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Girls – Let’s Start Investing!

“You don’t save your way to wealth, you invest your way to wealth.” Janda Becanda (The Widow Jokes Podcast) episode on cryptocurrency.

Following up on my post about financial freedom for women is this post on investing for women. What’s the idea behind investing? The quote above sums it best. Once you have stable finances (paid off your debts, set up an emergency fund, you have an active insurance) then and only then would it be a good time to start considering investing. The philosophy behind it is that the money you save up decreases in value over time due to inflation rates. Thus the best way to grow your money is by spending it on sound investments.

Sadly, most women lack confidence in investing in comparison to men. However, despite less women investing, studies actually show that the women who invest are outperforming the men who are investing.

My Approach As a Newbie

For me, I approached it this way: investing, like everything else in life, is a habit. If it’s a habit, that means everyone can learn it and manage the ropes well to benefit themselves. I started my investing attempts late 2019 and I won’t say I’m an expert – not at all. I’m still a newbie. But what I want to share are some tips on how to start investing. Because, the best time to start investing is as soon as possible – the longer the time you have, the better your chances are.

First, talk to a trusted financial advisor. Find someone who is well along their investing journey and ask them to share their basic philosophies. How do they make their decisions? What books / journals / blogs did they read? Maybe they listen to some great podcasts. Educate yourself on the topic, and make yourself more financially literate.

Educate yourself on the topic, and make yourself more financially literate.

Second, try to understand your appetite for risk. Do you like risks? Or do you prefer something safer? Would you be ready if that bit that you invested suddenly loses value during a market recession?

Third, diversify. Don’t have all your eggs in one basket. Spread out your investments into several different sectors (research beforehand never hurts). That way when one sector sinks, the others can still help balance your portfolio. This happened for me in the pandemic. Most of my stocks were bleeding except an investment I made on forex trading in 2019. Phew.

Fourth, don’t wait to invest. Start with as small as 10 USD, but get yourself into the habit of it and let time work for your favor, instead of for your demise.

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Covid Cauldron in Indonesia

July and August 2021 Indonesia has risen to number one Covid hotpot in the world. “We are the next India,” friends said in the WhatsApp groups. Every day there is news of someone dying, friends or family members that got infected, and some that are grieving because loved ones have just died.

When my grandmother died just 2 days after she contracted the virus, I wrote a lamentation. My uncle died soon after.

Economic Implications of the Covid Cauldron

In one of my zoom meetings for a possible next musical project, a new possible collaborator spoke of the film industry in Indonesia being in a critical situation due to producers not being able to pay hundreds of crews. This takes me back to the beginning of the pandemic. The performing arts industry was in that critical period last year. Of course, the whole landscape freefalling and musicians had to start selling food, masks, fresh vegetables, anything really to survive.

As for myself, in addition to my job at the Bandung Philharmonic where I’ve reduced my salary by 40%, I have been very fortunate to be a part of another music start-up in Singapore, made possible by Singaporean partners and grants. I’m also lucky that Villa Gupondoro Airbnb is still up and running, in fact becoming quite the popular staycation place in Bandung, so that provides some breathing space in terms of finances. Although of course it closed down again along with everything else in July.

The film industry still had online platforms, Netflix, etc so I guess they managed to hang on for another year (just barely). But now it’s their turn. It’s like watching a slow-moving train wreck. I wonder what will indeed happen in the next couple of years. How will the map change after Covid cauldron, and who are the players that will survive?

To be honest, I am not sure. I guess we can only take it a day, a week, a month at a time and hang on to weather the storm as best as we can.

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Financial Freedom for Women

Everyone covets this. And if you’re not thinking about it, you should be, starting right now. It’s not about being greedy, it’s not about being ambitious, it’s about being self-sufficient and independent in this century. Interestingly, women think much less about financial freedom than men. Obviously, traditional gender roles in society play into this, but ladies hear me: DON’T FALL INTO THIS TRAP.

Don’t think that you’ll be safe as long as you have a husband that can support you, or as long as you have your parents’ wealth waiting as inheritance, or as long as you have a son that can work hard and will pay for you when you get old. If this is the case for you and your husband, father, son, are kind to you, then you are VERY LUCKY. You are not the norm. Statistically, there are much more women that are being abused by the men in their lives, and this includes financial abuse.

You can only get out of abusive relationships if you have your own money.

It’s a long haul towards financial freedom and independence, but it’s not impossible. There are women all around the world that have achieved financial security and are now supporting their families instead of being supported by them.

So how would you start on your journey of financial freedom?

  1. Make a habit of writing down all your expenses and income. Track everything very clearly, so you know exactly what you spend money on, why you are spending that money, and in turn where your money is coming from.
  2. Once you are in the habit of tracking your money, then see if there is a way for you to spend less and start saving more. Say you get an allowance from your husband every month. Can you open a separate bank account and save 20% of this routinely?
  3. If your expenses are so tight that everything is already essential, then try to look for opportunities to pick up another source of side income. Can you pick up a part-time job somewhere? It can be anything. There are all kinds of opportunities for those willing to learn and work hard. When you have secured a part-time additional income, then save that money away religiously.
  4. After you have to build a sizable enough savings from your side income, then start looking for ways to grow that pot of money. Money sitting in your bank account will only depreciate in value, so this is now the time to spend it! But spend it with the goal of more returns in mind. How? Stocks are a great place to start. Deposits in trusted co-ops are also good options. Or take some courses on entrepreneurship and small business, and start your own small business.

Of course, all of this is easy for me to write. In reality, it needs the discipline to write down all your finances. You need self-management to be able to curb expenditure and save more. You need the courage to look for a side job and to do it and be good at it. After all of that, you need to be able to take risks in spending the money. No, none of this is easy.

But take it from me, someone who started my journey of financial freedom 3 years ago: it’s worth it. Nothing tastes as sweet as independence.

Visit here to see more resources on financial literacy for women!