By Hanniz Lam

The Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) said today Malaysia’s inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), increased 2% in August 2021 from a year earlier due to 2020 base effect and as the August 2021 reading included a rise in CPI components including the transport besides the food and non-alcoholic beverages segments.

Though some economists and other financial experts say that the current rate of inflation is nothing to worry about, people are tightening their belts.

“If you’re the best teacher, if you’re the best surgeon, if you’re the best lawyer, you will get your share of the national economic pie regardless of the value of whatever the currency may be,” Warren Buffett once said.

In other words, being great at what you do will ensure that you receive your fair share no matter what is happening with the value of the dollar.

Ultimately, “the best thing to do is invest in yourself,” Buffett says.

The next-best course of action to protect against inflation, Buffett says, is to own a part of “a wonderful business.” That’s because no matter what happens with the value of the dollar, the business’ product will still be in demand.

So how do you invest in yourself?

Investing in yourself means more than opening retirement accounts and calculating how much you’ll need for the future (although that’s important too).

Investing in yourself means you’re learning, growing, and elevating your self-awareness. This way you can be the best version of you every single day.

1. Set Your Goals
The year is coming to an end and now’s teh best time to set your 2022 goals. Segment the goals based on the category, such as finances, travel, career, and self-development.

If that’s too complicated, just create a list of three to five goals and keep it simple. Make sure you keep track of those goals and check in on a weekly or monthly basis. Set it in your Google calendar if you think you’ll forget.

2. Learn Something New About Your Industry
This is the advice I give to my mentees. They are usually caught up in the theory of the subjects that they study and sometimes forget how fast industries develop and evolve.

Be intentional about learning something new, as it relates to your line of work. (Even if it doesn’t, that’s OK too!)

Some free or inexpensive resources include:

  • Books (visit your local library and rent books for free)
  • Podcasts
  • In-depth blog posts
  • Webinars
  • YouTube videos
  • Local meetups
  • LinkedIn

3. Focus on Your Health
Diet and exercise are lifestyle changes that need to be incorporated into your daily routine. Getting healthy now means you may experience fewer problems down the road when you’re older.

If you really had to focus on one aspect to get healthy, start with the foods you’re eating.

Here are quick and simple ways to get healthier:

  • Replace sweet drinks with water
  • Add fresh fruit to your meal
  • Dance on TikTok
  • Eat more protein in the morning
  • Cook simple and healthy meals at home and prepare them for the week so you can set yourself up for success (and save money in the process!)

4. Schedule Regular Breaks and Downtime
Working hard and being productive needs to be balanced with moments of rest and taking breaks.

There’s a reason why you feel get brain fog or feel mentally exhausted by the end of the day. If you’re not taking a full break you’re not giving your brain time to rest and refuel.

It helps to step away from work and go for a brisk walk and soak up some vitamin D in the sun.

5. Be part of a support system
A support system whether it be on Facebook or WhatsApp or Telegram can help you focus on work or business-related issues. Perhaps you’re having a difficult time juggling projects, or you’re not getting along with your team and need an outsider’s perspective.

Peers can guide you through how to communicate more effectively and arm you with the right mental tools to better handle situations that may arise.

6. Hire a Financial Advisor
Perhaps this is the year you want to make lots of financial improvements in your life. Maybe you’re ready to purchase a house or pay off your debt but aren’t sure what the next tangible steps are.

A financial advisor brings clarity for to how to do this by examining your finances and income with you. A plan is then created with you so you can realistically achieve your goals.

Just like a coach, however, a financial advisor doesn’t work for free, so if this isn’t realistic for your budget, don’t worry. There are plenty of free online resources you can use to understand what your financial situation looks like.

If you are not quite ready for a planner, use a free app to help you get an overview of your spending, income, and debt.

7. Use Financial Apps to Save and Invest
If you like using apps to check on things, why not use a financial app. Here are a few we found easy to use.

1. Money Lover
Money Lover is an all-in-one financial management app that includes tracking, budgeting, reporting and planning functions. It’s a simple app that allows you to categorise and keep a tab on your expenses across weeks, months and years. The report will be presented in an easy-to-read graphical format so you can have a clear view of your spending patterns.

Features:

  • Available on multiple devices
  • Recurring bills and transaction reminder
  • All currencies available with updated exchange rates
  • Scan receipt
  • Reporting
  • Link online banking to Money Lover
    Price: Free (In-app purchases available)
    Platform: iOS | Android | Web

2. Spendee
Spendee’s minimalistic interface makes it easy to navigate and picture all your finances through an app. The main feature gives an overview of your weekly spending, organised from the most recent expenses or savings to the least recent. There are also options to display an overview of the month, year or a custom period of time.

