1. Invest early
Time is the greatest money earner. If you start by saving $200 per month for the next 50 years, you will have a much more considerable sum than saving $1000 per month for the last 10 years. This is due to the help you are getting from compounding the interest that you will get from consistently having your money work for you for a long time. The Golden Rule is to start saving and investing yesterday!
2. Pay yourself first
Always put investing and saving ahead of purchases. We live in a consumerist world. Spending and enjoying our purchases is our lifestyle. What better way to skip out of the loop than hiding a portion of your paycheck away when you get you monthly paycheck. Setup an automatic separate account(Time Deposit or Money Market) to hide your money away on the day you get your paycheck. What you do not see, you do not want to use.
3. Do not take on high interest debt
Debt can kill you. Once you take on high interest debt, you are essentially taking on a job at the bank. Spend less and get away from high interest debt. Skip installment plans also. Most of them have hidden fees that pounce on you once you miss a payment.
4. Buy only correct insurance
Not all insurance is important. Generally health, disability and term are recommended. Avoid Life, Extended warranties and Investment Linked Policies.
Keep track of your expenses. At the end of the month, do a tally and see where your money is going. It is likely to be different from what you had perceived before. Shave off the excesses and put the money into the investment account. For the next month, set a spending budget that you are comfortable with. This way, you are bringing down your spending cap and helping yourself survive on less.
6. Invest in something, anything!
Don’t put your extra money in a time deposit or a savings account forever. You need your money to be working for you. The average return on stocks is around 10% a year. It might seem little but you get to double your money every 7 years. If you put it in the bank, you will be losing money to inflation instead. When investing, it is recommended that you diversify. There are plenty of safe investment options like funds, bonds, REITS. Get a knowledgeable friend or join an investment club to learn more. In the meantime, just put your money in an index fund like Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index to ride on the performance of the stock market while you decide on where to put your money.
7. Have a cushion fund
Sometimes you can get caught in a sticky situation where you need some cash. Withdrawing from investments usually take 3 days and this in eternity when an emergency strikes. Aim for a 6 months worth of income to act as your emergency fund. Open a time deposit account that enables you to break open the deposit whenever you need access. Of course breaking the deposit will forfeit the interest accrued so far, but accessibility to the cushion fund is still the most important.
8. Don’t look at your investments
If you had no time to learn about investments, don’t track their returns everyday. You will just be suckered into the herd mentality and end up incurring a lot of trading fees. Have faith that over the long term, it will rise. Ignore the financial news and live your blissful life. Ignorance is bliss.
9. Delay large purchases
20% of our decisions regarding money make up 80% of the money we actually spend. For large purchases(i.e more than 20% of your monthly salary), take a week to think over the purchase. After a week, you might not find the purchase so desirable after all.
In certain countries where tax is every high, it is worthwhile to sit down with a professional accountant to work out a way where you can pay least or no tax. However doing this requires planning and some amount of work throughout the year. Most people never get this done since it seems so troublesome. At the very least, talk to someone versed in the field and see how much you can save by planning for tax correctly.