Investing isn’t just for financial wizards and stock market buffs. The key to lazy investing is understanding that time and consistency trump short-term effort, allowing your money to work for you rather than the other way around.
Here is a lazy person’s four-step guide to successful investing in Australia.
Step one: Decide how much you want to invest
The first step is to set up a budget and work out how much money you have left over after your bills are paid. Deciding how much to invest can be difficult, some people aim for 10 per cent of their income, while others strive for much more.
The amount you should invest depends on several factors, including your financial goals, income and expenses, risk, age, and investing knowledge. Essentially, you should only invest money after covering everyday living expenses and securing an emergency fund of at least three to six months.
Multi-millionaire investor, and leading Australian futurist Steve Sammartino, shared his personal investment approach: “At one juncture, I invested as much as 80 per cent of my income since I had the benefit of living at home with minimal expenses. Even under different circumstances, I always made sure to invest at least 30 per cent.”
Step two: Decide on a goal
If you want to set yourself up for a comfortable retirement at age 65, investing should be a lifelong habit. However, some people are more ambitious.
For example, multi-millionaire Australian investor Tony Kynaston says he built his investment portfolio so he could retire from the workforce in his 40s and play more golf while Sammartino also told the QAV podcast that his investment portfolio replaced his income while still in his 30s.
Step three: Decide what to invest in
There are lots of different kinds of asset classes you can invest in – stocks, property, fine art, or the latest crypto meme-coin. Each requires a different kind of approach and knowledge base, and varying levels of risk.
For the self-proclaimed lazy investor, index funds are an excellent place to start. They eliminate the need for continuous market monitoring or financial wizardry to try and beat the market, a task even seasoned fund managers struggle with. Instead, index funds allow you to take a more passive approach to investing.
Unsure what an index fund is? Think of it like a Spotify playlist of the most popular songs from all genres. Instead of picking and choosing individual songs (or stocks), you play the entire top 100 playlist. This means you get exposure to all the greatest hits, regardless of which artist (or company) is currently topping the charts.
Just as the Spotify 100 playlist requires little to no maintenance and you don’t have to keep up with every new release or changing trend, index funds allow you to invest in a broad market segment without the need to monitor and adjust individual holdings. It’s a simple, hands-off approach and it’s perfect for those who want a laid-back investing experience.
And investors can reap great rewards too. For example, the S&P/ASX 200, one of Australia’s benchmark indices, has delivered an average annual return of about 8.1 per cent over the past 20 years, as reported by the ASX.
On the QAV podcast, Sammartino said he began by investing $5,000 as a 19-year-old while working a part time job at a petrol station. He bought into index funds and lived as cheaply as possible while young to fuel that portfolio.
Step four: Find the right trading platform
In the past, to invest in the stock market you needed to have an account with a stock broking firm. But I’m fairly confident if you’re anyone under the age of 50 you’d prefer to use an app.
There are many well known Australian-owned platforms for individuals to invest from. Some of the notable companies are Superhero, SelfWealth and Pearler.
However, the traditional stock broking firms might be more appropriate to people with significant sums to invest. They might be a little more expensive, but they also bring a higher level of personal service and financial advice.
Choosing a platform really comes down to individuals personal preference and sometimes the size of the investment.
Remember: Time in market beats timing the market
The old adage ‘time is money’ rings true when it comes to investing. The amount of people I’ve met who practise the same strategy of investing only once they’ve made enough money seems to be a consistent Gen-Z blunder.
Investing early is paramount, largely due to the power of compound interest. This snowball effect means that even small amounts invested consistently can grow significantly over time. The longer your money is invested, the greater the exponential growth.
Tony Kynaston uses the rule of 72 to explain how long it will take you to double your investment.
“My portfolio historically has doubled in value roughly every few years. So if I’d started investing just a simple three years earlier than I actually did, my net worth would be worth many, many millions more than what it is today! I can’t stress enough how important it is to get started on your investing journey as early as possible,” he said.