I’m Sam Beckbessinger, the author of a bestselling book called “How to Manage Your Money Like a Fucking Grownup”. AMA!
I wrote a book about personal finance, specifically for young people living in South Africa (learn more about it here: https://www.likeafuckinggrownup.com/). I’m obsessed with making money easier for people, because finance bros like to make it all sound a lot more complicated than it is. I’m a Jack Bogle fangirl (I dedicated my book to him) and I believe that financial freedom is more achievable than most people think.
Go ahead! Ask me (almost*) anything!
- I’m NOT a certified financial advisor, so I can’t legally advise you on what specific financial products you personally should buy (you can ask, but I might not be able to answer, because I don’t want to get sued).
- I know a lot more about how money works in South Africa than in other parts of the world (although most of the basic principles are the same everywhere), so I probably can’t help you with questions about tax law in Uzbekistan. America, your tax stuff is SUPER weird and I have no idea what a Roth IRA is.
- If you want to ask me a “should I do X or Y with my money” type question, I’ll need context (like: what other debts/assets do you have, how old(ish) are you, what are your goals etc).
UPDATE (13:42pm): Thanks for the questions, gang! I'm going to take a break, but you're welcome to leave more questions if you'd like. I'll log on again tomorrow and answer a couple more. Giant sloppy smooches to all of you.
UPDATE (14 July): Okay everyone, thanks for some fun questions! I'm going to stop now, but feel free to come find me on Twitter if you want to keep chatting. Mad love to all of you <3
Congratulations! Being totally debt free at 33 is a great space to be. Even though you’re not carrying any debt around, it’s important to make sure that you have a good solid emergency fund stashed away that you can access in a hurry. When you’re in your 30s, you have actual real grownup responsibilities on your shoulders (yoh, life gets real) and serious emergencies are the things that really set people back over the long term.
Otherwise, make sure you’re saving enough for retirement (using those sweet, sweet tax breaks you get from the government by using something like a Retirement Annuity) because you are not always going to be 33, and make sure that you’re investing your money smartly. You’re 33, so the “120 rule” says that you should aim for about 87% of your portfolio to be in equities (and I’m a big believer in global equities as much as possible, because home country bias isn’t a smart thing when you’re investing, especially if you live in an emerging economy). You’re at your earning prime, so make sure you’re keeping your spending ratio low and putting as much of that money aside for the important stuff you really want to do with your life.
Oh, and get income protection insurance if you don’t have any. That shit is important.
I know you’re not a licensed financial advisor, but telling a 33 year old to purchase a retirement annuity is downright irresponsible and stupid.
To anyone reading this looking for advice, you would be much better off investing in your IRA, 401(K), or other retirement plans we’ll before even thinking about an annuity.
Interesting! "Retirement annuity" is one of those things that seem like a universal term, but obviously mean a very different thing country to country. In South Africa, this is a very sensible thing for a young person to buy. Promise.
On a scale of one to Glorious, how glorious was the 1917 revolution and why?
(frantically googles stuff about the Russian revolution...)
How does your investment and savings account looks like? Just share the breakdown. Where do you invest most of your money?
Ah! Let me consult my trusty Money Dashboard!
- My largest single investment is in the Sygnia Skeleton 70 Retirement Annuity. Because of the sweet, sweet tax breaks. Plus it's low-fee and gives me a relatively high offshore equities allocation. And I really don't want to be poor when I'm old. Overall, about 45% of my assets are in here.
- Next biggest is in global equities, balanced between the Satrix S&P 500 and the Vanguard Total World Index, both bought through EasyEquities. This is my freedom fund. This is about 30% of my assets.
- I have an emergency fund that sits in a Money Market fund I bought from Allan Gray (it has pretty low fees).
- I actually don't have a lot of short or medium term savings. I did have a pot of savings in an FNB Money On Call account which was for an overseas holiday, but I used it up in March (Spain, baby!).
- I have two bank accounts: a Grownup Account and a Fuckaround Fund, both with FNB (too lazy to move them to Capitec, but I've downgraded both to the Gold Accounts).
- I own a couple of Nvidia shares for fun.
