How to achieve your financial goals

How much time you have is another major consideration. However much you may want to invest in the stockmarket, it's not the best option if you are likely to need your cash in the next five years, for example you are saving for a house deposit or a child's upcoming nuptials.

For longer term savings goals - for example your retirement or your child's university fees – where you have a decade or so before you need the money - you are much more likely to achieve your goal with a well-planned investment strategy. Your money should grow faster and there are steps you can take to reduce risk, particularly in the final years before you need the money as your focus shifts from capital growth to capital protection.

In order to achieve your financial goals you can build a balanced portfolio incorporating a variety of different investment types (including cash and funds that invest in everything from corporate bonds to FTSE 100 companies, smaller companies and companies based in numerous countries across the world) or you can simply pick one fund that is in itself a balanced portfolio and offers you access to a broad spread of investments through one single plan.

Moneywise can help you choose the right investments for you, but if your goals are big (say, you want to retire early, or you want to fund a private education for your children or grandchildren) it can be worth paying a fee to get independent financial advice.

A good independent financial adviser (IFA) will be able to help you work out how much you need to save, determine your attitude to risk and suggest the investments that can help you achieve your goals. Through regular reviews they will also be able to monitor the performance of your investments and help you make any necessary changes as and when they occur.

It can cost a few hundred pounds to consult an IFA but most will provide an initial chat free of charge and - if it means you achieve your goals – it can be a price that's well worth paying. Speak to friends and family for recommendations or visit to find advisers in your area.

With savings rates remaining at rock bottom and people more desperate than ever to generate a decent income, now could be the perfect time to look at the world of investing. Here’s our guide to all you need to know to check if you’re ready to invest in the stockmarket.