We could always be doing better than we are today.
I could be a little leaner, could lift heavier weights, could be more flexible.
But hey, I’m trying. I’m lifting four days a week, tracking my food, making it to yoga when I can. I’m putting in the work.
And while I’m not perfect, I’m in the gym four days more than the person who stays in bed. And I’m making choices my future self will be grateful for.
The same goes for money. None of us are perfect. We often feel like we should have saved more, invested more, been further along, have learnt more about this finance stuff.
But I’m here to tell you: you’re doing fine.
If you’re reading this blog, you have taken one small step. And you’re doing better than the person who’s currently reading about a Kardashian on their phone.
So I wanted to share a few thoughts to inspire you on your money journey.
Truth #1 – Success flows where attention goes.
I met comedian Claire Hooper at an event last week. If you haven’t listened to her podcast, The Pineapple Project, you should get on that quick smart. She tackles money as someone who has no idea about it, and asks a bunch of experts for their help.
Not only is it entertaining and educational, she also showcases some amazing talent. Like, oh, I dunno – me. Yep, check out this episode for my two cents’ worth.
Anyway, I asked her about her life since she made the series, and whether she’d got her finances in order. “Yes, I’m fabulously rich now!” she said – jokingly of course. In all seriousness though, she said since focusing on money, she had really improved her situation.
I quoted Truth #1 to her and she agreed. So many times in life, we let things languish on a to-do list at the back of our brains. We don’t know how to start, or we think it will be too hard, or we are too dumb, or whatever.
But once we actually pay attention, it comes together. We have useful conversations that move us along. We start reading things that make sense. We take small actions – whether it’s setting up bank accounts, reading our insurance documents or calling our super fund. And then, all of a sudden, we’ve got our shit together with money!
Truth #2 – There is more than one right answer
I sometimes toss around the idea of buying an investment property. Other times I think about whether to buy more shares. But the property market is in flux, and now is not the time to move. Sharemarkets have been doing so well that it’s possible there will be a correction soon.
So, I’m just chucking a bunch of money at my mortgage, paying extra into super, and sitting this one out. I’m totally fine with that.
You see, there is no one right answer when it comes to investing. There are people in the industry who would fight to the death in a cage to prove their investment style is the best. Not just their asset class (shares! property! bonds!), but their style within it (value! passive! unconstrained!).
I’m here to tell you, the successful investor is the one who invests. Of course, follow the basic rules of investing. Like balancing risk and reward (read more here). Not putting all your eggs in one basket (hello diversification!). Reading the fine print. All that grown-up stuff.
But the key thing is to do something (other than piss your money away on shopping and dinners and drinks and manicures and whatever).
Ultimately, the way to build wealth is to spend less than you earn and do something productive with the leftover money. That’s kind of it. As simple and as hard as that.
If you’re wondering how to get started, check out this post.
Truth #3 – You have time on your side
This could also be expressed as ‘it’s never too late’. Of course it’s better to start early when it comes to investing. There’s a wonderful concept called compound interest, which means the longer you let your gains pile up on each other, the more you make.
But there isn’t a magical number where it’s too late to get started. Ideally, you’d kick off your great saving and investing habits in your early 20s. But really, who does that? (Well, I did make extra superannuation contributions).
By your thirties or forties you still have a LOT of decades left to live, based on average life expectancy. In fact, at around age 42 you’re still only halfway along the journey. So don’t tell me you can’t do some solid saving and investing for the remaining four decades.
In your 50s, there are still plenty of things you can do for your 80-year-old self. By your 60s, sure there are more challenges, but there are still positive steps to be taken.
You can get started with better habits on any day and at any age. Don’t waste time – even small steps now can make a difference to your bad-arse 80-year-old party-girl self.