Am I even allowed to invest here?

One of the most overwhelming things about investing is not knowing where to start. Before taking a free online personal finance course, I watched videos online hoping to find someone like me, a “noob”.  I was looking for someone who had documented their experiences with investing from the beginning. Most of the videos I came across were discouraging. They were about “how I got $100,000 in one month”. If it was not those, I came across people who already had money trying to advise me, who has less than a thousand dollars in my bank account, on how I can make money. Their recollection of that overwhelming feeling of starting out in the financial markets is distorted. They end up saying things like, “investing through etfs is the best thing to do”, which does not seem to provide a leeway for growth or encourage a little risk taking for starters. I gave up after 15 minutes.

Let me get to the point. I am from Botswana and I live in Australia under a student visa. The first question I asked myself is, “Am I even allowed to invest here?”. I searched everything I could about a non-citizen investing in Australia and came across articles about “resident aliens” and articles which applied mostly to people in the US. I was searching specifically for a person who had invested in Australia as a resident. I ended up on page 25 of google, which was a first for me.  I found nothing.

After all those depressing articles, I decided that I was going to invest through my bank. I knew it was not ideal because they have higher brokerage rates as compared to online platforms, however, for someone like me, it is a starting point. It is only option as I assess better platforms to use for investing.

Part of me wonders what will happen to my assets when I leave Australia. As you can see, I have not taken the time to ask the employees at my bank how my future will be mapped out. Writing this article actually reminded me the importance of knowing the risks I might face.

As the reader can tell, I am confused. I feel like I am walking blindly into an unknown territory. That I am David facing Goliath with no sling or rock in hand. That I have to find a way to manoeuvre around him and deal with him as an ever present threat. That I have to be okay with not knowing a lot in order to navigate this world. That I may never master anything in the end. I have to learn how to be okay with being uncomfortable about this fact.


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