SAVING AND INVESTMENTS
We all need a secure future and one safe way of achieving that is through saving and investing. To stay out of trouble, you need to make money work for you.
Putting a little bit of money away regularly is the best way of saving up for those expensive things, like a holiday, furniture, your own house, a car or education. Most times saving gets us out of trouble when we are not earning. But most importantly, saving is crucial for retirement.
Be reminded that saving is about being patient, for you to save enough money for your future needs , you need to be determined and soon enough you will achieve your goals. It is advisable to save at least 30% of your income for both short term and long term needs.
You can save through:
- A bank
- An Investment Club
- Through purchasing securities
- Acquiring an insurance policy
You can save either short, medium or long term.
- Short Term saving is saving for less than a year to purchase things that you need soon. For example saving through a bank or a savings club to buy furniture,school fees e.t.c
Savings through bank accounts are for those moments when you may need to get at your money quickly. They're different from investments, which are really for the longer-term.
You put your money into an account where it earns interest without the risk of losing any of it (short of a bank,credit union or building societies collapse). You can usually get your money out immediately or after a notice period, sometimes 30, 60 or 90 days.
Bank accounts help you to:
- pay your bills;
- receive money - such as your salary or benefits; and
- keep track of where your money is going.
Bank accounts can also earn you interest on the money you have on your account.
There are various types of bank accounts. You might have any of these at different stages of your life.
- Basic bank account - for managing day-to-day money. It doesn't usually allow you to go overdrawn by a given amount, if at all.
- Current account - also for managing your day-to-day money, but with more features than a basic bank account.
- There are special accounts for children and students.
- Savings (or deposit) account - for putting away money that you'd like to save, say for furniture, land, schools fees or emergencies.
How much does a bank account cost?
A bank account usually costs very little, as long as you don't spend more money than you have in the account (called going overdrawn). If you have money in your account (called being in credit), you are usually charged a minimum amount for any of the services provided by your account, but do double-check by reading the terms and conditions.
Banks are there to assist you. Do not be afraid to walk in a bank and ask for advice on the different products that they offer.
- Medium Term saving is saving beyond a year but less than five years for things like University fees, a house or a car.
- Long Term saving is saving for over five to twenty years usually for retirement. E.g. Insurance policies and Unit trusts. Long term savings also means investing to make your money grow.
When investing, you take calculated risks to increase your chance of getting higher returns on your money,especially over the longer-term (money you can afford to tie up for five years or more)
There are different types of investments but, basically, you take a risk with your money by investing in assets that could rise or fall in value. There is no guarantee you will make a return on your investment or even that you will get back the same amount you invested in the first place. Investments are different from savings, they are typically designed for the longer term and involve different types of risk.
Before investing, it's usually a good idea to have sorted out your debts, made sure you've looked at protecting yourself against unforeseen events
And, once you start investing, it's highly advisable to spread your risk, don't put all your eggs in one basket.
NB: The effect of inflation on your money means that the money you save will buy less each year. Inflation happens when prices go up throughout an economy.
To protect your savings against this, you should look for an after-tax interest rate that is more than the rate of inflation. Or if you want to put your money away for a longer period and are prepared to take the risk that your money could fall in value, you could put some into an investment linked to the stock market.
Save only with people you know and trust because savings allows you to plan for things in your life, for yourself,your home and children.
PLANNING FOR YOUR RETIREMENT
Everyone talks about retirement planning but do they truly know exactly what retirement planning is. Most might tell you it's saving money for old age and others might tell you it's having a pension or retirement plan at work. Both are partly correct but retirement planning is much, much more. Retirement planning is the time and preparation you put into making sure your years after you decide to leave the workforce are happy,healthy, fulfilling, and exciting.
Retirement is an extension of living
When was the last time you thought about what you might be doing in 10 years, 20 years, or even 30 years? If you are considering retiring within any of those time frames, you really need to be planning your strategy for how you will make this happen. You will need an income, health insurance, a place to live, along with some goals. Wait a minute, is this retirement? This almost sounds like the lecture my parents gave when I graduated from secondary school and later from University. The sooner you realize that retirement is just an extension of living, the better equipped you will be to plan for this event.
It is more than money
Retirement planning is about more than investing and saving. It's also about enjoying your life after you decide to retire from your career or job. To fully enjoy yourself after retirement,you should have a plan on how you will spend your time and where you will live.You probably should start now to get in shape so you will enjoy a healthy retirement. What about your family, how do they fit into your retirement plans?Your retirement plans should go well beyond finances because a happy retirement is about much more.
