I’m currently in my 40s. I won’t say that I’ve attained the ‘Richie Rich’ level of financial wealth, but I do enjoy some level of financial security. Today, as I look back to when I was in my 20s, I realise that I have come a long way in my pursuit of financial independence. I reflect upon the key factors that have contributed well to my finances. I have made a list of 5 principles that could help you do the same if you are in your 20s today.
Principle #1: You Need to Make a Deliberate Choice to Become Rich
A Bachelor’s Degree helps land you your first real professional job. You will earn a salary, and the income flow is helpful to wealth building. Now here is the thing. If you want to be wealthy and thrive in the future, it is beneficial for you to realise quickly that your current boss or employer is not responsible for making you wealthy. You have to make a decision to be rich and be intentional about progressing towards financial success.
This decision you make will alter the course of your financial life. It affects many things that you do today and, in the future, because this decision could influence you in many aspects, such as your purpose at work, how you use your free time and your beliefs about money. You will then use your money differently, and over time, it will shape your level of financial success in the future.
Principle #2: Harness the Power of Learning and Mentorship
I come from a B40 family, and I acknowledge that a rich person would have different ideas about money, finance and investing than ordinary people. Thus, it makes sense for me to learn and study their viewpoints about money. I did this via reading biographies of rich people and materials related to finance and investing. Personally, I realise that there is a world of difference between my background and the rich when it comes to the subject of money.
Also, I enhance my learning by mingling with like-minded friends and mentors. I would say they have contributed a lot to my financial success. We enjoy talking, discussing, and exchanging our ideas, insights, and knowledge on various topics related to business, investing, wealth protection matters, and the list goes on. If you have decided to be wealthy and successful, you can achieve it quicker, safer, with better certainty if you have good mentors to guide you.
Principle #3: Understand the Rich Man’s Definition of Financial Wealth
There are two definitions of wealth.
The first definition is based on possessions. For example, if a person has a Mercedes Benz and his friend is driving an Axia, you may see the person as wealthier than his friend. Alternatively, if a person currently has RM1 million in his bank account and his friend has RM500,000, the person could be viewed to be wealthier than his friend.
Over time, I realised that a person with a Mercedes Benz could be financially unstable, while an Axia owner could be financially wealthy. I also find that a person with RM500,000 can be more affluent than someone with RM1 million in their bank account.
Why is that so?
Well, the answer lies in the second definition of wealth, which is based on time. Wealth is measured by how long it can last you without bringing in any active income. This may include situations such as a layoff, the closure of a business, a diagnosis of a critical illness, total permanent disability, and death.
Let’s say Mr A and Mr B have RM100,000 in their bank accounts each. Both of them have stopped earning active income due to the pandemic. For Mr A, he is spending RM20,000 a month on living expenses. For Mr B, he spends about RM4,000 a month on living expenses. Thus, between them, Mr B is wealthier based on the rich man’s definition of wealth as Mr B’s RM100,000 could last him a lot longer than Mr A’s RM100,000.
Mr A’s Wealth
= Current Assets / Monthly Living Expenses
= RM100,000 / RM20,000
= 5 Months
Mr B’s Wealth
= Current Assets / Monthly Living Expenses
= RM100,000 / RM4,000
= 25 Months
Principle #4: Investing is about Having a Plan, not buying a Product.
‘What should I invest in?’
‘Should I invest in stocks, real estate, unit trust, cryptos, … etc.?’
You see. Most people associate investing with the act of “finding something to buy” and the hope that the price will go up in the future. Therefore, they usually focus on finding the next ‘investment product’ that can grow in price. And this pursuit leads them to ask for investment tips and advice.
I take a different approach when investing.
I learned as much as I could on the subject of investing, and out of which, I crafted myself an investment plan. I have a plan to build my stock portfolio. I invest in businesses (stocks) that I understand and would love to keep for a long time.
By having a specific investment plan, which spells out my objectives, criteria for making investment decisions, and action steps if an investment turns sour, I can make better investments that offer me better returns at lower risks. I would not need to rely on stock tips, target prices, buy-sell recommendations to invest. That is the power of investing with an investment plan. To have a robust investment plan, you will need knowledge and skill set.
Principle #5: Safeguard Your Finances with Takaful Protection
Many people focus on building wealth.
Over time, they climb the corporate ladder, build businesses, buy real estate, and have investment portfolios. These are all good. They take years and decades to accumulate. But, without wealth protection strategies in place, a portion of these, if not all, could be lost in a single event of an accident, a diagnosis of a critical illness, total permanent disability, and death.
So, why spend time and effort to build wealth without protecting them?
When I was in my 20s, I began with not much protection due to my low income. Then, over time, I upgraded my medical card and subscribed to takaful plans in line with an increase in my income. As I get married and have a child, I make sure everyone in my household is well covered with adequate protection.
Over the years, I have found that takaful plans keep getting better, more affordable and are open to everyone regardless of race, religion, background or ethnicity. Everybody should participate in a takaful plan wherein members contribute money into a pool system to guarantee each other. You are highly encouraged to participate in a takaful protection plan when you are healthy. Be aware that the moment you lose your health, you also lose your protectability.
So there you have it, the five principles to build and protect wealth if you are now in your 20s:
- You Need to Make a Deliberate Choice to Become Rich
- Harness the Power of Learning and Mentorship
- Understand the Rich Man’s Definition of Wealth
- Investing is about Having a Plan, not Buying a Product
- Safeguard Your Finances with Medical and Takaful Protection
As a conclusion, building wealth can be ingrained in our lifestyles. The earlier we start from a young age, the higher the chances we can achieve our financial goals.
Invitation to Play the ‘Komuniti Kita’ Mobile App Game
This article is exclusively brought to you by FWD Takaful Berhad (“FWD Takaful”).
FWD Takaful is a takaful provider in Malaysia that offers family takaful services. FWD Takaful is owned by FWD Life Insurance Company (Bermuda) Limited (an FWD Group company), JAB Capital Bhd and Employee Provident Fund Board of Malaysia (EPF).
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