#SWAAYthenarrative

Invest Like A Woman: Surviving The Stock Market Scaries:

Finance

According to research done by Kiplinger, females are more methodical long-term investors than men. In general, we save more and we trade less. This means we don't expose ourselves to the friction costs of investing, which ultimately eat into any margin earned. Therefore, we earn more on our investments annually. Additionally female investors tend to be less eager to sell than male investors, which is ironic as most of the best investors say their worst decisions have been sell decisions.


Taking the first step towards investing can be daunting. I have first-hand experience of this. Fear is natural but what makes investing so worthwhile, is that the benefits far outweigh the risks. Since entering the market two years ago as a novice investor I have built up fundamental knowledgeable and understanding, my portfolio has expanded (better than any savings account or managed fund has returned for me), and I have really enjoyed the journey so far. However, I have really been struck that as a female investor I'm part of a very small minority, which doesn't help tackling that daunting fear I mentioned earlier, but rather exacerbates it.

At a recent hackathon I dug deep in this phenomenon to understanding the core reasons as to why more women either don't invest at all or at least to the same levels as men, despite it being proven that women are more successful at it. The main reasons I came away with were perception of affordability, potential risk, lack of trust, not knowing where to start and a lack of guidance.

The great thing about all of these challenges is that they all have solutions entirely within our own control. Given our natural predisposition to successful investing, I think it's about time that more women owned their financial future. I wholeheartedly believe, from first-hand experience, that stock market investing offers the best long-term opportunity to do so.

Here are five simple ways that have built my confidence to get started, and hopefully they will help you too.

Just Start

This is a scary thought, right, but it doesn't have to be. Starting is the most important step that essentially requires two things - time and money.

Time relates to the hours you are willing to invest in building the knowledge necessary to reduce the risks associated with making uninformed decisions. It's important to know the basics. I found the perfect app that helped me get started. Start where ever suits you best, but the important thing is to get started. Your knowledge also relates to the length of time that you are comfortable investing, which will change your potential for higher returns-- hence the importance of getting started, now.

The second thing that is required is money. People presume they can't afford to invest or that they need thousands to get started. When realistically you can start with as little as ten dollars (although I recommend starting with a bit more than that, so that you are cushioned against the costs of investing - transfer fees, commissions etc.). Many apps offer fractional share investing, meaning you can buy a fraction of a share if the full share price is too large for you.

I believe that there is no better experience than that which is gained from the actual act of investing. Once you make your first move you are committed and this sense of commitment will lead you to understand, with greater clarity, how stocks and the stock market operate.

Think Long-Term

I adopt the 'buy-and-hold' philosophy. This requires buying part of the companies that you understand and believe in, and holding them for the long term (ten+ years). The reason I adhere to this philosophy is because it has been tried, tested and proven to be the best way to outperform the market.

Never Borrow to Buy

Borrowed money comes at a cost, usually in the form of interest, which will over time eat into your returns. As a good habit, with each paycheck I receive, the first thing I do is save ten percent of my salary. Save whatever you can and before you know it you'll have a nice little bundle to dedicate exclusively to investing. Or, you could follow the rule of investing what you can, when you can and on a regular and fixed period each month.

Diversify

That famous adage, 'don't put all your eggs in one basket' can be perfectly applied to stock market investing. By spreading your risk across different stocks in various industries and diverse territories, you are providing yourself with the best opportunity to reduce your exposure should the market take a turn for the worse. Over time aim to build your portfolio to 12 stocks or more. You could even start with an ETF, which offers instant diversification.

Buy What You Believe In

Reflect on the brands that you consume every day. Whether it's Amazon, Apple, Nike or Netflix, start to build up your knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes of these companies. All listed companies have an Investor Relations page on their website. You can start there and get to know the nuts and bolts of the company.

From my experience investing has been a very enjoyable pursuit because I've invested in businesses that I believe in and understand. I have also learned a lot about new sectors, emerging trends and the broader business world along the way.

Since I began to invest it has only been a positive experience for me - even when the stocks that haven't performed as I expected have provided a learning opportunity. While some mistakes may be made along the way, there are ways to minimize these risks. Follow these five simple steps to build your confidence. Start today and enjoy the journey.

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.