Me and finances are limited to earning money and paying bills. I have not dedicated any time to educating myself in this area and as a result I feel so juvenile. When I read about the Your Money and Your Life expo at the Sydney Convention Centre I knew I had to attend. A two-day event with many talks given by investment companies, organisations designed to help people make sense of their finances and motivational speakers.
I have this idea in my head that all financial advisors and investment companies are vultures and that I can’t trust anyone. The thought of having them approach me makes me want to run in the other direction. Inexperience and being uninformed leaves me feeling vulnerable.
I feel myself raising up all of the existing walls within myself higher than ever as I walk in to the conference today. So here I am, facing fears and educating myself. A girl’s got to start somewhere.
I decide I will make the most of my day by sitting in on a variety of lectures to learn as much as possible. I arrive at 10am and make a beeline to the first lecture hall. It’s a talk given by Peter Lord from Best Financial Friend called 10 Signs You’re in Too Deep.
Peter’s list of signs that signal financial change is in order include:
- Signing up for things you never use – like gym memberships and online services.
- Quarterly bills are killing you because you don’t have a long-term plan.
- You never shop around for the best price.
- You experience headaches, anxiety or insomnia.
- You dislike or won’t talk about money.
He suggests that if you are ready to change you should take these steps:
- Reach out to friends and family to discuss your goals.
- Identify what your money goals are. (Why is it important to you? This makes it easier to say no to things that come along.)
- Take small steps daily.
- Find a process that works for you whether it be stashing money in different envelopes for savings and spending, using spreadsheets, apps or seek professional help.
- Reward yourself once you start to see a change. This will positively reinforce your motivation.
Next, I visit the main lecture hall to listen to Peita Diamantidis discussing the Secret to Living an Ideal Life. Wow, she is very inspirational as she shares about almost dying and her transition to living life more mindfully and on her terms. She says as humans we are destroyers of our own dreams. We look at life narrowly and are hamsters spinning away on our wheel. This got my attention because the routine of life often feels this way to me.
Peita describes building a “dream muscle” which will power you through building your own life. That it’s not one single moment that changes your life but instead it’s about building habits that are so common, so regular and so every day. To remember what it was like to be a child and recapture the magic and wonder. She suggests keeping a journal of our dreams. Are there things we wanted to try or do as a child – write them down, places we want to visit, a new skill to learn, books we want to read and one by one start ticking them off of our list.
She goes on by saying “don’t stop asking ‘why’ until you understand. Listen to podcasts and read financial blogs. It’s like she dropped that one just for me. She continues with “be ready to leap because once you are on top of your finances, you can then start saying YES. Yes to your dreams, yes to new experiences, yes to a full life.
I hadn’t expected to hear an empowering story like this one at the conference but the truth is if we are financially sound it allows us the freedom to live the life we want.
The next two classes that I sit in on are given by women devoted to helping other women feed their families on a budget and to free themselves of debt. These two did not impart many new ideas on me but I find myself feeling grateful for them and their message. If anything, it makes me feel a bit more secure about my actually being an adult with some good experience under my belt. Simple suggestions like meal planning and not wasting food, and buying seasonal whole foods is information given during the first lecture. The second is more about paying off smaller debts first for that great instant gratification in order to motivate you to pay off the higher bills. It includes how to cut spending and consolidating debt if you need to.
Some key points of planning and goal setting:
Why don’t we stick to goals?
- Overly excited – set too many goals
- We don’t track our progress and celebrate our wins.
Set smart goals:
Prepare a failure plan
- What might get in the way?
- What can you do to manage risks?
- How to motivate yourself back into action?
- Surround yourself with like-minded people.
After the four lectures I realise that there is a common underlying message to plan (have goals that are written and discussed) and that mindset is everything. We live so spontaneously in our house that the idea of planning for something feels so foreign to me but something I am eager to try after having spent the day at the expo.
I stroll around a little as my time is drawing to a close. I find It so much easier to walk up to the booths relating to raising kids who are financially savvy than it is for me to approach anyone personally. Of course, then I would have to admit I’m clueless and where is the fun in that? Hands down, my favourite part of the day was getting to meet these people. I learnt about their products and when the business pitch was over and they let down their guard I met some really great like-minded parents.
My favourite, a lady from Queensland, whose piggy bank product teaches kids not only to save but also about investing and giving to charity. She is a lovely person and I walk away really feeling like I got to know her and her family. Plus, we talked travel, my favourite conversation. Her family is planning for a big holiday to the US east coast but had to postpone it for a year in order to go for the four weeks they wanted to spend. How awesome? She was a great example of planning well spent and I love that Aussies have no problem allocating decent quality travel time.