Five common financial mistakes to avoid

12 February 2015

1. Trying to time the markets

Predicting the best time to invest in the stockmarket is very difficult. Some say it's the hardest part of a fund manager's job, so for private investors it is even more tricky.

To smooth the effects of the stockmarket's highs and lows, investors can drip-feed money into the market through a fund. You buy fewer shares when prices are high and more when prices are low. This can be achieved by investing a regular amount each month.

2. Non-disclosure and under-insurance

Don't forget to tell your insurer everything they need to know when taking out an insurance policy. Not disclosing medical conditions or driving offences, or undervaluing your possessions, can have a detrimental effect on your cover and can even void your policy. If the insurer's questions are unclear and you are unsure what your insurer needs to know, don't be afraid to ask. Once your policy documents arrive, it's important to check them thoroughly.

3. Cold calls

Many people say they've signed up to contracts after being 'cold-called'. Don't feel pressured in to signing up to anything on the spot. Stop and take the time to think if you really want what they're offering and do some research – you might be able to get a better deal.

4. Short-termism

Investors can get too involved with day-to-day movements and how funds are performing, worrying over the latest share price shift or market panic.

While it is important to monitor how your portfolio is performing, the point of buying funds is to let the professionals worry about market movements.

Experts recommend ignoring short-term noise, so aim for a 'buy and hold' approach.

5. Read the T&Cs

It's easy to gloss over the small print but it's important to take the time to read the terms and conditions of any kind of contract – particularly when you are borrowing money.

While it can be tempting to sidestep the finer details when you need money in a hurry, it's important to know what you're signing up to and what you are expected to pay to avoid any nasty surprises.

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