Do you ever read about finance and feel dumb?
I know, I know. “If Chief Fierce Girl feels challenged by the murky world of money, what hope do I have?”. But stay with me.
It’s all about gatekeeping: if people make money sound complicated, then you will definitely need their expertise to help you, right? And pay for it, of course.
And look, investment can be complicated. I studied it, and it was haaaard. I might have cried a little while trying to calculate franking credits.
However, that’s the pointy end of finance. There’s also a soft, welcoming end that is actually not that complicated at all.
I summed it up when I introduced you to the Four Friends Who Will Make You Rich. (Read it here, it’s low-key one of my best).
And so it annoys me to see the tone of ‘talking down’ that seems to pervade the finance world.
It makes financial success seem harder than it is.
I came across this finance industry research recently, that claimed to be ‘alarmed’ by the poor financial literacy of Australians.
But when I read the questions it was based on, they were really tricky. They were phrased like those multiple choice questions in an exam where you question yourself, freak out, and start worrying. Like maybe it’s A but what if it’s B and I don’t know if C sounds ok and maybe I’m just stupid and I should probably go home *. (*Actual internal monologue from my last finance exam).
Look, I agree we could do better on the financial literacy front. But it would also be good if the professionals would stop telling us how dumb we are.
What if they gave us a message of empowerment and encouragement?
What if they said ‘Focus on what you do know, boo, and go from there!’.
Well, they don’t have to, because I am telling you all of that. Don’t assume that you don’t have the smarts to nail your finances, because you totally do.
In fact, here are some totally easy things you can do today (or tomorrow, if you’re tired. No pressure, take a nap if you like).
Save in your sleep. The easiest/only way to save properly is to do it before you get your sticky fingers on it. Set up an auto-transfer into a savings account for the day you get paid.
Or see if your bank does round-ups, where it takes little amounts and stashes them away for you.
I know ING does, because those annoying Isla Fisher ads told me. I guess they work huh.
Invest while you spend. One step further to the round-ups mentioned above, apps like Raiz take little bits of your money and invest them for you.
I used to be in love with it, but it won’t sync to my Macquarie bank accounts so it’s kind of dead to me now. But if you want to dip your toe in the water of investing, check it out.
Some super funds do it now too, so check your fund’s website
Own your super savings. Ok, it’s not a sexy topic, but a tiny bit of effort makes a big difference. With just one or two calls, you can cross that shit off your to-do list for years.
Step 1: roll your multiple accounts into one. If you’re paying multiple fees and insurance STOP THAT NOW. It’s literally throwing money away. And guess what, your primary fund will do the hard work for you. Call them up and ask! A friend of mine did it recently and was stoked with how easy it was.
How do you choose your primary fund? Fees and returns. But if you can’t be bothered reading a bunch of websites, the big industry funds like Australian Super, HESTA, REST, First State, Hostplus and CBUS are pretty competitive. You are possibly in one already from your days in retail or hospitality. Within those big players there isn’t a lot of difference, so don’t overthink if it means not making any decision.
When you speak to your chosen fund, you should also ask them about your investment option. If you don’t choose one proactively, you get shoved into the default.
Now I don’t know about you, but I am not a default kinda girl. I don’t want to be in the same option as 60 year old Susan.
Given my age (young and cool), I can tolerate more risk for the chance of more return. So I’m in the high-growth option. Your fund should be able to provide what’s called ‘simple advice’ to help you decide (for no cost).
I swear, just doing these things, and making sure they have your correct contact details), can make thousands of dollars difference to you when you retire. (I have a whole post about super if you’re really interested: click here).
So anyway, did you see what I did there – started off with a motivational post and snuck in a whole section on super!
I know, I’m tricksy. Sorry not sorry. But let me get back to the original point – making good choices with your money doesn’t need a degree. It is a series of small decisions, made over time. And every good one helps.
You got this, so go forth and be fierce!