There’s much to be learned from financial books and classrooms, but wouldn’t it be wise to learn from those who never have to worry about money? We’re talking about the animal kingdom!
Okay, so animals don’t invest, rack up debts or lose sleep over online flash sales. However, our roaring and slithering friends can teach us a thing or two about managing our money. As they chase their own goals and try to survive, they exhibit a discipline and clarity many humans lack when it comes to saving. Their human-like behaviours also remind us to avoid threats to our financial freedom.
As you usher in the Year of the Tiger, turn to nature and say huat with these financial learnings from zodiac animals that could help you prosper.
Don’t let the financial rat race mess with your wellbeing.
Just as rats love to horde, humans are obsessed with accumulating wealth to feed their lavish lifestyle. The danger is lifestyle creep, where luxuries in life (e.g. dining in restaurants) become necessities each time our income increases and correspondingly, our standard of living. Call it the vicious cycle of earn more, spend more. If this “financial rat race” is putting immense pressure on you to constantly work harder and earn more, it’s time to evaluate whether you could be better off with a less stressful job. You may earn less (i.e. less extravagant living), but your wellbeing will improve and that’s more valuable than all the money in the world. For tips to improve your mental wellness, check this out.
Weigh the pros and cons before making a purchase or investment.
Quietly strong and an earnest worker, the ox is also known to be dependable (remember how in the Chinese zodiac story, it kindly agreed to help carry the rat in a race across the river and as a result, came second place instead of first as everyone had expected?). When it comes to financial matters, being reliable isn’t quite about always putting others’ needs before yours. Rather, weigh the potential upside and opportunity costs before making an investment or buying something, to better gauge if it’s a worthwhile allocation of resources.
Be ready to bounce back when the unexpected happens.
If your kitty falls while leaping for its target, it instantly gets up and goes at it again. No time for drama! Big cats are the same. Give yourself the tiger’s ability to rebound from any unexpected financial setback. Aside from emergency savings of six months’ salary, aim to have the recommended coverage for life insurance (about nine times your annual salary) and critical illness insurance (about 3.9 times your annual salary)1. This financial springboard will help you or your family bounce back when life takes a wrong turn.
Leverage the multiplying effect of compound interest.
When it comes to reproducing, the rabbit wins for being fast and furious. To grow your money the same way, tap the magic of compound interest. It’s a simple yet powerful way to grow your money in an exponential way: interest earned on your principal investment amount is added back to the principal and reinvested so you earn higher interest the next time. E.g. You invest S$10,000 with 4% annual return. It generates S$400 interest which is added to your principal to make S$10,400. Your next interest amount will then be S$416, it gets added to the principal and so on. By just leaving your money alone, it generates its own earnings over time. After 25 years, your S$10,000 would’ve grown to S$26,658.36!
Keep your head in the clouds and let your financial plan carry you there.
The ambitious dragon has a strong drive to realise its dreams. And every one of us, even without magic powers and the ability to breathe fire, can do the same – as long as we have a sound financial plan. Start your roadmap to your dreams by setting clear goals such as paying off your student loan or buying a car, and work out a strategy and timeline to achieve them. Rather than try to conquer several lofty goals at once, focus on one or two small ones at a time. With each achievement, you’ll be more motivated to move on to the next goal. Want no-obligations financial planning advice from the pros? Click here.
Make financial “renewals” a regular thing.
The snake sheds throughout its life, getting rid of old skin and emerging new and shiny. This process of renewal and starting afresh is a healthy practice that can be borrowed into financial management. Every year, resolve to shed habits that add to your financial stress, whether it’s not paying your credit card bill on time or impulse buying. At the same time, evaluate your financial portfolio against your needs, which tend to change over time – especially when you cross milestones like buying a property or getting married. This financial overhaul can be liberating as you free yourself of burden, save more and approach your goals with greater clarity.
Keep your blinders on and stay focused on your goals.
With its unstoppable spirit, even amid obstacles that threaten to derail its plans to cross the finish line, the racehorse reminds us to stay focused on our goals no matter how challenging they may seem. Find ways to stay on track to achieving your goal. For instance, set monthly calendar reminders to transfer S$X to a dedicated savings account that you’ll use for the down payment on a new car. Whether you choose to canter or sprint towards your goal, keep up your never-say-die attitude, continue moving forward and you’ll find victory.
Define your own success.
The goat is practical and doesn’t care about what others think; it just does what it feels is right – which is exactly how you should make financial decisions because only you know your full financial picture. Just because all your peers are switching jobs every few years for a higher salary and post, should you give up the job you’re happy with and do the same? Since all your relatives have a country club membership, should you surrender your life insurance policy to pay for one? Forget keeping up with the Joneses and don’t worry about how others rate you financially. If you know you’re making financial moves that are right for your situation, you won’t have to deal with unnecessary debts and other money issues.
Find creative ways to tackle money problems.
Intelligent and inquisitive, the monkey is also incredibly inventive when it comes to problem solving. When running low on funds, think out-of-the-box like our monkey cousins. Challenge yourself to spend less than S$10 a day on meals for a week, sell unwanted items in your home and use the cash to pay off debts, look for free weekend activities for your kids, take advantage of referral programmes that give you cash rewards … You’re limited by your own imagination (as long as everything’s legal, of course). In fact, why wait for a problem to arise when you get creative with saving and making money right now?
Don’t chicken out when it comes to investing; just adopt a steady approach.
Investing is risky but so is not investing (inflation, remember?). Pick a suitable investing approach to start your journey confidently. With its diligent, self-consistent qualities, we suspect the rooster would approve of dollar-cost averaging. That’s where you invest a fixed sum of money regularly and regardless of market price. Putting S$400 on stocks every month is less risky than putting your entire S$4,800 annual bonus into a stock at one time, especially in a volatile market. While there won’t be oversized gains with this strategy, there won’t be oversized losses either. Plus, there’s no need to time the market.
Work hard and play fetch when you can.
You’ve often heard the phrase “life is short”. Put that in doggie context and you’ll see why man’s best friend, with an average 14-year lifespan, is way more serious about balancing work (barking when someone’s at the door and a being a foot warmer on your WFH days isn’t easy!) and play (it never fails to bring you toys, imploring for a game of fetch). Strike a similar balance when you save for your financial goals. Choose savings plans that work your money hard with higher potential returns over the long run, while also giving you smaller rewards or treats that you can enjoy along the way.
Protect your treasured possessions.
We all know the tale of the two pigs whose houses of wood and straw were wrecked by a wolf’s huffs and puffs, while the third pig’s sturdy brick house not only saved it from becoming pork chops but also protected its valued possessions. Yet many people still ignore home protection. Be like the wise pig; keep your treasured belongings safe from storms in life. Home insurance covers the cost of replacing things like your tech gadgets and furniture in the event of mishaps. It also covers your personal liability costs if, say, a fire in your home damages the unit next door.
Want qualified help to grow your wealth this year? Speak to our advisers.
1 The Straits Times© Singapore Press Holdings. Extracted with permission. “Working adults have inadequate cover if critical illness strikes, says study”, 26 April 2018.