Reader Question: Where do I start?

Recently, I received this very interesting email from a reader of this blog.  While reading through it, I realized you may also be facing the same questions, doubts and fears, so I decided to share her questions (with her permission, of course) and my answers with you so you can benefit from it as well.

Sir,

Good day! I’m Jane Doe (obviously not her real name…I changed it to protect her privacy), 27, working as an accounting staff for a Pharmaceutical Company.

I have heard alot about investing and I have always wanted to give it a try. It’s just that I’m still a bit scared. It’s not as if I have tons of money to just invest on something Im not 100% sure of. I would like to earn more before I start..

Where do I start Sir? Can you give me suggestions? Do I have to join the TrulyRichClub of Mr.Bo Sanchez to know everything I have to know? Won’t I be able to make it good without joining the club? Because honestly, I’m thinking of how much I would save from the monthly membership fee. I am not rich, I would love to be though, it’s the very reason I work hard each day for me and my family.

I really hope you can give me an idea on where I should start..

Thank you so much.. 🙂

Jane Doe

Here’s my response to Jane’s questions:

Hi Jane,

I really admire your enthusiasm and your willingness to learn to start investing in spite of your doubts and fears.

And I totally agree with you. It can be scary sometimes especially if you’re starting on something you’ve never done before. What if you lose the money? What if you make a mistake? What will others say about you? How do you get started?  All these are valid concerns and definitely worth noting.

To tell you the truth, I still feel the same fears whenever I start something new. What keeps me going is the belief that in the end, everything will turn out alright.

1) Where do I start?

For a moment, a list of suggestions went through my head in a flash…until I re-read your question and noticed this — “…I would like to earn more before I start.” It made me re-think my assumptions…and realized, perhaps you already know the answer to your own question. You just need a little bit of encouragement. 🙂

It goes without saying that everybody starts out from different places. And for illustration purposes, I assume your work as an accountant is your major source of income. And you have at least a few good ideas on how you can save money by reducing your expenses or increasing your income. If that’s the case, then here are some simple ideas that may help you get started by utilizing that extra money you save each month.

1) Payoff your debts (if you have any). If you have debts, try to pay it off as soon as possible. There are different kinds of debts both good and bad, which is an entirely different discussion. But if you’re just starting out, all debts are very risky and can turn into really bad debts. So for now, just avoid any debts while you’re still trying to learn to manage your own money.

2) Save for emergency fund. If you have not saved for emergency fund yet, start saving for an amount equal to at least 3 to 6 times your monthly salary. Why 6 months? The idea is that if you lose your job or your only stream of income, it will normally take you around 6 months at the most to find another job. Your emergency fund will NOT make you rich but it will feed you and your family if something unexpected happens, like losing your job. Never use your emergency fund for investing. Just save it in a bank so you can withdraw it quickly in case of emergency.

3) Start investing, but take it one baby step at a time. Once you’ve saved for emergency fund, don’t stop. Continue saving. But now, put you savings into your investing account instead of your emergency fund. This money will only be used for investing. Learn how to invest effectively. The key is to invest only up to the amount you’re (almost) comfortable with. I say almost because if you are only investing in what you are comfortable with, you miss the opportunity to expand yourself to learn not only intellectually but emotionally as well.

It is really important to start with a good strong foundation by learning to manage your own money. The sooner you save, the more money you can use to pay off debts and save emergency fund, and the sooner you will have money to invest.

2) It’s not as if I have tons of money to just invest on something Im not 100% sure of.

This is a 2 part question — 1) not enough money and 2) not 100% sure

For the first one on not having enough money, I would say we all start somewhere. The important thing is to manage what you currently have and every income that comes to you and pass through your hands. Learn how to better manage your money. Even Henry Sy had to make do with selling shoes in a small retail store in the beginning.  I also don’t have a ton of money to invest. But I take action because I know that’s the only way I will be able to learn how to invest…and every lesson I learn will pay off big in the long run.

For the second part on not being 100% sure, the reality is that you can never be 100% sure. Even your savings account is not 100% risk free. You can only claim for up to the amount insured by the PDIC which is PhP 500,000.  Of course, if you saved less than PhP 500,000, you will still be able to get your money (after going through a tedious process). But imagine for a moment that you saved PhP 600,000. You will lose the PhP100,000 if your bank folds up. It’s not millions but it’s definitely money you cannot just throw away. It is already a BIG money for a lot of people.

The first investment my wife and I invested in is on RTBs (Retail Treasury Bonds). There’s a reason why we chose RTBs instead of stocks or real-estate. We were afraid. And we thought RTBs was the next financial instrument with the least amount of risk involved, next to savings accounts. Retail Treasury Bonds are debt papers issued by the government. In simplest of terms, it’s the government’s way of borrowing money from you. When you buy RTBs, you are essentially lending money to the Philippine government. The gov’t has to pay you the interest (quarterly) for the duration of the term specified in the bonds (e.g. 7% per year in 7 years). As you might have noticed, the interest is not that big, but it is certainly better than your savings accounts in your bank which gives less than 1%. More than the passive income we got from investing in RTBs, the really important benefit is gaining the confidence after actually investing our hard earned money. When you actually do something, you not only learn in your mind, but with your emotions as well and the experience gives you a more powerful belief that you can actually do it, something you cannot get from just reading a book.

If you’re interested in investing on RTBs, you can ask your bank’s local branch. I read in the newspaper that the gov’t issued RTBs just this week and the 10-year tenor bonds fetch around 7.37%. RTBs usually run out fast, and may already be gone after 1 or 2 weeks.  So if you’re really interested, you need to act fast.

3) Do I have to join the Truly Rich Club of Mr. Bo Sanchez to know everything I have to know?

The short answer is no. I do believe joining the truly rich club is a great help (because it helped me), but you certainly don’t have to join if your savings doesn’t allow it at the moment. You certainly don’t want to get into debts just to join the truly rich club. 🙂 The thing is, you can actually get the same financial lessons for FREE if you attend the Feast by Bo Sanchez every Sunday at the PICC. In the weekly Feast this month of February, Bo has discussed about making more money, investing in your 10% and multiplying your 20%. Last Sunday, he also gave a talk about managing your 70%. These are financial lessons that will go a long way in helping you in your financial journey…and it’s FREE. 🙂

Lastly, you have to do something to actually learn. In one of Bo’s talks, he mentioned about allowing yourself to be exposed to the same ideas over and over again, until you are moved to take action. The important part is to take action. For only when you take action will true learning begins. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read or financial seminars you’ve attended, the fear will always be there. And the only way to beat that fear is to take action. Push your boundaries bit by bit, until you expand yourself to become comfortable into your new situation.

Hope the above ideas help you in your financial journey.

God bless you!

Best Regards,

Allan

While the above tips may seem simple at first, they are nevertheless very valuable lessons that will help you lay a good foundation for your financial journey.  Before you can run, you need to start walking, Before you can walk, you need to start crawling.  Like a little child taking its first step you may fail many times in the beginning.  But once you start learning and applying what you learned, you will soon be running around all they long, so happy with the many places your dreams have taken you to.

Dear Readers, what are your greatest doubts and fears in starting your journey to financial freedom?   How were you able to overcome them?

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