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Financial planning



Investment Insights

De-mystifying savings and starting your financial journey


De-mystifying savings and starting your financial journey

The world of saving and investing can be daunting and if one looks at the current savings stats in South Africa, perceived complexity may prevent people from starting this vital part of their financial wellness journey. Currently only 21.8% of South Africans have 1 week's worth of emergency savings available, which is well short of the recommended 3 month's worth of emergency savings.

Firstly, let's look at some of the main type of savings and investment vehicles that are available to help you start your journey to financial wellness.

Cash Investments: These are normally savings accounts that are available via your bank. There are a variety of options available here from accounts with immediate access to accounts that need notice to access the funds. With a cash investment, the money grows by earning interest on the amount saved. This is a safe type of savings as there is no exposure to the market and no volatility to your investment. This is a great option for short-term saving and for an emergency fund. Depending on the type of product that you choose, you can save from literally R1 per month and in most instances the capital is guaranteed.

Unit trusts: Unit trusts is a collective investment scheme, where the investors monthly contribution or lump sum contribution is added to other investors money, the fund manager then buys the underlying asset classes. This type of investment allows the investor to get access to a wider range of asset classes, such as bonds, property, shares, and money markets. For the monthly contribution or the lump sum contribution, the investor gets a certain number of units, as the underlying investments go up or down, so does the unit price. One can get unit trusts that invest in only bonds, only property, only shares or a combination of those asset classes. There is risk attached to these unit trusts, but with exposure to the growth assets the chance of outperforming inflation is better. These types of investments are great for medium to long-term investing as there are exposure to growth type assets and the minimum contributions can start from as little as R300 per month.

Share investing: With share investing one invests directly into a company that is listed be it locally or internationally or via an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) which can provide a diversified approach to a broad spectrum of asset classes and industries. This is a great way to start your share investing journey. Investing in the stock market is best suited for longer term investment goals and not for short term goals as one can experience high volatility in returns in the short run which is not ideal for the short-term investor. The adage of it is “time in the market, not timing the market” is important to keep in mind. The returns are made up of capital growth (the share price goes up) as well as dividend payments. Starting your share investing journey is easy with FNB Shares Zero and you can start from as little as R10 with no monthly account fee.

So how does one start the journey to saving and investing:

  • Look at your budget: This will be the first step to see where you can free up cash that can be directed to saving for an emergency or a longer-term investment. Use tools such as FNB Smart Budget on App to see where your money is going and what the moves are you can do to free up cash. Also be deliberate about savings, include saving and investing as part of the needs in your budget. Prioritise saving and investing before the nice to haves like eating out and treats.
  • Redirect the freed-up cash flow: Use the cashflow that you have freed up towards an account for emergency savings. This will normally be a cash investment or bank account. The great thing with this is that it can start with as little as R1. For emergency savings, look specifically for an account that you can access the funds quickly or within 7 days. You can automate these savings by adding a scheduled transfer from your bank account into the savings account every month. A nifty feature to save regularly is Bank Your Change where you can select an amount to round up after every transaction and direct this to you savings account, helping you save easily
  • Think long term: It is important that you match your investment horizon to the type of fund or solution that you are choosing. In the short term the biggest threat to your investment is volatility, in the long term the biggest threat you're your wealth creation journey is inflation. For the longer term, you want you ensure that your investments aim to outperform inflation and exposure to growth assets is the way to do it. With options that start from as little as R300 per month, there is a solution for all goals.
  • Categorise your investments into timelines: Investing 0-2 years; only consider cash and money market investments and include your emergency savings here. 2 - 7 years have exposure to some growth assets such as shares and property as well as some defensive assets like cash and bonds. A good option here will be a unit trust that has exposure to these types of assets.7+ years this is truly long-term investing and exposure to proper growth assets is important, so shares and property. Unit trusts is an option as well as direct share investing.
  • Avoid the too good to be true investment scheme: If a solution promises returns that are beyond reasonable and seem too good to be true it is best to stay clear of them. Consistent saving and investing are what will pay off in the long run. Also, when investing rather stick to reputable investment companies or authorised Financial Service Providers.

Starting the journey to investing does not need to be daunting or overwhelming. The important thing is that you start on the journey, first by building up an emergency fund and then look toward longer-term investing. Use the tools that are available to you such as Savings goal on the FNB App or the various investing options that are available to you via FNB.