So far, so sensible, right? But the really DUMB situation I'm dealing with at the moment is that I started investing in cryptocurrencies about 5 years ago. I always promised myself I would never allow these investments to get up to more than 10% of my total portfolio value. But of course, when the prices flew up in December that threw my whole asset allocation out of whack. I'm currently selling down back to a reasonable level, but I'm doing it over time (this is called "rand-cost averaging"). But crypto is still around 20% of my whole portfolio, which is very uncomfortably high for me and makes everything feel much more volatile than I'd like.
Also, I own shares in my own businesses. But that's a whole other story!
I recently had to pull out almost all of the money from my emergency fund, because I had an actual capital-E emergency, so my major financial goal at the moment is to build it back up.
Hope that answers your question!
Do you receive compensation for promoting certain investment products or brokerages?
Nope, and I would not ever do so unless it was clearly marked as advertising.
Why the swearing?
That's just how I talk ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I get that it's not for everybody, and I'm okay with that.
In your book you recommend getting income protection via a Financial advisor. How does one go about getting income protection when you are managing your finances all on your own here in SA? Any gotchas one should look out for?
Any advice on how to not get emotional and sell off when you see your investments with very low returns or losses? Where do you cut your losses vs hold out? As an example, some products tanked thanks to the Steinhoff debacle but have been solid performers until then.
Lastly and most importantly your website stated there would be cat photos on you Instagram, how can we trust you given the low number of cat photos?
OH MY WORD - you are completely right! I have been totally remiss on the cat photos. I promise I will UP MY GAME. Here is a photo of my cat AKA love of my life AKA Sir Digby Chicken Caesar to tide you over:
On getting income protection: it's totally possible to do this on your own (just go fill in a bunch of forms with all the insurance companies, get a bajillion quotes, compare and choose) but just really not worth it, I think (it takes SO MUCH TIME and won't save you an enormous amount of money). Check out my answer to @daniele_xyz above.
On not getting emotional: the trick is to have a strategy. Specifically, to have a target asset allocation based on some sensible long-term objectives, and not to waver from it. I also find it really helps to buy diversified products (low fee passive ETFs) rather than individual shares or funds. That way, you never have to ask yourself these difficult "is it time for me to cut my losses" type questions, because you're just buying the market and trusting that over the long-term, that is most likely to turn out best for you. Sometimes the market dips, and I know it can be hard continuing to just quietly keep adding money month on month when this happens. But if you trust your strategy, it does make it easier.
Hey Sam, skeptic here.
I'm wondering what your own financial situation is.
Are you financially successful yourself? Do you make most of your money from the income that comes from your carefully managed assets, or from selling books?
I respect your skepticism! There are a lot of people peddling financial advice in the world. A lot of them are charlatans.
Here's my story: I grew up in a household where we never discussed money, it was a completely taboo topic, and one mixed in with a lot of anxiety and pain and anger for my family, who were often pretty financially unstable. As a result, I entered my 20s with absolutely no idea how money works. I figured my best chance was to get a Serious Grownup Job and earn a lot of money (even though I really didn't like this job very much). The problem with this plan was that I didn't understand some pretty basic things about debt, and compound interest, and the importance of savings, so even though I was earning (relatively) quite a lot, I found myself in my mid-20s in a mountain of debt, miserable, hating my job and my life and with no idea how to get out of the hole I'd dug myself. I hit a pretty low point, where I became severely depressed and started having suicidal thoughts. I realised that the best way to help myself was to actually figure out how money works. I did this by manoeuvring myself into jobs working for companies that help regular people manage their money (I started off doing UX design work for some banks, then became the product manager for a money management app called 22seven), and I read every book about finance, and finally, slowly, turned my own financial situation around. I also spent a lot (like, a lot a lot) of hours interviewing regular people about how they manage money, and I realised that financial literacy is such a widespread problem in South Africa that MOST people are as confused and scared by money as I was. This is why I wanted to write the book: in the hope that at least a couple of people in their 20s who are as confused as I was, might see hope that there can be a different way to do things. I've always primarily thought of myself as a writer, and a teacher, and those are the skills that I tried to use to make this book engaging, informative, and helpful.
I've made very little money from writing this book. The South African book market is woefully tiny. But I've gotten messages from dozens of people who've told me it's helped them, that have made it entirely worthwhile.
