Belinda White, Fierce Girl Finance
I’ve learnt a lot about money over two decades in the finance industry. I can tell you the difference between secure and unsecured debt, what a margin call is and how to interpret a yield curve.
Have those things fundamentally changed my personal money situation? No.
The big changes have come from learning the hard way. The dumb mistakes, the lightbulb moments, the inner work and the small wins.
Turns out, it’s not the ability to run macros in an Excel spreadsheet that sets you up for money success. I definitely don’t know how to run macros. I don’t even know what they are.
Being a Fierce Girl™ is less about maths and more about mindset. So, here are 3 money rules to live by that I’ve worked out along the way.
1 / Money is a mind game
A lot of us think we’re ‘bad with money’ or that we ‘suck at saving’.
And maybe you are, at this very moment in time. But it doesn’t mean you will be that way forever. It’s not an immutable fact about yourself.
It’s just a function of how you’ve grown up and been socialised along the way.
In the (very good) book, The Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel says, “Every financial decision a person makes, makes sense to them in that moment… They tell themselves a story about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and that story has been shaped by their own unique experiences.”
If you’re not happy with your relationship to money, then you can improve it. Whether it’s through education, self-reflection, therapy – or a combination of those things – it’s well within your power to get better at money. You may just need to reframe it as a mindset problem, not a budget problem.
2 / You need a goal
“I’m so bad at saving. I try to be disciplined, but I end up ordering UberEats instead”.
I’ve heard versions of this from countless people (just replacing UberEats with clothes/cocktails/cosmetics/whatever).
But when I ask what they’re saving for, the response is often vague. Maybe it’s to “buy property one day” or “just for the future”. I’m here to tell you, a vague goal is no goal at all.
The psychology of saving is about delayed gratification. You are giving up today’s dopamine hit for tomorrow’s life satisfaction. Ugh.
We are fragile and needy creatures, and saying no to today’s pleasure is hard. So, we need a strong case for doing so – and not just a half-arsed, vague desire.
I love a SMART goal, because I’m a bit of a nerd, but hear me out.
Specific: I want to have a $20,000 investment portfolio in five years
Measurable: I need to save $77 per week
Actionable: I will transfer that amount to a low-cost investing app every week
Realistic: That’s basically 10 bucks a day – I can totally do that
Time-bound: I will do this over five years but check in on it a few times a year
(Of course this doesn’t account for market fluctuations for an investment, but you get the picture).
What I really like to do is give the goal an emotional connection – how I’m going to feel when I get there. If it’s for a holiday, I picture myself doing the specific holiday thing I like (oh hey there, poolside cocktails!)
This is why I love Super Fierce’s Grow G’old concept. Let’s imagine our future selves hanging out with our girlfriends, having bottomless brunches and not working the next day because we are retired!
Your best and most disciplined self is the one who knows where she’s going and why she’s going there – so make friends with her.
3 / Success flows where attention goes
It’s amazing what a little focus can do. For every woman who says they don’t feel confident with money or finance or investing, I say: you just haven’t found the right entry point.
Women are socialised to believe that money isn’t that important. Men are taught that wealth is key to their success as men and husbands and fathers. Women are taught that being caring, well-liked and attractive are the most important things.
Sure, I’m generalising here, but how many of your teen and early adult conversations revolved around dating woes and body issues, versus the pros and cons of salary sacrificing to super? But you can be sure that the blokes were talking about their careers and salaries waaaay more than we were.
And what I’ve observed is that once we break ourselves out of this mould, women are really good with money. We tend to be well-researched, patient investors. We are good savers if we have a clear reason. And we are humble enough to do our research before we take action, rather than just listening to a Crypto Bro on the internet and dumping all money in there.
Each positive move you make builds confidence, and before you know it, you’ve really made friends with this money stuff.
So there you have it. 3 money rules to live by. Money doesn’t have to be about maths and spreadsheets and fear and shame. It can be a place where with the right attitude, you can take control and get things going and feel good about your financial future!