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Back to school is my favorite week of the year. Besides worrying about being fired because our team of junior experts are so good on camera, I love having the chance to really go back to basics on all things investing. Even experienced investors need to brush up on their knowledge from time to time. And whether it’s figuring out how to invest your first Isa or getting to grips with the complicated world of retirement, we all have to start somewhere in our financial journey and it can be hard to know where to start.

With the advent of the Junior Isa, that journey can begin at a very young age these days (from birth, in fact) – and part of the problem for parents is how to make the investment worthwhile for a youngster, especially when there’s Netflix and TikTok and everything kids have to deal with these days.

So this year we thought about how to bridge that gap – we asked our youth team what their favorite hobbies and interests were and sent our analysts out to find the stocks that suited them. Because while owning a global tracker fund is probably one of the cheapest and most effective ways to invest for the long term, it’s really not very interesting for a young person (or for many adults, of elsewhere). Far more exciting is the chance to own a stake in something you already know and love, whether it’s the company that makes your favorite chocolate bar, the company behind the best Formula 1 cars or the team that makes your favorite video games.

Technology and app makers have made investing a whole lot easier in recent years – now you can start with just £1 to invest and a few taps on your phone – but the little that no one has figured out yet offers a magic formula that makes investing interesting and exciting for the masses. For many people, the stock market will always be something complicated and more than a little scary. Yet research tells us that the earlier we adopt good financial habits, the more likely they are to stick. If we can make investing less confusing and more accessible, we’re halfway there.

Back to boring basics

With all that in mind, you might think I walk around telling everyone I meet that they should invest immediately. I promise that’s not true (I’m sure I wouldn’t have any friends if that was the case). So last weekend when a friend asked me how to get started with an Isa stock and share, my first question was: do you have a rainy day fund sorted?

Because, as I’ve said many times, before you even think about investing, it usually makes sense to pay down your debt and get yourself an emergency kitty. Investing is meant to be long-term, so you need a separate pot of money to lay your hands on in the short term if the unexpected happens – after all, being forced to sell your stocks or funds at the wrong time could be quite disastrous.

But when people start thinking about investing, they tend to be drawn to the racy stuff. SPACs and start-ups, IPOs and the same stocks. And while there’s room for it in your wallet, if that’s what you like (at Morningstar we call it Mad Money), it’s generally beneficial to start with the simple and boring stuff, that which means getting your financial situation in order before you start. increasing the risk.

“Boring!” I hear you cry. Surely you have learned by now that most of my suggestions are boring? I know a Cash Isa paying 0.5% is not a dream, but it will let you sleep at night and know your money isn’t going anywhere. And if you like a little more risk in your life, Premium Bonds are a fantastic option – an email from ERNIE is always a good thing. Once you have all your safety net in place, you can move on to the exciting stuff.