10 ways to overcome the shrinking dollar

The Sunday Times. Sun, Apr 06, 2008

shrinking dollar

It takes discipline and a sound investment strategy to combat the corrosive effects of inflation, say financial experts.

1 Cut down spending, live within your means

IPP Financial Advisers investment director Albert Lam’s advice is to review your lifestyle and consumption patterns.

For instance, you can substitute a branded item with a no-frills one, or switch to a cheaper mode of transport like the bus.

2 Try to save 20% of your pay or more

This is a useful tip especially for those just starting their careers, says head of ipac financial planning’s advisory team, Mr Bill Castellas.

Establishing a disciplined pattern of ‘money behaviour’ will go a long way towards building surpluses for long-term investments.

3 Do not be overly conservative

Invest your money instead of leaving all of it in savings deposits or fixed deposits, said Mr Lam.

New Independent’s financial advisory manager Stanley Sim also suggests that instead of parking spare cash in savings deposits, investors can place it in money market funds that have zero sales charges and offer better rates.

impact of inflaction on purchasing power

impact of inflation on purchasing power

4 Don’t rely solely on guaranteed products 

Mr Castellas feels that such products, like bonds, might provide peace of mind but only marginal protection against inflation over the long term.

5 Save regularly via an investment platform

The earlier you start investing a small amount that you can afford to set aside, the quicker your investment will grow till it builds up into a significant sum in later years.

‘Set aside an affordable sum from your daily expenses each month via a regular savings plan,’ said Mr Castellas.

‘You can put it into growth-oriented assets like equities and or real estate investment trusts.’

6 Take on sensible level of investment risk

Build an investment portfolio with a reasonable spread of defensive and growth assets that suit your lifestyle.

7 Invest for returns that will beat inflation

In order to beat inflation, consider investing in a globally diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds with a long-term horizon, said Mr Sim.

A moderate-risk portfolio, comprising 60 per cent equities and 40 per cent bonds, should be able to generate a 6 to 8 per cent return a year over the long term.

8 Understand the power of compounding

Start planning, saving and investing as early as possible so you can enjoy the benefits of compounding, said Mr Lam.

He suggested investors apply the Rule of 72, a handy tool that illustrates the effects of compounding.

To work out how long it will take for your investment to double in value, divide 72 by the percentage return. With a return of, say, 9 per cent a year, to double your money, you will need eight years, that is, 72 divided by nine.

Mr Sim noted that if you can invest $10,000 in an instrument that gives you an annual return of 6 per cent, that sum will grow to about $32,000 after 20 years.

If you start early, the compounding effects will help you fight inflation by preserving and growing your wealth.

9 Invest in asset classes that appreciate

Both Mr Lam and Mr Sim gave property as an example. But invest in this asset class only if it is within your means.

If rents increase at a faster rate than inflation, your property rental yield will provide a healthy return, they said.

10 Limit exposure to depreciating assets

Such assets include consumer goods like cars.

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