Studies show that Gen X people in their 40s and 50s are financially ruined because they made really poor financial decisions when they were younger. Yes, even worse than buying avocado toast. And when it comes to retirement, both millennials and Gen Xers have saved around $35,000 on average. But the problem is Gen Xers are much closer to retirement than the millennials. So if you want to be well on your path to financial freedom, you got to start with these nine financial goals, especially the fourth one.
Do this before anything else
I don’t say this often but this is the one goal you need to tackle before you do anything else because knowing is half the battle knowledge. and this is a mistake that most financial influencers don’t address is simply stopping and asking, What do you want?
Do you actually want a mansion on the beach and Lamborghini designer clothes? Or do you actually want it or is it what society says you should want? Maybe you want to be your own boss and have the opportunity to amass unimaginable wealth but at the same time, be extremely stressed and have very little free time. Or simply just want to have a more chill lifestyle where you’re financially secure, but still, have free time to spend with your friends and family?
Find what makes you happy
There’s no wrong answer, but whichever path you choose, make sure it’s what you truly want deep down. Here are two tools to help me figure this out. First is journaling. Start recording every profound thought you have and take note of when you’re most happy. What were you doing? And here’s the most important part. How long did that happiness last? Looks back on that moment and see if it still makes you smile today, or was it just a really fleeting emotion?
Know more about yourself
Second, taking Myers Briggs Personality Test it’s a simple series of questions that will let you know what type of person you want. I am personally an INTJ which means that I’m a bit more introverted and I tend to think things through logically rather than intuitively. Now, this test isn’t going to define your financial goals exactly. But it will help you learn more about yourself and the direction that you should add toward a fulfilling career and ultimately, financial success.
Here’s the truth
I’m sure you may have heard of this guy before called Dave Ramsey. He is notorious for his hatred of all things debt, which makes sense because most people don’t actually know debt. He believes that no debt is good news, but here’s the truth. The idea that you need to avoid all debt is not practical, and not good financial advice. Wow. Despite what my boy Dave preaches, not all debt is bad. There’s actually a distinction between good and bad debt that I’ll explain in understanding this
It’s not for you to make payments for months or years that ultimately do not increase in value. For example, if you buy a car, the moment you drive it out the dealership is going to lose value. In the first year, the average car loses about 20 to 30% of its value, then depreciates 15% every year afterward. Other bad debt includes high-interest credit card debt, payday loans, etc. Essentially, bad debt is stuff that doesn’t help you make progress toward your financial goals.
However, a good way to look at bad debt is also whether it provides value to you. Even though a car may depreciate over a long period of time, if you were to get a second-hand vehicle, the depreciation value wouldn’t be as great. Also, having a car may save you time and effort when transporting and improving your standard of living.
On the other hand, good debt is an investment that may boost your income or net worth in the future stuff like using leverage to purchase real estate. Here’s a really simplified example. Imagine that you have $100,000 in cash and you can buy one of two properties one property costs $100,000 And the other costs $500,000. Now is it better to buy a newly renovated home without any debt, or use your 100k in cash as a down payment for the 500k home and pay the rest off with a loan?
And here’s the kicker? The average appreciation rate for both of these properties is 5% meaning it goes up in value by 5%. Every year, if you bought the 100k property in cash, the next year, your net worth for increase by $5,000. Now, if you took out a loan and bought the 500k property, your net worth that next year increases by $25,000. That’s a huge difference of $20,000. So in essence you can imagine good debt and something that can improve your long-term financial situation, but it’s already stuffed with a bunch of bad debt. Therefore, the idea of being debt free is ridiculous!
The fastest way to get rid of Debt
Here’s my favorite strategy to get rid of it. It’s called the Avalanche Method. Here’s how it works. Think of how much money you can budget to pay off your debt every month. Make a list of all your balances and the minimum payments required. Now list them in order of lowest to highest scientists.
