Limit your expenses and save your money. That’s the financial advice given to most of us by our parents, but what does saving your money actually mean?
Put any leftover money away into a savings account and let it grow? With the shockingly low-interest rates, it was never a viable choice then, and neither is it now.
The problem with leaving your money in a savings account is that it won’t grow, and inflation and currency fluctuations could result in you losing money instead.
So what are the alternatives, and are they any better?
1. Cash Savings
People save their money into a separate account because it’s easier to manage. You have immediate access in case something happens, and there aren’t any costs associated with having one either.
But there’s a reason why beyond a certain amount, it becomes less worthwhile to keep saving.
‘Cash — in savings accounts, short-term CDs or money market deposits — is great for an emergency fund. But to fulfill a long-term investment goal like funding your retirement, consider buying stocks. The more distant your financial target, the longer inflation will gnaw at the purchasing power of your money.’ — Suze Orman
A savings account should act as an emergency fund, not as a form of wealth storage. You should have enough to pay for a housing repair, or around 3 months of living expenses if you lose your job.
Any more than that and it becomes less useful. When do you foresee not having any income for 12 months as opposed to 3 months for example?
Try to keep at least 3 months worth of living expenses in a savings account. Any more than that and you should seriously consider one of the other strategies instead.
Bonds are financial instruments where you’re effectively lending money to a corporate or government entity. They then agree to return the money by a specific date and also pay you interest along the way.
The interest is certainly better than a savings account, but not much better than that. For example, a 30-year US treasury bond pays 1.25% a year. For every $1,000 you’ve invested, you would gain a return of $12.50.
Hardly worth it, right?
The reason why bonds get suggested by financial advisors is that they’re a very safe way of investing your money and pose very little risk. They also act as a cushion since their value tends to go up when the stock market goes down. But with low risk, also comes low rewards.
‘One day we will have more inflation, and our bonds will bleed like a pig. The only reason for buying long bonds is short-term or as a desperate haven for terrorized investors. But the potential to make longer-term real money is naught.’ — Jeremy Grantham
Bonds offer better returns than a savings account but if I were you, I’d simply avoid buying them. The entry cost is high and the minor returns don’t make them worthwhile at all.
3. Precious Metals
Gold and silver have acted as havens for wealth storage for thousands of years. However, the price of gold has risen to such heights that it’s largely inaccessible to most people who are looking to buy coins or bars.
Silver, on the other hand, is around 80 times cheaper than gold, and according to Forbes, has performed better historically too.
Silver has been a better performer. During the last ten years silver has risen from a low point of $4.02 per ounce to its current level of $17.70, a 340.3% total return (16% average annual rate of return). Silver outperformed gold by more than 100%. We expect that outperformance to continue.
There are of course others including platinum and palladium, but the main issue with precious metals come down to their storage and security. You could store them at an offsite vault, but then that would cost you money over time. Alternatively, you could store them at home but that carries risks too.
Another problem is trying to sell the coins or bars when you need the money. It isn’t as simple as withdrawing money from a savings account or selling stocks during trading hours. You would need to find a buyer that’s willing to pay the fair market price yourself.
Precious metals become useful the more money you have so I wouldn’t suggest buying them unless you’re a collector or have a large amount of excess capital lying around. However, if you did want to practice, then look at digital forms of holding silver and gold instead.
They aren’t the same as owning the physical product, but many trading platforms offer these digital commodities and you’ll get the experience of how the prices fluctuate over time.
4. Stocks and Shares
There’s always been a common misconception that buying stocks and shares is risky and similar to gambling. Although you can lose money through investing, you’re also more likely to lose money through poor life decisions.
For instance, if you’re someone that doesn’t want to lose money by investing, then why would you buy a new car when that single purchase is a guaranteed 30% loss through depreciation alone?
There are plenty of ways to minimize the risk of investing. Diversifying your portfolio, researching, and only putting what you can afford to lose are all viable strategies.
As for the types of investing, there are many to choose from:
- DIY investing — Selecting your own investment carries a high risk to reward ratio since it involves having to do the research yourself.
- ETF investing — An ETF (exchange-traded fund) is simply a group of shares within a specific sector or industry. If for example, you wanted to invest in clean energy, you could invest in an ETF that groups the top-performing clean energy companies into one group.
- Robo Advisor Investing — Think of this as an automated way of investing. You transfer money into a platform like Wealthify or Nutmeg and they will invest on your behalf using algorithms.
- Fund Manager Investing — This used to be one of the only ways in which individuals could invest and involved paying a human to invest on your behalf. However, it’s not recommended these days due to the accessibility of DIY investing and ETFs.
Although the stock market has had ups and downs, over the last 10 years, the average return has been 9.2%, with the S&P 500 offering even higher returns at 13.6%.
This is by far the best choice if you’re serious about wanting to grow your wealth sustainably.
Crypto has recently become one of the highest performing assets to date. Yes, it is volatile but if you’re looking at a 5–10 year timeframe, then there’s one crucial factor that you need to be aware of.
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are deflationary assets and one of the only assets that fall into this category.
Money can be printed by governments, precious metals can be mined and companies can issue new shares, but once all 21 million bitcoins have been mined, there can never be any new bitcoins being created.
That’s what makes them so valuable, and they will continue to go up in the long run because there’s only a finite supply.
However, not all cryptocurrencies are equal. Between 2020 and 2021, Bitcoin rose by 721% whereas Ethereum rose by 1,100%. However, a lesser-known crypto coin, VeChain rose by a staggering 3,100%!
Regardless of your opinion of crypto, they’re here to stay so you may as well make the most by investing a portion of your money into them.
The world is changing and so are the methods by which people save and grow their money. However, before you consider any of the strategies, remember that your priority should always be to have enough in your emergency fund.
Once you’ve reached that milestone, then invest your money instead and let it grow. When you come back in the future, you’ll be amazed at the increases.
‘With a good perspective on history, we can have a better understanding of the past and present, and thus a clear vision of the future.’— Carlos Slim Helu
The secret to growing money is to always stay level-headed. Having an emergency fund means that when the markets fluctuate, your life won’t fluctuate with it.
Discover other ways of building financial wealth, and why now is the best time to invest.
My Strategy for Saving Money and Building Wealth
Told in 3 simple steps that you can easily follow