Coronavirus – Now what? How do we prepare for a similar crisis in the future?

If you’re like me, aka. Millennial, this will likely be the very first recession / depression like situation you’re about to experience. In the face of so much uncertainty, there is one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty:

This is not going to be the last recession-like situation you will walk through in your lifetime.

The world’s economy fluctuates in a surprisingly predictable manner – as predictable as the last rollercoaster ride you’ve taken. Recall that ride, that steep dive downwards, your body slicing through the air and the screams that seem to engulf everything else around you. Once the worst is over, you begin yet another slow climb upwards – to the next steep dive. And when that happens, it almost always catches you off guard. But as you ride it for the second time and the third time and the subsequent rides you take (assuming you’ve got the express tickets so you won’t have to wait all day long), you become used to it. The dives still take you through a chilling moment, but it no longer becomes a surprise.

The economy works in a similar fashion. It’s a rollercoaster ride.

Credits: LumenLearning.com

Long story short: there will be multiple good times (peak) and bad times (recession / contraction).

The real question is: How do we prepare ourselves for the peaks and recession such that we don’t take a nose-dive downwards and hit face-first onto the ground the second it dips into a recession?

Well, ask yourself what’s that one thing you need to have throughout the rollercoaster ride, no matter how many bumps and dives there are up ahead?

Your safety strap.

The safety harness / strap / guard is the thing which keeps you where you need to be through the ups and downs.

So what’s the equivalent of this safety harness which we can turn to in life to keep us where we need to be – snug, safe and happy – throughout the different stages of the economic cycle?

It’s simple: a sound, robust financial plan.

Side note: The esteemed work of a financial planner has been tarnished by the run-of -the-mill salesperson who makes a living shoving overpriced insurance plans down your throat. Fortunately, it’s becoming easier to distinguish a good financial planner from an insurance salesperson. From designations such as the credible Associate Wealth Planner (AWP) and the Certified Financial Planner (CFP), consumers like yourself would have a little more confidence in sifting out the bad eggs from the bunch. Have a listen to my podcast episode #1 at http://www.anchor.fm/womenwealthjourney to learn more about the three questions you can ask to interview your financial planner so you’re prepared to weed through the bad eggs and find a good financial planner for yourself.

Establishing a solid financial plan now will put you in a better place for the next recessions and peaks upcoming (or other financial setback).

Here’s a quick run down of what makes a good financial plan:

1. Good savings habit
2. Strategic allocation of income into investments, liquid savings, insurance, and others.
3. Ensures that risks and uncertainties are insured adequately
4. Long-term and short-term financial goals and life plans are taken into account and revised annually at the minimum.
5. A solid continuity plan for the next generation.

There’s a lot to be shared from this simple list of bullet points, and if you’d like to appoint me as your financial planner, you can always do so by booking a video call appointment with me via http://www.calendly.com/cherietanjy/initial

In the coming months, I will be sharing those bullet points in the form of online courses and webinars. Feel free to express your interest in these online videos and courses by dropping me an email at hello@cherietan.com or send me a DM via Instagram @cherietanjy

The Kind of Holiday We Should Be Taking

Holidays and vacations are what we dream of most. It is the topic to bring up during water-cooler chats, and the kinds of images that fill up most of our Instagram feeds.

I’m continuously fascinated by how oblivious we allow ourselves to be, indulging in our fortunate circumstances that we are to live in this time and in this country, to be living the way we live, to then think and behave the way we do as a result. As I observe people around me, what I often see are comfortable, coddled children (including myself). A little hardship sends us on a downward spiral of discomfort and shame. A little criticism sees us firing away comments verbally or digitally, all to defend our perfect image, our pristine pride and dignity, because what right do they have to criticise our perfection and our blessed fortune?

Most of us don’t think about or worry about basic comforts:

  • Air-conditioned work spaces, restaurants, shopping malls, public transportation systems
  • Appliances that prepare our food and keep them from rotting, appliances that wash our clothes, appliances that heat up our water so we can shower ourselves in comfort
  • Widely available and super reliable public transportation systems
  • Food options that are made affordable (sacrificing on the fancy aspect of it, of course)
  • Toilet paper and sanitary pads.

You might have found the last point funny, but if you start wondering just how homeless women go through their periods, you’ll understand.

All of these are wonderful, as long as we remember to notice and appreciate them. But we often don’t. I often don’t either. So much of these things that we take for granted today were not made available just a decade or two ago, yet how often do we stop to appreciate what we have around us that is made available to us? Nearly every basic desire is available and increasingly affordable and convenient to get and use.

