When we were kids, didn't 30-year-olds look like legit adults? So how is it that when we're 20-something, we still seem so... noob?
It's no secret that finance is probably the hardest part of adulting, and the key is to take it a step at a time. Challenge yourself to complete this basic checklist and you'll be a full-fledged grown-up by the time you hit 30:
1. Stop living under your parents' ketiaks
It goes without saying that living on your own teaches you A LOT about being independent, and it's a great idea to start carving out your own life by your mid 20s.
Being exposed to crucial life skills like managing bills, maintaining a good living space and dealing with property agents will give you an edge when dealing with life's curveballs as the years go by.
2. Pay your bills like a total pro - in full and on time
You'll want to be eligible for big purchases like a house somewhere down the road, and you're gonna need a good credit history to do that. How you pay your bills will affect your track record, so work out a system to make sure no deadlines quietly slip by. If you're afraid of forgetting, use your bank account's auto-pay feature.
As much as possible, pay off your bills in full. That leftover unpaid bit may look small for one month, but if that habit continues every month, you'll be faced with a huge daunting sum that suddenly seems impossible to pay off.
3. Have a good protection plan
Insurance isn't sexy, we get it, but it is necessary. Even if you're covered by your company's plan, it's still important to have your own policy for two basic reasons: corporate coverage is generally pretty minimal and you'll only be entitled to it as long as you have that job.
You can get decent coverage from as low as RM200 a month, and you'll be glad you have a kickass protection plan if ever your body decides to pull off majorly uncool things like, you know, getting cancer.
4. Start an investment portfolio
"Save while you're young!" It's all your parents ever tell you, and for perfectly good reason. By your 20s you should already be keeping up the habit of putting aside some money every month, and having a an investment plan that extends beyond your basic savings account.
For something relatively simple, you could take a look at unit trusts. If you're up for something a little more hardcore, try your hand at stocks and warrants. Your older, richer self will thank you for all the cash you'll end up with in the years to come.
5. Spend only what you can afford with your credit card
While spending responsibly with your credit card can help with your track record, spending more than your means is a one-way ticket to bankruptcy. We're not exaggerating either: The Malaysian Department of Insolvency (MDI) states that bankruptcy is on an alarming rise, with over 47% of them being young adults between 18 to 35 years old.
Only consider getting a credit card if you can commit to being disciplined with your spending. As tempting as it is to splurge on an unnecessary holiday or a new pair of shoes, if you don't have the cash to pay it off in full, don't even think about it.
Paying your bills on time and in full is especially important when it comes to credit cards. Knowing their scary interest rates of 18% and upwards, there's absolutely nothing fun about catching up on the compounded leftover amount.
6. Discuss with your partner about money
The fight over finances is inevitable; do it now. It's easier to sort out your differences early on, and it sets clear expectations throughout the relationship.
Figure out what works for the both of you: Is the go-to makan plan to go Dutch? Is one person dedicated to take care of the utilities bill, while the other handles the rest every month?
Yup, not the most romantic conversation to have, but you'll be glad you did ;)
7. Join the side income movement
Almost everyone's an Insta-preneur or a freelance photographer these days and if you've been wanting to have a side business of your own too, there's no better time to start than in your 20s. Having a supplementary income would make it easier to achieve your savings goals and plus, it's a great way to work on your passions too!
8. Contribute to your favourite charity
One of the most rewarding parts about having money is being able to contribute to those in need. Do your part to help causes that mean a lot to you. Whether it's RM500 or RM50, your donations will go a long way to help your community so set some aside for your favourite charities.
9. Don't forget to file your income tax every year
With income tax filing being available online now, there's no excuse not to do it ;)
Be sure to take advantage of the new updates to Malaysia's tax reliefs following Budget 2017:
- Lifestyle tax relief: Purchase of computers, sports equipments and reading materials, including printed newspapers, smartphones and tablets, internet subscriptions, and gym memberships.
- Breastfeeding tax relief: Purchase of breast-feeding equipment.
- Early education tax relief: Individual taxpayers who enroll their children (aged 6 or below) in registered pre-schools and nurseries.
Additionally, signing up for life and medical insurance and contributing to registered charities are both tax deductible too, giving you even more reasons to complete your financial goals ;)
All the best achieving your #lifegoals!