You've definitely heard about the famous adage, "prevention is better than cure," haven't you? It's not just about getting vaccinated to make yourself immune to specific diseases. It can also be applied to your personal finances when you are looking to protect yourself from financial instability, a condition that can threaten your future financial security.
Financial instability happens when you lose control of your finances and can no longer account for your income. When you find yourself stagnant and making zero progress, and your financial future isn't bright. It also happens when you struggle to save or invest despite working and making money. Financial instability can be scary.
So how do you make yourself immune from financial instability while in your 30s and ensure your future is protected? This article will dive into seven steps you can take to protect yourself and those who depend on you.
Upskilling is the process of acquiring new competencies and skills that can give you a competitive edge in the job market and help you command higher salaries. One of the leading causes of job loss is your employer declaring your skills redundant because they've become outdated or automated. By upgrading your knowledge, you can keep up with changing trends in your field and stay relevant.
The most significant nightmare employees face after a loss of income is prolonged periods of joblessness can lead to financial instability. It can cause you to dig into your savings or drive you into debt. But if your skills are up to date, you are less likely to tarmac for more extended periods. Your employability status will be over the roof, and with various skills under your belt, you can quickly adapt or shift to new fields.
Additionally, upskilling can help you advance your career and propel you up the corporate ladder. This will ensure you increase your salary and protect your job. You will become irreplaceable to your employer, and even in times of uncertainty, they will likely retain you. With your source of income protected, you can feel immune to instability and concentrate on other aspects of your financial life.
Read Also: 5 Things to Do When You Get a Salary Raise
Responsibilities and financial obligations are likely to mount as your income increases. First, it is around this age that you will likely be making significant decisions that are financially demanding if you haven't made them already. This can be everything from marriage, having kids, and providing for them to homeownership.
The 30s are also the decade to get serious about your financial goals, like eliminating debt and saving for retirement.
Investing a portion of your income is the best way to handle all those responsibilities and ensure you stay stable and secure your future. For beginners, investing 15% of your pre-tax income each month towards accomplishing these goals sets you on a path to stability and financial security.
Once you decide to take this step, you can find investment vehicles that align with your risk tolerance and create a diversified portfolio for each of your goals. If you are a novice, you can hire a financial planner to help you through the process of lowering your risk exposure. If you are married, you should also find a way to combine finances with your partner and align your family goals.
Taking on debt is not always a bad thing. Good debts have a magnitude of advantages. It all depends on how you'll spend the amount you borrow. It can be the reason you find stability or the cause of your instability.
If you take a loan and invest the money or use it to acquire appreciating assets, this will help you generate income and build up your net worth. But if you use the loan on liabilities, like paying other loans or buying high-end products you couldn't afford otherwise, that's a ticket to instability.
Before taking on any debt and signing the loan papers, you should be sure the borrowed amount will benefit you financially and that you can afford the loan. Then make an effort to pay them back within the stipulated time horizon. Additionally, avoid debt that brings you no long-term value.
In your journey to financial stability, it's crucial that you avoid debt for these three main reasons:
Building equity involves using ownership to create wealth. Buying or acquiring assets that can appreciate and help you increase your net worth. This can help you avoid financial instability in different in three ways:
Help you generate income - By buying shares or stocks of a business, publicly traded companies, or SACCO shares, you can create a new source of income for yourself. These vehicles can pay you attractive dividends at the end of the financial year. While this happens, your initial investment can also increase in value. (Before investing, beware of the risks involved in buying shares and stocks)
Help you make a profit - When you acquire equity by buying stocks, land, a house, part of a business, etc., there's a chance that it will appreciate after some time. When you time the market well, you can sell and make a profit. For instance, if you bought a piece of 40x80 plot for three million in Nanyuki, you can wait a year and sell it for Ksh3.5m and make half a million in profit.
Helps you get access to cheap credit - Loans are expensive. But when you have equity in assets such as a house, you can use it as collateral. This will make you attractive to lenders and give you an upper hand when negotiating interest and other loan terms.
Read Also: How to Build Wealth in Kenya Using Saccos
Lack of budgeting and tracking expenses is the easiest way to lose control of your finances and expose yourself to financial instability.
Without a boundary on how to spend your income, you are likely to overspend on housing, food, car expenses, etc. This can hurt your bottom line and prevent you from accomplishing your financial goals. A budget will prevent you from blowing through your money, and sticking to it keeps your finances in check.
A budget will also help you navigate uncertainties and unexpected expenses and help you adapt to change easily. Assume your car breaks down, and you only have third-party insurance. You'll have to dig into your rainy day funds or savings to settle this bill. But if you had a budget, you'd have already accounted for such out-of-the-blue expenses.
But perhaps the most significant advantage of budgeting is how it helps you prepare for the future by encouraging a saving habit. Only by knowing how much you earn and how much you spend can you decide how much to save. A budget will help you save towards all your financial goals, from paying off debt to educating your children and saving for retirement.
As you invest and save in your 30s, it's essential that you maintain some liquidity by keeping cash or cash equivalents at your side. Failure to do this can cause you to experience some instability and losses that could have been avoided.
If you invest all your money in illiquid assets like bonds or fixed deposits and unexpectedly lose your income, how will you provide for yourself and your dependents? You will be forced to liquidate, and that can be costly. For example, you'll be penalised for opening your fixed deposit account before maturity and losing all interest earned.
Also, think of the opportunity you'll likely miss out on when you don't have cash at hand. Look at this scenario, your neighbour wakes up one day and gives you a sweet deal to sell you a plot of land next to yours. But all your money is stuck in stocks, the markets are low, and existing in your position means a loss for you. So you humbly turn down the offer, and adios, the opportunity is gone.
Always maintain liquidity to avoid losses, missing out on opportunities, or even taking out expensive loans to meet immediate obligations. You can do this by diversifying your portfolio across liquid and illiquid vehicles.
Wrong financial decisions, common myths, and miscalculated actions are some causes of financial instability. And the best way to avoid them is to seek financial knowledge before you take any steps.
In schools, you are only equipped with skills that will help you get a job and make money. But one crucial lesson always skipped is how to get the best out of what you earn. And this is something only you can teach yourself.
There are different ways you can gain financial education. You can always research every decision you want to make by consuming content from reputable sources, enrolling in financial literacy classes, or talking to experts like financial advisors or planners.
Financial knowledge will help you weigh the pros and cons of every step you take, help you understand the kind of risks you face, and ultimately prevent you from taking action that could cost you.
Avoiding financial instability is at the top of everyone's list, and it's more important to you if you are in your 30s. While working hard and ensuring you're never run out of income can keep you stable now, you need to think long-term. How will you be able to support yourself when for one reason or another, you can't generate income?
Protecting yourself from financial instability doesn't happen overnight. It requires you to take predicated steps like the ones discussed in this article to help you start a journey that guarantees you stability. You will be able to pick yourself up in times of crisis and make better financial decisions you won't come to regret.
So whether it's cutting expenses to leave within your means or avoiding high-interest predatory loans, start protecting yourself when you still have time.