Don't plan for retirement right now, instead, build a strong foundation in your 20s and know where you are headed
The first time I joined a gym, I remember being overwhelmed with all the information about macros and micros, cutting and tracking your gains. Looking at my confusion the trainer said “Just be consistent with your goals, don't cheat on your exercises and diet plan and you’ll get where you want to.”
Handling one’s money is no different. Fiscal fitness, I've learnt over the years, is not very different from the physical. I never got around building that perfect body and stumbled along the way, but thankfully fared much better in the money department.
Here are 5 practical tips for millennials from someone who walks the talk:
Be Honest With Your Goals
Times may be uncertain but you should know what you really want. Do you wish to settle abroad in a few years or does the heart beckon closer home? Would you rather invest long-term in real estate via EMI’s and home loans or opt to rent apartments and take 20 travel trips instead? Are you single with no responsibilities(yet) or got a baby on the way? There's no correct answer here. We are all in the same storm yet in different boats and need to change strategies to stay afloat. This starts with honesty and courage. If you're in debt (student, home, car loans come in here) pay that off first. The interest rates sound reasonable right now but compound it over the years and you realise it’s a substantial sum that could have been put to better use.
Covid Tip: Don't plan for retirement right now (it’s way too far) instead build a strong foundation in your twenties and know where you are headed. Don't worry if it takes time, direction matters more than speed.
Health is wealth. And in case it goes south, you need a healthy cushion of funds to bounce back in the aftermath of a hospital crisis. My 2 cents? Opt for substantial insurance for yourself and dependents (calculate it wisely). Read the fine print before you commit your coin. Many plans look glossy on the outside but after careful consideration (and calculation) you’ll realise that a lot of them have unfair riders and some just don’t value for money. How much will they cover? Which consumables will be reimbursed? Is there a cap on hospital room rent? How many hospitals is their company empaneled with? What conditions and specific diseases are excluded?
Covid Tip: Go for the unlimited daily hospital room rent plans. While it will cost only a few 1000 extras but if disaster strikes, it will act as a lightning conductor and save you tens of thousands in the bargain.
Track Your Lifestyle
Yes, I know Swiggy and Zomato are offering some crazy deals to entice you and that bomber jacket is on a 40 per cent sale online but here's a hard pill to swallow: Takeaway isn’t healthy and you have no one to impress and nowhere to go. Irrespective of gender, learn how to cook your own food- not only is it cheaper but healthier.
That 40 per cent savings on an online deal also means an expense of 60 per cent! Remember, money saved is money earnt. There are a lot of enticing ‘offers’ and ‘discounts’ but do you really need them? Replace fancy subscriptions to fitness apps that offer group classes and virtual gyan, with youtube. I promise you won't be disappointed by the step-by-step exercises taught by the vlogging community and fitness experts.
Covid Tip: Draw up a monthly budget and stick to the plan!
A New Skill
Drawing a single salary from a single source at the end of the month sounds like security to many, but to me, that's unsettling, and putting all my eggs in one basket. As a multipotentialite who juggles various roles, I believe one should have more than one marketable skill set that people are willing to pay for. Whether you’re employed with an MNC or doing your own thing, you’re still a business person who’s contracted all their hours to one ‘client’. A new saleable skill, a side gig, a freelance assignment can avoid a dry spell in covid times. Don’t have one? Well now is the time to learn! And while we’re at it, financial literacy is a skill worthy of your attention.
Covid Tip: Keep at least six months’ savings as a buffer in case you lose your job. This money should be liquid and not tied up elsewhere. An emergency corpus and a rainy-day fund are contingency plans your future self will thank you for.
Digital Fraud & Investments
While digital portals and phone wallets make life easier, they are simultaneously fraught with the dangers of phishing, digital fraud and hacking. Steer clear from anything that offers a quick reward and don’t trust anyone blindly with your funds. Practice digital hygiene by using a private window for transactions and extra strong passwords that change at regular intervals.
Ditch the penny stocks and go for shares from reputable companies. History says, if the market crashes, they bounce back. Place a limit order while trading especially if you own shares in large quantities.
Covid Tip: A fixed deposit offers a ridiculously low rate these days and isn't tax-friendly either but in case of an emergency, it can be broken easily and gets you the money within an hour. In ordinary circumstances SIPS, mutual funds, among the others are better options but right now, the goal is to tide through the pandemic without breaking the bank.
The author is a motivational speaker, travel journalist, model and food critic.
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are the author’s own, and Outlook Money does not necessarily subscribe to them. Outlook Money shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.