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A Sydney manager who was on the brink of financial collapse in 2013 has built an investment portfolio worth more than $100,000 in seven years.

Sharon Connolly, 53, was almost completely broke after separating from her husband of 17 years and living in Singapore where she had no employment rights.

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed from a lack of support, Sharon told FEMAIL she was unsure what to do or who to turn to. 

But in a twist of fate, she was handed a $20 promotional voucher for eToro – an online stock trading platform – which led to her impressive financial endeavour. 

‘It really opened up my eyes on the benefits associated with investing responsibly in the stock market for the long term,’ she said. 

Sharon Connolly, now 53, (pictured) was almost completely broke after separating from her husband of 17 years and living in Singapore where she had no employment rights

But in a twist of fate, she was handed a $20 promotional voucher for eToro – an online stock trading platform – which led to her impressive financial endeavour

As she had no investing knowledge, Sharon conducted research on the share market by reading books and attending seminars to gain a better understanding.

‘At first I didn’t understand the basic stock market terminology but learnt a lot as I went,’ she said.

‘I made regular small investments and made conscious decisions to invest instead of buying clothes or shoes.’ 

Through mindful spending over the past seven years, she gradually turned the $20 voucher into a portfolio worth more than $100,000. 

In previous years Sharon used some of the money to put towards a house deposit and assist friends in financial crisis.  

Through mindful spending over the past seven years, she gradually turned the $20 voucher into an asset worth more than $100,000 

eToro is a leading platform that allows users to invest in a wide variety of international companies, such as Amazon, Netflix and Apple as well as cryptocurrencies. 

‘The ease of the platform allows me to easily buy, hold and sell assets, as well as monitor my portfolio in real-time,’ she said. 

‘Today, most of my investments are in technology stocks such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Paypal,’ she said.

‘I also diversify my portfolio with eCommerce stocks such as Esty and cryptoassets including Bitcoin.’ 

Sharon’s main goal is to save enough money for a comfortable retirement. 

‘Investing is important as it provided me with the financial freedom that I so desperately needed – and I now feel in total control,’ she said 

Sharon said taking charge of your finances gives you control and choice to decide what to spend the money on, and in some cases, it can reduce how often you work.

‘Investing is important as it provided me with the financial freedom that I so desperately needed – and I now feel in total control,’ she said. 

‘Financial freedom to me means choice; I can choose to work or to take time off, I can choose the best restaurant or holiday destination or choose to budget. 

Sharon said having more money gave her the ‘freedom to make better choices’ with her finances, as she can now plan and evaluate her options for both the long and short term. 

Market terminology: 

Broker – a person who buys or sells an investment for you in exchange for a fee (a commission). Brokerages are platforms that allow you to participate in the stock market.

Dividend – a portion of a company’s earnings that is paid to shareholders on a quarterly or annual basis 

Bull market (bullish) – investing talk for the stock market being in an upward trend or a prolonged period of increasing stock prices.

Bear market (bearish) – investing talk for the stock market being in a downward trend or a period of falling stock prices.

Volatility – the price movements of a stock or the stock market as a whole 

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The top 12 stocks invested on eToro in 2020: 

1. Nio Inc

2. Tesla

3. Apple

4. Amazon

5. Microsoft

6. Palantir Technologies

7. Facebook

8. Alphabet (Google)

9. Alibaba

10. NVIDIA Corporation 

11. Advanced Micro Devices Inc

12. Aurora Cannabis Inc  

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When asked what advice she would give to others wanting to start investing, Sharon recommended ‘investing in what you know and research what you don’t’.

‘I read the news, follow companies on LinkedIn, and have learned to read a simple balance sheet,’ she said. 

‘I also believe it’s handy to follow trends in order to see where some interesting opportunities lie. For example, when the pandemic hit many organisations and enterprises adopted platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to communicate with their teams and clients, so it was likely that these types of stocks would go up.’

Sharon’s top investing tips:  

* Invest in what you know, and research what you don’t know

* Read the news, follow companies online and read books to gain a better understanding 

* Start small and choose a platform that’s easy to navigate – such as Spaceship 

* Invest regularly in small amounts 

* Teach your kids to start young too  

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According to a YouGov survey commissioned by multi-asset investment platform eToro, 40 per cent of female respondents said they don’t believe they have enough money to invest, and others quoted not having enough time or know-how to do so properly.

Despite this statistic, Sharon encourages women to start investing in small amounts, think long-term and begin by using low-risk platforms.

Stock market guru and Australian Marketing Director of eToro Robert Francis agreed and told FEMAIL the best way to begin is to ‘start small’.

‘It’s a common misconception that you need a lot of money to make investing worthwhile. If you start small but invest regularly, you’ll be surprised how quickly your pot will build up,’ he said.

‘On platforms that offer fractional shares, (including eToro) you can start with as little as $50USD.’

Stock market guru and Australian Marketing Director of eToro Robert Francis (pictured) told FEMAIL the best way to begin is to ‘start small’

Other tips beginners should know before investing is to consider investing in companies from different sectors to build a broad, diversified portfolio that ‘spreads out and effectively lowers your risk’.

Robert also recommended to think for the long-term and hold onto the shares for a number of years.

‘If you’re chopping and changing your investments all the time, then you won’t give your portfolio stocks a chance to achieve their potential, meaning you could miss out on good profits,’ he said.