How to start investing during NS
With inflation rates creeping up which impact adversely the value of our savings, we have to make our money work harder for a sustainable financial future.
The reason behind this is simple enough. Prices rise during inflationary periods, which means the purchasing power of your cash decreases with time. In other words, the same basket of goods that cost $100 now, is going to cost more in 10 years’ time. Assuming an inflation rate of 3.8% pa, you’ll have to spend $145 to purchase the same products then.
That said, inflation isn’t seen as bad. Some level of inflation — around 2% — is normal. Do note that everyone’s “true” inflation rate is different because we all buy different products and services.
With that in mind, it helps to know that there are options available for you to minimise the impact of inflation on your hard-earned savings.
Moreover, it helps to inculcate a healthy habit of setting aside money for investment as early as possible. And National Service (NS) isn’t a bad time to start!
Reasons to invest
If you remain unconvinced, here are 3 reasons why you should embark on your investment journey!
Power of compound interest
As the saying goes, “Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it and he who doesn’t, pays it.”
With compound interest, the earlier you start on your investment journey, the longer the runway that you will have for your investment to grow and potentially double, triple or even quadruple, thus allowing you to grow your savings quickly.
You don’t need much to start investing
In recent years, investing has been made more accessible to first timers. While in the past, many exchanges required minimum lot sizes for investing (e.g. you had to buy 100 units/shares to invest), this is often not the case today.
In Singapore, investors are able to buy exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with a minimum lot of 1 unit as of January 2022 as opposed to 100 units, previously.
The lower entry level for investing can be a benefit for full-time national servicemen (NSFs) as it allows you to invest on a regular basis through regular savings plan (RSP) without needing a large amount of money.
In other words, your allowance from NS allows you to start on your investment journey without sacrificing a lot of spending.
Source of passive income
Having a dividend-paying stock portfolio is one way in which you can earn passive income. Dividend stocks are shares that offer payouts to investors on a regular basis. You can gain exposure through investing in blue-chips stocks or through ETFs. As you continue to invest, your portfolio will grow and the dividends will also continue to increase, granting you passive income. You can opt to receive the distribution as units instead of cash, if you do not need the passive income. By doing so, you can reap the power of compounding and grow your units over time.
What to invest
When embarking on your investment journey, it’s quite normal to feel overwhelmed by the wide range of investment choices in the market.
To get started, you might want to consider some common types of investments.
Depending on your goals and risk appetite, you can choose to invest in equities which are also known as stocks. They offer potentially higher returns, which in turn, might involve higher risk, or blue-chip companies that tend to have lower returns but have a more stable outlook.
However, investing in a single stock or a handful carries a high risk and requires paying attention to the market as there are many firm-specific risks that you may be susceptible to.
If you don’t have the time, you can consider buying ETFs which usually track indexes, and you would only have to monitor the index instead of multiple individual stocks. This also allows you to diversify your investment by starting with one diversified fund which reduces company specific risks.
Like ETFs, you can do the same with unit trusts. When investing in a unit trust, you can diversify your portfolio with less monitoring work as you can leave it up to the experts. This is because a professional portfolio manager will invest funds according to an investment mandate and perform detailed research before deploying funds into your chosen asset class.
Similar to ETFs, buying unit trusts allows you to invest in a pool of stocks with greater ease and at a potentially lower price as compared to buying each security individually.
There are different types of bonds including government bonds and corporate bonds. How a bond works is that you are essentially lending money to a government or corporation for a fixed number of years in exchange for regular interest payments.
The risk levels of the bonds are usually rated by independent rating services and the higher a bond’s rating, the lower the risk it carries. However, a higher rating bond would also likely have a lower interest rate with all things being equal.
Government bonds such as the Singapore Savings Bonds are considered safe options and hence, will have a lower interest rate as compared to corporate bonds which may carry a higher level of risk and would require more due diligence before buying.
Real estate investment trusts (Reits) are collective investment schemes that own and invest in income-generating assets such as office buildings, shopping malls, warehouses, hotels and data centres. As such, Reits allow retail investors to pool capital to buy into properties that would otherwise be out of their individual reach.
With Singapore Reits having to pay out at least 90% of their income as dividends, they are viewed as an attractive option for those looking to build a dividend portfolio.
How to get started on investing
After explaining the various types of investments, you might be eager to get started on your first investment. Here are three ways to get started!
1. Regular Savings Plan (RSP)
Such a plan allows you to park a pre-determined amount of money into stocks or Unit Trusts each month. It is similar to the concept of regular savings but these savings are channelled into investments instead. RSPs use dollar-cost averaging – where your money buys more units when prices are low and fewer units when prices are high – to better protect you from the volatile market swings
You can start from as low as S$100 with the DBS Invest-Saver and most importantly, there is no lock-in period. Moreover, you have the flexibility to top up your investment amount, terminate your plan or redeem your holdings at any time via digibank.
2. Lump Sum
If you are looking for a one-time contribution with ad-hoc funds (such as gifts or bonus) and invest when funds are available, you may want to consider DBS digiPortfolio.
There are 2 portfolios to choose from and you can start with just S$1,000 for the Asia portfolio or US$1,000 for the global portfolio. All you have to pay is a small flat management fee of 0.75% p.a. In addition, there is no lock-in period so you can withdraw your investment anytime without penalty.
3. Financial Tools
Use an advanced digital financial advisory tool like the DBS NAV Planner to ascertain your risk profile and ensure you have set aside adequate emergency cash and protection before investing your surplus cash. The tool offers customised insights and information on investment products that are aligned to your risk profile and financial needs. Make an informed decision today!
4. Get started with a trading account
Apply for a DBS Vickers Young Investor Account and gain access to a wealth of resources to help kick-start your investment journey. You can enjoy flat commission fees across all markets with no custody fee on foreign share holdings. We’ll also set up a new DBS Multi-Currency Account (MCA) for you to make the settling of trades and dividend crediting convenient.
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