Taking Control of Your Finances
finance and productivity | Tuesday, 20 Jun 2017
Every time we receive an inflow of money, we get excited. We daydream about the things we would like to buy, the holidays we would like to take and work out mental shopping lists.
While it’s easy to spend them or to indulge in a vacation, we’ve got a list of sure-fire ways to ensure your savings grow in the right avenue at the right time no matter what the economic forecast and sentiment of recent years.
The Ringgit has been facing some tough times lately, at it's worst, the exchange rate plunged to 4.48 per US dollar, a level unseen since the Asian financial crisis in 1998. Why? Due to uncertainty in the market, investors start to back out from emerging markets, as more of the Ringgit leaves our country, the weaker our currency will be.
According to median estimates of analysts surveyed at Bloomberg, the Ringgit may weaken further to 4.52 in the second quarter before stabilising in 4.47 in 2018.
While Malaysia’s economy is seen growing at 4.5 per cent in 2017 on strong private consumption, the economy will continue to suffer from weak commodity prices and slowing private investment, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported.
Source: Brandon Urie
That may sound rough, but fret not. Economic decline poses new avenues and opportunities for financial growth and prosperity. For example, property prices might stagnate, and this provides first-home owners to purchase at a highly competitive price. Furthermore, new investment options will arise and as the Ringgit stabilizes, and you could yield more rewards than you might have initially expected. In short, exciting times ahead!
How? Here are some fresh ways you can take control of your finances.
Park your money in safe assets
Source: Giphy Original
Cash is constantly affected by fluctuations and inflations. however, Hard assets such as properties are able to withstand uncertainties a little better. Plus, they provide a roof over your head too. The general rule of thumb during a low economic tide is to hold less money in the bank and invest more in sustainable local assets.
If properties are too heavy an investment, you could begin by investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS), where you would reap the benefits of investing in properties for a much lower capital investment.
Re-evaluate your investment options
Source: Cash Machine by Big Baby D.R.A.M
If the economy isn’t looking too good, it is time to evaluate your investment options. Ask yourself, “What investments are most heavily affected” and “What remedies are available?”
Firstly, consider gold. Consistently one of the most desirable commodities in the world, gold is negatively correlated with equities. This means that gold price movements are hardly affected by the stock market and is often considered a good hedge against inflation.
Second, look for counter-cyclical stocks. Composed of companies of large balance sheets, reliable business models and high dividends, counter-cyclical stocks such as consumer staples and utilities companies are more likely to be recession-proof, as opposed to smaller SMEs with high debt-to-asset ratio. However, be mindful to adjust your portfolio once the economy starts recovering as these stocks tend to fall when cyclical companies start bouncing back.
Diversify your income source
By working an additional average of 4 hours a day (that is if you have the time to spare), side hustles such as ride-sharing services could potentially earn you about RM 2.2K. Services such as Uber and Grab are efficient in their hires and generous in their rewards, if you are willing to commit your time.
However, there are other more flexible options available for desk-bound employees. Upwork is a global online workplace which provides freelance opportunities for writers, designers, web developers, accountants and virtual assistants among others. The best part? All transactions in Upwork pay via USD, which means greater returns for you!
Get insurance coverage
Source: People of Earth
Insurance coverage is especially designed for those who might want a bolster against financial uncertainties. While life insurance protects those who have people dependent on consumers financially, such as children or elderly parents, medical insurance protects you financially in the event that you are diagnosed with an unforeseen illness or an accident. These services cover your hospitalisation fee and treatment costs so you won’t fall into unprecedented debt by incurring extra expense.
Instead of parking your cash in a bank savings account that provides minimum returns, you may also consider saving your money through Allianz’s FlexiSaver Plan. You’d benefit from life coverage as well as a peace of mind that there is a team of experts that will ensure your savings work harder for you. This means, a potentially higher investment return.
Besides acting as a financial back up, insurance also provides tax relief. Tax payers can claim up to RM6,000 every year for life insurance, and RM3,000 a year for medical insurance.
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