Money matters

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 November, 2004, 12:00am

It May be a bit premature to count your chickens before they hatch or, for that matter, your lai see before Chinese New Year arrives.


However, now is always the right time to start saving and investing your money wisely.


Let's begin with saving.


I get very excited when the numbers in my little red Hang Seng Savings Account book increase. I take great pride in the fact that I have only withdrawn money a handful of times.


I am almost obsessive-compulsive about the number of digits that signify my wealth (or lack of).


Assuming that you do not suffer from similar symptoms, I would advise you to approach saving from a different perspective.


Set a goal and work towards attaining it step by step.


It's easiest to start off with a modest objective. For example, for every $100 you earn or receive, try to save at least $10. Then try to save $15 or $20. Soon you will find your savings - be they secured in a piggy bank or a bank account - rapidly increasing.


Alternatively, you can quantify your savings in terms of purchases. For example, if you are in the habit of buying sweets and snacks, try to restrict your purchases both in terms of quantity and frequency. Not only will this help boost your wallet, it will also improve your health.


Once your savings reach a certain level, you can consider investing.


I am extremely conservative when it comes to financial matters. I don't take risks and I don't gamble. Nevertheless, given the rather low interest rates offered by savings accounts nowadays, there are better ways to earn money - or, at least, to keep up with inflation.


The most obvious route, as my father once explained, is to invest in reputable blue chips. A blue chip is basically stock from an established and financially sound company that has continuously demonstrated its ability to pay dividends despite economic uncertainty.


These dividends may be less than that of other companies but you pay a premium for security. If you aren't greedy, you can safely earn more than the ridiculously low interest paid by banks.


A word of advice though: it doesn't make sense - or cents - to spend money that you don't have today.


Ms Yeung is a student at the University of Pennsylvania.


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