Features:

  • Connect Spendee with online banking, e-wallet and crypto-wallet
  • Automatic categorisation
  • Multiple wallets for different events
  • Shared finances
  • Multiple currencies
  • Personal finance insights
  • Available on multiple platforms

Price: Free (In-app purchases available)
Platform: iOS | Android | Web

3. Expensify
Expensify is a favourite among startups, as accounts using the same email domain can be linked for easy submission and tracking. You can easily group your expenses under different reports or trips.

The app is handy to have while travelling since it tracks distance and time spent on a particular project. One unique feature of this expense tracker app is SmartScan, which reads your receipts for all the details of an expense. It was designed so there would be “no typing needed on your end”.

Features:

  • Expense management
  • Multiple currency conversion
  • Travel booking
  • Automatic credit card import
  • Receipt integrations (Uber, Lyft, Hotel Tonight, Grab)
  • Accounting integrations (QuickBooks, Xero, NetSuite, Sage Intacct, and more!)
  • Custom report exports
  • Mileage tracking

Price: Free to use for up to 25 SmartScans of receipts per month (In-app purchases available)
Platform: iOS | Android | Web

4. Monny
Known for its ‘cute’ features, Monny gives you mini-challenges to make saving a bit more exciting. For example, the first challenge is to key in entries for seven days straight, which would be helpful for getting you into the habit of using the app, if you’ve never used budget tracking apps before.

The app records a daily or monthly report of all your transactions and creates reports to show where your money is being spent.

Features:

  • User-friendly reports and charts
  • Separate account books into different categories
  • Backup support
  • Daily notification alert
  • Passcode lock for privacy and security

Price: Free (In-app purchases available)
Platform: iOS | Android

5. Goodbudget
Formerly known as Easy Envelope Budget Aid (EEBA), Goodbudget is a perfect option for couples that want to share their budgeting process together. It uses the familiar envelope budgeting philosophy to power your proactive budget for all of your bills and spending. An envelope system means dividing your cash into separate envelopes for different expenses like groceries, utilities, and car loan.

Features:

  • Sync across multiple devices
  • Scheduled transactions and account balances
  • Split expense transactions
  • Spending category suggestions
  • Location-based widget
  • Insightful reports

Price: Free to use for creating 20 envelopes (In-app purchases available)
Platform: iOS | Android | Web

6. You Need A Budget (YNAB)

This award-winning budgeting app allows you to manage your expenses easily when you’re not sure how to get your spending under control. With YNAB, you’ll be learning how to spend smart instead of spend less. If you share expenses with your partner, you can do the budgeting together so both of you will not accidentally overspend on shopping or groceries.

Features:

  • Bank syncing
  • Transaction matching
  • Goal tracking
  • Report and budget data
  • Personal support

Price: Free for first 34 days
Platform: iOS | Android | Web

7. iSaveMoney
iSaveMoney is a powerful budgeting app and expense tracker that is suitable for people of different ages to create personal or family budget. It comes with different features and functions that will help you to plan your budget, record your transactions and forecast your budget with ease. You can create a monthly budget, tracking spending and get the report for free on all the recorded expenses for you to have clear insights on your spending habit.

Features:

  • In-speech recognition
  • Autocomplete function based on previous entries
  • Built-in calculator
  • Budget maker template
  • Budget forecast
  • Daily transaction monitoring
  • Export data and report in CSV format
  • Auto backup data to cloud

Price: Free (In-app purchases available)
Platform: iOS | Android

8. Mint
Search up ‘budgeting apps’, and Mint will be on almost every list. Mint is a pretty interesting app because it creates a budget based on your past spending habits. Another cool feature is that it splits your expenses into various categories such as shopping, bills, and transportation.

Features:

  • A ‘well-rounded’ app
  • Shows income, expenses, savings goals, credit score, investments, net worth
  • Links to bank account and credit cards
  • Budgets are created based on past spending habits
  • Budgets can be adjusted
  • Security features such as Verisign scanning, multi-factor authentication and Touch ID mobile access

Price: Free (In-app purchases available)
Platform: iOS | Android

9. Zeta
Besides Goodbudget, Zeta is another app that’s good for couples. Here, you can combine your finance goals with your partner’s. But you also can have individual goals. Under Zeta, you can tag your partner on specific transactions. Or if you’re purchasing something together, you can split that amount and keep a tally.

