A Simple Graph that explains… where to invest your money

The No. 1 personal finance question being asked online is “I have $XXX in saving, where should I put it?” or “What should I do with my term deposit?”. People who are unfamiliar with personal finance usually have no idea where to investment their money except term deposit and property (Oh, the old Kiwi dream). While property seems out of reach and interest rate on term deposit are hitting all time low, Kiwis are looking for another way to invest for their future.

Before you jumping into the world of investing…

You should put your money to invest after you pay off your consumer/personal debt, join KiwiSaver, and have an emergency fund. I believe you are not in the position of investing if you still haven’t got your financial basic sorted out.

The most important question

The first thing you’ll need to work out is How long can you leave the money in the investment? or how long before you will need to use that money?

If you are saving for a new car in 3 years, then 3 years is your answer. If you are saving for retirement and you are 30, 10+ years will be your answer.

Make sure you have money set aside for emergency before you invest. You don’t want to be in a situation where you plan to invest in the stock market for 8 years, some emergency happen in year 2 and you are forced to sell your investment at a loss.

Once you’ve worked out the time, apply that to the graph below.

where to invest HMobile-friendly version

Example

Let’s say if you plan to invest for 6 years, according to the graph, you may want to consider invest 60% of that money into growth assets such as stock, property, ETF, and index fund, while the other 40% investment into Bond or Dividend stocks.

If you invest for your retirement in 20 years, you may want to have a portfolio with 5-10% bond and the rest with stock.

On the other hand, if you wish to use the money to buy a car in 2 years. It’s best to put it in a term deposit.

Break down your plan

You may have multiple plans for your money, such as $3000 for travel next year, $12000 for a new car in 30 months, and $20000 for the first home in 8 years.

You need to apply those plan individually to the graph.

$3000 travel fund in saving account

$12000 car fund in term deposit

$20000 in a 10:90 mix portfolio while you keep adding more into the investment every month.

What’s next?

I will explain the basic idea of this graph, the mix of investment and how to apply risk tolerance in the next post.

The timeline and investment ratio on the graph are based on my own study and conventional wisdom. Investment suggestion is based on neutral risk tolerance. Investment product listed on the graph are based on popularity, ease of access in New Zealand and a bit of personal preference.

Just a reminder, this graph is for GENERAL ADVISE ONLY. Your own situation may be different. Please thoroughly research everything you read here and seek professional advice if you need to.

My First mortgage as a noob

I was sorting my paperwork and saw my old mortgage paper. I was such a noob back then and made a lot of mistakes when I set up that mortgage.

Hunting for our First home

When I and my wife start hunting for house couple years back, we’ve done the first timer mistake by walking into my friendly local bank which I’ve been banking with for 10+ years, ask about home mortgage and got introduced to a personal banker. Had a 30 mins meeting where the banker took our account statement and worked out our income, expense, and deposit. We walk away with a 600K loan pre-approval.

So, we went on to house-hunting and luckily got a house at auction (passed-in then negotiate). We took the purchase agreement to went to the bank again. This time stayed there for an hour. Got a 500K fixed 2-year at the advertised rate home loan, pay monthly plus a life insurance for both of us, house and content insurance. I was so proud of myself because I also got a $1000 cash back and used that to pay the lawyer. The mortgage payment was about $2400/month plus $180 for the insurance. I remember when I walk out of that bank I felt a sense of accomplishment. I knocked down home ownership, mortgage, life, content, and house insurance on the same day.

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The list of stupid things that we’ve done.

Now I look back at the mortgage statement, I was such a NOOB!!!! I’ve made so many first timer mistakes!!!

  1. I walked into a bank and get the personal banker to do my mortgage.
  2. I took the advertised rate.
  3. I 100% fixed my mortgage.
  4. I pay my mortgage based on what the bank said.
  5. I pay monthly.
  6. I accepted the $1000 cash back.
  7. I did not get a friend to do a referral despite heaps of my friends are with that Bank.
  8. I buy insurance from the bank.
  9. I did not ask for fee-free credit card
  10. About 18 months into that fixed term, some news headline saying interest rate is going up. I considered very hard to break the contract and refinance.

The ONLY thing we did right was the downpayment. At that time, you can get a home mortgage with just 5% deposit and lots of people did that. We decided to put over 20% as deposit since we saved up some money already.

At that time we didn’t know much about mortgage….actually, we don’t know much about money, personal finance, saving and spending at all. We were stuck with this deal for 2 years and within that time, we had a money crisis that forced me to educate myself about money. I read books from the library, research online,  builds home loan model in excel and ran a bunch of analysis. Now I have a nice setup on a home mortgage with every dollar working to reduced the interest expense.

I am interested to know any of you made those mistake when you first took on a mortgage?

Also if you don’t know what I’ve done wrong or you actually doing the same thing, check out the next blog post and I will explain what I’ve done wrong.