Sometimes, it pays to pay a professional.
Anyone who has ever walked out of a salon with a kick-arse blowdry knows this. Never in my life have I got my hair as good as Millie can. I always book an appointment on a day that I have some major social event, so I don’t waste that hotness.
But there are other important things we should pay for in life. I’m often surprised how people who would spend a hundred bucks on drinks and dinner, will blanch at the idea of spending that to see a health professional.
So, I want to have a conversation about things that might be a really good investment, even though you have to shell out some cash.
Some of these have a material return on investment, while others just have a positive impact on your life. But it’s a version of mindful spending – ‘how am I going to deploy my money in a way that gives me the most happiness?’.
1. A financial adviser – I know, you expected me to say this. And I don’t think everyone needs an adviser at every stage of their lives. But there are some points where it makes a lot of sense. For example:
Getting married – Do not tell me that you can drop upwards of $20k on a wedding but can’t spend a couple of grand on a Statement of Advice. Or, you could be really sensible and spend some of your wishing well money on it.
Getting hitched is a good opportunity to map out a financial future together, and ensure you’re on the same page about it.
Many couples miss this crucial goal-setting convo, and muddle along with different ideas of what they’re trying to achieve. Conflict ensues (every time you bring home new shoes).
Having kiddoes – This is more about getting your insurance sorted. If you’re responsible for tiny humans, you need to think about life, trauma and income protection insurance to protect them. If something happened to you, would your partner have the resources to keep working, cover childcare, educate the kids and pay a mortgage … until the kids are all grown up?
Australians are woefully underinsured for things like this. But you can talk to a financial adviser just for an insurance review (i.e. you don’t get a full financial plan) and the fees are pretty low – under $500 in the network I work for. Sometimes they may even waive them (because they get a commission). Definitely worth looking at.
Becoming a grown up – I know, there is no real test for this point. But I think there is a solid case for sitting down with a professional at some point around your late 20s – early 30s mark. You’ve been working for a few years now, you’ve saved some money (or not) and you want to genuinely get your shit together.
But there are so many options! Speaking to an expert can help you clarify your goals and give you comfort that you’re on the right track. I went through this process at age 29 and even though none of the life plan worked out (the kids, the marriage etc), it was a great, educational process and taught me a lot about goal setting. (Side note – I didn’t actually implement the advice because it was very heavy on investing in equities, and I was worried about the markets. This was early 2008. In all of the good calls I ever made financially, this was the best).
Of course there are other triggers for seeing an adviser – these are just a few. So how do you find a good one? Well, same way you find a good hairdresser, to be honest.
Ask friends and family, look at testimonials, search online. Make sure they are qualified and part of a reputable group that holds an AFSL. Ask about their qualifications, and see if you like them in your first consultation, which is generally free. If the vibe isn’t right, look for someone else. Basically, find someone whom you trust and seems legit.
Then filter their advice with your own thinking and preferences – just the same as if your hairdresser were to say ‘I think you should try a fringe’ and you know you hate having one. That’s what I did, way back in 2008.
I worked with finance clients, I could see the sub-prime crisis brewing, my boss and I discussed how heated the market was – and I held off. Why didn’t my adviser do this? Well, I think people who are ‘in’ the industry often fit the old cliche: when you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Just like the sales lady in Kookai is going to tell you that a Kookai dress is the best solution to your birthday outfit quandary, an adviser probably wants to sell you a financial product. It’s up to you to decide if your bum looks big in it.
A Personal Trainer – I know, this blog is about money, not fitness. But I want to address this because a lot of people question spending money on a PT. Is it just an extravagance?
If you get a good one, it’s not. A good PT will push you to your limits (“just killing me enough” is a great description for my coach), correct your technique and create variety that makes your body respond and change.
I question the value of some PTs I see in the gym: having a chat, watching you go through the motions, being your bestie.
If you don’t hate your PT a little, for the hour they’re training you, you should probably find a new one.
I first went to my coach when I’d hit a plateau – I wanted to get leaner and stronger but couldn’t do it alone. Years of powerlifting later, I am both of those things (although annoyingly, my triceps mean I can hardly wear any suit jackets).
I have experienced both elation and disappointment in getting there. I’ve cried with frustration in deadlift sessions, celebrated PBs, competed in events and made my body do stuff I never imagined it could.
For me, that’s worth the money I spend. If you’re plateaued, frustrated with results, finding it hard to stay on track, or ready to push yourself to new places, get a good PT.
The caveat on this is – if you can afford it. i.e. if you’ve paid for all the other things like bills, savings and an emergency fund. And you may need to skip something else, like buying lunches and coffees out, or getting your nails done. You can’t have all the treats, all the time.
Cleaners, removalists, carwashes and any other service provider – I just moved house and paid a removalist to do it all for me. After years of borrowed utes, trucks and a Ukrainian guy off Airtasker whose offsider was his tiny girlfriend, this was a wonderful luxury. I had the money, so I paid for it. Didn’t lift one box – amazing!
Whether you pay for things like a cleaner is down to you. But I would argue you need to consider:
- Can I afford it? i.e. have I paid all my bills including my savings? Have I given up a different luxury?
- Does it make my life better? i.e. am I using that time I saved wisely, or defusing a relationship pain point (fighting over who cleans the bathroom).
You really need to answer both those questions before you can shell out, guilt-free.