WRITTEN by Amelia Hong
We start 2024 with great intentions and resolutions but according to Time Magazine, as many as 80% of people fail to keep their New Year's resolutions by February – after Chinese New Year. Everything flies out the window- your diet goals, your exercise goals and even money goals. Only a tiny 8% of people make it. This is the truth!
I am not asking to you list out 10 things to work on because the stats say that you will fail. And our brains can’t hack having too many things to pay attention to anyway. My best takeaway from all my years of being alive is that I should pick only one item to work on a year. If I finish that by Chinese New Year or Thaipusam or Hari Raya, I will add another one to work on. I can’t kid myself, multitasking doesn’t quite work.
So, here are my top 10 personal finance things to work on. Please pick ONLY ONE!! Pick more and you derail your chances of achieving!
10 Important Personal Finance Goals For 2024
1. Save RM1,000 or RM100,000. Financial Education Network (an initiative by government bodies found that half (52%) of Malaysians struggle to raise emergency funds of RM1,000. Only a quarter (24%) can sustain their living expenses for at least three months if they lose their main source of income. This is horrifying!! Ok, you say that you are not the 50% of the population, so instead of having the RM1,000 Emergency Fund, you know you need the RM100,000 Emergency Fund or anything between RM1k and RM100K for your own easy breathing.
My client called me up to tell me he got hit with a RM110,000 bill on something he had to repair and it was unexpected and he had to sell a portion of his investment to fund it! Finding that much money overnight might be difficult. But if you can find $83/month or RM8333/month to put away, you’ll complete this resolution by the end of the year and be in a better financial position than 50% of the country or 90%!
2. Put in one extra housing loan payment on your mortgage. One extra monthly payment per year on your loan shortens the length/tenure of your loan by 4-5 years. This is an incredible thing. You won’t have the shock of turning 60 and discovering that you still have 5-10 years of paying the huge mortgage when you can no longer earn! Direct your additional income- bonus, tax refund, increment, etc to your housing loan.
3. Put money (any little thing helps) into retirement. You are unfortunately one year closer to retirement. And I am one year closer to death. More than half of the "mass affluent" Malaysians surveyed by the HSBC Quality of Life report worry about retirement. These people are those with about RM500,000 to RM10 Million to invest. What about everyone else? You know, only 4.0 percent of Malaysians could afford retirement, according to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
We have only one way forward (less complaining – I am talking to myself) and to start saving. Even if it’s just a little. If you haven’t saved anything yet, find out this year how to open an account, put some money in, and begin directing a percentage toward it each month. Start with the Private Retirement Scheme right now (and do not do it at the end of the year when everyone is on holiday). Begin with RM250 a month or even RM250,000 one lump sum if you can afford it. You will never regret preserving your wealth. You will also get some tax relief as well! Talk to us at FinAIMS, we help clients do this.
4. Start a 2-week Stop Shopping exercise to challenge your spending habits. Pick the dates and commit yourself to not spending a single cent for two weeks (groceries or quality food may be a worthy exception). Pick before CNY and be prepared to face the wrath of your parents or kids. Ok, maybe after CNY. You might just realise that spending money isn’t all that worth it. Keeping a small safety net of cash with you might make you more confident and less stressed.
5. Turn your clutter into cash.
There are always books, toys, pots and even furniture you can dispose of and turn to cash. Along the way, you will have a neater house and a calmer mind. Less clutter, more savings! I have been to people’s homes filled to the brim with stuff that they do not actually use. Face it, Marie Kondo-ing your stuff might bring relief to the heart and to the wallet. Check out what you can sell at (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2023/sep/10/cash-for-clutter-how-to-sell-old-toys-coins-clothes-more).
6. Check your credit score. Go to Bank Negara and check your CCRIS. This CCRIS report shows you your credit scores by detailing the financing and repayment history of a borrower over the past 12 months. You might discover your credit score does not enable you to get a loan when you need it badly. Go to (https://www.bnm.gov.my/ccris).
7. Live on one income.
If both you and your spouse work, try to save one spouse’s entire salary. I know this is painful but it’s worth considering so that you will be financially anti-fragile as time goes by. Or if you are hustling on the side, put that side hustle money as savings. You do not have a right to “ENJOY” yourself so much that you do not take care of your future self-down the road. This is going to take a lot of conversation with your partner or yourself to get off the ground. But it's well worth it.
8. Budget. Groan! This just sounds so boring and tedious but not knowing your numbers doesn’t help. Do you know how many percent you spend on food, drinks, rent, etc. You know you must. If you find this a drag and need a push, we help our clients do this for only RM200, this is money worth spending on because it comes back in savings worthy of taking care of you for years. Text us at 011- 5634 0758 or scan our QR code at the end of this article.
9. Invest money in Unit Trust.
Unit Trust is used by everyone to grow their wealth. It’s a very regulated financial product by the authorities which will give you decent returns ONLY if you are accurate on your risk appetite and have a decent consultant. Have you heard people who says that Unit Trust is slow? Or loses money. I and my consultants have been investing for the last 15 years and its making money for us. Ask us how. If your portfolio didn’t make money in 2023, you need to find out why. We can analyse it for you. This gives you clarity and helps with decision-making. A tweak in your portfolio sets the path to better returns.
10. Improve money knowledge.
The growth of your money correlates with the amount of knowledge you have about money. We all desire to have more money to help the ones we love or to take care of ourselves. Start reading Malaysia’s No.1 Bestseller In/Outcome: Manage your Income, Achieve Great Financial Outcome (a very easy-to-read book – according to friends and book readers who find financial jargon challenging). It's available in major bookstores and can be purchased on Shopee here at (https://bit.ly/inoutcome3rdeditionshopee). Yes, I wrote this book!
As I said earlier, pick one! Any one and when done, take another until you exhaust this list! You will be glad you did or talk to us by scanning our QR code.