Yes, age does matter
If you are going to have the retirement you dream about and plan for, you should be aware of how your age can affect your retirement decision making. Looking at these milestones can help you decide how much to set aside to supplement the known sources of retirement income such as your provident if any, pension, and so on.
Are you ready to retire?
Money is important when planning for your retirement but you should also plan for the free time you will have once you retire. So many people have no idea what life might be like once they aren't tied to a job. It can be the most rewarding experience or the most disastrous time you've ever had. You need to think about the financial side of retirement but the mental and emotional changes can be far more devastating than money issues.
Are you ready? Look out for the following;
A comprehensive review of your retirement plan once a year is almost as important as having a retirement plan. What you save for retirement is one of the most important financial challenges you might face in your lifetime so make sure you review and monitor it often.
Retirement Goals: Do the goals you originally set still apply? Do you still plan to retire at the age you first decided upon? Has an illness or other life event changed your retirement goals? Are your investments growing in a manner to finance your retirement goals? You might need to reevaluate your goals or set some now ones periodically because changes are constantly being made in our lives.
Personal Finances: Is your income more or less than when you originally set up your retirement plan? Do you have additional income to invest from a second job or your spouse's job? Have you had a bankruptcy or had to make major purchases in the past few years that might affect your retirement plan? Do you have children in college that might dip into your retirement funds? Have you had to withdraw some of your retirement investments for personal use? Your circumstances at any given time will dictate what you can put back for your retirement.
Spending Habits: Have your spending habits changed significantly since you last reviewed your retirement plan? Maybe you got married or divorced, had a child, changed jobs, bought a home, made a large purchase, went middle-age crazy (yes, it happens to the best of us), or just don't seem to get around to saving regularly for your retirement.
Look at your budget and see if there are ways you can free up some extra money to put aside for your retirement. If you see you are putting too much aside, you might use the extra for a much needed holiday.
Investment Portfolio: Here is where you really need to closely scrutinize how your portfolio is balanced to get the most for your investment shilling.Depending on your age and how close you are to retirement will dictate whether your portfolio will consist of investments for growth, income, or a combination of both. Now is a good time to look at the companies you have invested in to be sure they are performing satisfactorily.
Social Security: If you haven't already done so, you should get a statement of earnings from the National Social Security Fund to tell you what you can expect to earn when you retire. This statement is also a good way to make sure there are no mistakes in your account. Look over the figures and if you have questions or find a mistake, sort out immediately.
Health and Life Insurance: If you are working, chances are you have both health and life insurance but will these still be available when you retire? Some companies offer both to retirees but what will happen if you leave employment before retirement age? Have you made provisions for health and life insurance coverage or at least discussed these with an insurance agent?
Pension Plans: If your company offers a pension plan, do you know what type of plan it is? Does your company offer matching funds? Some companies require employees to contribute 5% of their salaries and the company matches with a similar or higher percentage. Are you contributing all you can to the plan? Can you choose the investments and do you know how well they are doing? How long does it take to be vested? What happens to your retirement plan if you leave the company? How much is your plan worth right now and how much can you expect it to grow between now and next year?
Your retirement plan should be reviewed periodically to be sure it is performing the way you need it to for your retirement. The closer you get to retirement age, the more often you will want to review your plan. Make sure any changes you make will benefit your end goals and carefully research every step of your plan. Sometimes it is beneficial to run the numbers by a financial planner occasionally to be sure you have the best plan for your circumstances and goals.
Options for securing a good retirement financially
Life Insurance: You can insure your life usually for a lump sum and later it is paid out to your family when you pass away. You can choose to pay a one time payment or monthly payments known as premium.
Funeral Policy: It includes paying a monthly premium for either yourself or another person that you care for and upon your or their death, a lumpsum is paid your family or the beneficiary of the person named in the policy.
Retirement Annuities: This is a kind of saving where a monthly payment is made and when you reach a certain age, you get monthly payment for the rest of your life.
Endowment Policy: This is almost like a retirement; the difference is that an endowment policy often pays out all the money in a single amount when the maturity date is reached. Then you can decide to invest the lumpsum so you can get extra income form it.
Retirement Fund or Provident Fund: These are usually organized funds at the work places. It requires monthly payments which are later given to you when you leave or retire. This money can later be invested or put in another pension fund.
What is insurance? - Insurance is away of protecting yourself and your belongings against a particular adverse event, for example, a burglary, or losing your income because of illness. If this happens, insurance will pay out an agreed amount, or an amount to cover the damage, as appropriate. Of course, it may not happen, but you have to decide whether you're willing or able to take that risk. Some insurance, like motor insurance, is compulsory; you have to have it if you drive.
