Follow-through habits for investor non starters
Property investing isn’t just for people with a truckload of cash or equity, yet these are some of the reasons why people (perhaps you) don’t get started in investing or continue growing their portfolio.
I have seen hundreds of clients start investing with only a little bit of money and now own portfolios in the millions, myself included.
Then there are those that do all the research in the world. They’ve read the books, the magazines and the reports which is all great but when push comes to shove they get stopped.
Taking some time to research, attend events and learn new things are good habits to get into for taking action. Arming yourself with education will overcome many of the hurdles that will prevent you from doing something in the future.
If you want to be successful at anything in life though, you have to take action and, wait for it… follow through.
The world’s greatest entrepreneurs, investors and business people share this problem between starting and learning new things and the habit of finishing and following through.
Here are my four top tips for taking action:
1) Check your finances
You have to know where you are now to be able to move forward. This can be as straightforward as listing your assets, liabilities, income and expenses or it may include needing to set up new tax structures or a self managed superfund. This will give you a great idea of what you have available to invest and also prevents you from not taking action assuming you can’t afford to invest.
2) Use the services of a financial planner or adviser.
These professionals main goal is to make you money and guide you in your financial decisions. They have a wealth of experience and more importantly, they have a financial stake in your success. You don’t have to know everything. Trust the experts.
3) Define completion and set realistic goals
Whether you want to set goals for retirement, where you want to live, the car you want to drive or where you want to send your kids, you need to practice wearing blinders and not get distracted from your goals. More importantly you need to set a deadline as to when you want to achieve these and then you can work backwards.
PS: You may have seen me recommend a great goal book called “five”. This is a fantastic resource for getting clear on where you will be in five years’ time and if you haven’t got your free copy yet do so here.
4) Be ahead of the herd!
The herd instinct is the idea of just doing something because it seems everyone else is. The most successful investors do uncommon things that other investors overlook.
Invest in opportunities when other people are scared to act. In 2008, when the housing crisis hit, the stock market fell thousands of points in the short space of a few months. The smart investor who invested after the market bottomed out would have gained significantly when the markets eventually rebounded. This will assure you are always seeking opportunities to take action rather than waiting for others to lead.
Market conditions change all the time, so your strategies need to be flexible enough to change with them. Remember, this doesn’t mean pausing and stopping taking action!
4 tips to change your financial life and make it stick
We’re now well into the new financial year and I’m wondering how many of us are thinking about improving our financial positions in the 2015 tax year – and how many of us are actually taking action.
What you need to do to organise your finances seems like common sense – budget, plan etc. But it’s amazing how many people just don’t do this. I believe, for the most part, that they think their dream lifestyle is just too far out of reach. Or, maybe they hope they will stumble upon some kind of quick fix (lottery win, inheritance, rich partner!).
This blog isn’t about how to create a budget or a financial plan. It’s about sharing a few simple tips that have stuck with me through the years, made the process simpler and more effective, and provided clarity during my decision making.
TIP #1: Goals are essential – but be realistic and don’t have too many!
I think one of the main reasons people don’t stick to budgets and don’t realise their goals is because their goals just aren’t realistic. Grand ideas of paying your mortgage off in 10 years while investing in three properties, taking a two month trip around Europe and buying a new car seem great. But what will be the impact of this on your daily life? Will you be unable to go out, socialise, buy new clothes etc because the budget doesn’t stretch that far?
Rather than working for you, your budget is working against you. You begin to feel contempt towards the budget because it’s depriving you of enjoyment. Before long, the budget has been forgotten and you’re back to your old habits!
Budgeting is not about deprivation. It’s not about cutting funds for social occasions, holidays and personal items altogether. It’s about structure. It’s about allowing yourself these things while ensuring you don’t spend more on them than you can afford.
Set realistic goals, and you’ll find you’re much more likely to stick to your budget.
TIP #2: Invest time in financial planning – it will be your greatest investment ever
As life seems to get busier and busier, taking time out to review and plan your finances can be a hard thing to do, regardless of whether you have the assistance of a professional. Investing this time though is one of the best investments you will ever make – and it will save you time and money in the long run. Once you have your finances in place, they will, for the most part, take care of themselves – with a yearly review.
The prospect and process of creating a budget isn’t something most people enjoy. Change your mind set about what a budget means though, and it can actually be a very exciting process. Seeing what your projected savings will be at the end of the year, how much you would have paid off your mortgage, the interest you may saved, the assets you might own… It’s truly empowering and motivating. While enlisting the help of a financial planner is highly recommended, you can get started with the basics on your own – there are some fantastic free financial planning tools on the web these days.
TIP #3: Invest simply – understand what you’re investing in and why
The investment options available today are mind-boggling. Without fully understanding what each investment offers – the pros, cons and risks – it’s easy to get caught up in the latest investment fad and market hype.
When you’re just starting out, it’s especially important to take a simple approach so that you can easily understand what you’re getting into, the risks and the potential returns. It will make it easier to align your investment options with your financial goals.
The simplicity of residential property investment is why it’s still such a popular option for retail investors. That doesn’t mean that investment diversity isn’t important – a mix of property, shares and high interest savings – is generally a sensible approach and can be tailored further depending on your appetite for risk.
As you become more informed, you can look at more complex investments – as long as they align with your goals and risk comfort level.
TIP #4: Use the power of leverage – but know your limits
One of the great advantages of property investing is the ability to benefit from leverage or gearing – that is, borrowing to invest. Put simply, you use someone else’s money (the bank’s) to increase your profit and build wealth quicker. It means earning a profit on a $500,000 property, for example, while using only $100,000 (or less) of your own funds. As you build equity in your investment, you can then use this as a line of credit to borrow to invest again, further increasing your profits.
You can also borrow to invest in shares.
In our current tax system, borrowing to invest can also reduce your tax bill, as ongoing borrowing costs (interest and fees) are tax deductible. However, using leverage simply to reduce your tax bill isn’t a recommended strategy.
Remember though, just as leveraging can increase your gains, it can also amplify your losses. If the investment drops in value, you can end up owing the bank more than your assets are worth.
Consider the risks carefully and how much you can afford to lose if things went wrong. Then set a limit on your debt exposure.
Financial planning doesn’t need to be complicated. Keep it simple (at least in the beginning), keep it realistic, and admire your progress!