Fresh starts are great, and with the new year you can set your future in motion the right way. Many of you who are investing or who plan to, are wondering how much to invest. This is an important question: how much can I safely save and invest every month? Lucky for you, we have a four-step process that will help you answer this question and invest with confidence.
We want to emphasise that your investments are managed by NNEK, a Dutch investment licensed by the Dutch regulator (AFM), and Curvo provides the app through which you can view your investments.
The simple equation of saving
The simple equation we want to solve is:
savings rate = income - expenses
It's an easy formula, but few people know the answer because figuring out the two unknowns, your income and your expenses, is not straightforward.
Yet it's crucial in order to know how much you can safely invest every month. You don't want to invest too much because you could be forced to sell parts of your investments if you find yourself in a financial pickle. But you also don't want to invest too little, because the money you leave in your savings account will be eaten by inflation.
We want to help you solve this equation. Let's use our co-founder Yoran's real financial situation as an example. Here's a four-step process:
- Determine your income
- Estimate your expenses
- Calculate the value of your emergency fund
- Know how much is safe to invest every month
Case study: our co-founder Yoran
To demonstrate this process, we'll go through each step using Curvo co-founder Yoran Brondsema as an example.
Here's a little about Yoran; he's 32 years old, he works as a freelancer and entrepreneur where he resides in Brussels, he owns a car, and he enjoys traveling and going out in his spare time.
What's your monthly income?
The first and the easiest step in the process is determining your monthly income. Yoran’s net income is €3,333 per month.
For most people, determining the income is fairly easy. After all, it's likely you have a single employer and a salary that doesn't fluctuate much from month to month. If it does fluctuate, for example for those of you who work as freelancers or whose income is based on clientele, consider using an average. Calculate your total yearly income and divide it by 12 to obtain a monthly average.
Increasing your income is one way to raise your savings rate. Unfortunately, for most of us it's not that easy. To increase your savings rate, it's easier to control how much you spend than force a raise. So let’s dig into the hardest part of the exercise, figuring out your expenses!
How much do you spend every month?
Yoran tracked his spending for about 3 months and learned a lot about his financial situation. He categorised each expense: groceries, travel, rent, eating out, Christmas gifts, etc… Some banks like Revolut and N26 offer such tracking through their mobile apps. Otherwise, you will have to keep track manually using a spreadsheet. We're hoping more apps will be developed to automate this, especially as the PSD2 regulations make it easier for third-parties to access bank account information.
Once you know how much you spend monthly, you can begin to calculate your savings rate by subtracting the expenses from your income.
You can increase your savings rate by either increasing your income or lowering your expenses. Of the two, it's likely much easier to reduce your expenses.
A great benefit of this exercise is that it will give you insights into reducing your spending. Figure out what expenditures are really important to you and try to reduce spending money on things that don’t add much to your life. Maybe you will discover that you’re spending a lot on eating out. If you could take it or leave it, we'd suggest reducing these restaurant outings. Otherwise, if you really enjoy these times and are a huge food lover, you may want to reduce spending in different category.
The peace of mind of an emergency fund
Before you invest your savings, it makes sense to set up an emergency fund. Its purpose is to provide a safety net in case of unexpected events: you lose your job, your car breaks down and needs a costly repair, there’s a leak in your house and the plumbing needs an overhaul, etc… Without an emergency fund to tap into, such events can force you to take out a loan at an exorbitant interest rate. Avoiding debt is the first rule of responsible financial planning.
The emergency fund should be about 3 to 6 months of your monthly expenses. Because Yoran is an entrepreneur, he feels his status is a little more risky than full-time employment, so he has an emergency fund of six months. It’s important he doesn't invest any of this money so that he can access it whenever he likes.
Furthermore, he keeps about 2 months of his expenses on his checking account. This makes sure that he's not leaving unnecessary money on his checking account that he can transfer to his emergency fund or invest. Why not keep the emergency fund in a checking account? Because you earn an interest on your savings account, even if the interest rate is very low.
Once you have your emergency fund set up, congratulations! You can now enjoy the peace of mind that comes with it.
Using Curvo to reach your long-term financial goals
Now that you've got your expenses and income mapped out, it's time to take action. Savings accounts are not sufficient for our generation to prepare for our financial future. Inflation has been above interest rates since 2008. This means that every year, your savings lose some of their value when left in a savings account. Yes, you effectively lose money if you keep all your savings in a savings account!
By going through the four-step process, Yoran calculated that he can safely invest €300 every month. He set up an automatic monthly contribution in the Curvo app, meaning €300 is automatically debited from his bank account and invested into his portfolio at the start of every month. He knows that the power of compounding will allow his portfolio to accrue a large sum over time. We explain the power of investing in "Why you should passively invest your savings".
Determining how much you can safely invest every month
👉 Make a copy of Yoran’s savings rate spreadsheet to go through the four-step process yourself.
We know, going through this process and tracking your expenses for a few months can be tedious, but it's a crucial step in determining how much you safely invest every month. The insights you'll gain will also help you better understand and control your finances. Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors of the last 50 years, sums it up nicely:
“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.”
Because of the power of compounding, it makes sense to start the new year off right with monthly contributions towards your investment portfolio. Then sit back, relax, and watch as it grows so that you can retire on your own terms!