How to Spend Your Money
Market Meditations | July 15, 2021
Everyone has different goals in life. Some want to make enough money to support their families whilst others want to achieve extreme financial success – there is no right or wrong answer. To plan our budget, we need to know the purpose of the budget. Whatever the goal, there are three key components:
1️⃣ Purpose – what is this goal?
2️⃣ Amount – how much money do I need to achieve this purpose?
3️⃣ Timeline – when do I need this money?
To leverage an example let’s consider financial freedom:
- What is the purpose? To stop needing to work for money.
- How much do you need? This is dependent on your lifestyle but can be calculated using the 4% rule – that is you will be able to earn 4% on your assets every year. Let’s say my desired lifestyle costs $40,000 a year, I will therefore need to accumulate $1m.
- When do you need the money? Right now the “standard” retirement age is about 65 but you may want to reach financial freedom earlier.
Your Investment Plan
Now you have set your financial goals, let’s find out how to reach them!
The key is to always pay yourself first. Work out how much you need to save on a monthly basis to hit your goals in your required timeline and then view this as a monthly cost – automatically moving these funds to savings or investment accounts. You can use this resource to work out exactly how much that monthly amount is.
Pro tip: Before investing it is key to build up an emergency fund of 3-6 months of your expenses in cash. Without this, you could be forced to sell your investments during market downturns, completely invalidating your investment strategies. If you don’t have this, it should be your first financial goal.
Combined with the costs you worked out in part one you should now know:
1️⃣ How much you need to spend to live
2️⃣ How much you need to save to reach your goals
3️⃣ Your total monthly income after tax
With these three numbers you can now put together your budget. The only thing we have not covered is discretionary spending. This is the amount left over from the income after components 1 and 2 have been deducted.
To help we have provided this budget resource– all you have to do is fill it in. Not only does this help you work out your current costs but also how your savings goals will progress through time.
Unfortunately, the results of this calculation may show that you do not currently earn enough to reach your long term goals. If you are just starting out in your career this may not be an issue (just check out average salaries in your industry). Regardless, you have options!
- Negotiate a higher salary – check out our guide to earning more
- Learn a high value skill such as coding or copywriting – you can then sell this skillset to your network or though websites such as Upwork and Fiverr
- Start a side hustle – this can be related to an existing skill or hobby such as photography or can be something completely fresh. Often the hardest part is simply starting.
- Start a business – Whilst you may want to start a side hustle first, if you’re confident in your idea and ability to execute – dive straight in!
However, we want to emphasise that there is no point stripping yourself of all the things you enjoy in life to reach a financial goal. The journey is just as important as the end destination and if you make yourself miserable to get there, firstly what is the point and secondly you are less likely to continue your journey and reach your goals!
How to Spend Your Money
Now let’s talk about discretionary spending. If you earn enough to reach your long term goals, this could be equal to the excess amount after essential spending and saving. If not you still may want to assign an amount to discretionary spending so that you enjoy life whilst you focus on earning more!
Think about what you really love. Maybe you love food and travel. Maybe food is less of a priority but you love photography! Write down 2-3 areas that you are passionate about. Now look at your monthly expenditures and see if these passions are what you actually spend money on. This exercise will likely reveal that you are spending more money on things you don’t enjoy compared to your passions.
Envisage money as a series of dials that represent categories of spending. By being conscious of what you actually spend money on you can optimize these dials, turning up your passions to 10 and lowering everything else to 1.
The key here is be deliberate about what you are spending on. If there is an activity you don’t enjoy and don’t receive any value from it – stop spending money on it! If there is an activity that you love, spend more money on it! This sounds simple but without the relevant data it is impossible to make the required decisions.
And there we have it meditators – you should now have a full budget that allows you to spend on the things you love whilst saving the required money to reach your goals!
You may be thinking, there’s supposed to be three parts to this series – what’s next? Just as with trading, your system is only half the battle, executing and updating your strategy is the other half. Next week we run through strategies to make sure you stick to your strategy and to account for new information whether that be a salary increase or an unexpected cost.