3 investment hacks for young people

May 17, 2021

There is no escaping investing if you want to build wealth. But you need to stop having a myopic view about it. Investing is not only about money. It is about your desires, what drives you, your human capital, and your relationship with debt.

Here are three things every young adult should know.

The coolest investment hack: Find the why.

The discipline in spending, saving, and investing – all will come only if you know why you are doing it. No investing cliché will do it for you.

It’s a vicious cycle. You don’t invest because you have zero savings. You have no savings because you have zero motivation to save. You lack the motivation because there’s nothing driving you.

Investing is NOT an end in itself. You invest for a purpose. That purpose will drive you. So ask yourself, what is it that I want my money to do for me? What is it that I really would love to have?

It could be anything. It could an experience (a hot air balloon ride in the Sonoran Desert) or a lifestyle (a global cruise every three years). It may just be accumulating gadgets, building a fabulous home, or just that you don’t want to retire poor. There is no right and wrong. There is no good and bad. There is no normal and absurd. Just be true and honest to yourself. Someone else’s pleasures may not bring you happiness. What fulfils them may not be your cup of tea.

Saving has such negative connotation to it because it is associated with sacrifice. But what is the sacrifice for? Find that driver. Once you know what you want to spend your money on, then you can cut costs mercilessly on the things you don't care about, and invest with a focus.

The smartest investment hack: Be debt free.

If you are in debt, work on paying it off immediately. There is an immediate return there.

It is so easy to live the high life on a line of credit. When your lifestyle is being funded by debt, you are swimming with the sharks.

There is nothing wrong with a credit card. The problem is with your inability to live within your means. Using a credit card is completely okay if you clear all outstanding dues by the end of the month.

There are three ways to comprehend how expensive debt can be.

  • There is a huge emotional cost to it. Imagine getting a salary cut or facing a job loss. That debt will hang on your head like a sword.
  • Recognize that the 18% or 24% or 30% you’re paying in credit card debt is costing you a lot more than you could ever earn anywhere else.
  • The more debt you have to service, the more your savings lag. This will have long-term repercussions cause you need to start saving early to let compounding work in your favour. All the money going towards interest payments, if invested well could add up to serious money over a young investor's time horizon; wasting even a few of those early years can have a decent-sized opportunity cost.

The investment hack that supersedes all: Invest in yourself.

You need to look at RoI – Return on Investment, from all facets. One of the best investments you will ever make is in your own human capital.

When we look at investing, we tend to only look at financial capital – the actual money you have to invest today. What is almost always overlooked is human capital. Which is ironic, because one of the best investments you will ever make is in your own human capital. Human capital is effectively your ability to earn money over time.

When it comes to investing our money, we want to put it use to get a positive return over time. What about skills? Abilities? Talents? These are the sources of your lifetime earnings power. Can you invest in these to reap returns over time? Where is your time and energy being spent? In what relationships are you investing?

Explore all avenues. It does not necessarily mean enrolling for a business degree. You could pursue certifications. Develop news skills. Attend the right workshops. Look for a mentor. Read about the subject you want to increase knowledge in. There are plenty of podcasts available online. Just never stop learning.

Use RoI as a compass to help you identify the best use of your financial capital and human capital. And that means wisely allocating your time, energy and resources to what matters. Get intentional.

Get these three right and you are on a solid financial footing.

Larissa Fernand is Senior Editor at Morningstar India. You can follow her on Twitter.

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ninan joseph
May 22 2021 02:11 PM
This post made reminded me of a colleague of mine 30 years ago.
He worked in another department and when he saw me the first day at office asked me to come over and asked me my salary. I told him it was X, he looked at me and said, from today, your salary is X minus 10%. I looked perplexed, nervous and asked him "Why Sir". He said, think X-10% is your salary and the 10% on the first day when I get the salary, transfer it to a place where I cannot take it back. Live with the remaining 90%, He then said, one day I will thank me.
Today, Mr.Balagopal, I thank you. It helped in inculcating an habit for saving.
Thank you Sir.

Another gem, which another boss told me, which I never followed and regret is
He told me to invest in myself and go to a gym. He said, as long as you are able to achieve targets you are the blue eyed boy. The day, you fall sick you may get empathy but after few months, if you are not able to meet the targets, they will be thinking of replacing you.

So, I agree wholeheartedly, Invest in yourself and Invest in your health - do not consider it as a expenses because if you do, there will be lifestyle medicines which will cost you more.
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