One of my favourite writers, Neghar Fonooni, says of new year milestones: “Time is cosmic and … cannot be measured and shrunk down into carefully crafted calendars”.
And I am totally here for this. I’ve had years that began delightfully and then turned … undelightful. And vice versa. So I try to avoid the temptation of thinking that the coming year is defined by how we start it.
But there is nothing wrong with a bit of intention-setting. I avoid resolutions, because they are notoriously hard to keep. Building a habit is a better way to approach it, and you can do this any day of the year.
Although, I realised recently that one of the most difficult things about two years of a pandemic is the inability to stick with routines. You build one, then comes a lockdown or a new variant to screw with it. I guess adaptability is one part of resilience, which we’ve been forced to build. But oh Lord, just let me go to my yoga studio for long enough to nail a headstand!
Anyway, I won’t harass you into any new habits or resolutions to celebrate the new year. But I will offer you a couple of thoughts as we forge ahead.
1. Makeover your mind to makeover your money
Everything starts with our mindset. A while ago, I talked about our inner mean girl telling us that having money is somehow negative.
The thing is, these bitches never comes up to our face to say things like: “you don’t deserve to earn more money”. They just discourage us from applying for more senior jobs, from pushing harder in salary negotiations or from demanding a payrise when it’s review time.Is your inner mean girl sabotaging your finances? Probably.
So, part of the work towards financial independence is believing you deserve money, and that having it won’t bring some curse down on your head.
Then there is another mindgame that loves messing with our money, and if you developed a lockdown shopping habit you know exactly what I mean: spending-as-therapy.
If you consistently find yourself spending more than you intended to, it’s not because you’re a bad or weak person. It’s because you’re processing your feelings in an expensive way. Humans love to avoid feeling their feelings. They will choose distraction over pain nearly every time.
And in modern society, the distraction choices are endless. Sex, booze, food, shopping, anger, arguing on the internet … take your pick.
Ironically, I spent quite a lot of money on a meditation course this year, with the explicit goal of acknowledging my feelings, and then letting them go.
It’s a strange paradox that not caring about money is the key to having enough. I wrote about it here, but it comes down to this:
In the end, being content with yourself can make you feel content with your financial situation.Why *not* caring about money is the real goal
So the best way to keep your spending under control, and to feel good about building a strong financial foundation, is to work on yourself. Whether it’s therapy, yoga, meditation or simply long walks alone, working on your mind is the single best investment you can make.
2. Perfect is the enemy of done
I say this a lot, and it’s not (entirely) because I like doing a half-arse job of things. It’s just that the pursuit of perfection is the surest way to not taking action.
Not knowing which super fund is the best, or what company to invest it, can lead to doing nothing at all. Now, I’m not advocating a reckless approach to financial decisions. I am simply arguing that there is, in fact, no perfect option. Every product or asset class has its pros and cons. The key is to find the solution that gets the job done well enough.
Women are often susceptible to the perfection trap, because we doubt ourselves so much – particularly with money. Society has done a number on us, telling us subtly over the course of our lives that investing and wealth creation is men’s business. (Don’t believe me? Check out this post).
So if you are stuck in first gear, waiting for a sign before you accelerate, maybe this is it. I have two tips to give you on this front:
- Stick to what’s tried and true – Don’t understand crypto? Then don’t invest in it. Don’t know which stocks to pick? Buy a managed fund or ETF that tracks the market. Worried about losing money? Spread your risk across different asset classes like shares, bonds and property. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to investing, regardless of how much you read about ‘meme stocks’ or NFTs. There are thousands of straightforward options that don’t require a finance degree to understand or purchase. You can check out my ‘Get Started‘ post here for more tips.
- Use tools and/or experts to help you – If you aren’t sure about picking a super fund, then use a platform like Super Fierce to run the numbers for you. Not confident about choosing your ETFs? Then look at services like Stockspot, Six Park, Raiz or Spaceship to do the picking and balancing for you. Worried about your tax? Then find a decent accountant to sort it for you (can confirm: it’s worth it). There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing the hard work or paying for expertise. It’s an investment in your own financial future.
And finally, if you have decided that 2022 is a new year and a new chance to learn more about money and investing, then good for you! There are more finance blogs, TikToks, podcasts and Instagrammers out there than ever before. Not all of them will give you the best advice or answers, but they can all help you get your head in the game, and to think critically about your money.
Here’s to a fierce and financially fantastic year ahead!