“Huat” Can You Do With Your Finances This Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year may look a bit different this year, but don’t let it get you down. A quieter new year even offers some advantages: you’ll be spending less on festivities, while the downtime gives you the chance to reflect on your finances.
So why not take advantage of this unique situation? Here are eight things you can do in 2021 for a truly prosperous Year of the Ox.
1. Review your finances
Start by reviewing your past year’s finances. This helps you figure out where you stand financially. Looking back at your financial achievements (or mistakes) can also help you make better financial decisions.
You’ll want to consider these areas:
- How much money did you spend last year? What did you spend on? Are there any unnecessary expenses you can reduce?
- Emergency fund. Have you withdrawn from these savings to cover any unexpected expenses? Do you need to top up your emergency savings?
- Net worth. What is the value of all your assets (e.g. savings, investments, your home) minus all your liabilities (e.g. debt, mortgage, etc.)?
- Financial goals. Are you still on track to meeting your financial goals?
- Is your investment strategy still aligned with your goals? Do you need to increase your investment amount or adjust your investment portfolio to align with your risk tolerance?
2. New year, new you
The new year is an opportunity for a fresh start. How about starting the new year with a budget overhaul? Budgeting can seem limiting, but that’s far from the truth. A good budgeting system helps you sort your financial priorities, so that you’ll always have enough to spend on what you need and value. Here’s how to start:
- Draw up a budget. A popular budgeting method is the 50/30/20 rule, where you spend 50% of your monthly income on ‘needs’ (like your mortgage and bills), 30% on ‘wants’ (such as entertainment or shopping) and 20% on savings.
- Set aside savings. If you’re just starting out, it could be hard to set aside a big chunk of your income immediately. The trick is to start small – perhaps just 5% of your income – and build it up from there. Set up automatic transfers to your savings account every month after you get your paycheck. This will help you avoid the temptation to overspend.
- Track your spending. Use a mobile app, or rely on a physical notebook. This helps you see what you’re spending on, and if you’re spending too much on certain categories.
3. Set financial goals
What do you want to achieve with your money in the future? Setting financial goals can help you get there. After all, it’s harder to spend RM100 on something you don’t need if you know it means delaying a dream vacation you’ve been saving up for.
To start goal setting, write down your short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. Make sure they’re specific and measurable. For example, “save 10% of my income every month in 2021” is more helpful than “be better with money”.
Then, consider how you’ll achieve this goal. For example, to achieve your goal of saving for a new car, you could automatically transfer RM500 every month to a down payment savings account. Don’t forget to reward yourself after achieving certain milestones – this helps you stay motivated to keep going.
4. Build your emergency fund
This year, there’ll be less Chinese New Year shopping, fewer feasts and hardly any physical gatherings. While this isn’t as festive as previous years, there is one upside: you could save a lot of money. An all-out Chinese New Year celebration could cost you thousands of ringgit if you’re shelling out for reunion dinners, home decorations and gift baskets.
If you’re saving more money thanks to fewer festivities, it’s the perfect time to increase your emergency fund. This year, especially when there are still economic uncertainties, having a little extra saved can help you cover unexpected events, such as a sudden job loss. Aim for at least six months of living expenses (or more if you are self-employed).
5. Clear off high-interest debt
If you’re receiving ang pows this year (physical or digital), consider using it to clear off high-interest debt, such as credit card bills or personal loan debt. This isn’t as exciting as splurging on a new gadget or a pair of shoes, but you’ll have to pay off these debts later anyway. Besides, settling them earlier can help you save on interest payments later.
For example, say you have RM5,000 in credit card debt. You only make the minimum monthly payment of RM250. If you’ve received RM1,000 in ang pows this year, putting it towards this debt can help you pay off your bills months earlier and save RM380 in interest:
|Original debt||After RM1,000 debt repayment|
|Credit card debt||RM5,000||RM4,000|
|Annual interest rate||18%||18%|
|Every month you pay||RM250||RM250|
|Time to pay off debts||2 years||1 year and 7 months|
6. Start a side hustle
During uncertain times, it always helps to have an additional source of income. If you have time to spare, consider starting a side hustle. Think about your interests or skills, and what people would want to pay for. For example, you could offer online tutoring or sell artisanal sourdough bread.