The Importance of Insurance
- When you hear the word insurance, the words boring and mundane probably enter your mind. I realize that insurance is not a fun topic to discuss or think about, yet it is important and serves to protect your financial future. It is comforting to think that nothing will ever happen to you and that you are invincible. But odds are that you are likely to get into a car accident or have some type of health problem at some point in your life, and when that happens, you will want to have insurance. So when you question whether you need insurance, the answer is a resounding yes, you definitely need insurance.
- It may seem like insurance is a waste of resources- spending money on something that may or may not happen. Since you cannot predict the future, it is important to protect yourself and your possessions against damage and harm. Insurance is all about protection- it protects you against an unfortunate incident such as a car accident, a robbery, or an illness. The moment an unexpected ill-fated event happens, you will be so glad you have insurance. Medical bills from a minor accident can deplete your savings and force you into bankruptcy. Insurance is not a rip off, but rather an essential financial service.
- I recognize, however, that insurance can be tedious, stressful, and mind boggling-- trying to figure out what you need, what you don't need, and how much you need. Basically, there are four areas that most people are concerned about insuring: their life, their health, their possessions, and their finances. When deciding on what type of insurance you need, you must first ask yourself some basic questions;
- What is most valuable to you? Your health? Your car? Your material possessions?
- If you die what would the financial result be?
- Are you supporting any dependents such as a child or other family member?
Most of you probably do not support dependents, so life insurance is not necessary. What type of health are you in?Would you be able to support yourself if you became sick or disabled? For most people, the answer is no, so you probably need to buy disability insurance.What would happen if you got sick? Can you afford to go to the doctor without health insurance? Health insurance is an important thing to have. Most employers offer health insurance to employees at reasonable rates, so definitely choose a health insurance plan that your employer offers.
Insurance made clear
Why do you need insurance? Because the unexpected sometimes happens. If you're burgled, insurance can pay for you to replace the things that were taken. If you need medical treatment, it can pay for private healthcare, and replace some of your income if you can't work. If you die, insurance can pay a lump sum to the family you leave behind.
How does it work?
An insurance company (the underwriter) will offer you cover, based on the information you give them. The insurance company agrees to pay out if the event which you're insuring against happens. It is essential you provide all the facts or the insurance may not pay out in the event of a claim.
You pay either a sum for the whole year (or sometimes longer), called a single premium, or a regular premium,usually monthly, into the policy. You can choose which company's policy to buy yourself or you can go to an insurance broker, who'll help you choose.
The contribution is known as the premium. Premiums are paid to insurers - these are institutions which accumulate the money into the fund from which claims are paid. The loss is infact paid for by the policyholder making the claim and by all the other policyholders who have not suffered in the same way.
Insurers are professional risk takers. They know the probability of different types of risk happening. They can calculate the premiums needed to create a fund large enough to cover likely loss payments. Clearly, only a proportion of policyholders will require compensation from the fund at any one time.
So two important factors arise when calculating the premium. Firstly, the general likelihood that a loss will occur. Secondly, whether the particular policyholder is above or below average in risk.
Take three examples. In motor insurance a young person with a high powered car, or a driver with a long history of accidents will pay a higher premium than a mature and experienced driver with a modest saloon who has been accident free.
Similarly, the owner of a fish and chip shop will pay a higher premium for his fire insurance than, say, the owner of an office. The risk is greater, so the premium is higher.
Someone who is young, fit and in a risk-free job will find it easier to buy life insurance, and will pay lower premiums than someone who has a heart condition or is in a risky occupation.
Most insurance lasts for one year at a time and you can renew your policy when it ends, or go somewhere else for a better deal. But make sure you don't lose out by switching and always check that a new policy covers what you need it for. Always compare what's covered by a policy, not just the price. Some might be cheaper than others, but they may not offer the same level of protection.
Two kinds of Insurance
There are two different kinds of insurance - life insurance and general insurance. With life insurance you don't renew your policy each year. Instead,you agree to pay a fixed premium for a set number of years. In other words you enter a long-term commitment when you buy a life insurance policy.
What is the Difference?
General insurance pays out;
- if a car has an accident or is stolen
- if a house catches fire or is burgled
- if a holiday has to be cancelled
- if someone is careless and damages other people's property.
Most life policies, on the other hand, pay out when an event happens;
- when someone dies
- when someone survives beyond a specific date.
Anyone can buy life insurance but,of course, the premium will depend on your age, your health, and your occupation.
