New year’s resolutions. We like to make them, but we love to break them.
And after the dumpster-fire that was 2020, who even has the energy to reinvent themselves for a new year?
So I am not going to add to your list of ways to improve yourself in 2021. But I will give you a different type of gift. These are the things I wish for you, my dear Fierce Girls, in the coming year. And if they sound like things you might want, then I wish you the motivation to make them happen.
In 2021, I hope you will have:
The clarity to understand what drives your money decisions.
Maybe you have a tendency to shop as a way to handle stress. Maybe you avoid making investment decisions because you second-guess yourself. Perhaps you keep spending on costly beauty treatments because you feel you’re not quite good enough. And as I point out in this post, shopping is not self-care.
None of us make money choices as completely rational creatures. We operate in a complex world of social expectations, internal narratives and swirling insecurities. As someone who has spent years holding my own BS up to the light, I can assure you it’s an ongoing process. But at some point, becoming clear on the issues that drive your less-than-ideal behaviours is just as valuable as reading any number of investment books.
One resource I have found really useful for this purpose is The Life Coach School podcast, which I can highly recommend for the purposes of calling out the lies you tell yourself (among other things).
The self-confidence to take positive action with your money.
One of the most potent ways the patriarchy keeps us poor is by convincing women that we just aren’t good with investing. Sure we can balance a household budget, or save for a holiday, but invest in the stock market like those rich, old, white guys? Nah, not for us.
Well I’m here to call time on that notion. And luckily so are many other women, who are entering the investment world in force. According to nabtrade, Gen Z women are even overtaking male investors. I’ll take that research with a grain of salt, but it does give me hope that women are increasingly realising there’s no secret handshake required to become an investor. You need two things: 1) some surplus funds (after you’ve paid all the boring life expenses) and 2) a strategy.
No. 2 is often where it comes undone for women, who think they need a degree in finance to get it right. But that’s not true. There are lots of ways to get started, for example, through roboadvice or microinvesting – this post explains it all. And there are lots of inspiring women showing us the way forward, like my friend Danielle, who I profiled here.
The ability to spend your money on what you makes you happiest.
I’m a tight-arse in many ways, from shopping at Aldi to periodically banning myself from K-Mart. But that doesn’t mean I don’t spend money. My big splurge this year was an expensive, beautiful and temperamental Italian coffee machine. I can give you lots of rationalisations about how I’m saving money on take-away coffee but if I’m honest, I bought it because I love it. (I also blame my dad for conceiving of, and being part of, the whole folly).
But here’s the thing. I did all the important stuff this year. I seeded $10K into my new roboadvised portfolio, threw some money into my existing Raiz account, contributed extra to my super fund to make up for three months without a salary, and squirreled a bunch of money into my mortgage redraw (for emergencies etc).
It was very helpful that everything that usually costs me money was cancelled this year: travel, the gym, going out and wearing make-up (damn, all my abandoned eyeshadow palettes resent me so much these days).
The key to my budgeting – if you can call it that, because there is no spreadsheet involved – is Mindful Spending. I know what I am allowed to spend money on, because it improves my life and happiness. And I know what I can ignore, because it just doesn’t float my boat.
And these things change over time. For example, I spent a whole lot more on fitness when I was powerlifting, but after being injured, I have whittled that down a lot. And the above-mentioned make-up was an obsession for a while, but that has gone the way of kissing people hello and wearing heels to work.
Your mindful spending manifesto doesn’t have to be a document that’s set in stone for life. The one good thing about this pandemic year is that it offers a chance for a reset.
So that’s it Fierce Girls. Keep it simple if you want to make a difference with your money this year. Get your head right, find some clarity and take action when you feel ready (or maybe a little bit before that). You got this!