If you’re anything like me, financial insecurity has always been a problem. I mean that in two ways: not only was I insecure about my month-to-month finances, I was insecure about how much I knew about money, how I talked about it, how I thought about it.
To put it simply: I was so used to not having money that I couldn’t imagine a life where I had money. It was a crisis of confidence—I was too insecure to imagine financial safety or financial confidence.
Because I was working full time and raising a family, I didn’t have the time or resources to go and get a formal education that might help me gain confidence.
But, I did have exactly what you have: access to the internet and its endless resources.
It took about 3 months in total, but here’s how I went from being ashamed about my finances, and my level of financial knowledge, to a confident investor. It wasn’t easy, but nothing ever good is.
- Set a budget
Always the least fun part of any type of financial planning, setting a budget is an essential way to make sure you’re constantly on top of, and ahead of, your finances.
Starting out, I had no idea how to budget properly. But I developed a simple system: 12% of every paycheck (pre-tax) goes to liquid savings (my savings account) and 13% goes to my retirement fund. If you have a 401k with employer match, this is your #1 priority. Make sure you’re hitting those numbers every time.
Some people use apps to help them budget, but I found that, for me, the simpler the better. If I stick to this ratio no matter what, I always end up in good shape.
2) Play the markets
If you don’t know anything about the stock market or the global economy, you’re at a serious disadvantage. That means that you’re either missing out on money because of your ignorance, or other people are making money off of your ignorance. Neither is great, right?
I found a way that let me learn how the markets work while earning money. Opportunities like these are rare, so I jumped at the chance.
I started using Try2BFunded for two reasons: one, its straightforward interface allowed me to build a mock portfolio, simulating what life as an investor would be like. They call this the qualifying round, but I found it to be great as an educational tool.
The second reason is even sweeter: once I’d made it past the qualifying round, I was able to access $100,000 of Try2BFunded‘s money to trade with. And I got to keep 60% of the profits I made. Not bad.
3) Study up
It can often feel as if there are a million and one things to learn about the markets, and just when you’ve got one thing down, another rears its head.
But staying on top of everything can be much simpler than it appears—you just have to know where to get your information. I rely on Chaikin Analytics, which charges a monthly fee on the lower side and grants me access to a stunning amount of information all in one place.
It’s important to balance editorial information and theory with analytics and hard data. I like that Chaikin Analytics offers me big-math algorithms and data analyses in a straightforward, quickly digestible manner. I don’t have to commit hours to learning new systems—I get to go straight to the point by using their PowerGauge, which tells me which way a stock is headed in seconds.
4) Learn your taxes
The process of paying one’s taxes is presented as an impenetrable, confusing thing. There’s a reason for that—it’s so you’ll pay other people your hard-earned cash to do the work for you.
And often, hiring an accountant can appear as profitable, because they know loopholes you don’t. But the reality is that you don’t need a certification to learn how to do your taxes well. You just need to do a little research.
A level of intimacy with the tax code can end up saving you money and make you have a better understanding of where your money is going, and where it should be coming back to you.