Some of us like myself have acquaintances of similar age groups spending ridiculous amounts dining out, eating fancy, dressing fancy, making purchases that encourages envy and garners them their much needed attention. It can make us feel that the most basic option for food and clothing shouldn’t be compromised, and that we ought to buy the best, the most expensive, the most lavish and most popular choices out there.

How often do we stand in awe of our clean, running water, our paved roads and infrastructure, our public transport system, our communication services, our air-conditioners, our washing machines, our $3.50SGD economy rice meals we could purchase from the hawker across the street?

How often do we think about what it takes to have a computer made available for us to use? How often do we stop and appreciate the clean air around us, the safety and security this country does a fantastic job at maintaining, the nearly-free education we as citizens gain access to?

Not often enough. And definitely not enough.

I’m ashamed I used to be blind to much of it, too busy with my life and my priorities to take a moment and appreciate just about everything I have access to. I felt entitled almost, without realising that I only have these made available to me because I struck the birth lottery: born at the right time, right country, to the right people, and circumstances.

While I’m pleased by my healthier life and financial choices now, and my awareness at just how amazing it is to have clean water made available to me in my home, I find that sometimes, I still need to work to maintain and sustain this level of awareness and attention towards just how fortunate my life is, how great things and services are here in this country, even when life throws me multiple lemons and curve balls.

In order to stay thankful, I go on a holiday.

Yes, you heard me right. I go on a freakin’ holiday.

No, not the kind where I fly to Bali and spend countless days at the beach consuming bucketloads of freshly pressed juice, dine a full vegan diet and yoga 24/7.

I meant a financial holiday.

Since I know humans tend to only yearn for warmth when the sun is gone, I take a holiday from using the things I’m used to using.

I take what I call a Money Holiday:

  • Instead of eating out, I prepare a basic peanut butter sandwich and two boiled eggs for lunch.
  • Substitute my favourite shampoo for a brand I can buy from the dollar store.
  • Stop “catching up over drinks”.
  • Completely wipe my shopping wish list of anything that costs beyond $20 per article (bags, shoes, clothes) and buying from the neighbourhood marts or thrift stores.
  • Taking cold showers instead of hot ones.
  • Not using my car.
  • Limit my grocery shopping to a select few necessities and spending less than $20 a week: bananas, eggs, bread, milk.

…and yes, even swapping out fancy 3-ply toilet paper for the cheapest stuff available as a reminder that my grandmother used to use pages from newspapers or scrap paper when she was a young girl.

A money holiday from frivolous items and 21st century luxuries keep me extremely grounded and frugal, reminding me that wealth is not meant to be spent away but to be accumulated, and that one can either look rich or be rich (health, wealth, happiness).

If you’re planning to take a money holiday, you’ll find yourself in an insanely uncomfortable position if you work obediently within your money holiday limits.

Remember, money buys options.

It buys you the luxury to mourn when your loved one is injured versus having to fret about money in despair, trying to figure out how the medical bills will be settled and by whom.

It buys you the luxury to come home and have a peaceful, simple meal with your children and wife when everyone else is scrambling to recover from a financial crisis.

It buys you the worry-free days, even when days can be worrying for everybody else.

Tracking Expenses – Take Control of Your Finances

Tracking your expenses is a good habit, and it serves much more than simply having an overview of where your money’s going. It also helps you feel in control and indirectly reducing some of that financial stress you might currently be facing.

I help my clients with budgeting their monthly expenses, while keeping in mind their short and long term goals. This helps them stay on track and on top of their game, and serves as a benchmark at the end of each month.

Values and Information are meant for demonstration purposes only.

By creating financial awareness, you know where your money goes and how you’re spending it. Small daily expenses and indulging in seemingly insignificant bad money spending habits can blow your budget and impede you from ever reaching your financial goals in life.

It’s not anything uncommon when my clients tell me they don’t feel like they’re reaching any of their financial goals they’ve set for themselves. Without a good grasp of personal finance foundational concepts such as compound interest and without clarity of what it takes to achieve these goals, it’s incredibly easy for us to indulge in instant gratification.

Values and Information are meant for demonstration purposes only.
*ANB = Age Next Birthday. The age choice for retirement for this demonstration is 65 years old.

In my financial planning work, I make it a point to display my client’s financial goals as clearly as possible, detailing the timeline, goal to achieve, and which accounts are currently funding this goal.

Dashboards provide quick insights.

I like summarizing things.

Tracking expenses and looking out for blindspots in your personal finance planning may seem like a lot of work when you first begin, but you can make it as simple or complicated as you want to.

The easiest way to start is by identifying spending issues and spending priorities. Anyone can start building their wealth by having a tighter control of their spending habits and changing their money beliefs.

If you need access to my financial budgeting sheet, feel free to contact me.