Congratulations! You've just graduated with a degree and got your first job, Woohoo!
Like any fresh grad, I too was really excited about the prospects of landing my first job and earning a monthly income. At that time, all I thought about was what I can now afford to spend on myself, like going shopping, or hang out with friends over drinks, etc.
But then, reality strikes and I realize that I was living on paycheck to paycheck, always depending on the next salary to come and on top of that, I wasn't too happy at my previous company. If it wasn't for my family, I'd be fucked if I were living on my own.
That was how I decided that I wanted to grow my wealth. I may be young, with a starting salary that could make a common thief take pity on me, but I learned that I have one advantage that could help; Time.
If you're a young fresh grad and still thinking about why you should invest but can't, here's a few reasons why you should invest, even when you're broke.
Now, the reason why I'm sharing this is because I'm sure there are a lot of young people like myself who are struggling in finding their way. In no way do I consider myself an experienced investor, or God forbid, an expert. But I learned that the more you share, the more you gain, so I thought I'd share my experience on how I got started in my investment journey.
If you're a fresh grad (or even a first time investor, no matter where you are in life now), here are some of the things I believe you can do to build a good foundation.
1. Save Money
This is a no brainer, but its still one of the fundamental things a lot of people don't really do. Growing up, we've always been taught to save money for the future, but we've never been told about WHAT we can do with those savings.
I'll tell you why you should save, and what you should tell kids on why they save. To build a capital.
In any investment, you need a significant capital to start on your journey. What's the point of wanting to buy stocks when you have nothing to buy with? If I had known this much earlier on, I would've been able to invest a long time ago, but I didn't. So I hope you learn from my mistake.
Saving money also doesn't mean to spend away your salary and save what's left. Fuck no.
You pay yourself first. Open up a separate bank account which is dedicated to your investment journey. Nothing that comes out of that account is for anything BUT to invest. Its important to keep that separate if you have very little discipline like myself. Every month when my salary comes in, I now make sure I schedule my account to transfer 20% of that amount into my investment account. This is to maintain consistency and slowly build that capital.
2. Find a Mentor
Similar to learning something new, whether its learning how to exercise, play tennis, or riding a bike, having a mentor to guide you is very important. Especially if it involves your money.
I find myself very fortunate to be working under my current boss. He's been working in the field of personal finance and entrepreneurship for years and he's always been very passionate about poverty eradication. It was really because of him that I got to understand more about managing my wealth and getting started in investing.
What I find personally touching is that even though its not related to my job, he's always genuinely interested in seeing my personal wealth grow and is always happy in sharing tips about investments. Not a lot of bosses care about their employees that way these days.
If you don't know anyone personally who could be a good mentor to you, we are living in the world of the internet where knowledge is vast. Ask anything under the sun and you will be answered (including asking what how high kangaroos could jump if they were on a trampoline, but we'll get back to that another time).
However, if you could find a good mentor that could personally talk to you, someone who is very encouraging and supportive, and someone whom you hope to be like one day, you know you're on the right track.
Name me one successful investor who has been able to make it to the top without reading a single book, and I will happily run down Bukit Bintang in nothing but a Barney suit.
According to a study about self made millionaires and their habits, one of the top things they do is to read. Based on their study, 85% of millionaires read two or more books a month, and they choose books that help them grow, including topics like careers, biographies of successful people, self-help, health, current events, psychology, and leadership.
I used to think those books were very boring and I was always the kind of person who indulges in fictional books like Sophie Kinsella, or Stephen King. But when I got interested of possibly becoming wealthy in the future, I became genuinely interested in the subject and the world of business magazines and books were things I loved to devour in my spare time.
If you're clueless about where to get started and what to read, here are some of the reading materials I've been consuming that helped sparked my interest (this includes books, blogs and newspapers):
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
A classic self-help book that has been recommended over the years. While there were some subjects in the book which I read with a pinch of salt, I mostly agree with the basic principles that were taught in this book. Not only was this book very relatable, interwoven with tales of his childhood, it wasn't very technical at all which is perfect for beginners.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
Another great book about investment that wasn't dry to read. Not only did Graham talk about the principles of analyzing a business for investments, he also placed a lot of emphasis on psychology and temperament, which is also very useful in real life.
Malaysia Young Investor
A very informative blog which I came across one day. Not only is the writer just one year younger than me, but he seems to have a lot more experience and knowledge about investing in the Malaysian scene. I highly recommend you to check out his blog.
Another great blog to follow that talks about the different types of investments out there and the writer's portfolio. At 29 years old, the writer is already achieving a net worth portfolio of 6-figures!
The Edge Malaysia
As an old school reader, I still enjoy reading the papers in the morning. The Edge is a weekly business newspaper that talks about the current markets and businesses going on. In the past, I used to think it was quite boring to read, but lately, I like how the personal wealth section is trying to be more relatable to the young people. Once you read the business papers more often, it also helps train and expand your business vocabulary so it could help with decision making when it comes to your money.
4. Identify your Goals
To have a goal is to work with a purpose. Similar to losing weight, or passing an exam, we all have to have personal goals that keeps us in check.
Personally, I hope to be financially independent by the age of 35. By then, let's hope my future husband never finds out so he can still take care of me for years to come anyway. Hohoho.
Its also important to know what kind of investments you'd like to have and the kind of outcome you're looking for. If you're looking for something that can be liquified, stocks may be your thing. If you want a sense of ownership in an asset, perhaps properties may be of interest to you.
Its important to first check out your options before deciding on what you want in life. To have a better idea on what you can invest in, here's this great article I came across that could be of help to you.
5. Set Up Your Trading Account
Finally, you got a significant amount of capital in the bank, your mentor's got your back and you've been consuming a wealth of knowledge about investments. Time to get your hands dirty.
I really wanted to invest in stocks because even though its very volatile, its also very exciting. Plus, its one of the easiest entries to get into since you can now buy one lot at 100 units instead of 1000 units in the past. So if you wanna buy stocks, getting a trading account is the first step into the world of trading.
All you have to do is to call up your local bank and let them know that you'd like to open a trading account. However, do note that there are many brokers out there so make sure you find one that suits you best. You can check out a comparable list in this article here.
There are a few options out there, but I recommend you to just open a Direct CDS account. CDS stands for Central Depository System and it is largely managed by Bursa Malaysia. All you need for documentation is your IC and 3 months of your payslip. Once you got that set up, you're already on your way on becoming an investor.
So there you go! I feel that these are some of the essential steps on building a foundation as an investor. Very basic stuff, but I think its a habit that's very important to cultivate and develop over time as a young person. Hope this is of help to my friends who are also struggling like me, and feel free to share your experiences as well.
Anne is the author and founder of this blog. She likes to write about current issues, travels, food and the general struggles of a millennial.