“A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.” -Jonathan Swift
Over the last few months the financial services industry has been all over our newsfeed, TV and newspapers, and if you’re like me the banking Royal Commission has even made it into the lunchtime conversations at the office. There’s been some devastating stories and disgraceful misconduct exposed, and countless articles on questions to ask your financial planner and how to avoid being ripped off by your financial institution.
My big takeaway from all of this, is that you can never truly trust any sole person or corporation with your life savings. I wonder how many times we have to hear these devastating stories, before we take control of our finances? Who knows what the consequences will be for these individuals and corporations? A warning? A fine? Maybe even jail-time?
Only one thing’s for sure, you need to take control and responsibility of your finances, and you need to financially educate yourself.
You are going to learn most of your financial lessons along the journey, but it needs to be your journey. When you outsource your finances to someone else, they make the mistakes and they learn the lessons, and you miss out on so much. Yes, sometimes it is appropriate and even necessary to seek out professional financial advice, but without a basic level of financial literacy you have no way of knowing if the information they provide to you is in your best interests.
I have definitely made mistakes and lost money along my own financial journey, but I have owned those mistakes and I have learnt from them. It’s not something that you can master overnight, rather I think of financial education as a lifelong journey of knowledge and lessons. I can’t promise you that your journey will be easy, but I can pretty well guess that it will grow and empower you.
“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” -Ayn Rand
While all of these news stories may make you want to run and hide from the industry all together, it is important to know that for every bad seed out there, there are countless others who are passionate and dedicated to the industry and to providing you with high a high quality service.
I know young Australians want to learn about their finances and take control, but they often feel as though it is out of their power. Let me tell you right now that no one can force you into signing the dotted line for a financial product. You can choose everything from your transaction account to your superannuation, but most people don’t realise how much choice they actually have when it comes to their finances.
The main thing that I hope you takeaway from this — is that it’s never to early or late to take back control, and get started on your financial education journey.
If you want to get started, the most important resource I would like to suggest to you is ASIC’s MoneySmart website, which has such a huge wealth of knowledge contained within. They also offer free downloadable guides that cover a whole range of topics from first-time investing to planning your superannuation.
Another good resource for those interested in investing for the first time is the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) website, where they offer free online courses, videos and even the ASX share game (where you can try out investing without using your own money).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on financial education in Australia, so please feel free to reach out via email at email@example.com or in the comments below.
Kate — HTM Editor & Co-Host
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