Your extra income could come in handy during rainy days. And who knows? A side hustle could grow into your main source of income, or give you new skills or experiences to advance your career.
7. Make the right investments
While your Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings can supplement your retirement portfolio, you may not want to rely on it entirely. Almost three quarters of EPF members have less than RM250,000 in their accounts at age 54. This could mean relying on a monthly payout of less than RM1,050, below the household poverty line income of RM2,208.
To boost your retirement funds, you could consider investing through a Private Retirement Scheme (PRS). This allows you to invest into PRS-approved unit trust funds for potential returns. You’ll also be taking advantage of the PRS tax relief (available until the assessment year 2025), which gives you tax savings when you contribute up to RM3,000 to any PRS funds.
Besides that, the EPF has launched the EPF i-Invest platform to help members invest their EPF savings online into approved unit trust funds. While returns with EPF i-Invest are not guaranteed, investing into funds that potentially deliver higher returns than EPF can increase your chances of meeting your investment goals.
But which unit trust funds should you choose? Principal Asset Management Berhad is an award-winning fund manager that offers 30 EPF-approved funds for you to invest in. Here’s how some of Principal’s featured funds have performed:
|Fund||Risk||Region||Fund objective||7-year annualised return*|
|Principal Greater China Equity Fund||Aggressive||China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan||Strategically invests in the Greater China region, where you’ll have the chance to be part of China’s economic growth.||16.59%|
|Principal Asia Titans Fund||Aggressive||Asia ex Japan||Seeks capital growth by investing primarily in equities and equity-related instruments in Asia ex Japan.||12.52%|
|Principal Asia Pacific Dynamic Income Fund||Aggressive||Asia Pacific ex-Japan||Provide regular income by investing primarily in the Asia Pacific ex Japan region and at the same time achieve capital appreciation over the medium to long-term.||11.83%|
|Principal Islamic Asia Pacific Dynamic Equity Fund||Aggressive||Asia Pacific ex-Japan||Achieve long-term capital appreciation and income while complying with Shariah investment criteria, through investments in the emerging and developed markets of Asia Pacific ex Japan region||10.90%|
|Principal Islamic Lifetime Balanced Fund||Moderate|
|Malaysia||Grow the value of the Unit holders’ investments over the long-term in a diversified mix of Malaysian assets in approved Shariah instruments while providing consistent income||5.38%|
8. Maximise your chances of earning rewards
Want to get rewarded this Chinese New Year?
When you invest a net minimum of RM1,000 with Principal via EPF i-Invest, get rewarded in the form of a Touch ‘n Go eWallet reload pin – up to 0.88% of your net investment amount!
With Principal EPF i-Invest, this means diversifying with your EPF savings, without forking out additional cash or incurring any sales charges. Plus, you can invest online in minutes – no physical paperwork involved.
“Huat” are you waiting for?
Don’t wait until later to get your finances in order. Take the time to reflect on your finances, plan for the rest of the year and boost your investment portfolio with Principal. What better way to kick off a prosperous new year?
You are advised to read and understand the Prospectus/Information memorandum/Disclosure Document dated and its Product Highlight Sheet (if any) which may be obtained at our offices, distributors or our website at [www.principal.com.my]. You are advised to read and understand the contents of the relevant documents. Investing involves risk and cost. You should understand the risks involved, compare and consider the fees, charges and costs involved, make your own risk assessment and seek professional advice, where necessary. This advertisement had not been reviewed by the SC.Where past performance is quoted, the past performance of a fund should not be taken as indicative of its future performance.The documents have been registered and/or lodged with Securities Commission Malaysia. Registration of these documents does not amount to nor indicate that the SC has recommended or endorsed this product or service.