For example, let’s say you currently have a $1,000 credit card balance with a 20% interest rate, a $2800 credit card balance with a 10% interest rate, and a $17,000 car loan with an 8% interest rate. What you want to do is make all minimum payments on your balances and put any leftover money towards that balance with the highest interest rate. In this example, it’s the credit card with the $1,000 balance that you paid off that balance, move on to the next balance with the highest interest rate and that’s the $2,800 credit card balance and putting as much money as you can towards it and then just rinse and repeat. This method is mathematically striking the most efficient way to get rid of your debts.
You need to understand the true power of Credit Card
Next, you need to understand the true power of your credit score and be able to harness it like Thor’s hammer because it could be the difference between wealth and poverty. Your credit score is a quick metric by lenders to determine how likely you are to come back, and the less risky they view you the more money that you can end up saving.
Let’s say you want to take a $3,000 car loan and want it paid off in five years. Well if you have an excellent credit score, you could get an interest rate of 3.5% meaning that in five years, you would only pay $2,700 in interest for that loan in comparison, if you adjust an average credit score, you get an interest rate of 8%. So you end up paying around $6,500 on interest alone. That’s a difference of $3,800 over time and I don’t know about you but that’s quite a bit of money, which you could have saved and used for the next financial goal which is probably the most important when it comes to achieving financial freedom.
How you can build your credit score
Now the easiest way for you to build credit by far is by using a credit card and paying attention here because this is vital. You need to be responsible and pay off your credit card bill on time every month. Even if you’ve missed just a couple of payments that can ruin your credit score. My suggestion is to only use your credit card if you actually have the money to pay it off and only struggle with smaller items like your gas or McDonald’s cheeseburgers.
Learning the basics of the Stock Market
The next most important goal is at a minimum to learn about the stock market. When people hear the word stocks, they think about things with degrees that seem ties watches, drinking scotch, and looking at charts all day. But this isn’t true. No one wear suits anymore. Hollywood makes the stock market seem more complex than it actually is. And it’s actually easier now to get started than ever before. And the earlier you start, the better off you’re going to be, and here’s how you can retire a millionaire when you’re 50 with just the stock market.
Let’s say you’re 20 right and then you contribute $500 a month into an s&p 500 index fund with an average rate of return of 10%. Then in 30 years, your investment would be worth over one million dollars. So the earlier you start investing, the sooner you can allow compound interest to work for you to grow your investment. If you would like to know more about how to start investing, be sure to check out our beginner guide on how to invest in stocks.
Learning to Invest in yourself
Another thing that most finance influencers never talked about, is that you need to start investing yourself for me. To be fair, this could mean 1000 different things but the most obvious is in your education. Now I’m not talking about college. I’m talking about learning new things right now. Like literally right now because learning never really stopped. It is possibly the best return on investment you could ever make. Just imagine a single book that can cost maybe $10 That $10 investment could return over 1000 times in value that will teach you how to maximize your productivity to achieve or how to negotiate better deals.
Think of that book as a way to download 50 years of knowledge and experience from the author for just $10 If you don’t like reading, it doesn’t even have to be a book. It could be free videos on YouTube where you spend a few minutes learning something new every single day. There’s so much information out there and all it takes is for you to have the drive and initiative to get started.
It’s not just self-education. It’s also your health that you need to invest in a healthy and active lifestyle that can save you later on in life. Did you know that on average people who are considered obese at age 50 pay about $36,000 more in health costs throughout their entire life? So do make sure to properly maintain a well-balanced diet and exercise often as it does have long-term financial benefits. Because ultimately, health is wealth.
Understand that conventional advice is a lie
Now there’s one piece of financial advice do you need to completely ignore because it’s trash. This conventional advice is you need to save a year’s worth of salary before you hit your 30s. However, they don’t consider that your 20s are extremely volatile. A new grad could be earning $30,000 and then all of a sudden they get a huge promotion and 29 where they make $100,000.Are they expected to have 100k saved up all of a sudden, what happens if you suddenly lost your job? How do you factor that into your savings amount?
Here’s what you should enforce. Save the average of your annual salary throughout your 20s. Let’s say you make 30k a year from 20 to 25. And then 70k a year from 26 to 30. So in total, you make around $460,000 Throughout those years divided by 10 and you should have about $26,000 saved up now if you could save more that’s fantastic to elicit.
