to $23,162M by the end of May 2016.
  • Broad market and sector ETFs were the best performers both locally and internationally.
  • Australian property ETFs continue to lead on 12 month performance due to falling interest rates.
  • The BetaShares Cash ETF (AAA) saw a rare month of outflows due to a surprise cut in interest rates.
  • MarketVectors rebranded to its parent company name – VanEck to become VanEck Vectors.
  • BetaShares launched 2 ETFs in a partnership with major USA-based issuer WisdomTree.

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How does anchoring bias affect your investing?

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In many walks of life we have a tendency to use anchors or reference points to make decisions, and sometimes these lead us astray. Nowhere is this more dangerous than when investing.

What is anchoring?

Anchoring is our tendency to grab hold of irrelevant and often subliminal information in the face of uncertainty to make decisions.

Since anchoring occurs in so many situations, no single theory has conclusively explained why we do it. However the modern favourite theory for explaining the effect of anchoring comes from several groundbreaking studies that were conducted in the fields of decision science and performed by Kahneman and Tversky in the 1970s.

Kahneman and Tversky were interested in how people formed judgements when they were unsure of the facts. They found that when people are uncertain about the correct answer, we take a guess using the most recent number we’ve heard as a starting point.
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