There is a lot of talk of late about reviewing the year that was 2016 but then again, as most of us are, we have nothing to report about on the resolutions we made at the beginning. I know we will did repeat the same ritual all over again: Get down with a pen and paper and pretend to be serious and note down resolutions.
One such resolution is creating a financial bubble for future contingencies. I have been involved in a lot of online banter about money and its good to note most are warming up to the idea of creating a hedge fund.
But then again, we have to get back to the drawing board and ask ourselves: why do we save? Literally speaking, why do we deny ourselves the pleasure of enjoying our earnings? To spend or to increase its value?
And this is where we all go wrong. A pal of mine recently boasted to me that he had joined a chama that was involved in savings and lending. He contributed religiously every month and at the end of the financial year, he received his dividend of Kes. 30,000. Quite a tidy sum if you asked me. But he went ahead and used all of it in the Christmas festivities, flying to the coast for holidays. And I asked myself: what if he took 50% of the dividends and re invested back into the chama or better still, invested in some other portfolio like the money markets that are risk free and flexible? Another case I encountered online was a fellow who was wondering why anyone would save for an entire year and go chasing plots of land to buy. He opined that chasing the plots has become the norm nowadays. But then again, doesnt land appreciate in value as opposed to the luxuries we go spend our cash on that bring in nil financial returns? Which still brings us back to the original issue: to save or to invest, which is the best way to go?
Saving involves putting cash away for a period of time completely safe and can be accessed after some time together with accrued interest. It is risk free. Investments are risk prone. The cash is put into some asset with the hope that you will get it back with some interest. However, the returns or compensation are higher than just saving. For instance, you can choose to put money under the mattress for some time, periodically topping up and get it back as it is in total. Or you can choose to buy into an investment vehicle and let professional managers manage it for you and earn interest and dividends.
Apparently, and sad to be true, there is no right way to manage your money: it all depends on your circumstances and your needs. If you want to keep money over the long term, investing would be appropriate. But note that there is a risk to it. Hence this should be the most critical factor to consider when choosing an investment option. Whether it is starting a business, buying stock, buying property, it is all about putting money away in the hope that the price of the asset will appreciate and you can get back your cash including accrued compensation. If you cannot afford that risk, then outright saving would be appropriate either in a simple home bank or a savings account, whichever will deem fit.
Personally I recommend both savings and investments. Savings cater for short term needs and for collection of earnings and later, once the target is reached, invested to grow your net worth. At the end of the day, ensure your money is growing.
The biggest problem with holding cash is inflation. Money value deteriorates with time. Putting cash for mid to long term periods degrades its value and hence the importance of ensuring your money grows. It also would be beneficial in a way because the sum total value of your assets versus your debts (net worth) should always be increasing on the positive side. Financial freedom only comes when your sum assets can service your debts comfortably. Hence, to ring fence yourself, you have to ensure you are always growing your asset base as a safe landing in case any future eventuality.
Some people opine that it is necessary to save and spend after denying yourself the entire year. Well, why would you go the length of denying yourself in the moment anyway? Just earn and spend. But remember, no one knows what the future holds. The wise plan for generations to come. The unwise look forward to Saturday nights (and end year) to spend!
Life is short and you only live once. Ensure you live well even in your old age. And living well starts now by the choices you make. After you break that piggy bank or literally busted your savings account at the end of your saving period, apply wisdom. It will be worthwhile.