Saving vs Investing for Your Financial Goals

18 August 2023

In the pursuit of personal financial goals, it's crucial to make informed decisions about whether to save or invest your hard-earned money. While saving and investing both play a role in building a solid financial foundation, they are distinct approaches with their own risks and rewards. Saving involves setting aside money for future use, providing security and flexibility. On the other hand, investing offers the potential for long-term growth and increased wealth. Traditionally, the barrier to entry for investing used to be high, requiring a substantial amount of capital. However, the landscape has since changed, and investing has become more accessible, even with small amounts. So, which should you choose?

To make informed decisions for your financial journey, it's important to understand the differences between saving and investing, as well as the circumstances in which each strategy is most suitable.

What is saving?

Saving involves setting aside money for future use and is essential to personal finance. Instead of spending all your income, saving allows you to build cash reserves and create a foundation for your financial well-being. Simply put, it serves as a way to hold up funds for various purposes, such as planned purchases or even handle some of life's unexpected emergencies. For example, you might save a portion of your monthly allowance or paycheck to reach a specific savings goal, such as saving $1,000 for a new mobile phone.

One common method of saving is depositing money into a savings account, where it could even possibly earn some interest over time. Moreover, by consistently setting aside a fixed amount in such accounts, you can achieve your personal financial goals without resorting to loans or credit card debt, ultimately saving on interest payments.

What are the pros and cons of savings?

Saving offers several advantages when it comes to managing your finances. Firstly, savings accounts are generally considered low-risk, providing a safe place to store your money. This stability ensures your funds are protected, giving you peace of mind. Additionally, savings accounts offer predictable returns, with interest rates typically fluctuating only when the central bank makes any adjustments to them.

Saving is also an excellent way to meet short-term financial goals and prepare for unexpected situations. By regularly setting aside money, you can build a financial cushion to help you navigate unforeseen expenses. Savings accounts also provide ready access to cash, allowing you to withdraw funds when you need them without any major restrictions. Furthermore, saving is generally straightforward and easy to do, requiring minimal upfront costs or learning curves.

However, one of the downsides of savings is the relatively low returns. While savings accounts earn interest, the rates are typically lower than other income-generating methods, such as investments. As a result, your savings may not be able to keep pace with inflation, leading to decreased purchasing power over time. 

What is investing?

Investing goes beyond simply saving for the future and entails putting your money into assets or financial instruments with the expectation that their value will grow in the long run. This can include purchasing stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or even real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Investments are also one of the best ways to achieve long-term financial goals, such as a down payment on a house or retirement. Contributing to the Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) and investing its funds to help boost your savings for your golden years is a prime example of investing. Investing your SRS funds, for instance, requires allocating a portion of your earnings or financial resources to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, Singapore Government Securities (SGS), shares, Unit Trusts and other financial instruments, aiming to increase your financial assets and cultivate long-term wealth. By strategically investing in different assets, you can potentially benefit from capital appreciation and income generation.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of investing?

One of the key benefits of investing is that it serves as a conduit to diversify your portfolio, which can help manage risk in your investments and protect you against market fluctuations.

However, investing also comes with certain disadvantages. For one, investing typically requires a longer time horizon, as accessing invested funds may take longer compared to a savings account. There is also the inherent risk of potential loss or fluctuating returns due to market volatility, which means that there might not be any guarantee of positive returns. 

Is it better to invest or just save money?

Determining whether to allocate your funds towards saving or investing is a common question among many. The optimal choice is influenced by a multitude of factors, including your individual financial situation, goals, and risk tolerance. It's important to carefully assess these factors and consider the advantages and disadvantages of both saving and investing before making a decision that aligns with your specific needs and objectives.

1. Your financial goals

When considering whether to prioritise saving or investing, it's essential to set and evaluate your financial goals. If your objective is to build an emergency fund or have a safety net for unexpected expenses, saving is an ideal choice. This is because saving allows you to set money aside for a rainy day and provides a sense of security.

However, if your aspiration is to maximise your wealth and achieve higher returns over time, investing is generally more suitable. Investing involves putting your money to work with the expectation of generating greater profits than what a savings account could offer.

2. Time horizon

If you have short-term needs or goals within the next few years, saving your money in a savings account is a prudent choice. It provides easy access to funds and ensures stability for emergencies or upcoming expenses.

However, if your financial goals are long-term, such as retirement planning or wealth accumulation over many years, investing your money may offer a better opportunity for higher returns. Investments have the potential to grow your wealth over an extended period as it allows you to harness the power of compounding and benefit from the growth potential of various investment vehicles.

3. Your risk tolerance

Knowing your risk tolerance is another important factor to consider when deciding between savings and investments. If you know how to navigate your way around investing in Singapore, can accept the potential fluctuations and uncertainties associated with investment returns, and are open to embracing a certain level of risk in your financial endeavours in pursuit of potentially higher returns, investing may be suitable for you. 

If you prefer a more conservative approach and prioritise the safety and predictability of your funds, savings accounts are a better choice. This is because savings accounts provide stability and assurance that your money will be preserved without significant fluctuations or potential losses.

4. Liquidity needs

If you have a need for immediate access to your funds or prefer the flexibility of having your money readily available, then savings may be the more suitable choice for you. However, if you can afford to have your money invested for a longer period without needing immediate liquidity, investing can offer the potential for higher returns and the ability to keep up with or exceed inflation.

Explore your options with StashAway

Exploring your options to find a balance between saving and investing for your financial goals? StashAway offers a range of saving and investment options designed to help you achieve your personal finance objectives. Whether you're looking for the best way to invest in Singapore or seeking guidance on saving with better returns, StashAway is here to assist you.

By choosing StashAway, you gain access to our expertly managed portfolios that include government bonds and other income-generating assets. Our platform simplifies the investment process, allowing you to focus on your financial goals while we handle the details. 

Learn more about our investment solutions and move closer to achieving your financial objectives today.

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