I avoided investing for years and stayed with cash savings.

This wasn’t because I didn’t understand the merits of investing — I wrote about funds and shares every day and kept a keen eye on my pension.

However, my savings goals which included a home deposit and a marriage fund were always too short-term for me to risk. 

Taking her own advice: Money Mail editor Victoria began investing in the stock market after the pandemic sent already rock-bottom savings rates plunging even further

Victoria Money Mail Editor, following the Pandemic that sent savings rates already at rock bottom plummeting further, started investing in the stock markets.

Experts warn you that to get the best out of stock market volatility, it is essential to invest for at least five consecutive years. Knowing my luck, I was certain that my investments would crash right as I had to make a withdrawal.

With a mixture of regular savings accounts, cash Isas and premium bonds, I chose to play it safe.

Although the rates offered were not great, I was able to get cash at any time I needed it.

Then came the pandemic and rates fell further.

My most favorite regular saver paid just 1% instead of 5 percent. Also, my highest online account, launched at 1.5%, is now paying a paltry 0.4%.

Meanwhile, like many people, I found all the lockdowns meant I had more disposable income than I was used to (it’s truly horrifying how much I spend in the pub).

Suddenly, I was painfully aware that if I didn’t act fast, the purchasing power of my growing nest egg was going to be decimated by inflation.

I decided to take the plunge, and I started saving in my stocks-and–shares Isa account.

My only regret after a little over a year is that I didn’t start sooner. Well, that and a foolish error when rushing to buy some shares, which meant I paid so much in fees I’m still down now, even though the company itself has performed well recently.

This was my first attempt at shares. I plan to stick with funds as they spread the risk of investing in many companies.

However, hindsight can be a great thing. What I find most satisfying is the Money Mail article that we frequently promote as the greatest lesson. You should drip-feed small amounts every month to your account. It may sound dull, but this has truly done wonders for my returns — which are tax-free courtesy of my Isa.

Regular investing can help smoothen out any ups or downs. If your fund falls in value, you get a bargain that month, and if it is up… well, happy days, it’s up.

You can also invest smaller amounts this way, which is useful if, like me, you don’t have piles of cash in the bank.

Direct debits are a great way to save time and avoid worrying about how to manage the market.

The most difficult part of my job was deciding which fund or investment trust to invest in.

For a jargon-free jumping-off point, I’d (of course) suggest reading newspaper personal finance sections, such as Money Mail, where experts tip funds worth a look.

Hargreaves Lansdown’s investment platform and AJ Bell have other useful tips.

It’s important to mix them up. Fund names often don’t spell out where your money is going (LF Blue Whale Growth, I’m looking at you) so check their top ten holdings carefully.

You don’t want to be too heavily invested in one sector, such as technology, or you risk seeing a lot of red minus numbers appear in your account if it has a bad run.

Be aware of fees. The more exciting active funds, run by star managers, can be much pricier than those that simply track a market — and they don’t always perform better.

How did it all turn out? After a year of regular investing, I’ve made a modest 9.61 per cent return overall, with my best-performing fund up 16.62 per cent.

While I’m clearly not the new Warren Buffett, I’m much better off than if I had stuck to cash.

That said, I haven’t given up on my Premium Bonds altogether. You always need some money set aside for emergencies — and I still have high hopes of meeting Agent Million one day.


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