Asked on 04 Jul 2020
The recent global pandemic has made me realised so many things. My job security is at stake. I have very little savings and no knowledge on investing. I dont even have insurance. I honestly do not know where to start.
Step 1: Build up your emergency funds first
It depends on your financial obligations. Usual guideline is 3-6 months of expenses, for salaried employee; 6-12 months for self-employed. No hard and fast rule.
Step 2: Ensure you get some basic insurance coverage
Hospitalisation and critical illness coverage are important. After that, if you like, you can look at other stuff like personal accident, disability income.
Once Step 1 & 2 are done, you can set aside some money for investing.
While you're doing all these, if time allows, you can do some side hustle to boost your savings, plus also upgrade yourself.
This is an increasing open world. Anyone can work with you from overseas, and vice versa. For example, there was this guy in The Burrow Facebook group who found his job via Reddit and has been working from home (remote work) for 4 years.
Goes to show how technology has changed the way we work and find work.
Hence, when we believe that we're not just competing locally but globally, it will spur us to improve our skill sets, and in turn, these will increase our value, allowing us to stay employable.
Focus on your personal finance first. I'd advise you to start by setting aside some money for emergency savings first. As your job security is currently uncertain, you will want to have enough emergency savings to tide over any loss of job.
There's no quick and easy way to do this; ensure that you spend within your means. Even actions such as eating at a hawker center instead of a food court will help. Make your own tea/coffee from teabags or instant mix instead of buying them. Save the money in a high (well, not so high nowadays) interest saving account. Force yourself to transfer a fixed money over to another bank account for spending, and have your salary crediting account be left alone in your primary bank account to accumulate your emergency fund. If you really tighten your belt, you can likely get back on less than $1000/mth. Yes, it requires sacrifice, but this is a short term pain in exchange for a long term gain (i.e. your financial security)
Once you reach around 3 months of expenses set aside, you need to look at getting some insurance coverage. At a minimum get hospitalization and critical illness cover. You can always pay monthly first to reduce the impact on your cash flow. That's a whole different topic separately which I won't elaborate too much here to keep the answer short. Continue to build up your emergency savings to 6 months and then 12 months.
Once you have 12 months of expenses, you may breathe a little easier. Start to look at investments and ensure that you continue to spend wisely. Read widely, gain knowledge, and speak with people to get an understanding of investments. The topic of investment is another deep one and I don't think it makes sense to elaborate too much here.
At the same, continue to keep yourself relevant. Upskill yourself so that when opportunities arise, you may move to a better paying job.
Good luck and feel free to ask if you have further questions.
On top of what others suggested, I would advise on the how to trim expenses / save money to start your journey
(a) track your last three month expenses and group them to find out how you are spending your money. I do something like
Apr Bank start balance + salary - allowances - other expense = Apr Bank ending balance.
Most online banking functions already have some feature that allows you to analyze the cash flows in / out of your bank account or credit card.
The thing is when you start, you may find a lot of incomplete information like a few atm withdrawals that you would have to try to recall what you spent it on. For time being, just make it into a generic group first, and also why I suggest three months for starters.
(b) one way to control your spending and the unknown cash spends is to pay yourself an allowance. I have my salary going to ocbc 360 account, and then I do weekly transfer of my allowance to my other ocbc account that I withdraw cash from. This leaves majority of the salary in the 360 account for the regular bills etc while I have a pre-determined allowance I can spend that is known.
(c) you need to figure out from (a) and (b) where most of your money is spent. Different people have different poisons, eg some people have a daily bubble tea / Starbucks that may cost them 100+ per mth, some do a lot of online shopping, some buy too many 4d/toto, some spend it on maintaining their cars, some take expensive holidays, some spend too much on the kids.
Everyone spends money but the important point is
we should spend within what we earn, and keep some savings (other than cpf). Since you say you don't have a lot of savings, aim to start small at 10% of your take home pay first, then slowly increase it to maybe 30% or more it should be more than 30% coz when this portion should form your savings for marriage and home down-payment until u get your house and will use this 30% to pay monthly mortgage
you will need time to adjust to spending less. There are a few threads on how to save money, but it's the mindset change that matters. Instead of saying "I have no life after I cut my expenses", you should see it as I only have this much for spending and I would want to spend on this and that item that matters to me.
one tell tale sign of a spending problem is when you need to buy containers or furniture to store "something". That something is your own poison, that you need to set a maximum spend per year cap on, if not you will just keep buying and buying even when you have lots of it.
(d) after going through the expenses you will cut, this forms the savings and budget that you will use to fund the necessary insurance and savings / investment. If you have credit card, or some cash loan, study loan etc, I would suggest you pay that off first before considering investment.
Take small steps and set small targets first like 5%, then increase to 10%, then 15%. Once you see your bank balance slowly grow, you know you are on the right track.
You can begin by living below your means.
Work hard, find ways to increase your earnings.
Save as much as possible.
As time passes by, when you have a good starting capital, learn to INVEST in a businesslike way. Do not try to get rich QUICK via gambling in the stock market.
Financial planning starts from yourself. What do you want to get in your life? Housing? Marriage, etc
Step 1: Look at your savings
Is there Anyway you can increase your revenue and reduce your expenses?
Step 2: look at your insurance coverage
Anything more, you have to find your way through investing or getting a new job
You can take a look here. Basic guidelines for personal finance that can be done in 5 minutes.
Keep it simple, budget and it will work out.
Investing should be the last thing you should think about it. Your main focus right now is to build up your savings and start having insurance coverage on essential insurance plans such as healthcare related.
In addition to Sharon's reply, besides building up your emergency funds ( I would set aside a minimum of 12 months, given the uncertain economy) and getting hospitalization coverage, I would recommend the following:
1) Get life insurance
2) Keep learning and looking for ways to increase your income.
Do you have any skills that you can monetize in your free time? Sing? Draw? Talk? Produce graphics? Photography?
If not, you might want to learn some skills that are in demand during this time.
For example, building websites is definitely valuable. Even talking, you can do live auctions etc. Be creative about increasing your income.
Hope this helps!
Feel free to pm me if you have any questions.
Here's my blog, on personal branding and biz.
I do not know the truth.
But I wrote this up to tell people what surely to avoid.
Also try to avoid the more risky things I mention here myself:
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