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Discover how Victoria managed her investment journey, the things she learned and the strategies she used to reach her long-term investment goals.

Market fluctuations are the norm

If I could go back and tell my 20-year-old self something about money, I would tell them about one of the biggest things I have learned about investing. Which is that investment markets are always fluctuating, there are ups and downs and you get used to it. It’s normal to me now, but when I started investing I would log into my account every day and check whether my portfolio had moved. It always had. The market movements became normalised for me, so while I like to be in touch with my money and know what exposure I have in the markets, I don’t worry about it.

I would also tell my 20-year-old self how valuable it is to start investing early. I’d explain exactly what compounding is, how you can get interest or investment returns on a small amount of money, and then you have a larger amount of money which can receive slightly bigger returns, and it compounds over time. There’s a saying ‘you don’t need a lot of money if you’ve got a lot of time’ and it’s true. I wish I had started investing earlier.

The other thing I’ve learned is that anyone who tries to tell you there’s a sure-fire quick win with investing is probably taking big risks. And with big risks there’s the potential for big losses, so it makes more sense to look to the people who are more realistic about the potential gains – and losses – that can come with investing.

Setting clear financial goals

Today my financial goal is to get to a point where I don’t worry about money. I look around and think to myself ‘I don’t want to worry about the cost of heating, or going out with friends, or having a holiday’. I have a range of investment and savings accounts now to help me have options about what to do in the future – I don’t know if I want to retire fully as I enjoy my work, but I like the idea of being able to take six weeks off, go abroad come back, and then later take a month off.

I’ve started thinking more seriously about my pension and wondering how it was invested since 2016, but after having a session in the workplace about pensions I wasn’t left feeling inspired. It wasn’t interesting. They told me about tax relief and how pensions are tax-efficient, and I thought: ‘Is that it?’ There must be other ways of saving for the future.

My investment path began a year later when I was working at Entrepreneur First and looked into crowdfunding a start-up. I was interested in entrepreneurship and how companies raise capital, but I know that putting money into a crowdfunding site was more of a flutter. Because if you don’t know what you’re doing you’re basically taking a gamble.

I also knew that one investment wasn’t enough, it could go awfully wrong and I could lose everything. So, I needed to be diversified.

The real catalyst for me to take my finances seriously was when I had a gap between jobs – that was not fun. When I got a new job, I also realised that I was thankfully earning the best salary of my life in my new job, but I was going into shops all the time. I thought nothing of buying porridge for breakfast in Pret and then buying lunch too, and I was spending something like £13 a day just mindlessly.

The realisation had been coming for a while, I became aware that if I lost this job tomorrow it would be painful. That was when I decided to look through everything I was spending. I had always thought I didn’t have enough money to save, but when I started to question every single expenditure and ask myself whether I was buying something because it actually made me happy or whether I was doing it out of habit, that was when things began to change.

Prioritising what really matters

Realistically I didn’t need any more clothes, I didn’t need to be eating out as much. So, I began to overhaul my lifestyle; after going through every expenditure, I did feel resistance to giving some things up, but I tried to go without them for a month. Once the month was over, I realised I didn’t miss spending as much. It became fun to challenge myself. If I saw something in the shops that I wanted I decided to leave it for a day and if it was something I was still thinking about later in the week then I would come back and buy it. Often, I forgot about whatever it was, buying things just wasn’t worth that much to me.

I began building a different mindset and then because I had money available in my account, I opened an ISA and started putting money away. At first, I was saving £5 a month which I knew was absolutely tiny, but it gave me the impetus I needed to keep going.

After that I learned about the Lifetime ISA, which you can only open before you turn 40. I needed to get in there quick. Every year you can put up to £4,000 in a Lifetime ISA you get a 25% government bonus, and I didn’t want to miss out on any years.

Because I’d become braver with investing and educated myself, I opened a stocks and shares Lifetime ISA with Nutmeg and whacked the risk level up to 10/10 because there’s decades to go before I’ll need it.

I’m still learning. Personal finance is personal, so what works for one person won’t work for another. But if sharing my story means I help just one person feel better about their money, then I’m happy.

Open a Lifetime ISA

Risk warning

As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.

A stocks and shares ISA or Lifetime ISA may not be right for everyone and tax rules may change in the future. If you are unsure an ISA or Lifetime ISA is the right choice for you, please seek financial advice.

For a Lifetime ISA, you must be 18–39 years old to open one. If you need to withdraw the money before you’re 60, and it’s not for the purchase of a first home up to £450,000, or a terminal illness, you’ll pay a 25% government penalty. So you may get back less than you put in. Compared to a pension, the Lifetime ISA is treated differently for tax purposes. You may be better off contributing to a pension. If you choose to opt out of your workplace pension to pay into a Lifetime ISA, you may lose the benefits of the employer-matched contributions.