This way to sensible saving

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The word investment carries an aura of suave, moneyed sophistication. It implies expert skills, based on knowledge research abilities that most of us don't feel we possess. But as Nic Cicutti reports, a new guide from The Independent is available which shatters many of these myths.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many people shy away from any perception of themselves as serious investors, preferring to park their savings in high- interest bank and building accounts.

When asked, they may reply self-deprecatingly that they know nothing about investment and therefore prefer to keep their capital safe.

But as Steve Lodge, author of The Independent's guide to investments, holding your money in a deposit account is the first stage of any serious investment strategy. "Everyone should have some spare cash in a savings account for immediate needs," he says.

"You need to have this money completely safe and easy to access. The nature of emergencies is that you don't normally get a lot of notice, so you want to be able to get the money back on the spot within a couple of days or so."

All banks and building societies offer a range of postal and other accounts catering for this need. Details of the best rates are available each week in The Independent's Your Money section. Most of us who are serious about putting some cash aside will already have some savings, perhaps quite a lot of savings, in such an account.

The guide goes on to discuss a range of other areas suitable for investors, whose financial needs may include either income or growth, funding their retirement or protecting their dependents and heirs. In the next month or two these options will be discussed more fully fully in both Wednesday and Saturday's papers.

The Independent's free `Guide to Making Your Investments Work for You', by Steve Lodge, personal finance editor on the `Independent on Sunday', is sponsored by Wesleyan Financial Services. It is available by calling 0800 1379749. Or fill in the coupon.