These are random finance-focused suggestions that summarize what I often discuss with friends one-on-one. This is not a comprehensive list. And this is definitely not real financial advice. Different things for different people and different situations. Just sharing these in case they inspire some thoughts and ideas.
1. If you have student loans, don’t obsess about paying them off any sooner. It’s the cheapest credit you can get. Usually they fall well below 7%. There’s very little financial incentive to pay off student loans sooner and those funds are better used investing in other things and in yourself. Make the minimum possible payment you are required to make. Consolidate, extend, etc to bring your interest rate and monthly total to be as low as possible.
2. Instead use your additional savings to buy into Index Funds. On 10yr+ timelines they are one of the safest investments you can make. And will return a CAGR of 5%-9% with the potential of a lot more upside on longer time horizons.
3. Set and forget. Make good decisions and then put them on auto-pilot. Checking your portfolio daily, weekly, monthly doesn’t increase your return – in most cases it reduces it because it tempts you to try and time the market or to second guess yourself and you end up being worse off. Patience pays.
4. Savings accounts return interests lower than inflation. Any money you put in a savings account is actually shrinking. Use savings accounts. But just be aware that it’s the least productive place for your savings.
5. Understand the difference between assets and liabilities. Liabilities leave you worse off. A car is usually not an asset. If you need a car, buy the cheapest car you can get. The first home you buy is usually not an asset. Renting is sometimes better than owning, if you are disciplined enough to live within your means and can save on your own. If not, buying a house will force you to commit to saving up and to make some sacrifices – and you might be better off. But you will sometimes be trading off opportunity costs, time overhead and other intangibles that will be hard to quantify. Buy a house for the lifestyle and to force yourself to save. Any net financial gains should be considered welcome surprises, but don’t count on them.
6. Save, save save. But also invest in yourself. The world is changing at an accelerating clip. Everything you know can potentially become quite irrelevant in 5yrs. Upgrade yourself. Grow yourself. Learn to enjoy being uncomfortable and keep challenging yourself.
7. It’s never all or nothing. It’s all between the lines. There’s no one right thing to do. Do different things and do them in moderation.