We often study abstract economic models and solve highly complex problems at school. But amidst that, we rarely learn to deal with money more tangibly, even though finances impact the trajectory of our lives so closely.
As so many of us move to university, perhaps feeling the weight of sustaining oneself economically for the first time, the gaping holes in our curriculums seem to strike us. The need for financial education seeps in as we attempt to become more mindful of our economic behaviour decisions. Having lived through those experiences, Dr Muna and Sharahath offer some chunks of advice as we learn to navigate through our journeys.
The 50-30-20 rule
50% of all your income goes towards essentials... 30 is discretionary, and 20 is saving.
Based on the amount available to you, this might not always be possible. You may see yourself compelled to divert more money to a specific area than you plan. And that's okay! Sometimes, especially when you are just starting, you might not be able to stick to the budget you make. But regardless, you begin to get a clearer picture of your spending habits, making it possible to tweak things according to what suits your needs.
From hanging out on weekends to getting groceries, over time, you start developing close relationships with the people amongst whom you are living. While being surrounded by your friends all day may sound refreshing, coming from different financial backgrounds might put you under some pressure. You may feel compelled to buy products beyond what you can afford or to go to places that don't quite fit well with your budget.
Though it could be hard to think this way when you are in the situation, try to see the larger picture. At the end of the day, living beyond your means for immediate returns is going to hurt just you. Conversations about money are difficult to bring up. But if merely a different way of life pushes your friends away, you might want to reconsider your relationships.
The risks associated with investments might make one wary. But without them, you will lose the value of your savings along the way.
If you don't invest, you will lose whatever that you have saved...because of inflation. So, the short answer is that you need to invest.
Though, before jumping on the bandwagon, there is a lot you should be considering.
- Is your income disposable enough to allow you to invest? Consider holding back from investing until you reach the stage where investments don't deter you from meeting your expenses.
- Prioritise having an emergency fund, one that could last for at least three months. So, even if things hit rock bottom, you will be in a relatively safe zone.
- Have your debt under control. Things like car mortgages have an asset tied to them. They also have a low-interest rate and are fine. But make sure you clear the rest out before investing-personal loans, anything with a high rate of interest, etc.
Where you invest money will also depend based on your life choices. If you are planning to make decisions that require a high sum of money (like buying a house), you need to ensure that you can cash out your investments. So, fixed deposits and money markets are ideas you could consider. Otherwise, you can look more into long-term deposits like bonds, stocks, etc.
Money and finance are often associated with merely profit maximization, but it doesn't have to be that way. It is possible to strike the right balance between money and values. If you care about making the maximum positive impact you can, the skills and behavioural regulation finances teach you still remain relevant in your goal!