As for my own financial situation - that's a totally valid question. Here's the answer: no, I'm not rich. But I am financially stable, and comfortable, and I sleep soundly at night knowing that I have my money strategy figured out. I have an emergency fund that can cover 6 months of my expenses (well, I did until I recently had to pull a chunk of it out, because there was an actual emergency). I have enough money invested that I was able to stop working for other people and take a massive risk starting my own business, which is now one year old. If that business does well, then I might be able to be financially independent within the next 5-10 years (I am 31 years old now). I have enough other money invested in assets that aren't my business that if I can keep contributing to them at the rate that I have been contributing to them, I will be financially independent sometime in my early 50s. If I got a job again, I could move that date much earlier, but I'm having too much fun doing what I'm doing and I don't like having a boss. That, for me, is how I know I feel financially "healthy": I'm happy, I feel secure, I'm able to help my family when I need to, and I spend most days doing whatever I like.
But mostly, I feel like the reason people should buy my book, if they want to, is because I'm good at writing, and I've spent a lot of time figuring out the basic principles of money. These aren't crazy strategies I invented - there are no secret tricks or clever hacks I came up with. There's no Super-Secret Patented Beckbessinger Magic Method to Riches. This book is full of the same common sense advice you can find elsewhere, because it turns out that the rules of money actually aren't all that complicated, when you really get down to it. What makes this book worthwhile (I hope) is 1. that it's funny and 2. that it speaks directly to the issues that are important to young people in South Africa, and there actually aren't that many other books that do that.
Thanks for asking the question! I respect skepticism, especially in the face of people who want to give advice to other people. And ESPECIALLY especially about money. Giant smooches!
I've just breached into my thirties... because of various setbacks my retirement savings are way behind where they should be. Is there any rule of thumb cut off point where retirement savings become an impossible mountain, because you've missed out on all the compound interest in the interim? Also is it dumb idea to invest that money into buying a home instead?
30 is definitely not too late! But the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to catch up.
Buying a home isn't a dumb idea, but bear in mind that the average returns of investments in stuff like equities has FAR exceeded returns on property in South Africa. And buying a home is a very undiversified (and therefore risky) investment. I wouldn't rely on profit from buying home to fund several decades of retirement, all by itself.
My advice? Get thee to the internet and open up a retirement annuity, pronto. Don't panic! Thirty-five to forty years is still PLENTY of time for compound interest to work some magic for you.
Would you go on a date? 😏
Thanks, random person on the internet, but no thanks :) My cat would get jealous.
All this good financial advice! But okay, here's a non-finance question: what's the most embarrassing story from your life that's still funny enough that you get a bit of pleasure from telling, but not so un-embarassing that you're totally happy talking about it on Reddit?
I *really* want to answer this question but I honestly can't think of anything, because my brain is fundamentally optimistic and just conveniently forgets terrible memories :) But I'm inviting any of my friends to tell embarrassing stories about me on my behalf?
If your job gave you a surprise three day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those three days?
Ooooooh! Fun question. I am my own boss, and I am a VERY CRUEL one and I almost never give myself days off. I should really insist on having a word with my manager and rectify this.
I would probably kidnap some friends and go hiking. I love being outside, living out of a backpack and sleeping under the sky.
More specific question: I know that buying a "new" car often a bad idea, but
- SURELY there are benefits to having much better fuel efficiency
- Every car (even a Toyota Corolla) reaches the end of the useful life
Can you recommend any tools that can calculate the savings on fuel efficiency so I can set that off against the cost of replacing my car?
I do remember looking for exactly a tool like this the last time I bought a car, and I couldn't find exactly what I wanted (please, would SOMEONE build this tool!) - but there are a few rough comparison sites online (there's this thing, but you'll have to convert from American: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbsSelect). It does come down to how much you drive. There is a very basic "Should I sell my car?" calculator on the money dashboard on my website (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1SJOeMpC7Ol9H3mcsmxFLUQqeeoL8llmpCPxdk3DVzfE/edit?usp=sharing) but the tricky thing is actually calculating how much each alternative would cost you.
But sure, there is certainly a point where buying a more fuel efficient car might be worthwhile for you. I would still say there is almost never a good reason for that car being a NEW car, though, since around 20% of a car's value is lost in the first year. Even if you want to buy a newER car, go for one that's a year or two old already.
Fuckit, let's build this tool! I also want it to exist!
How do I manage my money, like a fucking grownup?
