I hope you’ll read this and find some motivation to act. I have spent over 20 years advising and consulting individuals on their financial lives. Some of that involves budgeting, planning, consulting, and goal setting. The rest involves investment planning.
After 20+ years I’ve learned a few things and I continue to be a loud advocate that individuals need to be investors. You can’t “earn” your way to retirement. This is especially true of the expat missionary or other limited-income worker abroad.
Here are the 6 things I wish people would do today:
1) Put away your fears of investing. And I don’t mean just stock market investing. Any investment. I see far too many people who sit on the sidelines and watch others make money with their investments. Participate. Save. You must be willing to let your hard earned money work hard for you.
2) Be smart and keep it simple. Investing does not have to be hard. Sure, there are professionals that will make it sound difficult so you’ll buy their services. And sometimes that’s okay. But, the KISS (“Keep It Simple, Stupid”) method works great with your stock and bond investing. It’s what I use.
3) Seek help, but if you’re going to hire someone, you’d better ask good interview questions. Ask for details on how they are compensated. Get detail on all services they offer. Ask to see their personal investment returns. I’ll happily provide this to anyone and your advisor should too. In fact, my returns sit on my desk viewable to clients anytime.
4) I have worked with clients who refuse to take my guidance because their barber or dentist gave them a “hot tip” on some investment. Yes, barbers and dentists are the most common professions given. I love barbers and dentists, and they are smart people, but would you like my hot tip on whether you have a cavity? You will probably alienate your advisor if your “expertise” is coming from poor sources.
5) It’s never too late to start and any amount is fine. If you have $10, you can become an investor today. Work with a firm that doesn’t charge account fees, maintenance fees, loads or unreasonable commissions. These are unnecessary costs you don’t need to incur.
6) You must stick to it. Investing takes time. You will not become wealthy tomorrow. However, I can promise you’ll be amazed at what happens to your money over time. Investing and compounding are magical things to observe. Do you want to retire? You must invest. Once you have an investment strategy in place, don’t touch it. Don’t tinker with it. Don’t watch CNBC. Let it bake.
Investing is like a bar of soap. The more you touch it, the smaller it gets.
Now, do it!