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I presume you probably get a lot of these emails from hopeful entrepreneurs attempting to make money. However, I also concluded that it was worth a shot! - I have read a lot of your content online about investing money and I have seen you on the BBC before. I was hoping that you'd potentially share some words of wisdom with me. I often find that my monthly salary is spent on things I don't need or just saved up; without accumulating much. So I guess my question is.. what do I do with my money to make money? Of course I am not expecting you to tell me where and when to invest but simply what to read, and I guess I really would like to know how you became an expert, where did you start? I feel like investment is something so big I can barely even touch it, and I would greatly appreciate any words of advice you could share with me. Thanks and I hope to hear from you soon. Kind Regards, Beth

Beth, London

07 December 2018

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Holly Mackay

Holly Mackay

Hi Beth,

I think the mental hurdle is to get over the feeling that’s it’s ‘too big’ and you can't possibly do anything, because you’ll get it wrong.

I started by buying individual shares & derivatives, and it was jumping in at the deep end. I didn’t know what I was doing. Shudder!

The first thing is to mentally commit to setting up a direct debit into a savings account – or a Stocks & Shares ISA – to come out every payday. So you can’t spend it, as it has gone by the time you get to it! Work out how much this could be. Again, don’t obsess about the numbers or worry if they seem small. Just make 2019 the year you start. You can open a Stocks & Shares ISA from £25 a month direct debit with some investment platforms.

I suggest you maybe just start with a Vanguard Stocks & Shares ISA. The monthly minimums are higher than some but their platform is low-cost. You can pick a LifeStrategy fund which is low-cost and simple – it’s a mixed bag of investments from all over the world which is blended for you. I'm guessing from your note that you’re young and it sounds like this is long-term savings – if it’s for 5-10 years+ then consider the 80% equity or 100% equity version. Don’t automatically be afraid of investment risk, but do make sure you are in it for the long-term.

If you fancy a little more choice, then maybe look at AJ Bell YouInvest as the ‘shop’ or platform. You could have some of the low-cost Vanguard LifeStrategy fund as a foundation, and spice it up with a few ‘active’ funds which are run by managers, to try and beat the average or a market index. I like the Lindsell Train Global Equity fund. Or you may want to follow a theme, or indeed invest in an ethical or sustainable fund. AJ Bell have filters on their fund lists which will help.

The final option would be to look at a robo adviser like Nutmeg or Wealthify who keep it fairly simple and manageable.


I guess my wise old biddy words would be, don’t let anxiety about what to pick put you off. Don’t try and shoot the lights out with ‘fun’ stuff like bitcoin. Avoid putting all your bets on one horse like the recent Monzo crowdfunding ‘opportunity’. Just buy a sensible decently priced fund, take enough risk for your age, and don’t sell at the first sign of a wobble. Chip in as much as you can, as often as you can, and increase amounts every time you get a pay rise. Making your own investments is the best way to learn – it takes it from an academic text book into something you can touch and feel.


Good luck,


I'm the sole carer for my chronically ill and elderly mum, as well as a full-time police officer. I have no other family apart from her. Due to mum's condition, and due to the fact that I'm exhausted performing both roles, I think the only option is for me is to go part-time, as she really won't accept help from anyone else. (After almost 24 years of frontline service in one form or another I had hoped for a bit of support from work, but this has not been forthcoming). To allow me to go part-time, perhaps 16 hours less per week of a 40 hour rostered week, I will need about £25,000 to maintain something near to my current lifestyle, until March 2020 when I will be retiring after 25 years pensionable service. (I’m confident of getting another job shortly thereafter). 10 months later, in January 2021, I will receive a commutation lump sum of about £50,000. I have a sizeable fund portfolio under an ISA wrapper with Hargreaves Lansdown. That is doing very well, so I don't really want to sell any of these funds and 'lend myself money' from that. I also have other investments, but these are not readily available to draw upon. My ideal funding solution would be a bond-type IOU agreement, where 'someone' lends me the money and I either pay them back in full plus an agreed interest rate in January 2021, or pay them the interest on a monthly basis and the lump sum back on that date. Are you aware of a peer-to-peer site that could assist, as I've not been able to find any? Such a site would probably be preferable to trying to seek out an individual who may be interested in this type of arrangement. (That I would obviously get drawn up legally via a solicitor at my own expense). Thanks

Dave, Hertfordshire

27 November 2018

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Holly Mackay

Holly Mackay

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your question.

I'll do my best to help, but I should first say that I'm not a qualified financial adviser and neither do I know your full financial situation, so these are only some general thoughts.

I'm sure you're absolutely exhausted doing both a full-time job as well as caring for your mum. It can be very isolating making these sorts of big financial decisions on your own – the responsibility can feel huge, especially if you're under such emotional and financial pressures – so I really do wish you well.

