My top financial ‘aha’ moments

Theories and facts are great. I’ve got nothing against them whatsoever. But there’s nothing quite like having your own personal epiphanies – and when it comes to finances, I’ve had my share of lightbulb moments.

The one budgeting tip that changed everything

Even if you’re pretty good at managing your money, adjusting to handling combined finances with a partner can be a bit of a learning curve. (Or that’s what I’d like to tell myself, anyway…)

Budgeting for two variable incomes that were never the same from week to week proved to be an exercise in tail chasing. One thing or another always threw my grand plan out of whack, and I’d give up on that week and wait for the next to roll around … only for the same pattern to repeat itself.

And then one day it clicked: we needed a new budget every week. Starting afresh didn’t necessarily mean completely from scratch – just tweaking it to match that week’s incomings and outgoings as needed. Having a budget that can roll with the punches seems pretty basic and yet it really was a huge mind-set shift. Out of all the budgeting advice and budgeting tips in the world, this was the key to getting the ball rolling.

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The power of investing

A few years ago I took some time out to go backpacking around the world. For six months I lived off savings and the odd bit of freelance income.

One day, shortly after coming back home, I thought I’d check in on my net worth. I fully expected it to be a painful update for obvious reasons. But you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I imagined.

My savings account may have looked a bit sad, but the money in my KiwiSaver and other funds had grown while I was away. It hit me then: the power of time and having our money invested to actively work for us. Particularly in this environment of low interest rates, investing is key to beat inflation in the long run.

The tension between time and money

Time is money, or so the saying goes. Most of us spend the majority of our lives trading time for money, working for a wage or salary. Some of us love what we do and couldn’t imagine not working in some capacity in retirement. Some hate the grind and are aiming for early retirement/financial independence. Some of us don’t get much of a choice on this front, but it’s worth making the most of what we can control and saving for the future.

The other route is passive income, for example interest, dividends or rent. I’d always figured that you need a significant chunk of money to start creating passive income streams but in the past few years I’ve come across plenty of entrepreneurial types making a living online selling digital courses and products, which continuously bring in revenue for them. Seeing success stories like these is quite an eye opener.

What ‘aha’ moments have you had around money?

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