Saving and investing have different goals. Saving is about setting aside money for use in the future, while investing is about growing money over time. Hazelle Soon, co-founder of The Joyful Investors, says: “In short, the former focuses on wealth retention and the latter, wealth acceleration.”
Launched six years ago, the company specialises in growing personal investment portfolios. Hazelle and her team have worked in wealth management and financial market trading and offer a proprietary moneyball investing methodology (watch how it works on their YouTube video here). Here, she tells us how we can strike the balance between saving and investing.
Save or invest: What tools to use?
For savings, the bank savings account is still a reliable tool. It gives you a minimal interest rate of less than 1% on average.
For investing, meanwhile, different tools are available to cater to different levels of financial literacy. Although the tool(s) used may be different, investment types remain largely the same, for example, stocks, bonds, and exchange-traded funds. So it’s still important to be aware of what you are investing in, and determine how they can meet your investment goals.
Investment brokerage account
To maintain autonomy and control over your investments, a brokerage account allows you to do it yourself and construct your investment portfolio. Many brokerages now offer very attractive commission rates, with some even offering zero commission rates on a permanent or promotional basis.
If you prefer a more hands-off approach, construct an investment account using algorithms with robo-advisors. Though robo-advisors make it convenient to invest, you should still equip yourself with reasonable financial knowledge so you know what you are getting into.
Many view this as the traditional alternative to robo-advisors, as you are engaging the service of financial advisors, who will supplement the investment plans based on your risk profile.
Who should save? Who should invest?
Everyone should do both, urges Hazelle. “The value of money declines over time. A dollar you save in the bank today will be worth less than a dollar in the future because the interest rate of a savings account is lower than the inflation rate. So you need to beat the inflation rate to maintain the value of your money,” she explains.
“Just look at how the price of a movie ticket has increased from $6.50 20 years ago to $10 today. That’s how scary the impact of inflation is!”
Not everyone should get started on both saving and investing at the same time, though. To be a successful investor, Hazelle points out, one must stick to a disciplined plan: “Before looking to invest, you should first learn how to be disciplined at saving. Once you know how to save with a disciplined mindset, you are good to start learning how to invest!”
Investing has become more attractive with the investment-friendly changes; for instance, a lot size has dropped from 1,000 to 100 shares for the Singapore Exchange.
“So you do not actually need a lot of money to start investing. It is possible to start with just a few hundred or a few thousand dollars,” adds Hazelle.
“Though there is strictly no minimum capital per se, it would be good to start with about $10,000. This would also be a rather comfortable amount for those who have started working.”
Save and invest: How can we strike a balance?
Important: Never invest at the expense of your current state of living. Ensure you have at least 6 to 12 months’ expenses set aside in your savings account as emergency funds for rainy days. This allows you to invest with a peace of mind.
Consider, too, your financial obligations and other expenses you expect to incur. These could include loans to pay off and expenses for your new house.
As Hazelle puts it, “Investing and saving should not be an ‘either or’ choice. They can co-exist harmoniously. As long as you invest while maintaining the ability to pay off current and upcoming financial obligations, and having your emergency funds ready, you are doing a good job in managing your personal finances.”