Often, while people want to invest their funds, they find it quite challenging to begin the process. This is because of a very simple fact and that is – life is unpredictable. The cost of living, variables in expenses from month to month, and even variables in earnings can often blow your carefully structured plans to smithereens.
You may find yourself promising to start saving money next month, only to find yourself swearing to do the same again when the month is up. Here’s the good news, though: you’re not the only one. Like most things that are good for us, investing is often preceded with a bit of procrastination, and that’s fine, as long as you use this period for good!
Before you start investing your funds, spend your time understanding your finances and needs. This can prevent you from picking funds haphazardly and then suffering from buyer’s remorse later. With that in mind, the following are a few simple steps that you must follow to start your investment journey on a profitable note:
1. Identify Your Monthly Budget Accurately
Creating an expense sheet can help you understand where and how you spend your money. Furthermore, it can give you clarity on the way smaller expenses tend to add up at the end of the month. For instance, if you’re brushing off that $7 coffee you drink every morning, an expense sheet can show you how that adds up to $176 at the end of the month! Think that’s a small sum? If you’re living in Singapore, you can buy a ticket to Bangkok with the money you save!
Identifying your expenses can help you determine how much you can invest easily. This way, when you tell yourself that monthly premiums feel too expensive for you, all it will take to convince you otherwise is a single glance at your expense sheet!
2. List the Goals You Want to Achieve
While one can invest without a set goal in mind, investing towards goals can help you structure your life and meet milestones in a more effective manner. Furthermore, when you identify the goals that you want to achieve, you can also start picking the right investment avenues as per your needs. This is because certain investments come with shorter terms, while others have larger ones. Ensuring that you invest in different avenues so that you can meet different goals is a great way to hit every milestone you’ve planned in your life. Consider the following goals while preparing your list:
- Short term investment goals: By definition, a short term goal is something that you want soon. For instance, if you have a dream of starting your own business within the next 3 years, that qualifies as a short term goal. Other short term goals are building an emergency fund, buying certain items for your home, buying a car, saving a certain percentage of your income, putting a down payment on a home, and so on.
- Mid-term investment goals: Goals that plan to hit in 5 years and beyond are mid-term investment goals. Sometimes, these goals overlap with short-term ones as everyone has their own investment journey and finances to consider. Mid-term investment goals can include having enough finances to have a child, buying a car, buying a home, travelling to far-off places, investing in a venture, and so on.
- Long term investment goals: Long term investment goals are goals you want to hit in 10 years or more. This can range from being financially independent (or debt free), paying for your children’s education, retiring early, creating different income streams and so on.
While setting your financial goals, you must ensure that you’re not setting yourself up for failure. Set goals that clearly define what you want to achieve, set a timeline that makes sense, and a way to hold yourself accountable.
3. Understand your Risk Tolerance
In simple terms, your risk tolerance is the degree of fluctuations in your fund that you are willing to withstand. Investors with a low tolerance for risk tend to feel highly anxious over the smallest changes in their funds, while investors with a higher risk appetite enjoy playing the market and riding its waves. Understanding this about yourself can help you invest in funds that do not keep you up at night with worry. For instance:
- If you have a low risk tolerance, recurring deposits and money markets are ideal investments for you
- If you have a medium risk tolerance, you can always combine mutual funds with bonds and securities so that you have some funds that are comparatively secure.
- If you have a high risk appetite, then blue chip funds, options contracts and small company stocks are the right options for you
4. Know the Vocabulary
If you often find that financial jargon flies over your head, then this is something you need to rectify before you start investing. This is because investors must fundamentally understand the financial products that they are selecting, so that they do not have to face any unsavoury consequences in the future. The following are a few basic terms that you must understand and feel comfortable with before you sign your name on the dotted line:
- Blue chip stocks: stocks that belong to companies that are performing very well
- Bull market: A market in which experts predict the stocks will rise
- Bear market: A market in which experts predict the stocks will fall
- Capital gain: The profit an investor earns after selling an asset for a value that was greater than its purchase value
- Diversification: Investing in different types of assets in order to reduce the overall risk
- Mutual Funds: Financial products that use a pool of savings to invest in securities.
5. Finally, Disconnect Yourself from Your Emotions
Novice investors cannot allow their emotions to control their decisions. Often, the greed of earning higher returns may make you invest in a fund that comes with a high risk, giving you sleepless nights and the very real danger of losing all your funds. Minor fluctuations in the market may cause you to sell your funds before you should, leading to a loss at your end. When investing, you must ensure that you always think with a cool head. Learn to control your emotions before you start the process of investing. If you are unsure about your ability to do the same, speak to a broker or a financial advisor who can help you make astute decisions!
The materials and data contained herein are for information only and shall in no event be construed as an offer to purchase or sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase or sell any securities in any jurisdiction. Kristal Advisors does not make any representation, undertaking, warranty or guarantee as to the update, completeness, correctness, reliability or accuracy of the materials and data herein. All opinions, forecasts or estimation expressed herein are subject to change without prior notice. Kristal Advisors and its affiliates accept no liability or responsibility whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss and/or damages arising out of or in relation to any use of opinions, forecasts, materials and data contained herein or otherwise arising in connection therewith.