Here's a flowchart: https://www.likeafuckinggrownup.com/etc/flowchart.html
I currently have about $15k in cash. I want to keep about $5k liquid for emergencies, but what is the best way to put extra cash to work? I have a condo so housing is probably out of the question.
Have you got any high-interest debt (like credit cards)? If so, the best way to put your money to work is probably to pay that off. Otherwise, I'm a bit believer in low-fee, highly diversified, passive equity investments (so is Warren Buffet). Are you in America? If so, then Vanguard offers some great ones. Good luck!
Is spending money on another financial self help book really something that you would encourage people who are bad with money to do? Seems like buying your book in and of itself is poor money management
Hahaha, I see your point. Personally, I believe that educating yourself is always a good investment. But if someone has bought five other books about personal finance and is still broke, then I probably agree with you that buying mine isn't a good idea.
How would you best summarise the key things you learnt about money management in less than 200 words?
Save a good chunk of your income every month, starting as young as you can. 10% is not enough.
Become allergic to (consumer) debt.
Automate your savings.
Focus on spending less on the big three: transportation, housing and food. Don't worry so much about the little things.
Stick to a simple, low-cost investing strategy. Focus on reducing your costs, rather than trying to beat the market.
Insure against what will bankrupt you.
Track your spending (automatically).
Confront your emotions about money and work out what you really care about doing with your life.
The basic rules of money management aren't complicated. It's learning how to actually change your behaviour that's hard. The smart way to do this is to devote a day or two to really focussing on your money life, and to use this time to come up with a plan and set up some good automated systems. Humans are not perfectly rational thinking machines, we are primates with pants on.
Why do you feel so man young people in their 20s and 30s can't manage their money and seem to be so afraid to learn how?
We live in a horrifyingly unequal world, that sets most of us up to fail financially. And failing is terrifying when the fall is so far. Of course money is scary.
Our generation started our earning and saving lives in the middle of a global economy that was falling to pieces. The sense of economic optimism and security that previous generations took for granted did not align with our early experiences of how the world works.
Work has also changed. In my parent's generation, your company took care of stuff like pension plans and disability insurance for you. That's true for fewer and fewer of us now: we're expected to be responsible for our own long-term financial planning.
Also, the industry that sells you financial products is somewhat to blame here. They haven't done a great job making this stuff accessible, because it's not in their best interests for you to understand this stuff. Mostly, they want you to think money is very, very complicated, and that you need to talk to experts who will tell you what to do so that they can read the arcane secrets of the market and optimise for convoluted tax laws and run statistical models invented by quants in dark basements. Really, what they’re doing is deliberately keeping you in the dark, keeping you confused, so that you’ll just do whatever they tell you to. They’re hiding fees from you so that you have no idea what they are. They’re baffling you with bullshit to keep you away from your own money so that they can cut out as many slices of it for themselves as possible.
There are some companies who are trying to change this and don't think this way, but I'd say that most of the financial services industry has failed us.
Also - we don't teach this shit in schools, at least not where I'm from, which is just bizarre to me.
who did you vote for in the 2016 election?
I'd prefer not to say, because that's a conversation that requires context. I will tell you that it was not the ANC, DA or the EFF, though.
Biggest everyday money waster?
Permenant life insurance? Yay nay?
Where to put retirement savings?
Biggest everyday money waster:
Your car. Spending most of its day sitting around doing nothing, costing you money.
Permanent life insurance:
Depends on the individual's circumstances, but generally nay. I think this product is over-sold.
Depends where you are, because different countries have different rules about what you can invest in and still get the tax breaks. Generally, you want something that has the lowest fees you can find (because fees compound to a horrifying degree over a long period of time) and has the right balance of equities for your age (I'm a fan of the 120-minus your age rule, so if you're 40, you want 80% of your assets in equities, if you're allowed to do this in your country). Increasingly, there are some really smart, simple, low-fee passive funds that automatically rebalance your portfolio for you as you age, and defer or reduce your taxes.
What is your favourite sandwich?
That thing where you take salt and vinegar chips and you cram them between two slices of white bread with no butter on it and jam the whole thing in your mouth.
I also love me a Gatsby. That's a Cape Town specialty.
As an individual wanting to start their own business, what financial shape should I personally be in to be a good candidate for financing/investors/loans? And is it okay to pay myself a salary once the business opens?
