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The best financial decision I ever made

Making the right financial decisions can transform your life. Whether it’s putting money into a pension or choosing the next hot stock that rockets in value.

Here we ask six investment experts to reveal the choices that have most improved their personal circumstances – and the lessons they’ve learned.

Buying a stock

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, believes his best call was to buy shares into Anglo American, the FTSE-100 listed mining company.

“I bought them back in 2017 and they have since more than doubled,” he says. “I’ve held other shares for longer, but this one of the strongest performers in the shortest time.”

The purchase was based on his view of the global economy rebounding and the effect on commodity prices. “I managed to stick with it even through the madness of Covid last year,” he adds.

Getting into property

Buying a flat when she was in her twenties was the most lucrative decision made by Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“It doubled in value over the next five years,” she says. “It then allowed us to move up the property ladder.”

However, the next home purchased, which was owned throughout the global financial crisis, hardly went up in value, given the amount spent on it.

“This taught me that no investment offers a guaranteed return,” she adds. “However, we were still lucky to get into the property market relatively early as it enabled us to move as the family grew.”

Starting a business

Justin Modray’s most rewarding financial decision was starting his own business, Candid Financial Advice, back in 2013.

“The financial rewards take time and every day has its own set of hurdles, but it’s immensely enjoyable and puts me firmly in control of my own financial destiny,” he says.

Modray points out that although working for others can bring security and a nice income, it usually means compromising your ideals and gaining little benefit from growth in the business.

He insists the emotional rewards have been worth the effort.

“The business is making money and growing nicely, so with patience and more hard work I’ll likely see a healthy return on the time and effort I’ve invested,” he adds.

Buying a Tesla

Chartered financial planner Martin Bamford bought his first electric vehicle – a Tesla Model 3 – just over a year ago and insists it has saved him a small fortune.

“As a company car purchase, we qualified for 20 per cent corporation tax relief on day one and the car also came with a £3,000 plug-in grant from the government,” he says.

He had no “benefit in kind tax” to pay last year, and only 1 per cent this time around.

“The running costs are incredibly low, with overnight charging on my driveway on a cheap 5p/kWh rate between 12.30am and 4.30am, when I schedule the car to charge,” he adds.

He’s also earned several thousand miles of free electricity at Tesla supercharger stations though referring people that have subsequently bought cars from the manufacturer.

“With the rising cost of fuel, and supply chain disruptions leading to forecourt queues, I’m feeling rather smug this year to have taken the plunge and gone full electric,” he says. “It’s lovely to drive too!”

Maximising my pension

Jason Hollands, managing director of corporate affairs at wealth manager Tilney Smith & Williamson, insists one of his best decisions was maximising his pension allowances in his thirties – before children and their associated costs came along.

“It seemed a bit too boring and sensible at the time compared to buying a new car or designer clothes, but I don’t regret it,” he says.

His plan included “mopping up three previous years of unused allowances” after coming into some money.

“Now that I’m in my early fifties with two school-aged kids and have less capacity to invest larger sums, it is comforting to see the pension well-funded and growing,” he adds.

Jason urges everyone to put money away as soon as possible. “The earliest pounds you invest are always the most valuable, because time will work its magic on returns,” he says.

Organising bank accounts

Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, believes opening a joint account with her husband, Tony, to cover their main household expenses was a masterstroke.

The couple had separate accounts when they first had children but making sure there was enough money put in each month to pay the bills proved to be stressful.

“We worked out how much was needed in the pot to pay the essentials every month – and whatever was left in our own accounts could be spent without worrying,” she explains.

Their children are now teenagers – but the couple has retained the joint account. “We’re able to have fun with our disposable income as we know all the important bills are covered,” she adds.

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