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14 steps to investing success in 2014

Minimize taxes. It’s a cliché because it’s true; the first rule of investing is not to hand money to the tax man unnecessarily. This doesn’t mean investing in fancy tax-dodging investments. It just means taking advantage of the allowances you have. You can invest £11,520 this year in an Isa, and if you’re a basic rate tax-payer, the government will put £25 into your pension pot for every £100 you put in - and more if you're a higher-rate payer. Outside of these, you can get £10,900 a year before having to pay capital gains tax. Make the most of these breaks.

Remember tracker funds. It’s not just the tax-man you should avoid giving money to. You should also not hand money over to fund managers without good reason. If you want exposure to equities, your default position should be a low-cost equity tracker fund. Only depart from this if you have good reason to do so. And remember that, very often, investors don’t have good reason. Research suggests that demand for actively managed funds is inflated by cognitive biases such as overconfidence, naïve diversification and an under-appreciation of how badly charges erode wealth over time.

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