Woohoo! Congrats on joining our league of crazies - it's fun here, try the soup.
There are a number of ways to fund a business, depending on what kind of business you're talking about (opening a shop or building an app are very different things with very different funding options). You should read some books specific to your country that talk you through the options. Realistically, though, you are likely to have to finance it yourself for at least the first few months, whether from your savings or by taking out a personal or small business loan. It's certainly fine to pay yourself a salary when the business can afford to, but that's unlikely to be possible for the first few months.
I would suggest that you make sure you have at least 6-9 months of your personal monthly expenses saved before you start a business. Most businesses don't make any money for several months, and you've got to be okay with that. Having enough savings to act as a "personal runway" is what will allow you to sleep at night during those first few stressful months as an entrepreneur. You might still have to take out a personal loan, too.
The number one reason that people get declined for personal loans is because they're already over-indebted, so make sure that you're not carrying around a bunch of other debt already (car loans are a common culprit). Having debt when you're not earning (or not earning much) is insanely stressful, so get rid of as much as you can before you start your business.
A few months down the line, when the business can afford to pay you a salary, try to keep that salary market-related (there are other ways to take profit out of the business if you want to do that). At some point you might want to bring in investors, and they will not be thrilled to see a business that has been used as a personal slush fund for the owner. Unless what you're building is a lifestyle business that you never intend to sell, in which case, go wild.
Also, make sure that if you have a life-partner/spouse, that they are sympathetic! Starting a business will be hard for both of you. But I've found it entirely worthwhile, and I hope you will too.
OMG I love this video!
People not in the US, here's a link you can view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3ZJKN_5M44
What books are you currently reading? Beside your blogging gig, what else are you working on? Why did you leave 22Seven team and what is the best current financial app to use? Lastly, (I promise lol), when are you having talks on GP?
Sjoe! Such fun questions!
Books I'm currently reading:
I'm a concurrent book reader!
- Do, Fail, Learn, Repeat by my wonderful friend Nic Harry (https://nicharalambous.com/)
- A cool collection of essays called African Futures (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29846191-african-futures)
- An American Gothic comic book series called Harrow County (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrow_County)
- The Terror by Dan Simmonds (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3974.The_Terror)
And I've just bought A Spy in Time by Imraan Coovadia, which I'm looking forward to diving into.
What am I working on
I'm also a concurrent jobs doer!
- I'm writing an animated kids' TV show about a magical zebra with the Sunrise Animations team.
- I run a fintech product design consultancy called Phantom Design, with my best friend: http://phantom.design/
- I'm building cryptocurrency things with Inves Capital: https://www.inv.es/
- I am making a video series about the South African economy.
- I'm writing a novel about body snatchers!
Why did I leave 22seven
I was retrenched - it happens to all of us! Old Mutual decided to do some restructuring and my role wasn't needed any more. This turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me! 22seven is still awesome and I still use it every day. I don't think there are any better alternatives in South Africa.
When am I having talks on GP
Oops! Gauteng Province (Jozi/Pretoria)
Ah, of course (lol)! I goddamn love Jozi and I'm up there all the time. I have done two talks there over the past few months, and I would love to do some more, as soon as someone invites me ;)
My biggest outgoings are :
- rent £900
- credit card debt £350 a month, total of £6000 left. For every £350 payment, around £200-250 comes off my balance due to interest. I can't switch it to another card to reduce interest.
Basically, my question is, I'm getting a bonus from work soon and I have two options :
- Pay off my credit card completely
- Use it for a house mortgage deposit, which would remove my rent payment and replace it with a mortgage payment of around £550.
I'm tempted to just get on the property market and use the rent saving to pay more off the credit card going forward but every financial expert I hear always says to get rid of credit card debt first.
What's your thoughts?
So, normally I’d be 100% on the same side as all the other experts you’ve spoken to and tell you that getting rid of your credit card debt is the smarter move. But your case does seem to be a bit unusual in that your mortgage could be lower than the amount you’re paying in rent. Are you sure you’ll just be paying 550 a month? Even if you take into account all of the hidden costs that go into buying and owning a property (maintenance, homeowners insurance…)? If you’re really, really really, going to be saving 350 a month, then I say buy your house and use that extra 350 you’re saving every month to pay down your credit card debt faster.
