An Employee’s Route From Rags to Riches

An Employee’s Route From Rags to Riches

Bangkok is known as a city of opportunities, with a very high employment rate compared to other capitals. But we cannot deny the fact that the cost of living here is also high, too. A lot of salaried staff struggle to make ends meet. Fortunately many investors and financial advisers suggest being a salaried employee doesn’t mean you have to be penniless until you reach your senior years; neither do you have to work as an employee for the rest of your life. Below are some of the key pieces of advice that can guide you to your version of “financial freedom”.


If you’re planning a budget, you should know exactly where all the money will go each month before the month begins. Each month can be different; however, you should try to stick to your budget plan. After paying the fixed/necessary expenses such as food, rent or mortgage, transportation, tuition fees, etc., set a small budget for your additional spending, such as clothes, social gatherings, gifts for friends or coworkers, etc.

Now this is the important part: Try to put aside around 30% of your salary each month. Put 15% in an emergency fund, also called a “rainy day fund”. We all need an emergency fund in case of a real emergency, such as an accident, unexpected medical visit, job loss, a leak in the roof, etc.

Famous financial adviser Dave Ramsey advises that if you are a co-earner of the family, you should have an emergency fund available to stay afloat for at least three months without working, but if you are the sole breadwinner of the family, then you should have at least six months’ worth of savings. Open a separate checking or savings account where you can easily withdraw when needed, but make a promise to yourself not to withdraw unless it is, well, an emergency.

Make Money Grow

With 15% of your income left, make that money grow so that you can have more money toward your retirement. Suze Orman, another successful financial adviser, suggests that we should start saving toward retirement at a very young age to help you reach your financial goals sooner. One investment option is to put your money in a fixed deposit account that offers a higher interest rate for longer-term savings.

Investment in stocks is another option, but it will require a lot of research, experience and courage, plus much discretion. If you are not interested in the bull and bear markets, you can opt for the calmer and more secure options of mutual funds and long-term retirement funds, such as Retirement Mutual Funds (RMFs) and Long-Term Equity Funds (LTFs). With RMFs and LTFs, you will also receive a tax-deduction incentive at the end of the year, which is a plus. Keep in mind that by investing in these funds, you’re taking the high-risk, high return route, therefore be aware of the risks. Many financial institutions and banks offer such funds, so research well before buying.

Stay Debt-free

Some say living a free life is living debt-free, so if you are in debt, repay it as soon as you can. If you’ve been missing a lot of credit card payments, you will find yourself inundated with interests and late fee charges. So, use a credit card only when you know you can pay the debt the next month. You will be surprised how much money you will save toward your retirement if you don’t have to pay such fees.

Find Extra Income

What would happen if you lost your job today? It’s a good idea to have another side job that can serve as a soft cushion if something unexpected happens. We all have special skills outside our main employment. But if you think you don’t, find something you like and learn more about how to enhance your skills, and of course, earn some income. Side jobs or freelance jobs can become a secondary source of income and you can do it while you’re being employed

If you are a language person, you can find translation gigs or become a writer for your own blog, contributing to magazines, or if you have a good story to tell, write your own novel. You can also start a small online business. These days you can pretty much sell anything on big marketplaces like Amazon or EBay, or on social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram or Line. But if you are good at art and technology altogether, being a part-time programmer, software engineer or graphic designer can pay really well.

If you love nature, traveling or have artistic eyes, take on photography to earn extra money selling pictures on many stock photo websites. If you have special skills or knowledge in accounting, business or foreign languages, you can become an in-person or online consultant or tutor. You can easily continue doing this after you retire from your full-time job.

Financial planning is good for people of every age but it is better to start early. Being a salaried professional doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in the vicious cycle of not making ends meet. A good retirement will come early if you know how to manage what you earn. So be smart with your finances, and find that peace of mind to live life however you want to.

Born and raised in Bangkok, J. Pakchuen studied English and translation at Chulalongkorn University. Currently, she lives in Washington, D.C. where she works as a translator, interpreter, writer, and tour guide.