Sisters for FI Wealth Building Strategies
We recently created these postcards as a friendly reminder of the many things we can do today to set ourselves up for financial independence. The 3 Guidelines of Personal Finance is Spend Less, Earn More and Invest the Rest. These are what I also call the 3 Wealth Building Strategies. Do all 3 and you are sure to have a sizeable nest egg to help you fulfill your dreams, but I am going to change the order a bit and actually make it Invest First, Spend Less, Earn More.
No doubt that investing is the best way to make your money work for you so instead of investing last, we actually invest first. Invest in knowledge. By reading this blog, you are already doing that. Second is by paying ourselves first and contributing to tax advantaged savings accounts. This means maximizing employee sponsored retirement accounts and matches, Health Spending Accounts, IRAs, FSAs, etc. When we invest, we want to opt for index funds with low fees. These funds are passively managed and will track against a broad index.
We always want to pay ourselves first before we pay everyone else. The goal then with this is that you live within the means after you’ve paid yourself first. This many mean you have a lower net income to work with so try it out and play around with the numbers, but get comfortable with living on a little.
Next is to optimize your spending. The sooner you can do this, the better off you will be as you will then be able to focus your time to the Earning More part. If anything else, focus on reducing costs in the top 3 areas: Housing, Transportation and Food. No question that these are the areas that take up a larger chunk of the monthly expenses. We want to make sure our basic needs are met and that’s normally shelter and food, everything else is just excess.
When it comes to housing, there is such thing as a too much house. Consider downsizing or house hacking and finding roommates or other ways to help pay for the mortgage or rent. Remember that a large house not only carries a large mortgage or rent, but it also means higher utilities, more maintenance time and costs.
The average American family throws out 1 bag out of every 4 bags of groceries. This adds up. Plan ahead and learn to optimize food preparation that maximized health benefits in the shortest amount of time. Also note, better food means better health thus also reducing health costs down the line.
If you are a parent, or a soon to be college student or college grad, watch those student loan debt. Unfortunately, student debt can delay your saving timeline by many years which means you are not able to take advantage of compound interest. Optimize your education early and often by taking advantage of scholarships, alternative payment options (like getting work to pay for your tuition) and non-traditional methods of learning (inexpensive but effective online classes).
Lastly is the strategy for earning more. In here, we are including the automation of all bills, expenses and savings because this earns you more time. Time is actually the holy grail of financial independence and it may not seem as obvious now, but it will be once the rest are in place. So automate what you can as this will allow work to be done without your intervention, bills will be paid on time thus eliminating chances of missed due dates and potential negative consequences to your credit score.
We included Maximize Travel Rewards in here because we believe that travel is a great way to learn more and get exposed to alternative ways of living. This is also a tax free way to travel and if done right at little or now cost to you.
From here, we have to start Thinking Differently. The traditional 9 to 5 is going to disappear soon with the advent of so much new technology. It’s time to start that side hustle and get to solving problems in a different way.