Husbands and wives can insure each other's lives. However, you cannot insure the lives of other people unless you have a financial involvement in their life. This principle of insurance is called "insurable interest".
Insurable interest is a fundamental principle of insurance. It means that the person wishing to take out insurance must be legally entitled to insure the article, or the event, or the life. In other words, the happening of the event insured against, or the death of the life insured must cause the policy holder financial loss. Mr. Mukasa would not be able to insure Mr Byaruhanga's house because its destruction would not cause Mr. Mukasa financial loss. Similarly,you cannot insure the lives of other people unless you have a financial interest in the life being insured. The principle of insurable interest demonstrates the difference between insurance and a wager or bet.
Other principles apply to all kinds of insurance.
- Insurance can provide compensation only for the actual value of property. It cannot cover the loss of sentimental value, for example.
- There must be a large number of similar risks so that the likelihood of a claim can be spread among other policyholders. It must be possible for insurers to calculate the chance of loss so that a premium can be set which matches the risk.
- Losses must not be deliberate and not inevitable. Clearly, you could not buy fire insurance for a house which was already burning nor life insurance for someone on his or her deathbed.
- Lastly, there are some risks which have financial implications so vast that they can be dealt with only by the state. These risks (mainly those arising from war or the major escape of nuclear or radioactive material) are normally not insurable.
- Insurance takes the risk away from people's lives and businesses. It brings peace of mind to the policyholder. In return for paying premiums the policyholder knows that, if the unexpected happens, financial compensation will be available from the fund of premiums.
Specific Types of Insurance:
You are unlikely to need every single one of these, so read around, choose carefully and remember to read the small print.
- Travel: Holidays can be dangerous occasions - especially abroad. If someone falls ill it is much more difficult than it would be at home to cope with the situation. Medical treatment is expensive.
- Household contents and building insurance: Contents insurance covers the contents of a home such as furniture, carpets, clothes, television, refrigerators, jewellery and so on. In other words, what you would take with you if you moved. Buildings insurance protects against damage to the actual structure of the home and to its fixtures and fittings. Contents and buildings policies can be bought separately or together in one package.
- Car insurance: Most people know something about motor insurance. This is because any vehicle driven on public roads must have a certain level of insurance.
- Life insurance: A means of providing for your dependents should you die early, but also a way to save cash through endowment policies or similar.
- Private medical insurance: This covers the costs of private medical treatment for curable short-term illness or injury. It means that should you become ill you could be treated immediately privately.
- Critical illness insurance: This allows you to insure your income/ health were you to become too ill to work later on in life, and protects any dependents/ loved ones from the financial consequences of such unexpected events.
- Accident, sickness and unemployment cover: Some properties get re-possessed by mortgage lenders. Some people lose homes because they can no longer afford to pay their mortgage payments through an accident, sickness or unemployment." If you are planning on buying a house it may be sensible to think about getting some mortgage payment protection insurance.
Excess charges: Insurance policies often have hidden costs and hard-to-understand small print. Look out for excess charges.
How do I make an insurance claim?
- Keep any evidence: Depending on the situation either get the names and addresses of any witnesses, keep any relevant receipts, or take photographs.
- Contact the broker/ insurer: Give them a ring then follow up with a letter, keeping a copy for yourself. They should send you a claim form, which you should fill out and send back as soon as possible. Send 2-3 professional estimates for the repairs with the form.
Who can I complain to?
If you aren't happy with the way your insurance company is acting you can contact the Insurance Regulatory Authority who are the regulators of the insurance industry in Uganda and hence are responsible for resolving disputes with insurance firms.
MANAGING YOUR MONEY
Do you want to improve your life? A good place to begin is learning to love and care for the things we have. We all wish we had more money. But let us stop wishing and do something! Money has to be looked after, just like everything else in life.
Do you know how to look after your money? No matter how little money you have, there are ways to make it grow and last longer. And at the same time, you can make your life better. You have to learn to look after the money you have. This is called Money Management. We all need to learn how to manage our money.
Managing money does not mean that you will suddenly get rich. It means that you plan, use what you have wisely,and stay out of financial trouble. Whether you are 16, 35 or 60 years old,there are small easy things you can learn to help you manage your money better.
Look out for the following when making financial decisions;
- To keep yourself out of trouble, budget for your money. Budget means to plan and it teaches you how to use your money. When you budget, you spend your money more wisely. We have to make financial decisions all on our own. We try to do a lot with our money- sometimes too much! An unexpected expense can get you into trouble. Do you really need it? Can you afford it? How much money will you have left.
