I hear people say they know nothing about finances all the time. ‘I’m terrible at finances’ they say, in a manner reminiscent of high school classmates discussing their ineptitude in solving maths problems. Many of my peers are freaked out by the idea of investing their money or can’t wrap their head around what the hell an ISA even is.
I have been one of these people, and still grapple with fundamental questions about my finances: Should I ask for a raise? How much money should I be saving? Am I investing my money responsibly?
As much as the blanket statement ‘I don’t do finances’ may seem defeatist and lazy, it is the sad truth that many of us in my age group are no good at it — not out of laziness or unwillingness but because simply put, it’s not easy and the learning curve can be steep at first. We shouldn’t feel bad about our lack of understanding — personal finance can be downright confusing and quite frankly, often unnecessarily opaque. Not to mention BORING.
But finances matter in the long term, and making small changes to your life now can pay dividends (!) in the future. I for one do not want to retire at age 85 if I can help it.
A couple of years ago I set a new year’s resolution to ‘get my s*** together financially’ because I was becoming increasingly embarrassed by the fact that I had no plan financially, whatsoever. I was finding that my lack of direction was veering from mildly endearing in my early twenties into potentially tragic territory as I approached thirty.
Once I started investigating, I found that most of the financial blogs and columns are yawn-inducing, sterile or aimed at soon-to-be retirees. There also seemed to be a wealth of material aimed at self-identified cheapskates interested in coupons and sweepstakes.
I want my financial decisions to fit my lifestyle. While my goals at the moment are to save towards a flat and cut down on extravagant spending, I am not going to delude myself into thinking I am going to eat out one once a month or deny myself the finer things in life at all times, because of course, you only live once.
No crash diets here
This is how I approach getting shape when I neglect my health (this happens every so often) as a rule: I feel bad about my body for a few months, follow a bunch of clean eating Instagram accounts, consider purchasing some athleisure wear… and once I get over the period of hemming and hawing, I eventually get my act together by eating reasonably and get out there and exercising (and often come to enjoy my healthier lifestyle). I set some reasonable goals and do the best I can.
Similarly, I procrastinated about dealing with my finances for ages and resisted taking action, dwelling on the scariness of it all. I felt clueless and helpless, but I finally bit the bullet, and with a bit of research and practice I got my act together. I’m still learning — just when I think I’ve got things down, I discover a new approach or idea of how to do things. And I am not perfect — every now and then I fall off the wagon** — I could easily have refrained from splurging on my third winter coat this January but what can I say, I love a good coat.
Setting financial goals and health goals are similar. If you’re anything like me, you know fine well you’re not going to go to the gym 7 days a week or only eat salad forever; similarly, it’s unproductive to lie to yourself that you’re going to cease all unnecessary spending. The approach to personal finance I endorse: slow lifestyle changes that can be maintained in the long term, no crash diets.
In my ongoing quest to achieving financial wisdom, I’ve learned a couple of things. In this blog, I thought I’d share some of the progress I’ve made to help my fellow millennials out.
This blog is aimed at youngish adults who have or are starting to have a bit of disposable income. Hopefully others may find some interesting tips on here too.
Indeed, we don’t all earn the same amount of money, and some of us are in a better position to save than others. Many of us have student debt for example, or may have family responsibilities that make putting a big chunk of money away each month totally unrealistic. This blog is not for everyone — I’d love for people who identify as lower income to find inspiration, but I’m not so out of touch to think that everyone will find the content in this blog relevant to their lives.
Let this inspirational journey towards financial nirvana begin.
**I am by no means a financial advisor of any sort. Please seek out a certified financial planner for professional advice!