Where did the year go? I find myself sounding like a broken record as that’s the first thing I say to everyone I meet these days. In a few days, we’ll be bringing in 2017 and with that question in mind, it’s always good to take a few minutes to practice the pause and reflect on the year that has just slipped us by.
With reflection comes lessons and hopefully ones that we can bring into 2017. For personal finance in particular, what are some financial goals you have? Will you clear your credit card debt? Start saving more? Boost investments?
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" - Benjamin Franklin
We were curious to hear from some of the top personal finance gurus in Malaysia about their financial resolutions and tips for young Malaysians as we forge ahead. CompareHero.my were delighted to speak with KCLau, who gives practical money tips for Malaysians; Mr Stingy who writes about optimization of time, money, and relationships; and Suraya from RinggitOhRinggit who chronicles her personal finance journey,
Check out the exclusive interview below!
CompareHero.my (CH): What are your financial resolutions for 2017? If you don’t mind sharing!
KCLau: Not much has changed, I want to increase my company’s revenue by 20% in 2017, I want to invest more in the stock markets with my savings and I would like to maintain my current saving rate of 30% in 2017
Mr Stingy: Mine would be generating a sustainable secondary source of income.
RinggitOhRinggit: I would like to grow my investment in various vehicles. My aim is to reach RM100k before my birthday in May. I would also like to save at least 50% of my income every month. As a self-employed individual, this may be tricky in some months, but I hope I can develop the discipline for it.
CH: Thanks! But what are some resolutions people make that actually cost them to waste more money?
RinggitOhRinggit: A generic 'save money' resolution without a budget plan. Without it, one might feel restricted all the time and compensate by buying themselves small luxuries over big luxuries. This is called the Lipstick Effect. It's no coincidence that sales of small luxuries grow during the recession.
Mr Stingy: Going "all-in" into new year resolutions that you're new to. For example, if your objective is to lose weight. What not to do: Buy a year's gym subscription at the swankiest gym, buy trendy workout clothes from Nike for motivation, and "invest" in the latest Fitbit to track your progress.
CH: Do you have any financial tips/advice for young Malaysians to bring into 2017?
KCLau: Inflation is real. As a young Malaysian, the best thing you can do all the time is to have a healthy saving rate. I recommend 30%. If you can’t do it, make it the most important short-term goal to reach 30% saving rate.
Mr Stingy: The economy isn't looking too good. I would look at trying to generate multiple sources of income (preferably in something that you like doing), as opposed to just relying on a single job. Having sufficient emergency savings (>6 months) worth of expenses is doubly important in difficult economic times. Lastly, keep your expenses as reasonably low as possible. It's not just about how much money you make -- it's how much money you can keep.
RinggitOhRinggit: Many people will look for side income opportunities. Try to avoid oversaturated marketplaces, and/or consider investing in marketing sell your products/services better. This is an opinion, but I think Instagram shop is a good example of an oversaturated marketplace.
Remember that folks:
- Try to save between 30-50% of your income and if you can’t, make that a resolution
- Invest in properties and stocks to accumulate wealth
- Generate multiple sources of income (active or passive) and avoid oversaturated marketplaces
- Track expenses and build your emergency savings of at least 6 months
CH: We think many Malaysians are aware of the need to save money, but get stuck at actually doing it. Do you have any practical tips to get us started?
- Track your expenses
Mr Stingy: Track your expenses using an app. You can't optimise what you don't track. I first started tracking my expenses in detail in 2016 (my new year's resolution) and was pretty surprised by what I found out.
RinggitOhRinggit: Buy less, but buy quality. Quality products don't necessarily need to be expensive. Do some online research or ask around for recommendations.
KCLau: Buy only the things you will be using within the next 3 days, or 7 days, or a month. The time limit is not important. But this exercise will make you think hard whether you are going to make good use of the purchase.lue elsewhere.
- Do not shop on impulse especially for expensive items, like a car
RinggitOhRinggit: Delay your purchases. Whenever you want something that you don't need, tell yourself to only buy it if you still want it after a month. The more expensive the item, the longer you should wait. Personally, I tend to forget I even wanted them by the end of the 30-day wait.
KCLau: Buy a used car rather than the new ones. Car depreciates about 10% each year. If you buy a 5-year-old car, you could be paying half the price only.
Mr Stingy: Ask yourself, "Do I really need it?" or "Is there a more efficient way to achieve my objectives?" first. Take some time to make your decision and sleep on it first. That irrational desire might be gone tomorrow.
- Build your savings and investments
Mr Stingy: Deduct savings and investments immediately when getting your paycheck. Park it in accounts where you can't easily access. This is commonly known as "paying yourself first." If you wait until the end of the month to invest the leftovers; guess what -- sometimes there's no leftover.
"Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving" - Warren Buffet
KCLau: Since time is on your side, learn how to invest profitably and safely, for the long-term. Think of buying assets like properties and stocks (businesses) that is going to do well many years down the road. That’s the proper way to accumulate wealth.
CH: We speak about savings and investments. What are some investments to make in 2017?
Mr Stingy: Going to sound cliché, but investing in yourself is the most important thing. Developing skills that you can sell, equipping yourself with personal finance knowledge, and ensuring your health is good (diet and exercise!)
Then we can talk about external investments. The economy looks gloomy to me -- I don't know how long more the Malaysian stock market can sustain its bull run (longest in the world). Oil prices still aren't too good, and the Ringgit is weak. Though I will say, if the Ringgit ever gets back to 3.2 against the USD, I'll be buying a lot more USD-based assets.
What investments do I currently like? "Safe," defensive ones. If you can get your hands on Amanah Saham -- I'm loving those. Also liking 0%-sales-charge mutual funds invested in bonds.
KCLau: I stay invested all time, in properties and stocks, regardless of market condition. The smart investment is to find good assets (property or stocks) that are selling at a bargain price compared to its value.
Must-Read Books for Financial Knowledge
On KCLau’s Bookshelf:
- One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch
- Warren Buffett Accounting Book by Stig Brodersen & Preston Pysh
- Cold Eye - Sun Tzu Art of War in the Stocks Market.
On Mr Stingy’s Bookshelf:
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
On RinggitOhRinggit’s Bookshelf
- ‘Emotional Currency: A Woman’s Guide to Building Healthy Relationship with Money‘ by Kate Levinson, PhD
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