Source: Masthead News letter Sept. 2011

Research conducted for Old Mutual's bi-annual savings monitor which tracks the savings trend of South Africans, indicates that South Africans have felt the impact of the recession, but are starting to plan positively for the future.

However, most of us are still saving far too little and are under prepared for what lies ahead. Many of us will need to support ageing parents, as well as provide for our children's tertiary education.

Unfortunately, there are no short cuts to financial freedom. "Get rich quick" schemes simply don't work.

Invest with a company that has a proven track record and that's well- known within the industry - don't be lured by the offers of astronomical returns which are simply not viable in current market conditions.

Understand your time horizon and risk profile - the longer you have to invest, the more risk you can afford to take and the greater the likelihood of making healthy returns, as well as taking advantage of compound interest (i.e. interest on interest).

It's time in the market that counts - not timing the market.

It's better to keep investing at regular intervals over the long term.
Most people want to invest when markets are doing well and tend to disinvest when markets fall.

It makes better sense to keep investing through the market lows, when shares are undervalued and are a lot cheaper. If you do this, you gain more wealth during the highs.

Diversify so that if one asset, investment or market does not perform well, you still have the other investments doing their best for you - thus managing your risk. Don't focus on returns from individual investments. See your investment portfolio as a whole.

Balance your portfolio - don't invest only in property or cash. There'll always be times when one asset class outperforms the other. Remember that cash and bonds provide stability, whereas shares and property provide growth. Choose a professional portfolio manager who can investigate opportunities and make sound investments.

Remember each person is unique - what's good for your neighbour isn't necessarily a good investment choice for you.

A sound financial plan helps to achieve success, regardless of what the market is doing.
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