Understand your investment options
There are different investment options available depending on your financial goals, investment style, and the amount of risk you’re comfortable taking on. Here are the most common ways to invest your money.
Fixed interest assets provide a steady income stream through regular interest payments. Bonds are the most common type of fixed-interest investments, and they fall into two categories: government bonds and corporate bonds. When you purchase a bond, you’re effectively loaning money to a government or company to fund certain activities such as expansion.
Bonds are usually more stable than other investments, but they offer limited potential for capital growth.
If you’re keen to invest in bonds, accessing them individually can be tricky as they’re generally offered to particular investors, such as institutions. Instead, you can invest in a managed fund or exchange-traded fund that provides exposure to bonds.
A term deposit is another type of fixed-interest investment. It’s a savings product with a set interest rate and term offered by a bank, credit union or building society. During that term you generally can’t access your money without incurring penalties.
Australian and international shares
When you purchase shares, you’re effectively buying a piece of a publicly listed company. You usually make money through income from the shares (paid as dividends) or by selling your shares at a higher price than you purchased them (realising a capital gain).
Shares tend to be one of the riskier investments: while they offer potential for good returns, there’s also the risk of suffering losses. In times of volatility they can increase or decrease in value quite unpredictably. Returns differ between shares, which is why it pays to research the companies you want to invest in or seek professional advice.
If you want to invest in shares, you can pick and choose individual shares to build your own portfolio. This is a good option if you’ve already done the research and know exactly which shares you want to buy.
Managed funds and exchange-traded funds are other share-investing options where you can fairly easily invest in a wide group of shares whilst letting a professional manager reach the decisions on which shares to invest in.
Whether it’s a house, unit or industrial premises, property has long been an attractive and popular investment in Australia because of the potential of making money through rental income and capital gains if sold at a profit.
Property investment can come with its own risks and there is the potential that you could suffer losses instead of making a profit. It’s worth considering how your investment could be impacted by any volatility in the property market, or how you would manage without rental income between tenants.
Property can be one of the harder investments to buy into, simply because it requires a lot of money. According to a report by SQM Research, houses across Australia’s capital cities offer an average rental yield of only 2.8%, while apartments deliver slightly more at 3.8% (as of October 2020). This makes property a less lucrative investment than it once was. (Rental yield is the yearly amount of cash you get for renting a property as a percent of its total value.)
Stowing away your cash in a savings account is a straightforward way to invest: you can easily portion some of your salary and place it in a high-interest savings account each month. While savings accounts don’t offer the highest returns, they are relatively low risk.