Answering your questions on adulting (Part 1)
Over the weekend, I posted a story on Instagram asking you to share any questions you may have on adulting. I received a number of interesting questions and I hope to discuss them in a two-part blog post. So, let’s get started!
Question 1: How to invest for beginners
You can start off by building and putting your emergency fund in a fixed deposit which usually offers higher interest rate compared to regular savings accounts.
Next, you can venture into:
i. Unit Trust or Mutual Fund
This is a collective investment scheme, meaning the fund collects money from numerous investors and then, the fund manager invests the money in various stocks and bonds on behalf of investors. Check out online investment platforms such as Fundsupermart in Malaysia and Sqrrl in India.
This is essentially an AI financial advisor. You enter details such as your age, salary, and savings goals and the robo-advisor proposes and executes (if you agree) an investment plan for you. The financial plan is drawn up based on complex algorithms. Examples include StashAway in Malaysia and ArthaYantra in India.
These options are suitable for beginners who aren’t very confident in investing in the stock market on their own.
Once you start off with something like this, you can read up on blue-chip stocks and companies that are performing well. This can guide you as you venture into the stock market. Look for platforms that allow you to do share trading online such as Rakuten Trade in Malaysia or Upstox in India.
The stock market can be daunting, but share investment can provide good returns and passive income in the form of dividends. Consider buying and holding on to blue-chip stocks, i.e. shares of large, reputable, and financially stable companies. These stocks often provide regular dividends for investors.
Do check out my Investment 101 series for more details.
Question 2: What are some must-dos in your 20s
There are 4 things that I think are crucial in your 20s, namely:
i. Explore and find your dream job/career path
Your 20s is the time to try out interesting jobs to figure out if they suit you. Every job you take on teaches you something new about yourself. It took me a few tries to realise that teaching wasn’t the right fit for me. For a long time, I kept thinking that every job I left was a mistake, and I was going nowhere, but this year I started to realise that I’m a work-in-progress and every step along the way was necessary to help me find my path.
ii. Start investing
Don’t wait for your 30s or 40s to start investing! The power of compounding benefits those who invest over a long period of time. Once you set aside an emergency fund, start investing in fixed deposit, unit trust/mutual fund, retail bonds, and stocks. Try out and learn about one investment option at a time, but just get started.
Go to the places you’ve always wanted to visit, eat the foods that you love at its birthplace, experience different cultures and cuisines. Your 20s are a great time to do this before settling down and starting a family. In addition to saving and investing for retirement, set savings goals for your travels as well. Overseas travel can be pretty expensive. Plan a year or two ahead; figure out roughly how much you’ll need for the trip and start saving. Robo-advisors such as StashAway allow you to enter a variety of savings goals including ‘Funds for Travelling’ to help you come up with a suitable investment plan.
iv. Stay in touch with your friends
Once you graduate college, you and your friends go your separate ways. Everyone has their own stuff going on and it’s easy to fall out of touch with the buddies you were once so close to. God knows I’ve made my share of mistakes in this regard, but I’m trying to do better now. Make it a point to meet and catch up with your friends regularly. Friendships are important social connections that enrich your life greatly. Treasure them - otherwise, in your 30s or 40s, you may look back and regret letting some dear friends slip away.
Question 3: How to build deeper friendships
Friends are people we enjoy hanging out with. Beyond that, deeper friendships provide us a safe space to be vulnerable, share our problems, and feel loved. I don’t have a great many friends, but I do have a few close friends whom I hold dear. I’m certainly no expert, I’m still learning every day to be a better friend, but I think a couple of things can make a huge difference, namely:
i. Make time to meet and catch up
You probably won’t get to see as much of your friends as you did in college, but get together every now and again to catch up. Continue to do this regularly even after you get married and settle down. Family is indeed important, but friendships are also important social connections we must make an effort to preserve.
ii. Open up and be vulnerable.
Being vulnerable can be scary. Sometimes you want to open up to people about the struggles you go through, but you worry that they might judge you. Truth is, everyone has their own share of stuff they’re dealing with, and they may feel the same way too. Of course, conversations could revolve around pop culture or current news, but if you take the leap to open up and direct the conversation somewhere deeper, you might be surprised by what happens.
I was afraid to open up to my closest friend about my anxiety, but when I finally did, it felt great. Instead of feeling judged as I had feared, I felt understood and loved. I guess no one can truly understand you unless they know about the parts you rather not talk about. My obsession to repeatedly check things, my decision to leave a job with no clear game plan – none of this would make sense to a friend if they didn’t know more.
Question 4: What if you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up
This is such a good question! Right after high school, before we gain any real-world experience, we’re expected to decide on a course that determines our career path for the rest of our lives. 17 or 18 is far too young to decide what you’ll dedicate your entire life to.
To be honest, I graduated with a Masters in Economics and what I do now and what I hope to do in future have very little to do with what I studied in school. I think it’s perfectly alright to not know what you want to do in your 20s. This is the time for us to try new things, learn more about ourselves, and discover our calling.
If you’re unsure of your path, there are two key things you need to remember:
i. Your first job doesn’t have to be for life
If you find the perfect job on your first try, that’s awesome! But if you’re unhappy and the work doesn’t interest you, don’t be afraid to venture into something else. I know this comes across as a very millennial thing to say and I’m okay with that; there’s nothing wrong with a little trial and error. Every job or experience teaches you something valuable about yourself and brings you one step closer to finding what’s right for you.
ii. There’s absolutely nothing wrong pursuing a different course in your 20s or even 30s
It’s often considered the norm to get your diploma or degree in your early 20s, but sometimes after working in your chosen field for a few years, you begin to realise your passion lies elsewhere. If securing a job in your new field of interest requires additional qualifications, consider taking up a part-time course. It may feel odd to go back to school, but think of it this way: 10 or 20 years down the line, it wouldn’t matter whether you graduated at 22 or 30+, you and your peers will be professionals in that field just the same!
So, that’s all for today! See you guys on Friday for Part 2 😊