Money View: Your Personal Finance Manager
If you are considering a high risk bond for example you need to ensure that the rewards you are being offered are equally high. Never lose sight of the fact that high rewards are being offered for a reason - the risk of loss is also high. Whatever the type of investment you are after you should always try to think about having a broad portfolio of investments as this again will lessen your risks while giving you the opportunity to get a good return.
Do they have a good record of helping people for example? Have you been referred to them by someone you know and trust? Are they non-profit or a profit making company? As with any other major decision you should do some checks to make certain you are doing the right thing. Ask about them at your church.
There are a number of internet based sites that will allow you to put in your figures and will then spit out the answer for you. Be prepared for a shock though! It's almost certainly going to be far higher than you first imagined. Once you've got that figure you need to work out the cost of your consolidation loan.
You can either make your own decisions on where to place your investment money or alternatively get a professional to do it on your behalf. Whichever one you decide on it is always a good idea to paper trade first. That is where you decide on a particular stock and only place the order on paper. This will help you to see if you are happy with the market fluctuations as well as with the types of choices either you or your adviser made.
Obviously you don't want to lose it but if you absolutely can't afford to then you should look for something which carries a significantly lower level of risk. Likewise it's important to feel comfortable knowing that you should be investing in the markets for the medium to long term. That's generally regarded as 5 years plus.
There are conflicting reports that Muslim and Jewish merchants in Cairo were the first to establish a stock market while the traditionalists maintain the oldest ones were actually in Italy and these are usually the starting point when considering a brief history of stock market trading. The 13th Century Italians almost certainly had the closest share trading markets to what we would recognize today.