When it comes to personal finances and ways to build your wealth it seems that everyone has an opinion – and a preferred pathway for wealth accrual. From your mate down the pub who likes to share his stock market tips to your friend at work who has a constant stream of ‘get rich quick’ schemes, to your mother-in-law who exposes a more prudent ‘slow and steady and sock it in super’ approach.
The truth is there is no one-size-fits-all approach to generating wealth and setting yourself up for the future. Everyone has different objectives, preferences and levels of comfort.
When deciding on your own financial path, there are a few things that you need to consider.
Your preferred lifestyle
This is really about understanding what you value in life and what’s going to make your existence meaningful. Success means different things for different people. For some, it’s a big house, two cars in the garage and lots of space to entertain. For others, it’s being able to take an overseas trip once a year. Others still might be dreaming of a tree or sea change and an early retirement. You don’t have to fit into anyone else’s idea of an ideal situation. You just need to work out the lifestyle you want and to set financial goals that allow you to lead it.
Stage of life
It’s also worth taking stock of what stage of life you’re in. You may be just at the start of your career and beginning to build your wealth, thinking of starting a family and saving for a home deposit or setting your sights on retirement and trying to maximize your nest egg. Your goals and needs shift as you move through life and the world’s a very different place to what it was thirty years ago, meaning the perspective of those in different generations may not be applicable to your own financial pathway. No matter where you’re at, it’s important to have a plan that enables you to meet your immediate needs as well as work towards your long-term goals.
Focus on your goals and objectives
When it comes to goal setting the important thing is to make them precise and achievable. If goals have tangible outcomes they are easier to measure and reward. Rather than just hoping to ‘build your wealth’, set something concrete like ‘own my home outright within ten years’, or more immediately, ‘set aside enough to take the kids to the beach for the summer’. Again, keep in mind that everyone is different and your goals won’t necessarily mirror those of your peers or colleagues.
Comfort with risk
Once you’ve set your goals, you need a plan of action. Incremental, actionable steps you can take to make your dreams a reality. An essential part of making a plan is understanding your comfort with risk. There are a lot of factors determining your risk tolerance: your own life experiences, the amount of time you have set to meet specific goals, your ability to cope with market volatility etc. In general, diversifying your portfolio helps mitigate risk (it’s seldom a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket), but the most important thing is having an informed risk strategy that works for you and doesn’t keep you up at night.
Knowledge is power
As with anything, having a good investment strategy requires know-how. But with so many different people offering their opinion and the constant buzz of the 24-hour new cycle, it’s easy to get confused or worse, spooked. This is where a financial advisor comes in. Our job, first and foremost, is to listen – to be a sounding board for you to bounce ideas off and help you clarify your goals. We’ll then work with you to devise a plan that’s going to help you achieve them.
And don’t forget, we are with you for the long haul. Your finances and investments can never be a ‘set and forget,’ for just as economic circumstances change so will your own. What you need then is an expert in your corner guiding you through the rough times and the windfalls. One who understands your dreams, attitude and resources – who has the skills to keep you on the right track.