University life is exciting. With so much freedom, students can’t help but to explore their new surroundings with their peers.
However, the excitement can easily lead you to overspending, which jeopardises your financial security.
Financial security simply means the peace of mind you feel when your money or income is enough to cover your expenses such as necessities, emergencies and more.
How secure are your finances?
According to Financial Behavior and Problems Among College Students in Malaysia, a study conducted by Iowa State University and University Putra Malaysia, most respondents showed low levels of financial behaviour.
Out of 2,519 students, a majority of them did not have any savings despite receiving scholarships or loans.
Where did their money go? Let’s crunch some numbers:
- 45% of students spent all their money before the semester ended
- 17% gave a portion to their family
- 13% repaid their debts with the money
I’m in my 20s. How do I make sure my finances are secure?
University students are part of the most crucial consumer market segments. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 have a great purchasing power and not to mention, student loans or money that they can spend on products and services targeted at them.
It may seem difficult to achieve financial security in your 20s, but it’s not impossible. With a bit of self-discipline, you don’t even have to skip meals or be frugal with your money! Here’s how to do it:
1. Set financial goals and follow them
When it comes to finance, there are two types of goals:
Long-term - Save up money for long-range goals, such as an emergency fund, house rental or down payment and health insurance. You’ll need them once you’re financially independent!
Short-term - Set up measurable and precise goals to better manage your finances. You can create a checklist for recurring payments to make sure you achieve them. If you're paying for your laptop via installments, this is the best way to ensure you follow through with the payment.
2. Watch where your money is going
It’s easy to lose track of your finances when you splurge on entertainment and food.
Check where your money is going, especially if it involves streaming services. If you barely use your Netflix account, perhaps it’s time to cancel your subscription and put the money into your savings instead.
Besides, ordering in food costs twice as much as making your own. If you’re used to cooking, now is the time to bring out the Gordon Ramsay in you (minus the swearing!).
To keep track of how much you spend, you can try using apps like Mint, Wally, PocketGuard and more!
3. Budgeting goes a long way for your finances
Understanding your commitments helps you to prepare a doable budget.
To create one, you should be clear about how much money you will be spending on:
- Tuition fees
- Stationery and textbooks
- Rental (if any)
Try to stick to your budget and save the rest for future or emergency use. This way, you will feel financially secure even when you’re just in your 20s.
4. An emergency fund is a must
You never know when you might need to spend a hefty sum of money on accidents or illnesses.
Make sure you have an emergency account with at least 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses. This will not only give you financial security but prevents you from getting into debt.
It’s also a good investment to buy medical insurance. They come in many types of packages to fit your budget, so do some research before getting one. It will come in handy especially if unforeseeable events happen!
5. Invest in improving yourself
Your greatest financial asset is yourself.
Identify your strengths and skills. Invest in upgrading them to increase your value. In return, you will secure a high-paying job in the future.
For example, you can attend online courses and earn certificates and skills that will be useful in your future job search.
Most importantly, keep this investment going. There are limitless opportunities for you to upskill, and some may not be taught in university!
6. It’s never too early to save for retirement
A small amount makes a huge difference.
If you have money to spare, consider putting them aside as retirement funds. You can do so even if you’re working part-time or freelance without a regular income.
In Malaysia, you can voluntarily contribute to your retirement funds as long as you’re a registered EPF member. The best part is, you are eligible to receive 15% government contribution (up to RM250 a year) on top of your own contributions!
Trying to save money but not sure where to start? Here are 17 tips to save money as a student.