The benefits of making regular investments

When it comes to investing your money, making regular investments can offer more benefits than investing a lump sum.

The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you could get back less than you invest. If you’re not sure about investing, seek independent advice.

What you’ll learn:

  • How regular investing works
  • The differences between making regular investments and lump sum investing
  • Things to consider when making investments on a regular basis.

One of the fundamental principles of investing is to put your money to work as soon as possible. An investment needs time to grow, so the longer your money is in the market, the more chance you have of reaching your goals.

How regular investing works

In this video, Clare Francis, Director of Savings and Investments, discusses how regular investing works.

Hello, I'm Clare and welcome to Smart Investor, the show to help you get the most from your investments. Although we can't offer personal advice every month we'll tackle the burning issues affecting investors. And today I'll be exploring the long-term benefits of investing regularly versus investing a lump sum. As ever, if you're not sure about investing please seek independent financial advice.

One of the biggest misconceptions about investing is that you need to have a large amount to get started. But in actual fact, you can invest from as little as £50 a month and there are a number of benefits of investing regularly. Contributing smaller amounts can be a good way of getting into the investing habit so that you can meet your long-term savings goals.

And if you're new to investing, it means you can give it a go without worrying that you're committing too much money all at once. Investing every month is a good way to use your ISA allowance as you can spread out your payments over a year.

In this tax year, which started on the 6th of April you can invest up to £20,000 in ISAs. One of the main benefits of investing regularly is that you don't have to spend time focusing on whether or not you are buying at the right or the wrong time as you would if you were investing a large lump sum. As you'll be drip-feeding money in gradually, in some months, when the market has risen the amount you're investing will buy you fewer units.

But when the market has fallen, the same amount will buy you more units. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll get a better return than if you invest a lump sum but it can help smooth out stock market volatility. And the technical term for this process is Pound Cost Averaging.

Remember, though, that all investments involve risk and you might not get back the amount you originally invested. Nobody can predict how and when stock markets will go up or down because so many different forces are at play. Investing on a regular basis rather than trying to time a lump sum investment can help you become a more disciplined investor, and it removes the worry that you're putting your money into the market at just the wrong time.

You invest every month regardless of whether the price is high or low. It reduces the risk of you making investment decisions based on your emotions and avoids delays in putting your money to work. The longer your money is in the market the greater the chance of you reaching your goals. Ideally you should remain invested for at least five years, but preferably longer. For more information on how to get into the habit of regularly investing check out our website.

Making regular investments can work in your favour, thanks to what’s known as ‘pound cost averaging’. Be aware though that it won’t always work and sometimes it can produce worse results.

You might interpret this as an argument in favour of investing a lump sum, but sometimes making regular investments can work in your favour, thanks to what’s known as ‘pound cost averaging’. Be aware though that it won’t always work and sometimes it can produce worse results.

What is pound cost averaging?

Pound cost averaging is a technique that involves investing a fixed amount of money on a regular basis. So, for example, say you have a lump sum of £10,000 that you want to invest in a particular share or fund valued at £100. You have two options.

First, you can invest the full £10,000 in one go, buying 100 shares, at £100 each. But by doing this you’re fully exposing yourself to the market and the value of your investment will rise and fall in line with any share price changes.

Your second option is to invest your money gradually. You may, for example, choose to invest £1,000 a month over 10 months. If the share price stays the same, this means you’ll be able to buy 10 shares each month (10 shares at £100). But the key here is that as you put your money in slowly, any movement in share price has less effect on the value of your investment. In other words, by regularly investing you’re less likely to fall foul of any volatility.

However, share prices rarely stay the same for long. So when you invest regularly, you end up buying more shares when prices fall (and vice versa). If the share price drops to £90 at the point you invest, you’ll buy 11 shares, whereas if it rises to £110, you’ll buy nine shares.

But there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you decide whether regular investing is right for you. First, you receive a smaller proportion of any income generated by your investments, such as dividend payments. And second, regardless of which approach you take, your money is at risk. The value of your investment can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount you invest.

What to consider when making regular investments

There are strong arguments in favour of making regular investments rather than investing a lump sum, but there are some against it, too.

Market volatility

Financial markets rarely move in a straight line. Prices move up and down, sometimes on an hourly basis. By drip feeding your money into an investment over a period of time, you invest across a range of prices. So, you effectively pay the average price over a fixed period, which can help smooth out market volatility.

Value for money

When making regular investments, your buying power increases when the share price falls.

Let's return to the example at the start of the article. You're trying to decide whether to invest £10,000 as a one lump sum, or gradually over the course of 10 months. The share in question is currently priced at £100.

The table below shows the effect of pound cost averaging. Over the course of 10 months, you invest £1,000 per month buying a total of 104 shares. You buy one extra share when the price falls to £90 and one less when the price rises to £110 (although the profit from the shares bought at £90 makes up for the shortfall). When the share price recovers to £100 in the last month, your original investment is worth £10,400. This means you're £400 better off from investing regularly compared to if you invested a lump sum in the first month and bought 100 shares.

Pound Cost Averaging Lump sum

Share price

Shares purchased

Month 1



Month 2



Month 3



Month 4



Month 5



Month 6



Month 7



Month 8



Month 9



Month 10





Value at £100/ share


However, there are no guarantees that investing regularly will leave you better off. You could face the reverse scenario and end up with a loss, as you can see in this table. You should weigh up whether the cost of regular investing is right for your circumstances and ensure you have enough readily accessible savings to fall back on in the event of an emergency.

Investing discipline

Trying to buy an asset when it's considered cheap, known as market timing, is tricky even for the most experienced investors. Just because a share has already fallen steeply in value, doesn’t mean it won’t drop further. Nobody can predict how and when the price will change because so many forces are at play.

Investing on a regular basis rather than trying to time a lump sum investment can help you become a more disciplined investor. You're forced to invest regardless of whether the price is high or low. This takes some of the emotion out of investing and avoids any delays in putting your money to work.

Make investing more accessible

If you're keen to begin investing but you don't have a lump sum available, monthly investment plans can help you get started. You can set up a regular investment with Barclays Smart Investor with less than you think, and increase the monthly payments as and when you see fit.

Find out more about our fees

You may also be interested in

The value of investments can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invest. Tax rules can change and their effects on you will depend on your individual circumstances.

Investment ISA

Easy, tax-efficient, low-cost investing

Grow your money in a tax-efficient ISA. Invest up to £20,000 per year with a simple low annual charge and dedicated customer support.

Get started in minutes and secure your annual allowance with a debit card, a monthly Direct Debit or by moving money from your Barclays account. There’s no charge to hold cash if you need some time to decide where to invest. 

You can also transfer an existing ISA1to benefit from our award-winning ISA service.2

Staying invested

You must learn the art of patience if you want to give your investments the best chance of earning a return. By committing to long-term investments, you give your money the greatest chance to grow. In this section, we take a look at some slightly more advanced strategies to help you stay invested and manage your portfolio's performance.

Principles of investing

If you’re new to investing, knowing where to start can be a daunting task. Here, we guide you through your investment journey, from what to consider before you start, the different types of investment account, which might suit you, and the various asset classes. You’ll also learn why it’s important to focus on the long-term as an investor, and create a diversified portfolio which includes a range of different investments.