But do your homework and make sure that you’re correct about what your real costs will be. This is the kind of thing you can model in a spreadsheet, and you should do this, because you’re talking about some pretty big numbers! Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
Hi Sam. Great book you wrote. So inspirational. My question, between Unit Trusts and TFSA, which one is the best possible option? I have some extra money to invest.
Aw shucks, thanks for the kind words!
TFSAs (tax free savings accounts) are just a fancy "wrapper", you can actually put lots of different kinds of savings or investments inside of them (including Unit Trusts). You should aim to use your TFSA allowance (R33k a year) every year if you can, but make sure that you use it for money you're going to put away for the long term. Unit Trusts are great, but some of them are quite expensive (they have high fees, something called a "total expense ratio" is what you want to look at). Products that are marketed as "ETFs" are similar to Unit Trusts, but they tend to be a bit cheaper in SA. If you use a DIY investing platform like EasyEquities or Coreshares or Satrix, you can buy ETFs and use your TFSA allowance for them. Generally, the only reason you'd NOT want to use your TFSA is if you think you're likely to withdraw that money within the next 5 years or so.
But that being said, the best possible option for you depends on a lot of different questions, including what the rest of your financial life looks like, what your goals are, when you need the money, whether you're already saving enough for retirement or not, and a bunch of other questions! It might, for example, be better for you to put that money into paying off consumer debt or into a Retirement Annuity, and not into either a TFSA or a Unit Trust.
What are some interesting new, up and coming market opportunites in South (and southern) Africa that people from other parts of the world may not know about?
Also, what are you having for lunch?
I love this question! My beautiful continent is just FULL of opportunities. I've done work in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya, and I'm always blown away by the energy and entrepreneurialism of our young people. There are incredible tech hubs growing up in Cape Town (the “Silicon Cape”), Jozi, Zambia, Kigali and Nairobi, and people solving all sorts of problems ranging from healthcare to finance to transportation. We also have a fast-growing middle class, a young population, and vibrant new stuff happening in art, culture and music. I lived in San Francisco for a while and tried to work in the tech scene and I COULD NOT WAIT to get home where there is real innovation happening, where people are solving problems that really matter. Southern Africa is the place to be, yo. #WAKANDAFOREVER.
Some specific favourite hot startups from my hometown include WhereIsMyTransport, Yoco, Jumo, Snapscan and The Sun Exchange. If you're curious and want to learn more, Quartz Africa (https://qz.com/africa/) and Ventureburn (http://ventureburn.com/) will tell you about our business landscape, and Okay Africa (http://www.okayafrica.com/) will tell you about art and culture.
Oh, and I'm having tomato soup for lunch :)
I recently moved from SA to Ireland for work. 29 years old, no debt back in SA. I did start a TFSA in SA, but havent contributed in 2 years and do have unit trust.
I have build up an emergency fund in Ireland and no debt, I have +/- 1000euros to invest /save each month. I do plan to go back to SA eventually. Whats best to do with the 1000euros?
If I were in your shoes, I'd probably invest it in some kind of low-fee passive investment there in Ireland, in global equities. But it's probably worth doing some homework about the tax implications of all this. My biggest concern for you right now would be making sure that you're saving something for retirement, but I'm not sure what options you have being a SA-national living abroad. Possibly worth talking to a tax specialist about this. Tax is weird, yo.
I have finished my ug now. I want to pursue my career as a pilot. The expense is around $59000 my family is a moderate one we are in the safe zone when it comes to money issues but we don't have that much money i need to go for an educational loan but can i handle the amount of pressure i may have on myself after that? Iam quite skeptical about that i need help
That's a tough one. Taking on a huge amount of debt at the start of your working life definitely does add a whole bunch of stress. I'm guessing you're based in the US because you're using dollars? I'm afraid I don't know a heck of a lot about educational loans there. But I think you should let yourself take a bit of time and really explore some alternatives. I really like this great career guide tool from 80,000 hours: https://80000hours.org/career-guide/, maybe take a look and see if it inspires any other ideas. If you've got your heart set on being a pilot, though, try to find out whether there are any bursaries available through companies that hire pilots. I'd say consider joining the air force to get your training, but if you are in America, then you guys have active wars going on so that's probably not a great idea. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck!
<3 your book!