- Save some money every month, however little
- Never use credit to buy things you use up quickly, like food. Only use credit for things that last longer than it takes for you to pay for them. E.g. A House or Furniture. Do not use credit at all if possible.
- There is nothing like fast money, the way it came in is how fast it will get out.
- Borrowing money does not solve the problem, it may actually make things worse. However sometimes we need some money quickly but what ever you do, do not borrow from a loan shark or your pension fund. If you are really stuck and you need to borrow from the above, keep the amount small and pay back the money borrowed as soon as possible
How to budget for your money
Step 1: Differentiate between your needs and wants. Needs are those things that are necessary, things like food, shelter, water, electricity,transport, schools fees e.t.c while wants are those things that you may do without, things like designer clothes, music system, beer, parties e.t.c.
Pay for your needs first and then consider purchasing your wants.
Step 2: make a list of your fixed costs (things whose amount doesn't vary e.g. rent, transport, school fees) and changing costs (things whose costs vary e.g. electricity/water bills)
Step 3: Make a list of those you owe money and how much you owe them then work out how much you will be able to pay while considering the amount you need to survive.
Finally tick off the things you need, pay for your fixed costs and then have a closer look at the changing costs and find a way of reducing them.
By budgeting your money, you are managing your money making yourself financially alert and disciplined and with time you can attain financial stability.
A mortgage is like any other kind of loan, you borrow money, and you pay it back with interest over a period of time. But it has one key difference: it's secured against your home. So if for any reason you can't repay it, the bank or building society can sell your home to recover their money.
Mortgages come in many different shapes and sizes, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Make sure you select the mortgage that is right for you, your future plans, and your financial picture.
Once you decide on the mortgage you want, do your homework. Different lenders offer different rates, points, and fees. Ask around and compare.
Understanding the benefits of different mortgage offerings can be a difficult process. How do you figure it all out?
It's important to shop around to find the mortgage and mortgage rate that's right for you. Contact lenders at banks as well as mortgage brokers to find the best rate for you.
Keep in mind that the lowest mortgage rate or longest loan term may not always be the best choice for you.You should also consider the overall cost of the loan, including application,insurance fees and appraisal fees.
Types of mortgages
Fixed-rate mortgages are the most common mortgages for many home buyers because the monthly payments are stable. The interest rate you lock-in will be the same interest rate you pay for the life of the loan - whether it's a 15-year,20-year, 30-year or 40-year mortgage.
What are the benefits of a fixed-rate mortgage?
- Inflation protection: If interest rates increase, your mortgage and your mortgage payment won't be significantly affected. Even if your taxes or insurance costs go up over time, your basic loan payment (principal and interest) will stay the same. This is especially helpful if you plan to own your home for five or more years.
- Long term planning: You know what your monthly housing expense will be for the entire term of your mortgage. This can help you plan for other expenses and set long-term financial goals for yourself and your family.
- Low risk: You always know what your payment will be, regardless of what current interest rates are. This is why fixed-rate mortgages are so popular with first-time buyers.
There are additional considerations to be aware of with fixed-rate mortgages:
- Your mortgage interest rate won't go down, even if interest rates drop, unless you refinance your mortgage.
- Because the interest rate is generally higher than other types of mortgage loans, you may not be able to qualify for as large a loan with a fixed-rate mortgage.
- Your total monthly payment can occasionally increase based on changes to your income.
If you choose an interest-only option for a fixed-rate mortgage, the term of the loan is divided into two periods. During the first period, your monthly payment is lower because you pay only interest and no principal. In the second period, you pay both. For example, on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you might make interest-only payments for the first 15 years, and then pay both principal and interest for the remaining 15 years.
Interest-only loans can free up cash for other purposes during the initial period of the loan, but when you begin paying both principal and interest your monthly payments will be larger.
As with all interest-only mortgages,interest-only fixed-rate mortgages are not for all borrowers, and should be offered appropriately only to borrowers who clearly understand and qualify for the potential payment increases.
Shop around for mortgage rates
Even a fraction of a percent can make a big difference in your mortgage payment, so you'll want to shop around and compare rates. When you've decided on a lender and type of mortgage, your lender will provide a mortgage application. The "Uniform Residential Loan Application" requires personal information such as your income, assets, liabilities, and a description of the property.
You may need to pay an application fee that covers the lender's processing costs. Be sure to ask if the application fee is refundable.
What are the next steps?
- Know what documents and information
- Understand the steps in the application process.
- Know what happens after you apply for a mortgage.