If you want to talk to a financial adviser, did you know that some will give you advice for an hourly rate and it may be worth it – have a look at VouchedFor for advisers in your area? Hourly fees are around £150 - £200.

The bottom line seems to be that you've got to generate some funds over the next two years, to support what will be a part-time income. You indicate that this is a gap of about £25,000, so the question is where do you get this £25,000 from?

I'm quite a simple person when I think about money. So I think that any options which get too complicated are when people tend to get into trouble. When we try and turn this into alchemy.

One of your options is that you say you've got a sizable fund portfolio in an ISA with Hargreaves Lansdown. You say it's doing very well, so you don't want to sell any of these funds. My first observation, is that you're thinking about this in a year where in August we celebrated the longest bull market since World War II, with markets inching up since 2009. So most funds are doing really well.

Now the question is, what if (and I'm not saying they're going to) the global markets fell by 20% next year? You're reluctant to sell your funds now because they are doing very well. But these are volatile times. At some point these funds will have a dip.

So ask yourself - if there were going to be a global meltdown next year (again, I'm not suggesting that I know there will be, but there will be a market correction at some point), would you still feel the same way about this? Would you regret not having sold and just banked the certainty and the money? 

You say your ideal funding solution would be a bond-type IOU agreement, where someone lends you the money. If you were a massive institution with large sums of money, you could do a deal like this. They're called 'over the counter' deals. However there are costs involved with any of these deals, in drawing them up. You mentioned legal fees as an example. So for the relatively small sum of money we're talking about, that's not going to be an economically feasible option for you to look at.

You ask if there is a peer-to-peer site that could help - I'm very suspicious and hesitant about all this peer-to-peer lending and Innovative Finance. It comes with massive risks, which I think people underestimate. There’s not such thing as a free lunch and my initial gut reaction is to tread very carefully with this.

The bottom line is that you could borrow this money, but you're going to incur fairly substantial interest rates on whatever deal you come to. This won't be Bank of England interest rates. You're going to be seen as a riskier proposition, so people will want a higher rate of return from you. And the bet you are taking is that this interest rate will be less than the return on your ISAs which you are reluctant to cash in.

I feel as if you have enough complexity in your life, so probably the lesser of all evils would be to draw an income from your current ISA. Rather than liquidate it all now in one hit, you could set up a monthly sell plan to pay out a monthly income? One other thing to highlight is that once you take the money out of the tax-free ISA, you can only put back in up to £20,000 a year into this tax-sheltered account. 

Of course you lose the tax perks of the money in there, but it will do the job that you need for next two years, in the least complicated way.

Sorry to not be able to give you an answer that you'd prefer to hear – I don’t see any easy answer to this but would suggest it’s probably a question which is as much about peace of mind and no extra time-consuming complexity – as it is about purely financial matters?

Best of luck,


I have just bought a house; got 3 months income in my current account and now will be earning about £1000 per month after bills and normal spending. I’ve been investing in Nutmeg’s Risk 10 profile for three years which helped my deposit for my house. I also contribute to the Teacher's Pension scheme. I am now wondering whether to use Nutmeg again, or should I use LifeStrategy for my £1000 per month? Is there a difference between Vanguard's LifeStrategy option and let’s say a well known robo adviser like Nutmeg? Or do I now push the boat out and start investing in a few funds? I am still a beginner and would like to keep things simple, but happy to take risk and prepared to leave my investments for a long time. Please do you have any advice for me? Thank you.

Jordan, Surrey

26 November 2018

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Phoebe - small.jpg

Phoebe Smith

Great to see that you are already investing with a robo adviser like Nutmeg!

Robo advisers are currently a very popular option, and they have recently been gaining new customers faster that the bigger online investment platforms. We found out that in the online DIY investment market (which is worth £223.85 billion), almost 1 in 3 new DIY investment accounts is now opened with a robo adviser - so you're in good company!

As you know from your use of Nutmeg - a robo adviser is simply an online investment service which suggests a suitable basket of investments by asking you around 10-15 simple questions. Once picked, your robo adviser will then manage these for you on an ongoing basis.

The biggest benefit of robos for the less confident or beginner investors out there, is that they take the confusion out of picking all the individual investments. Instead they just do it for you.

You can take a look at our recent performance comparison of the major robo advisers here.


Vanguard, meanwhile, are one of the world’s biggest fund managers.

In terms of their LifeStrategy range - this is a low-cost product which offers 5 ‘multi-asset’ passive index funds which investors can choose from, depending on their risk appetite.

