In part one of this series, we considered the first two tips that are, in my opinion as a financial advisor, the most important things for young adults to do to ensure that they are financially responsible. They were to have an emergency fund and to know where your money is going each month.
I explained the importance of knowing what your monthly financial needs are, keeping record of it and having a liquid form of money available to cover such expenses when life may throw unpredictable curve balls your way.
In this article we will unpack the final three tips that young adults must consider to be financially responsible.
Tip 3: Protect your most important asset – your ability to earn an income
- As young adults, ill health or disability may seem like something not worth worrying about and we often have the mindset that this is someone else’s fate.
- Unfortunately, being financially responsible means we need to consider and plan for the worst-case scenario. Make sure that you have a risk policy in-place that will cover the risk of you not being able to earn a salary.
- Often you may have some disability policy in place as part of your employment contract. If so, make sure you know the terms and that it adequately covers your risk. Not being able to earn an income will be the most catastrophic way in which your financial well-being can be derailed, especially if you have family and loved ones that are financially dependent on you.
Tip 4: Credit cards
- We all know that being financially responsible means that you aren’t maxing out your credit card on lifestyle expenses – so this is a given, use credit responsibly. What I would like to point out here is how you should have and use a credit card to your advantage and how this habit will add up in the long run.
- Firstly, a credit card is one of the best ways to start building up a credit record. A good credit record will give you the negotiation power to get lower interest rates as well as higher limits on future loans that need to be taken out. This will also benefit your position when you want to get financing for a vehicle, a new home, business or even if you want to rent property. Get in the habit of settling your outstanding credit card debt at the end of each month as this will show you are disciplined with your finances and debt.
- The second reason for you to start using a credit card as soon as possible is because if it is settled, usually within 60 days, no interest is paid on it, while the income in your account is earning interest. Although it may initially not be much, the power of compounding interest can really work in your favour if this is done over a long-term period.
Tip 5: Educate yourself
- Investing is not only about allocating money in financial instruments, it is also about investing in non-tangible things such as education, but in this case, especially financial education.
- Financial concepts and markets may feel abstract since it is not something that can be touched and felt. For this reason, many people still prefer owning property as their only form of long-term investments, because they can understand it and no one can take advantage of their ignorance, as we have all heard horror stories about. Although it is good to not blindly trust others with your investments, the real responsible way to handle this is by making sure you understand at least the basics, allowing you to ask the right questions when you need to make an investment.
- Take the time to understand the relationship between asset classes and risk as well the impact inflation has on your investments. Although you don’t necessarily have to directly trade on the markets, understand the basic principles that influence and move the markets. Educate yourself about the different financial products that can be used to invest in, as each are structured differently and may suit different financial needs.
Although each person’s financial journey will be different, implementing these five tips will help to set a good foundation for a life of financial well-being.