One of my consultants Yang is passionate about financial immunity because he can personally vouch how having it has helped him in his difficult times.
What is financial immunity? Simply put, if someone gets attacked by a financial virus (either job loss, pay cut, high inflation, or sharp interest rates rise or even a recession), the financial health of the person is strong enough to withstand for a good period of time and will not end up being a bankrupt.
How do we immunise our finances against the viruses? There are important 4 stages over time that help you build financial immunity the way your body builds immunity through correct breathing, nutritious food, consistent exercise and enough sleep.
Stage 1: Save now and start small
It is truly simple. Start saving and it does not matter if it is small but ensure 2 things: consistent and something you will not really notice. For example, save RM3.50 a day and that is RM120 a month. This way, you will not feel the pinch of savings. But that’s too little, you say. Then aim for savings that will hurt your pocket – how about RM500 -1000 per month? Come on, you know you need to do this!
Stage 2: Build up emergency money (lemonade fund)
When life gives you lemons (like now), best start making lemonade. Build your emergency fund of at least 6 months of your expenses. Say you earn RM5000 per month and you spend RM3500, then ensure you have RM21,000 in somewhere easily accessible before you do anything else with your money. If you want to buy a new car, you cannot do it until your lemonade fund has at least RM21,000 in it. Better yet, build it up to 12 months (for those high up the job ranking or have commitments such as loans or children). Ensure the lemonade funds are in the bank or bonds – something stable when markets get choppy. The faster you build your lemonade fund, the better your financial immunity is.
Stage 3: Invest carefully
After you achieve your lemonade fund goal, invest for the long term into a more aggressive investment. Your investments should earn more than 6% per annum to counter inflation. There is no need to go super aggressive where you cannot sleep at night when the market falls dramatically e.g. market downturn during the Covid-19 situation.
Stage 4: Beef up your financial safety net
Accumulate for your future by putting money away more aggressively. The time for small savings (Stage 1) is over! You will need to be aware about the rate of return for each of your investments type. A good understanding of this will help you create and sustain a huge financial safety net for difficult times such as now.
Your financial health should be taken care of the same way as your physical health. Be safe, be healthy!
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FinAIMS Managing Director