The truth about creating wealth is that it's not really about how much money you earn, it’s what you do with the money you earn that largely influences wealth creation. Your money decisions are a result of the mindset you have about money and that mindset, regardless of your current financial status, is what determines your financial future. In this article, we will be exploring 3 smart ways to think about your money and explaining how these 'smart ways' can help you use your current finances to build the financial future that you want:
(1) Stop trading time for money
From when we’re born, we are brought up to think that time and money have a linear relationship; where we work for a certain amount of time and we are paid for our time. The average person believes the only way to earn more money — with the exception of raises and bonuses — is to work for more hours.
This time-money trade-off is definitely less than optimal because time and money aren’t equal in value. Time is finite and more valuable because you can make more money, but you can’t make more time. Moreover, directly trading time for money should be avoided because it puts a cap your income, you can only sell each hour in the day once.
For example, if an app developer works 10hrs a day and charges ₦5,000 an hr, his daily earnings would capped at ₦50,000. His only avenue to increase earnings, would be to work for longer hours or build up his skills to charge a higher rate (which would still include trading time for money).
So now, the important question to ask is - how can we overcome this problematic trade-off ? The logical answer is to find something besides our time to trade for money, and we can do this through Passive Income.
Passive income is the money you earn from a project or investment which does not require your continuous involvement to be maintained. Creating passive income involves embracing up-front work, in exchange for a self-sustaining source of income down the road. Passive income takes different forms such as returns from stocks and bonds, interest from a savings account, rent from real estate, earnings from a company as a sleeping partner and sales from a product like a book or a painting.
“Passive income is a millionaire's secret”
If the app developer from our earlier example, decides to build an app that will cost him ₦50,000 to build but will make him ₦1,000 everyday. After 50 days of operation, he will have recovered his upfront cost and from then on, all his app earnings will be profit, serving as passive income.
In order to decide what your source of passive income may be, you'll need to identify what you think you can invest in that will make you money while you sleep. You can click here for a comprehensive list of passive income opportunities that may appeal to you.
(2) Think of mindless spending as small leaks in a ship
"Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship" - this famous quote from Benjamin Franklin is an interesting way of looking at how spending affects our financial lives. Money leaks are simply any amount of money that we spend and are unable to identify (or recollect) what we spent it on at the end of the month.
With a bit of research, we can identify where the money went but with money leaks, we mostly don’t consciously remember spending the money, it just seems to ‘leak’ from our account. Small financial leaks, in the form of mindless spending, may seem harmless at the time but they can be detrimental your account because they add up over time.
My personal experience with money leaks stemmed from the occasional lunch or night out here and there, and failing to track my finances beyond watching my account balance rise and fall. I eventually decided to make a turnaround when I reviewed my account and realised exactly how much I was wasting every month.
“If you know how to spend less than you earn, you have the secret to financial stability”
The first step I took to plug the leaks was to clearly outline exactly what my income was and what my expenses were, including necessary expenses (such as rent and fuel money). The next step was to then identify which of the expenses were money leaks and which of them were valid expenses.
Related: How to get a grip on your savings
To help you identify money leaks, note down your expenses (excluding necessary expenses) for a month and add up the total monthly cost. Then review these expenses by asking yourself, “Do these small expenses really add to the quality of my life? Do they make a difference to me? Or are they just habits that could be eliminated or changed? With this information, you can begin to design a solid and realistic budget that will help you maintain financial buoyancy.
(3) Think of yourself as an artist and your money as paint
Planning for your financial future is like painting a picture. Every financial goal you accomplish is like a stroke of the paint brush, bringing you closer to whatever financial future you've pictured in your mind. If I was to ask you how you want your financial future to look, what picture would have in mind?
This question is quite important because having a clear picture is the first point of call before any plans can come into play. When you have a picture of the future you want, you can then set a series of financial goals to progressively make that picture a reality. The vision must be clear before execution can take place.
There are two tools you can use to plan your financial future - investing and saving; but you can only use them when you have a clear picture of what you want. For instance, if you see yourself as a real-estate mogul, then your plans will involve investing in property to rent out or sell. Whereas if you see a particular car in your future, then your plans will probably involve saving up for that car. Nobody saves or invests for no reason, there’s always a goal in mind.
So, how do we actually use saving and investing to paint the future we want?
Choosing to save means you’ve opted to put a certain amount of your earnings aside, ideally 20% of monthly earnings, to pay for a particular future investment (like a house) or to cover any emergencies that might crop up (like an accident). Saving simply involves controlling your expenses in order to grow your wealth for future use.
When you’re thinking of getting a savings account, I would advise choosing a high yield savings account (like a fixed deposit account) instead of a typical savings account so that you can earn higher interest. For example, a typical savings account in Zenith Bank has an interest rate of about 4.2%, while a fixed deposit account has an interest rate of about 6%. A difference of 1.8% might not seem like a lot at first glance but believe me, it adds up over time and helps you achieve your goals a little quicker.
Choosing to invest means you’ve opted to put your money into assets (e.g. stocks, bonds or real estate), that will hopefully grow and gain value over time. The beauty of investing lies in how long compounding takes place; so the earlier you start, the longer your investment will grow and the greater your financial reward will be in the future. Investing simply allows you to grow your finances, over time, to enable you live your future like you initially pictured.
Your investment goals and the kinds of investments you opt for will depend on a number of factors like the nature of the financial future that you want, your current financial capacity, your age and your tolerance for risk. It’s important to note that there's no one size fits all approach to investing, everyone has different realities so you'll need to speak to a certified investment manager to determine what investments match your current situation.
A balance of both saving and investing is a good way to plan towards your financial future. You can save to build up an emergency fund, and then use both saving and investing to plan towards making your financial future a reality, one stroke at a time. Painting your financial future can't be rushed; after all, it is your life's masterpiece. It requires careful planning and a lot of patience but it will definitely be worth it in the long run.
These 3 smart ways to think about your money are just my way of offering a different perspective on how you can use your current finances to build for the future. I hope you found this article helpful and can now take steps to stop trading your time for money, plug small leaks in your finances and utilise your savings & investments to build the financial future that you want.
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