The best time to grow wealth is when you’re in your twenties. But in an age where life is always greener in other people’s social media feeds, saving money almost seems to go against our need for acceptance and status.
Instead of comparing your life to someone else’s Instagram feed, we advocate being smart about minding your own wealth.Here are some handy principles to consider in your 20s for growing a solid financial future.
NB: Before making any big risky moves with your money, always speak to a financial advisor!
#1 Buckets & Budgets
The 20s is the most important stage to build good money habits. While your income is at entry level, the good news is that your debt and expense levels are also relatively low. At this stage in your life, your priority should be putting your money to work, and building your career.
Having a budget should be top priority. A basic rule of thumb would be to organise your money into various ‘buckets’. At least 10% of your salary should go towards an Emergency Bucket of at least RM10,000. Then, you could look at a further 15% for long term savings and investments. Next, deduct what you need to repay loans or other debts. From the remaining balance, create a budget for expenses such as transport, food, mobile or internet bills, hanging out with friends, clothing, birthday presents and other needs.
If you have extra funds, you can then pop them into any big ticket items you want to buy, such as the down payment for a house, a car, that MBA or trip to the Maldives, etc.
Big ticket items are also important. For example, dropping your money into a house means that your investment will probably grow in value, while a car depreciates the moment you buy it. Also keep in mind that with ownership comes maintenance, insurance, taxes and other expenses that will be likely to crop up.
Find ways to reduce your spending, take public transport (it’s greener!) and look at making your hard earned money work harder for you!
#2 Pay off Your Debts
Speak to your parents or a financial advisor about managing your debts. At the start of your working career, you’re probably still repaying your student loan, or may have started a new home or car loan. Make reducing your debt a priority. Have extra cash from your year-end bonus? Set a little aside for that new gadget you’ve been eyeing, but also consider sinking it into your loan(s). The sooner you get rid of debt, the more disposable income you have.
Credit cards are great for establishing your credit history and for emergencies. However, it does mean you might spend on unnecessary items. Watch your credit levels with an eagle eye as the interest on credit card balances tend to snowball over time. Keeping a clean credit record will also come in handy for the future when you need a good credit history, for example – a loan to start your dream business. Use online tools to help you structure loan repayments and savings or investment plans.
#3 Get Insurance
Insurance plans work best when you’re young, simply because you have the luxury of time on your side. Health insurance premiums also cost less and can save you from unexpected medical expenses. Check out what your family has in terms of health insurance, and also what your employer covers you for, so that you don’t duplicate coverage.
As for a personal policy, speak to your family or a trusted advisor about the best policy for you as navigating the many different types of insurance policies can be daunting.
Remember that the function of insurance is to guard against unexpected catastrophes and should not be treated as an investment. While a comprehensive plan may help cover you from mishaps or illness, you may want to opt for minimal coverage versus optimal or extensive coverage, which may be more suitable for those married with families. Pay attention to what you can and cannot claim as sometimes low premiums could eventually mean higher expenses on your end.
If all goes well, there may be a little nest egg waiting for you at the end of your insurance term!
#4 Plan Your Retirement
There’s no time like your 20s to begin saving for your retirement because time and the magic of compound interest (interest which earns interest) is on your side.
We’re pretty attracted to the idea of retiring earlier than the usual age of 55. Start by determining when you want to retire and how much you potentially need for a comfortable life after retirement. Bear in mind that there will be inflation, and that the costs of living will keep increasing. You may also need more healthcare when you’re older, so be sure to add in those costs.
You can find online tools that can help you calculate the amount you need to set aside for your retirement based on your current income. Simply input your salary amount, number of years to retirement and other details as prompted. As of 2017, the Malaysian government has also offered an incentive of RM1,000 to help start off your Private Retirement Scheme (PRS), so do some homework to discover which scheme appeals to you and get the ball rolling!
#5 Grow Me The Money
Apart from your Retirement Bucket, you should look at an Investment Bucket as well for growing your money. You can look at kickstarting your investment capital at anywhere from RM1,000 to RM10,000.
Next, check out different ways of investment which can bring earnings in the form of interest. This could be low-risk such as putting the money into a fixed term deposit or buying unit trusts or bonds. There are more exciting options such as buying shares from the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, trading in gold or currencies. Because time is on your side, you can invest in more volatile investments such as shares because you can afford to wait out slow economic cycles and recoup your losses.
There are different investment strategies depending on your individual tolerance for risk. Just remember to keep diversifying your investments as you go along. For more information on investing in your 20s click here.
Here’s to a wonderful relationship between you and your money!
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