Investing is kind of like sex: everyone’s doing it, but no one’s talking about the basics. Instead, it’s the sensational aspects that get all the airplay. The result is an essential topic that’s often misunderstood and over-sensationalized. Here we’ll look beyond the facade to tackle the nitty-gritty essentials of investing and provide some practical perspective on key questions.
You’ve probably heard that writing down your goals makes it more likely you’ll achieve them. A recent study even concluded that writing down your goals on a regular basis ups the success rate by 42% — sounds overly precise, but we’ll take the sentiment. When it comes to financial goals, though, we can do more than just write them down. Because they ultimately boil down to hard numbers, we can track our financial goals and measure our progress. As Peter Drucker, dubbed the “founder of modern management,” observed: "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it."
Unless you’re Scrooge McDuck and enjoy swimming through piles of cash, money is not an end in itself. Instead, money is a means to something else. Your money allows you to purchase necessities and luxuries, to finance family vacations and evenings out with friends, to feel good about yourself (or even superior to others), and to have some security in an uncertain world. There is always an underlying reason why we value money and use it the way we do. Understanding those reasons—why you earn, save, and spend your money—is where wisely managing your finances starts.
Margin is that space between your normal and your maximum capacity. It’s that cushion in your life between your everyday responsibilities and your absolute limits. It’s that Saturday morning when you sleep in, or your 35-minute daily workout, or your few minutes alone with your cup of coffee in the morning before your kids wake up. Tapping into that margin when needed is fine (and inevitable), but the closer to your limits you live, the bigger the risk of hitting a breaking point. This applies to time, career, and of course money.
Need some last-minute gift ideas for the holidays? Never fear, we’re here to help — though you’ll have to excuse us for the pervasive money theme we can’t seem to shake.
With a month to go until the ball drops and we flip to 2019 (a.k.a. the year in which Blade Runner and its flying cars are set — we’re just a bit behind!), now is the time to make sure all your year-end tasks get done. Without further ado, here’s your year-end financial checklist.