We are often told that our 20’s are a pivotal decade. They are our ‘selfish’ years. There’s room to make mistakes, navigate the uncertainties of life and embark on a self-discovery journey. It’s a time to enjoy the greatest freedom we’ll ever know until retirement. But what is not often told is that the financial decisions we make in our 20s will shape our future. While your 20s are certainly a time of exploration and self-discovery, they’re also a time to lay the groundwork for what you want your future to look like.
I grew up being taught how to save by my mother and sister, so I’ve always somehow had a great relationship with money growing up. However, being the fashionista that I am, I noticed how I would impulsively spend my money on clothes. There’s nothing wrong with that but purchases need to be budgeted for and that wasn’t the case for me. I had always been interested in investing but didn’t know how to go about it. A portion of my fashion writer salary was sitting idle in a savings account but I knew the next steps in securing my future needed to be taken. Like many, I was accustomed to accessing my savings whenever I needed or wanted anything and I knew investing money would impose discipline especially during a global pandemic because I wouldn’t have access to the money as opposed to having it in a savings account where it’s easily accessible.
After having a conversation with my financially savvy brother-in-law and speaking to several financial advisors, I was advised that the best investment plan for me was an endowment plan. An endowment plan is an investment product that is set up as savings plans and at the end of a set period, you’re paid out a lump sum. The plan is a good option for those who are ‘risk-averse’ aka want to play it safe. As an investor, you contribute a specific amount of money every month for a period of 5 years or more and accumulate interest. The more you contribute, the more you earn on your investment over time due to compound growth.
So why would I invest a portion of my fashion writer salary during a global pandemic? The pandemic made me realise that life is uncertain but my finances don’t have to be. It was a wake-up call for me to take control of the things I can control such as securing my financial future. Investing my fashion writer salary has allowed me to manage my monthly income and reevaluate my priorities. Instead of impulsively shopping online, I invest 20% of my salary. I’ve also created a strict budget and tried to be smart in my spending. Since we’re working from home and eat 2-3 meals a day, I usually create weekly meal plans and have a concise grocery-shopping list to only buy what I need. Apps such as Mint allow me to keep track of all my financial activity from all my accounts: checking, savings, and retirement – you name it! Every transaction is automatically recorded and categorised. Mint makes note of your spending patterns and creates a budget. Additionally, on the iPad, it generates graphs to give you visual representations of your net worth and cash flow.
Taking this financial decision has helped me see the bigger picture and set my long-term goals. I now know what I’m saving towards and reaping the rewards will definitely be glorious. Investing or even saving is not that simple especially when you don’t have a lot of disposable income after paying for rent or bills. You need to figure out what your financial goals are and how much of your income you can save. Speak to a financial advisor before you make the decision and don’t pressurise yourself. We are already dealing with a lot sis.
Words by Wandi Jama