How do I start investing? What questions should I answer before I put my money down?

Starting investing ≠ handing over money

Many people think that handing over money to a financial advisor means you’re investing. Though this might be true in some cases, investing is a lot more than just that. 

Investing is a journey where you put your money in places to make more money. I like to call this – 

Investment entails empowering your money to make more money babies – and so that your money babies can make more money babies.

Many people try and overcomplicate this to make sure they get all the cash. This is done by pyramid schemes, people who want you to invest through them and even those Twitter people that tell you to invest in ETFs. 

But before we start investing, we need to answer an important question. 

Am I ready to invest?

Well, you think you might be. Let’s ask a couple of questions, and then we can decide if you’re truly ready:

  • Do you have any bad debt? This includes all debt except for a house and car.
    • If you do, pay that debt off with great speed!
  • Do you have an emergency fund?
  • Do you have adequate cover if you would die today?
    • If you don’t – check life, disability and dread disease cover first .

So, you’ve ticked all the checkboxes and you’re ready to start investing.

I'm ready to invest. What now?

Don’t be fooled by big words such as financial planners, stocks, bonds, equity, property and coffee! These are really not that complicated. Once you’re ready to invest, you can begin your investment journey.

 A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step
– Lao Zu

Many of us know people that studied a BA in philosophy – and now seems to be working in another industry. You need to align expertise (your research), interest and goals with your investment portfolio. Remember – you’re ultimately responsible for all money decisions you make, even if you hand it over to another party.

Get a money plan in place

Though I don’t want to go into “have a budget” (because I hate budgets), I do want to recommend to automate your investments and expenses. Have a debit order take the money out of your account a few days after payday. This will stop you from spending more than you should. 

With a personal money plan, you will be able to pinpoint the following:

  • Where do you want to be?
  • What do you need to do to get there?
  • How will you get there?
  • What do you need in place to get there?

It would be fair to mention a couple of things here:

Do your research

Once you have a plan in place, you can start doing research about investing. There are loads of options. If you’re almost retired and need safety or young and have a huge risk appetite – there’s something for everyone. 

The key here is research.

You want too make sure you invest in something solid – something that will give you more money babies.  

What are your investment options?

South Africa’s financial investment sector is heavily regulated. This means you can quickly ask if the investment is regulated by the FSCA (Financial Sector Conduct Authority). Though not all investments fall under the FSCA (e.g. rental property investments), it’s worth exploring all investments – eat the fish and spit out the bones.

In general, investments fall in 4 broad money machines: real estate, stocks, bonds and cash (or equivalents). Here is a quick summary with links if you need more information:

Real Estate/Property

Real estate is bricks and mortar – the physical buildings. People invest in real estate with the (calculated) hope that the price of the property and the rent will go up.

More information can be found in the links below:


You can buy a share in a (publicly listed) company. The hope of making money is two-fold: the price of the share rising (due to the company growing) and dividends (where the company decides to share some of its profits with its shareholders). Stocks can fluctuate in value and are extremely volatile. This means that you might want to invest here for the long run! I want to mention ETFs by name here – as they are a well-diversified way of buying stocks!

More information can be found in the links below:


Bonds tend to be boring, but safe(ish). It might happen that the government or a company needs some money now. When the company borrows the money with the promise to return it with interest, it’s called a bond. The interest earned on bonds tends to be just above inflation and is safer if you have a short projected lifespan ahead of you. It is for this reason that it’s a safe option for many people close to retirement.  

More information can be found in the links below:

Cash or equivalents

Cash or equivalents are a lot easier to understand, as we deal with it on a daily basis. These include a money market account, a 32-day notice account, gold or similar that can be converted to cash in a very short amount of time. Returns tend to be inflation-related, yet can dip below inflation from time to time.

More information can be found in the links below:

What do I need to consider before investing?

Don’t just put all your money in stocks. I know it can be lucrative, but it’s best to invest with a few things in mind:

  • What is my risk appetite?
    • If I am old, I shouldn’t invest in high-risk money machines
    • If I don’t like to lose any money at all, I might need to invest in things that aren’t risky
  • What age am I?
    • The older you get, the less risk you should take on.
  • Will I be having multiple income streams?
    • Overinvesting in one thing only can wipe out your entire wealth! Diversify your investments!
  • Can this lead to fraud?
  • Is the investment legal and above board?
  • Have I done enough research to justify the money I invested in the money machine (asset class)?
  • Make sure you’ve done enough research into the cost of investing. Everyone will try and get a cut of your money.

Where can I invest?

Investment opportunities are everywhere.

Good investment opportunities are rare.

If you’re looking to invest in stocks or bonds, you should check out multiple platforms. I personally like EasyEquities, as they have low fees and make investing easier for a normal person like me.

If you’re looking at investing in property, I recommend doing proper research and checking out online sources like property24 and

For cash or equivalents, you’re able to ask your bank how to invest in this money machine.


Investing isn’t as difficult as you might think. 

It’s vital to do your research, as you don’t want to burn your fingers or your money.

Be careful not to invest in get-rich-quick schemes and pyramid schemes.

Did I mention you need to do your research and do calculations?

Happy investing!

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