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Goodbye University, hello adulting! As you begin your career journey, you’ll likely have greater responsibilities and many important financial decisions to make. You may wonder: What should I do with my paycheck? Are there any money mistakes that I should avoid?


While it may be too late for us older millennials to start over, it’s not too late for you. We’ve got your back – and money tips that you may find helpful. Here are the 4 things we wish we knew and could pass on to our younger selves, starting with this evergreen advice… 


Start saving now – not later 

Every personal finance blog and website will tell you to save up for emergencies. Why though? Well, because this fund is essentially your “lifeline” when you’re hit with an emergency. You may think that you have ample time to save up later in life, but your laptop, gadget or home appliances may break; your car tyre may get busted; your pet may get sick.  


When an unexpected adulting horror strikes, your emergency fund can be there to save you. So we say start saving! 


A good rule of thumb:


You should have an emergency fund of at least 3-6 months of your current salary to prepare for any unforeseen situations. Also, your emergency fund must be easily accessible and should ideally be stored in an account that will help it grow even more. CIMB’s Ecosave Savings Account-i, for instance, lets you save your emergency fund for liquidity and contribute to the environment at the same time.

Protect your future

Insurance or takaful may not be on your priority list right now, but we’re here to change your mind. Insurance/takaful protects you against the unforeseen and serves as a financial safety net as you step into adulthood and become self-sufficient.


You may also think that the premiums/contributions will take up most of your paycheck – but that’s not necessarily true. You can start by going online to find the type of insurance/takaful you need or speak to your colleagues and family members who can offer valuable insight.


Once you have a better idea of your needs, you may find an affordable policy/certificate that offers good coverage and benefits your current lifestyle. Also, young and healthy usually equal cheaper premiums/contributions – so get started now!


Nifty insurance/takaful tips:


Malaysia has plenty of insurance and takaful options, and some companies offer budget-friendly options online too – all you need to do is find one that suits your needs and budget. Compared to making your purchase through an agent, online insurances and takaful may give you better value with cheaper premium/contribution (can be from as low as RM50 per month!). For example, Sun Cover-i offers benefits from just RM15 a month.


Even better, you can take your time to go through the offerings of online insurance/takaful without insurance/takaful agents putting pressure on your decision. Remember, you can always review and increase your insurance/takaful coverage later on once you are more financially stable.

Start investing in your salary

Aside from your monthly salary as your base income, you may also earn more when you invest, even if you start small. Let’s face it: savings alone will not get you far if it is just sitting around in your bank account. What matters is what you do to make your money grow beyond the income you earn from your full-time job. Even if you’re not earning a five-figure salary (yet), you can still attain financial freedom by being smart with your money. 


Start with these suggestions:


  • Set some funds aside and let it grow. You can greatly benefit by depositing a portion of your salary in a high-yield savings account,a fixed deposit or a term investment account. Let compound interest/profit run its course and enjoy higher returns on your savings.


  • Start investing young. Learn the basics of investment by investing in small amounts first. Then, as you attain a higher income and more savings, you can make wiser investment choices based on your experience gained.


  • Invest based on your risk and goals. Be it stocks, unit trust or gold, you should strive to adjust your investment portfolio based on your risk tolerance, your age and future goals. Seek financial advice from a trusted financial planner, or do as much research as you can.

Build a good credit score 

Why is your credit score so important? Much like a report card, your credit score and credit history show how well you handle your debt and how likely you are to pay back your debts.


A key part of building a good credit rating is to pay your credit card bills on time every month. That way, you’ll be recognised as a good paymaster if you apply for loans or mortgages in the future.


Great tips to follow:


Now, you know the “why”, but how exactly do you start building your credit score? You can start by getting a credit card 3-6 months after you start your first job. Rather than going for a fancy card, choose one that gives you the most benefits according to your lifestyle.


Treat your credit card like an “exam”, and the results of your spending will be on your “report card” (credit score). When you spend wisely and pay back your credit card debt, you’re essentially acing your exams! So, be the master of your card and excel by having fun responsibly. 


Stepping into adulthood and starting your first ‘proper’ job can be an exciting time. Whether you have just landed the job of your dreams or are preparing for a career change, we hope our advice helps you plan and manage your finances better.


Get more helpful tips on Life Goals to level up your personal finance knowledge!


This article is for informational purposes only and CIMB does not make any representation and warranty as to the accuracy, completeness and fairness of any information contained in this article. As this article is general in nature, it is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. You are advised to consult a financial advisor or investment professional before making any decisions based on the information contained in this article. CIMB assumes no liability for any consequences arising from your reliance on the information presented here.