While all those buzzwords can sound complicated, on a basic level this is what they mean for Vanguard LifeStrategy;

  • Multi-asset: You can choose your level of risk and potential return - LifeStrategy offers five portfolio options which split the blend of equities and bonds differently (depending on how ‘spicy’ you want your investment to be).
  • Passive Index Funds: 'Index fund' is a fancy name for a simple idea which goes by a number of fancy names (passive, exchange traded funds (ETFs), trackers). Basically, all these names describe a fund where, instead of someone picking the shares that go into the fund, the fund simply replicates an index (e.g. the FTSE). So if HSBC is 7% of the FTSE100, then 7% of your passive UK stocks fund will be HSBC. There’s no value call made to be made by the fund managers.

If you want a more detailed explanation of what Index Funds are, you can take a look at our Index Funds Explained article.

LifeStrategy's 5 choices range from the blandest most cash-like one, which won't make you rich overnight but will keep your investment safe from any nasty surprises. To the 100% equity one, which is the most likely to quickly rise and fall - though this volatility could result in some great returns!


The pros and cons of Nutmeg vs Vanguard LifeStrategy are that;

  • Vanguard LifeStrategy fund managers will choose the different markets to invest in - alternatives to LifeStrategy such as other passive funds or ETFs often require you to decide where you want to invest – country, sector, etc.
  • Nutmeg guides you to a portfolio option, while Vanguard relies on you to choose your own option depending on your risk appetite.
  • Vanguard LifeStrategy lets you quickly choose how much risk you'd like. Their 5 diversified portfolios offer a quick and simple choice – some other passive funds require you to be more involved in choosing the specific weightings within your blend.
  • Nutmeg offers a pension, unlike Vanguard who don’t.
  • Vanguard LifeStrategy offers a little more simplicity. There can be a lot of decisions involved in using passive funds or ETFs, however Vanguard LifeStrategy takes some of these decisions off your hands.
  • Both are relatively low cost – however all-in, Vanguard is cheaper.

What's the best option for you?

Both an established robo adviser like Nutmeg and a bigger online investment platform like Vanguard, offer some great investment options if you'd like to keep things simple.

Cost may be something which you want to consider, as Vanguard’s LifeStrategy is renowned for being a cheap option. In comparison, Nutmeg can be a little pricier when all the fees and additional costs are factored in. So this could be worth keeping in mind if you’re looking for the cheapest option.

If you already have a high risk profile with Nutmeg and want to stay high risk with Vanguard, then I'd maybe think about LifeStrategy's 100% equity option.

If you have a shorter timeframe, then you might want to consider their lower equity options. These will probably make less than the 100% equity choice over the very long-term, but they should protect you better when markets fall.

As with many investment choices, the most important question to ask yourself is how long you plan to invest for.

Do you have any recommendations for books that I can buy my 18 year old daughter for Xmas on the subject of pensions and investments so she can start to understand the subjects? She's young I know but I would like to get her started. Many thanks!

Nicki, Devon

15 November 2018

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Catherine Morgan - smaller 1.jpg (1)

Nicki, I am so happy that you’ve asked this question.

What a wonderful way to prepare your daughter for the big wide world of financial education! I’d recommend that you look at personal finance books but also non-financial books, as often the messages can be just as powerful in a non direct way.

Two of my favourite books are 'Rich Dad Poor Dad for Teens’ by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Jason Butler's 'Money Moments.’

Jason writes through stories and short chapters, which I think is always a positive with teenagers. It keeps their attention.

He covers some of the simple yet vital messages that I wish I had learnt in my 20’s such as changing mindset, dealing with spontaneous spending, spending your way to happiness and avoiding financial shocks. A very balanced way of understanding true financial wellbeing. Robert writes about some of the important personal finance areas such as compound interest and thinking outside of the salary box! Compound interest is such a powerful thing to learn early on as it encourages early saving habits. Small savings over a longer period of time.

Some other great ones to look at are ’The Millionaire Next Door’ by Thomas J Stanley and ‘Your Money or Your Life’ by Vicki Robin.

Denise Duffield-Thomas also writes around the subject of Money Mindset in her book ‘Get Rich Lucky Bitch’ which is also incredibly inspiring, particularly as your daughter would have grown up with lots of different messages about money from her friends, culture, society and your own influence. This book has helped a lot of my female audience to engage with some of their own fears around money, which more often than not can be more important than the factual information about investments and pensions. 

I would also recommend 'How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie as this will help her to think about how she deals with people and the importance of judgement and perception. 

If you buy her a book for Christmas, make sure to talk about the lessons afterwards.

Giving her some responsibility at this age would be a game changer, because she can start to implement some of her learnings.

Hope you find some inspiration in some of these books and suggestions.

Have a great Christmas!

Catherine x 

P.S. I have just launched the course below to cover exactly these issues, and it has been designed especially for women!

The Money Panel - 'In her financial shoes'


Holly adds...

Another idea would be to also open her up an online investment account. You can do this with Wealthify from as little as £1. There’s nothing like actually seeing your money going up and down, and reading about why, to bring this all to life. And to demystify it all!