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What is money? I don’t want to get too philosophical here but… money is power. It can be power for you, your Iron Man suit of armour. Your investment portfolio, rental or side hustle income and cash buffer can all protect you to some extent from the crappier sides of life. The power of compounding can transform your wealth. All these good things may even allow you to do what you really want to do in life and escape from the 9 to 7 cage you may find yourself in.
Money can also be power over you. Debt or cashflow problems can crush your skull like a relentless, remorseless Terminator on Judgement Day, as compounding works against you until you feel physical pain. I’ve seen people collapse in front of me. Any entrepreneur will have tasted at least a hint of it. High spending habits to level up with your neighbours and keep your family happy will push you close to the edge financially if your career hits a bump. Inflation will reduce your spending power annually by 2-3%, especially for you Dragons who like to sit on your big pile of zeros in the bank.
Most people drift aimlessly through life, even if it doesn’t feel that way day to day. Like a coconut on the ocean, you are buffeted by work, friends, family, advertising – maybe you will end up on a nice beach, where you can grow into a magnificent palm tree and feed hundreds. But more likely not.
Sadly, most people continue to drift aimlessly until they are woken up by some huge external stimulus. Perhaps they meet someone fabulous. Usually though, the stimulus is negative: cancer, divorce, a death in the family. Only then do they find a renewed sense of purpose and the humble coconut becomes a canoe or maybe even a magnificent ship, sails billowing in the wind.
The way to stop drift – financial drift, career drift, relationship drift, is to have intention. Know what you are doing and why. Why did I work in Saudi Arabia for a year with 3 days’ holiday? It wasn’t for the beer (Holsten Zero, not too bad). It was for the freedom it would ultimately give me, plus the work was interesting and hopefully impactful. Intention got me through the difficult days and nights. There were plenty of expats who had been there for years making reasonable money, but with no idea what they were going to do with it or where they were heading.
When you have clearly-stated intention, everything aligns with your mission. Even if you hate your job, you know exactly why you are doing it (and for how long). You will become a better employee or boss. Your friends will either support and respect you or move along to make way for new friends. Your family will at least understand why you do what you do, even if they can’t bring themselves to do the same.
Take a few minutes to think about your intentions. It may be a bit embarrassing or painful to admit they are not that strong or positive. If so, let yourself really feel that for today and come back to changing things tomorrow.
If you could do anything, what would you do? How would you expand your capabilities and knowledge? How would you help others? How would you relax? Work backwards from there.
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Money and your mind
Money can help you get closer to your dreams, as long as you are clear about what your dreams are. Being intentional about money isn’t that hard – there is a process to follow. You’ll get through the process a lot faster if you are properly motivated by having clear intention for your life.
Why am I going on about psychology rather than showing you which offshore broker to use? Well, we will get to that (ok, Interactive Brokers’ mobile app). Money is intangible, like health and relationships. So it is very much at the mercy of your psychology. If you don’t get your head straight first, you will freak out when the market drops 10% (like it does every year, no need to panic I promise) and you will never get your money working hard for you. Taking the time to clear your head of bad money habits and perceived inabilities, then setting some directions for your financial future, will make everything that follows easier.
This is where Financial Independence comes in, which sounds all very grand but is actually the practical link between having cool dreams and using your new-found money savviness to realise them.
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