IF you’re addicted to reading, watching, and listening to the news, you can be forgiven for thinking our world is spinning out of control.
Recession warnings abound, vile Vladimir Putin’s evil war on Ukraine continues and most central banks are boosting interest rates to fight high inflation while volatile capital markets are leaning more toward precipitous drops than surging gains.
So, if you find yourself tossing and turning in bed worrying about tomorrow, I suggest three calming courses of action: praying, saving and investing.
I’ve always appreciated the old English proverb: “God helps those who help themselves”. Indeed, the bulk of this article will centre on those self-help actions. Yet only the most arrogant think they can overcome every challenge facing them on their own.
A valuable modicum of humility can lead us to seek divine help and intervention in situations we can’t influence directly. If you disagree, just jump ahead a few paragraphs.
But if you agree, and if you’re worried – say, about the outcome of Malaysia’s fast-approaching 15th General Election (GE15), the calibre of our nation’s leaders, the stability of your job or viability of your business, your mental or physical health, or a host of other things within your big circle of concern but outside your small circle of influence – then pray.
I hope doing so grants you solace and perhaps divine help. But the wisdom of the just-quoted proverb tells us we also need to act intelligently and work diligently to “help ourselves”.
In the realm of money, choosing to spend less than we earn – and then to save and invest the difference for a long, long time – is the best way to stabilise our finances.
We’re all facing the nasty effects of higher-than-normal inflation caused by (i) too much money printing over the last 14 years; and (ii) debilitating supply chain disruptions over the last 32 months.
We need to save and invest more as inflation rages. On the surface, my advice is counter-intuitive. Inflation diminishes the purchasing power of our money over time. Therefore, a single RM100 note will buy us more today than it will a day, a month or a year ahead. So, shouldn’t we spend money faster now and thus save less today?
Many will tell you, “yes”. My advice, though, is “no”.
As long as we aren’t facing hyperinflation, it’s fair to assume rising interest rates will eventually bring high current annual inflation rates in the 5% to 15% range down to the healthier 1.5% to 2.5% band.
Toiling harder, smarter and longer to earn more money while tightening our belts to spend less will generate monthly cash flow surpluses that can be saved and later invested.
This precious excess can be saved in bank savings accounts, fixed deposits, and pure money market funds. You’ll discover that as your short-term savings layers thicken, your emotions will stabilise along with your finances.
Once your programme of accelerated saving begins to calm your frayed nerves and thus improves your sleep, then carefully, consistently and courageously invest in asset classes and asset segments like equities, investment real estate and commodities to try to grow your long-term investments faster than inflation erodes your purchasing power.
Simply put: Turn frightening volatility into your calming “friend” by investing more when prices are low than when they are high; that’s basic common sense.
However, too many of us choose not to exercise the simple strategy of buy-low-sell-high because of analysis paralysis.
To overcome this malaise, the prudent and disciplined act of first accumulating a thick layer of savings provides us with stabilising ballast BEFORE we sail into the potentially profitable yet undoubtedly choppy seas of investing.
The months ahead of us will be nerve-wracking. So, choose to be wise: Calm yourself through the twin financial disciplines of saving and investing. Plus, in my opinion, praying for wisdom and guidance can’t hurt and will probably help. – Oct 16, 2022
Rajen Devadason, CFP, is a licensed financial planner, professional speaker and author. He is also a certified member of Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM). Read his free articles at www.FreeCoolArticles.com; connect with him on www.linkedin.com/in/rajendevadason or via [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Rajen Devadason and on YouTube.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: Investopedia