😧 Isn’t this blog about personal finance and financial independence? Sure is 同志 (comrade). Yet I beseech you to not read books on financial independence? Damn straight. Perhaps I should explain a bit further. If you enjoy reading books about financial independence, sure, go right ahead. So do I.
If you are time poor or do not enjoy reading about financial independence, the majority of books out there can be easily distilled to 3 simple steps.
Guess what? I’m about to show you how.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, guys. I take it that you work or have some form of employment? Not to state the obvious however having a job is super important to your journey for financial independence.
You may be the gun in whatever you do in life but your job is your ammo factory. Don’t ever lose the keys to your ammo factory.
A lot of people I know enjoy their jobs. Ok. Maybe some pretend to enjoy their jobs, I’ll give you that. Some of our luckier brethrens find fulfilment in the work they do and some even believe that it defines them 🙈. If you’re one of them, fantastic! If not, you’re not alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work however there are days when my feet feels incredibly reluctant to be dragged to the office and no, staring at your lottery ticket does not magically turn them into winning numbers. I tried. Only for 5 minutes. Wait. Maybe I should try longer? I digress.
Irrespective if you have the 💩-iest job in the world, there’s always going to be that one single thing that you enjoy about it. It’s universal for all of us. We like getting paid.
So if you have a job that you don’t enjoy, you could;
- Find a job that you enjoy; OR
- Focus on that nectar of sweet sweet dollar bills till you get enough F-U money to quit (we’ll talk about that some other time)
If you picked option 2), I want you to chant that every time you have a shit day at work. Boss yells at you? “Nectar of sweet sweet dollar bills 💵”. Colleague stabbed you in the back for the umpteenth time? “Nectar of sweet sweet dollar bills 💵”. Office ran out of toilet paper? “Nectar of sweet swe..”. You get the idea. Heck, screenshot this and use it as your work computer wallpaper, cover your desk with printed copies of it, make a sticker out of it and stick it on your forehead so it’s the first thing you see every morning as you get ready for work.
I feel like I have been handed the cheat sheet for this one. I’m not going to make assumptions for other cultures however being Asian, frugality is like in my DNA.. or maybe it was beaten into me as a child. Either way, I’m so very thankful for having this habit of saving. That’s right, it’s a habit which means anyone can build it. If you’re naturally inclined to spend, thank you for helping the economy however it’s time you help future-you too.
It doesn’t need to be something incredibly drastic, just start with baby steps, cutting a few things here and there. Every time you think, “Ooh. I’ll really like that caramel macchiato” and refrain from it (a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips y’all), that’s frugal-you winning. You want frugal-you to win right? I get it. I get it. It’s not easy. Everyday we are terrorised with advertisements and marketing tha.. ooh.. that looks cute 👇 fffuuu.
Refrain is never easy. Guess what though? There’s another solution. Let’s take the mental tug of war between buying vs saving out of the picture.
- Open a new bank account. This is preferably with a bank that is separate from your existing one, even better if you have disabled internet banking access to it, and definitely with a $0 fee account.
- Every time you receive your pay, transfer a portion of it immediately to that new bank account of yours. Start at any amount that you are comfortable with but you have to be disciplined in at least doing that. Some people call this paying yourself first, let’s just call this saving yourself.
- If your bank has a feature of scheduling payments, do that and you don’t even have to think about it.
Soon enough, you’ll automatically gain Jedi-level self control and when you’re comfortable enough, you can slowly bump up the amount that you save. Not so much that you’re eating instant ramen for every meal, guys. That’s not frugality, that’s just self flagellation.
Spoil yourself sometimes.
So now you’re a saving fiend. Uh oh. Now what? Saving is good. Saving is fantastic. However saving by itself is harmful to your finances. 😩😵😵 Isn’t saving good? Isn’t saving fan.. YES! It is! Absolutely! However, the returns that you get from leaving your cold hard cash in a bank is meagre and there’s this tiny thing called inflation.
Every time you get an inflation-adjusted pay increment, broadly speaking, so does everyone and everything else. Just think back about whenever you realise your favourite chocolate bar going up in price. Not by much, just a tiny bit. Imagine that happening to everything that you spend money on. If your bank is paying you ~2% or less to keep your money with them, your money is probably losing it’s buying power when compared against inflation. Your $1.00 today could be buying $0.98 next year or maybe just $0.80 in a few years time.
Relax. Stop pressing that panic button. It’s not even wired in.
This is why you need to take your hard earned dollars and invest it. Personally, stocks is my investment vehicle of choice.
Quite Possibly You: “AW HELL NO. THEM’S THE STUFF THAT PEOPLE LOST MONEY AND ALL ON”
fidilaa: “Yeah. Because they..”
Quite Possibly You: “NOPE! I WILL NOT”
fidilaa: “The thing is..”
Quite Possibly You: “NEIN! NOPES! NIET!”
fidilaa: “DO YOU WANT TO REACH FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE?”
You need to invest. Now I’m not asking you to invest in that hot stock tip that your distant Uncle Jerry tells the whole family every time he comes around. He doesn’t even give good Christmas presents for crying out loud. Most of all, that’s gambling. When you combine greed and gambling with the stock market, you get burnt, like the many thousands that figured it out the hard way.
What if you don’t have the knowledge of investing? Learn! The internet is an amazing place. If you can’t be bothered to learn how to invest, you don’t have to be ashamed of that. I mean life’s for living and all that right? I’m lazy in many many ways which is why I picked stocks as my investment vehicle of choice. What you can do is invest in index funds. That means you are buying a very tiny slice, a slice nonetheless, of thousands of companies with thousands of people slugging their butts off to make you money. That also means that you do not run into the risk of losing all your money if a few companies decide to kamikaze itself.
Still pretty scary? I get it. The first step is always incredibly daunting. You remember that Earn chapter earlier in the post? Yep. We’re coming full circle, guys. Countries like America and Australia (represent) have a pension scheme that compels your employer to pay a certain amount to an account to fund your retirement. Aw shucks. Thanks government peeps. In America, you have your 401K and in Australia, we have our Superannuation.
So what do these magical accounts do with the money that it receives? It invests in an assortment of asset classes, a big one being, wait for it, the stock market. Mind, meet blown 🤯. So if you’re fearful of making investing decisions yourself, don’t worry. Just max out your contributions to your 401K, superannuation, or equivalent. More often than not, these contributions are tax advantaged so speak to your company payroll Guru and ask them how you can do that. We will gradually tackle this investment beast so that one day, you will be confident in owning it like your very own personal money making Pokémon.
Upwards and Onwards
There you have it. The golden rules of financial independence, neatly tied in a bow, ready for you to whip out for a quick read any time you feel like you need a bit of mental reminder.
You have effectively read thousands of personal finance books in a few minutes. Not only that, you saved a bunch of money too so holla at your boy if you feel generous.
If not, I will appreciate you smashing that 👏 button as it helps tell me what content resonates with you guys and please 👇 that follow button if you haven’t already.
Thanks for reading! Time for dim sum.
joe from fidilaa