Financial planning involves establishing goals, working out what assets and liabilities you have, evaluating your current financial position, developing a plan to achieve the goals, implementing the plan, and monitoring and reviewing the plan whenever needed. The main goal of a financial plan is to achieve financial freedom and this cannot be done without doing the 4 things below:
1. Maximize your income : Needless to say, you cannot create wealth without a steady source of income. The more income you have, the more you can save. Therefore, explore all available options to maximize your income. If your job doesn’t pay you well, find a new job or find a part-time job to supplement your income. If you do not have the necessary skills to get a better-paying job, go for upgrading courses or night classes. If you believe you have some entrepreneurial skills, consider starting your own business. Running your own business has its risks, but the rewards are also potentially higher. Just don’t keep watching TV or playing electronic games and expect your income to suddenly increase!
2. Protect your income: Improving your income level is one thing, it is another to protect it from loss. Buy adequate life insurance policies to make sure your hard earned money does not go to the hospitals when serious illnesses strike. Medical insurance is a must. Life insurance to cover eventualities such as death, total and permanent disability as well as critical illnesses is also necessary. Just don’t dump all your money under insurance plans. A good financial planner will be able to share with you good budgeting habits and strategies to allocate your budget wisely.
3. Save first, then spend: If your idea of saving is to save what is left after spending, then throw it out of the window immediately. Anyone who says he or she will save after taking care of all the expenses will have no money left to save at the end of the month. Therefore, you should save first and then spend what is left after saving. First, determine what percentage of your income you can save every month and adjust your lifestyle around it. Ideally, you should try to save at least 30% of your gross monthly income. But if that is not possible, then try to start small first and increase savings as you adjust your spending habits. Saving is the pillar of accumulating wealth. Think of how the ocean is made up of droplets of water.
4. Invest as much as you can: The more money you can save, the more money you will have at your disposal to invest in investments assets that will grow your money exponentially over time. You cannot become wealthy by just saving your money in the bank. A passbook savings interests can be as low as 0.05% per annum. It is as good as zero if you ask me! When you take into account inflation eg about 3% in Singapore, the value of your savings in the bank is actually shrinking every year! Therefore, you should invest as much savings as you can in investment assets such as endowment plans, real estate, stocks, commodities, unit trusts and ETFs . Every investment has risks associated with it. As the saying goes, you cannot potentially make good profit without taking some risk. But instead of putting all your money in one or two assets, build a diversified portfolio of assets so that if one goes on loss, the others may protect or even improve your overall position. If you are not as financially savvy, get good advice from financial advisers who can offer you a wide range and selection of products. It is one thing to get sound financial advice, it is another if you can implement an effective financial solution with a suite of good financial products in the market.
Insure yourself, protect others.
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The author of this article is Mr Sean Ong. He is a Certified Life Coach and a Chartered Financial Consultant with more than 14 years of experience in the finance industry. A shareholder with the one of the largest independently-owned financial advisory company in Singapore, Sean also leads a top financial advisory group and has been featured on the local TV and radio. In his efforts to contribute to the society, Sean ran 1,000km over 87 days to successfully raise more than $13,000 for a children charity in Year 2012. He also published a book called “Mend Your Socks!” where sales proceeds were donated to charity. Sean can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.