It’s July, which means it’s about time to do a mid-year check-in (WHERE DID HALF THE YEAR GO?!). Personally as I do my check-in, I’m keeping in mind that a lot has changed since January. Between political uncertainties and battling the pandemic, my 2020 goals look like they were written in an alternate timeline and require significant adjustments, if not overhauling, and that’s ok. The goals still did their job as a directional force, which was especially helpful in incredible times of uncertainty.
Now if you need some help readjusting your goals, here are 4 timeless tips I picked up from my conversation with Suraya Zainudin (Ringgit Oh Ringgit) and Aaron Tang (Mr. Stingy) at the start of the year about goals.
Break the goal down instead of having one big ambiguous goal like ‘save more money’. Try something like ‘I will save 10% of my income every month’. That will clarify the goal, and with that help you achieve it.
Build systems to help you achieve your goals. An example here related to the above-stated goal would be to automate your 10% savings, which is a feature available on most banking platforms. Set it up so that every month 10% of your income goes into another account so that you can’t “accidentally” use it up.
Pro Tip: Personally I’ve set it up so that the money leaves my account a few days after my salary comes in, to be specific the 1st of the month. This way I start the month knowing that I’ve put money towards my different goals and commitments.
Pro Pro Tip: Consider increasing your EPF contribution – that way you’ll tap into the power of compounding interest and you won’t be able to touch the money till you’re 55.
Super Pro Tip: Think about trying a digital investment platform, like Stashaway. This will also tap into the power of compounding interest but with more flexibility.
Review your goals. Take Mr. Stingy for example, he sets aside (a SMART goal approved) half a day every month to do a money review and keep aware of his finances. Don’t try and be a hero and say you’ll do it everyday, be realistic. I feel that it’s better to start small and grow, than to start big and stop soon.
Mistakes will happen. You’re not perfect, remember that it’s ok to make mistakes or even fail, as long as your making progress and taking the right steps. Example: Suraya had some pretty moonshot goals, (like earning RM100,000 in 6 months!), and although she knows she might not achieve them the process of trying to get them done will move her forward!
I hope that these were helpful and I’d love to hear your own thoughts, tips, and strategies for goal setting! Let me know in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter!
Now if you’ve got 20 minutes and want to hear more from Suraya and Aaron, check out the full episode on BFM, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or whenever you listen to podcasts. The episode is titled: Money Goal Tips With Mr. Stingy And ‘Ringgit Oh Ringgit’
While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for all of us, passive investing is often touted as a simple and effective way to invest by buying a reputable ETF with global exposure and doing so for the long term. I discussed this, and the argument against stock picking, with Julian Ng, Chief Financial Guy of roboadvisor-hopeful Akru, which you can find linked below. However if you don’t have 20 minutes to spare right now, below are 4 reasons to consider the passive investing strategy.
Diversification – Many of us are busy, we can barely find the time for hobbies let alone researching a portfolio of stocks to buy. Buying into a reputable global ETF could allow you to minimise time on research, while giving your money simple and immediate global diversification. Paired with dollar-cost averaging, you will be able to further manage risk by diversifying your investments over time.
Simplicity – Too many choices and decisions can cause overthinking and analysis paralysis. This can keep many people from investing purely due to inertia. Reduce the friction by keeping your investing strategy simple and long-term focused by using a reputable global ETF.
Discipline – A simple passive investing strategy can also encourage discipline as you keep your investing to the selected ETF(s). This can be more efficient risk-taking (and diversification) than stock picking, which is characterised by concentrated bets, and can be nerve wrecking during increased market volatility.
Fees – Going in and out of the stock market generally incurs fees, which can eat into your returns in the long term if taken for granted.
For more on this, catch the full Ringgit & Sense podcast with Julian Ng, Chief Financial Guy of Akru, on the BFM app or Spotify
As some part of normal life restarts in Malaysia, we should take a minute to recognise the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially considering that the world hasn’t seen this much disruption since World War 2.
I discussed this, and thoughts on investing during a recession, with Aaron Tang, a.k.a financial blogger Mr. Stingy, which you can find linked at the bottom. However if you don’t have 20 minutes to spare right now, below are 4 highlights from the conversation.
Surprises Happen. The long bull market and global economic growth put many of us in a false sense of security, especially since Malaysia’s last major crisis was about 21 years ago. It’s essential to remember that surprises are bound to come up and we should be realistically prepared. As author and economist Daniel Kahneman once put it, “the correct lesson to learn from surprises is that the world is surprising”.
Survival. You have to build cash reserves, ideally 6-12 months of expenses. Now you won’t build it overnight, but you need to start now, doing so will provide you a buffer should you lose your job. This will also provide a sense of security to invest for the long run as it’ll minimise the risk of having to sell some of your investments in a cash crunch, which can be painful if your portfolio happens to be in the red due to market volatility.
Job security is not guaranteed. When the economy is hit and businesses are impacted, jobs are likely to be cut. We need to keep that in mind and prepare, especially if the potential disruption from COVID-19 could recur.
Consumerism is overrated. When life is turned upside down, we start reevaluating what’s important to us and our needs. While it’s nice to have nice things, this shouldn’t supersede your financial security. There’s nothing wrong with a little retail therapy as long, as it’s within your means, after taking into consideration your financial goals and progress on your cash buffer.