Considering the increased vulnerability of our economy due to three major events – a new government, low oil prices and the Covid-19 pandemic--stock market performance in 1Q2020 was very weak. The FBMKLCI dropped by 16.6% Year-to-Date (24th March 2020).
With MCO extended up to 9th June 2020, this may bring further losses to businesses and drive up unemployment. Even after the MCO is lifted, the Malaysian economy will require some time to bounce back. Where should we put our money during these challenging times?
People should at least know the Dos and Don’ts of personal finance during a crisis. According to Focus Malaysia (22nd April 2020), Professor Dr Yeah Kim Leng from Sunway University Business School suggested that people should make financial decisions based on their priorities. Here’s how:
1. Take up moratoriums on loan repayments
If you have liquidity issue, take up the moratorium and keep the money for emergencies. For people who do not need cash flow, they can take advantage of this “payment holiday” and use the money in hand to enhance passive income by making investments that can generate returns higher than repayment costs. Put the money into fixed deposits, bonds and unit trusts with fixed income that are stable as opposed to equity funds that are suffering losses.
2. Manage your debt
Pay off credit card debts or convert them into term loan as soon as possible because loans have lower interest charges.
3. Look for other income sources
Even if you are not facing retrenchment risk, this is a good timing for you to take up supplementary work. There is great demand for online work and in the delivery services sector.
4. Do research
Now is not the time to venture into unfamiliar territories. Study your financial books i.e. accounts, statements and gauge how long your funds can sustain you and how to maximise your cash savings. Don’t be tempted to follow blindly when it comes to investments. Do your research and stick to your portfolio to be safe.
5. Stay put
After the MCO is lifted, the market will be flooded with job seekers. Therefore, job retention is important. If you’re thinking of retiring, make sure you have a good wealth plan.
Not only during crisis or recession, people should always be mindful with their personal finances. Emergency fund of six months or more is a must especially for a period like this. Understand your critical needs – to earn more or save more? If you have a family to feed, make sure you think of them whenever you plan. And that starts now.
1. The dos and don’ts of personal finance during a crisis, Focus Malaysia, 22 April 2020
2. Preparing Your Finances for a Recession, U.S. News, 25 March 2020
3. 2Q2020 Outlook & Strategy, Maybank Asset Management