If last year's impressive gains in the UK's FTSE 100 have made you think about how you can get in on the action, take a look at our essential tips on where to start (and what to avoid) before trying to conquer the market.
ISAs and Savings
According to The Office for National Statistics, inflation has already met the government's 2% target. This has led to the possibility of interest rate rises, which is great news for savers. An increase could happen as soon as the middle of this year, so it might be better to hold off on opening a new ISA account rather than locking yourself in to low interest savings now. If you'd rather not wait, there are plenty of other options this year.
Cold, hard commodities like gold and fossil fuels might seem like a safe place to grow your money, but there are plenty of experts out there advising you to avoid them in 2014.
As economies around the world start to pick up, the larger investors are jumping back into the stock market, and the panic-bought gold of the recession is quickly losing its value. Meanwhile, supply of metals like copper and aluminium is outstripping demand, and improvements in international relations and a growing amount of shale gas coming from the US is leading to a drop in oil prices across the board.
If you're a more experienced investor, you might consider taking Forbes' advice and investing in companies involved with pipelines, peripheral tech and logistics. Those new to the game may want to steer clear of this one for now.
The latest research from the States has found that over 90% of the best stocks and shares don't repeat their performance over two years. Simply put, this means you shouldn't assume that 2013's winners will continue delivering in 2014.
Dan Hanbury, manager of Britain's top performing fund last year, told Telegraph readers to look at the UK Alternative Investment Market (AIM) for inspiration. The index contains small businesses that are well positioned to ride global economic growth, and these are often overlooked by institutional investors. Top tips include Utilitywise, Plus 500 and Blinkx.
Those looking to play it safe have options too. Shares in tech giant Apple were steady in 2013, but with new products in the pipeline and the news that Android users are more likely to switch to the iPhone than vice-versa, there could be improvements on the horizon. Another option is Vodafone, whose shares are riding high as shareholders await the windfall from the latest Verizon sell off, and a potential takeover bid from US telecoms company AT&T.
The increased demand created by the government's Help to Buy scheme should push property prices up across much of the UK. But those keen to invest in bricks and mortar should beware of the risk of a housing bubble in areas that have inflated quickly. London is the obvious example, but there's a growing divide across the country. Identify and avoid the hotspots, and think about investing in buy to let properties in the most stable areas.
Invest in your passion
If you know your way around a classic car, you may be better off investing in your knowledge rather than conventional financial tools. A survey by Coutts found that ‘passion assets' like cars, watches and jewels have outperformed shares since 2005 - delivering average returns of 77%.
Before investing in the stock market, it is important you know exactly how much money you can afford to invest. Start by using our free Money Dashboard budgeting software, the smartest way to manage your money across all your accounts and financial products