Features:

  • You can have shared or personal accounts
  • Keep a tally of how much you and your partner and spending
  • Assign transactions to your partner
  • Spending is updated in real-time
  • Provides a savings timeline
    Price: Free (In-app purchases available)
    Platform: iOS | Android | Web

10. PocketGuard
Savings and expenditure aside, PocketGuard is one app that also allows you to keep track of your investments. To make it easier for you, you can link your account to your bank account, cards and investments.

Instead of just telling you how much you’ve been saving and spending, it also tells you how much spendable money you have left with the ‘In My Pocket’ feature.

Features:

  • Links to your bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments
  • Gives you personalized reports on every transaction‘
  • My Pocket’ feature tells you how much you have left to spend
  • You can create goals on how much money you’d like to spend and save
  • Premium version gives you even more features
    Price: Free (In-app purchases available)
    Platform: iOS | Android | Web

With different types of expense tracker apps available, it can be a little daunting to choose just one to help manage your money. You can try any of the apps we listed above and consider which one gives the best features for your personal finance tracking.

8. Sign Up for a High-Interest Savings Account
If you’re still using your big bank’s 0.01 percent interest savings account, it’s time to open a high-interest savings account with at least a 1 percent interest rate. Online savings accounts are usually free (no monthly fees) and are great for goal-oriented savings through opening sub accounts.

To illustrate, your main savings account can be your emergency fund, but you could also have more accounts under that main savings account.

Savings account offering high interest based on monthly transactions

Nowadays, we use online banking for almost everything, including shopping, paying bills and transferring money.

On top of earning interest on your monthly deposit amount, this savings account also rewards you with bonus interest based on your monthly banking transactions, such as paying bills via online banking and spending using your debit or credit card.

Check out these savings accounts below for more information:

Salary Savings Account

For the working people, payday is the most anticipated time of the month. Usually, it will be credited to a personal savings account registered with your company.

If you have a basic savings account as a salary-crediting account, you won’t get much benefits out of it compared to a salary savings account.

This savings account for payroll transactions offers a comprehensive solution to your banking needs, from earning high interest on your deposit, to enjoying a preferential rate on your home loan and other exclusive privileges.

Here are selected few salary savings accounts that you can compare and apply:

9. Learn a New Skill That You Can Apply to Your Job
How many moments have you stopped to wish you knew how to do XYZ at your job so you can quickly get it done?

If I had a ringgit for every time I wished I knew how to Video Edit better, I’d be rich. With this skill under my belt, I could push projects along faster and make my life a lot easier.

Take a look at your job and what new skill you could learn to get projects completed faster.

You don’t necessarily need to enroll in a class or spend money when there are so many free online ways to learn how to do something. The following are my favorite resources that can help you learn how to do something more effectively.

  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • TikTok

10. Earn Extra Money
Earning money on the side can help you do things like pay off credit card debt and save faster.

If you’re not earning a side income, now is the time to start the wheels turning!

There are so many resources you can use to start earning money. If the whole idea of earning a side income intimidates you, start with something easy, like listing an extra room in your house on Airbnb.

Read HERE for more side gig ideas

11. Update Your LinkedIn Profile
I might be a little addicted to social media as it’s part of my job.  I do think you should avoid a pictureless, empty LinkedIn profile. If your previous roles aren’t fully detailed, take the time to get that done.

It only takes 10 minutes, and if you’re looking for a new job, it can help attract new recruiters to your profile.

Ask a former colleague or manager to write a recommendation for you.

Tip: Write one up and send it to them for approval so all they have to do is copy paste it to your page.

12. Meditate for 5-10 Minutes Each Day and in between big tasks
Meditation has proven, scientific benefits for your brain. Besides helping you to calm the mind of all the noise it experiences each day, meditation can help you:

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve concentration
  • Increase self-awareness
  • Improves cardiovascular and immune health

The two biggest benefits are being able to concentrate on the moment and increased ability to stay focused.

All it takes is five to 10 minutes a day. It’s also nice to meditate a few times throughout the day, especially in stressful moments.

Summary
Investing in yourself means you want to do better and that you want to experience growth in your life.

The point is to concentrate on yourself so you can be the best version of you.

How do you plan to invest in yourself?

ASK ME ANYTHING REGARDING INVESTING IN YOURSELF

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