Do your best to save and invest as much
It’s not always easy to do this depending on your situation and also where you live. This isn’t a one size fits all solution understand your own personal financial situation and readjust the goal accordingly. If it’s completely unreasonable to save that amount of money that just makes you really stressed and anxious then save a little less. On the flip side. If this amount seems too easy, then raise the bar. Personal Finance is personal for a reason.
Have more than 1 additional Income
Here’s what you can do to make more money and ultimately save more money and it’s creating additional streams of income before you’re 30. The truth is that 65% of self-made millionaires have at least 3 different income streams, 45% have at least four and 39% have five or more. Solely relying on a single stream of income is riskier than you think. Because the moment it’s investing. We all know that it’s important, but is it the right time? To do when a tragedy happens like Thanos snapping his finger in your boss’s appears. It could all be over.
There are 261 working days in the year. And if you could just make an extra $40 each of those days, you would have an extra $1,000 in your pocket by the end of the year. But the question is how do you do that? Now you could do the traditional thing that I’ve done before to bit of overtime, ask for a raise, get some extra qualifications or go get a better job or you can do what the cool kids are doing nowadays and start a side hustle.
Almost everyone is doing it
In this digital age, almost every Gen Z is already doing a side hustle. Whether it is pet sitting, content writing, options trading, or tutoring. The truth is, the easiest way to make money is not having your income tied to the hour. A side hustle allows anyone to work whenever and whatever they feel like working on. And if they are really passionate about what they are doing, they could make it into a lifestyle business.
The number 1 Determining factor of wealth
Now, this could be the one single determining factor that determines if you ever achieve financial freedom or not. And it is to start normalizing talking about money with your friends and family and co-workers. There’s a lot of negative stigma surrounding this topic but this is the main reason that many of you, including me, grew up without a lot of knowledge about finance, investing, or debt and it’s time to break the cycle.
You want to make sure that the people that you surround yourself with have similar financial goals ask yourself or at least understand the position that you’re coming from. Escaping the rat race is not a common topic in our economic society so you have to find like-minded people who are willing to spend time relating to you on these topics.
That applies to your life partner too. You need to be on the same page where else you’re gonna have conflicting goals and what you’re going to have at that time, or even with your coworkers. If you never talk about your salary, then you’ll never know if you’re getting compensated fairly for your work. What if you’re getting paid $10,000 less just because you can’t negotiate as well as chat over there? By starting the conversation, you can take the power back from the employer and break this negative money cycle.
Unfortunately, you can’t avoid these
There are two things in life that are unavoidable death and taxes. I remember when I got my very first paycheck and I just saw how much the taxpayer had taken from me. I was shocked and this is the reason I started looking into ways how to reduce what I do voluntarily contribute to Uncle Sam. This is something you need to learn before you die unless you like giving your money away.
The easiest way to get started is with a tax advantage account. Something easy like putting spare cash into a CPF(Central Provident Fund) or an SRS(Supplementary Retirement Scheme). They are essentially retirement accounts that can lower your taxable income, saving you a good chunk of money. The benefit of being a Singaporean is that employers have to contribute 17% of their monthly income to the CPF while you have to contribute 20%. Not to worry about the money rotting to inflation as CPF does have interest payments that can compound over time. What’s great about CPF is that if you have more than $20,000 in your Ordinary Account, you may invest the spare equity into an investment.
On average, Singaporean have at least $450,000 in total assets when they reach 50. So most Singaporean are able to financially retire. However, if you want to retire a lot earlier, you would have to do your own personal investment in order to let it compound and grow your networth over time.
What happens when you’re able to achieve these 9 financial goals
If you strive to achieve these nine financial goals before you are in your 30s you’ll be lightyears ahead of your friends, your family, and co-workers who’ve decided to do other stuff. Financial literacy is not well taught in school so it is up to individuals to take up the importance of saving and investing.
And when you are able to achieve these 9 financial goals, you will be able to take control of your time and have control of your life better. The choice is yours.