If you think you are ready to start taking tentative steps into the investment world, there are a few things you need to ask yourself before getting started. It is simple, no-frills advice for beginners, and should help you get off to the best possible start.

How much can you afford to invest?

Before ploughing your money into any investment area you must decide exactly how much you have to spare. Also think about how long it is until you want to see a return. Planning your budget is an absolute must to get the most out of your money.

What do you want from your investment?

You may want to make a serious living from investing or just create a well-filled pot for the future. But both of these examples require different tactics. It is imperative to have a clear plan of what you are looking for. Buying investment property is a safer, more long-term tactic, while playing the stock market is far riskier. However, it can lead to increased gains over a shorter period of time.

Do I need a financial adviser?

If you are a beginner with no financial experience, then sound financial advice from a professional is a must. A good financial adviser may cost you a small part of your growth, but can save you from exceptionally costly mistakes. As you learn more, you will probably be able to go it alone. Until then, do extensive research on good financial advisers in your area and develop your relationship with them.

Do super-quick returns exist?

Yes – but they are rare. And riskier. In general, if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. By all means investigate – thoroughly – any tip-offs you hear about, but be careful. The truth is it takes a lot of work and experience to sniff out the quick capital growth investments and experts are paid a lot of money to find them. And they tend to keep quiet about them, too.

What about binary options?

Binary options are the latest way to trade in global markets and have caused quite a stir in investment circles. It is possible to win big with them, but it is also highly risky. You place a bet on whether a particular market will rise or fall in a set time period. The simplicity is enticing, but essentially it is straight-up gambling as stock markets fluctuate greatly all of the time. Before you all go off and lose all of your money, I would advise that you find out more in our tips for binary investment.

Should I get a stock broker?

A stock broker or funding manager is a good idea if you are starting out. They can help you with the day to day running of your portfolio and give you tips and advice on investments and tax breaks. Find out from the Financial Services Authority if your prospective stockbroker or investment manager is FSA-approved if you decide to get one.