Whats your view on the crypto / blockchain space?
I believe that in the long-term, Blockchain technology has the potential to be a very useful technology that solves some very specific problems human society has (for instance, I like the work Votem is doing to help make political elections easier to audit).
I don't think that cryptocurrencies are going to fundamentally upend global inequality, which I think is probably the most pressing problem the world faces today. But I don't think the reasons for global inequality have anything to do with the technology of money, so I don't think a new technology can fix these problems. I'd love to be proven wrong about this, though, and I'm watching crypto-utopian experiments with (skeptical) curiosity.
I do think that cryptocurrencies will continue to increase in value over the next few years (but more slowly than over the past year) because they could play some useful roles in the global financial system. I am not sure, but I would guess that crypto will eventually become a new asset class that most people will hold some amount of in their portfolios.
I do not think trying to get rich quick by buying Bitcoin/Ethereum/bananacoin/whatever hot new token that bro on Facebook is talking about is a smart idea. I think a lot of people are being scammed by get rich quick schemes dressed up in cryptobabble. I don't think you should ever invest in something you don't understand. I think the crypto space is still dangerous and unregulated and full of charlatans, and therefore risky for general investors.
Mostly, no-one can predict the future, so stick to basic investing principles. Don't gamble more money on speculative investments than you're prepared to lose (like, 5% of your total portfolio is a good number to aim for), and crypto is still a speculative investment.
(DISCLAIMER: one of the businesses I'm involved with is a cryptocurrency business, so I have an inherent conflict of interest here - take my opinion on this with a pinch of salt!)
Also - to add, my bestie and business partner Simon Dingle has a fantastic book about crypto called In Math We Trust, which is a great introduction to this huge and complex topic: http://traceymcdonaldpublishers.com/?page_id=1565
Hi Sam! What other books/blogs/podcasts can I read/listen to after I've read yours? What do you read to keep abreast of money matters?
The "Fat Wallet Show" podcast (https://justonelap.com/the-fat-wallet-show/) is absolutely glorious, I can't recommend it enough. I also love Rolling Alpha (http://www.rollingalpha.com/) and Stealthy Wealth (http://www.stealthywealth.co.za/) for more of the nerdy stuff. I highly recommend reading everything Jack Bogle has ever written (and also follow all the Bogleheads communities online). Mr Money Mustache is fun (but American, shem).
What sort of things should a grad student think about before taking on student debt?
Are you in America? Grad school fees seem to be insane-levels of expensive there, you have my sympathies! If I were in your shoes, I'd give some serious thought to the alternatives. The world is a big place, and there are a lots of ways to learn things and do meaningful work that don't involve shackling yourself to decades of debt. But I get that might not be feasible in your case. I'm afraid I don't know much about alternative funding options in the US, but I guess investigate your options? Here, we have a lot of student debt options that convert to bursaries based on performance, and similar things. Sorry I can't be more help.
If I can just add my personal experience, though, I started working straight after my undergrad (I couldn't afford not to), worked for almost a decade, then went back to Grad School. By that point, I could pay for it myself out of my savings, so there was no debt. And I found the whole experience much more meaningful than I would have if I'd gone straight ahead as a naive 21 year old who didn't know anything about myself or what issues I actually cared about in the world. But again, not everyone's situation is the same. All my <3 to you - our generation is faced with some pretty tough and shitty choices when it comes to education.
What sort of income protection insurance can a self employed person get? Is it advisable, for someone in their 20s with an emergency fund, RA, TFSA, other investments and no debt.
You definitely can get income protection insurance (and critical illness cover) as a self-employed person (I'm one, and I have insurance). Most income protection policies specifically cover you for times when you're sick or become disabled (and some cover you for a wider range of circumstances when you can't earn an income, temporarily or permanently). In my mind, this is possibly the most important kind of insurance anyone can get. It's an old saying, but it's true: the most valuable asset you have is your ability to earn an income.
Thanks, which policy do you use? Do you know of any providers I should look at?
This is unfortunately one of those questions that veers into "registered financial advisor" territory, sorry! I personally have a Liberty policy, but the thing to do is to get a bunch of competing quotes from all the major companies (Discover, Sanlam, Old Mutual...) and compare them with some of the newer upstarts (Brightrock, Indie Fin...). Honestly, this is enough of a butt-ache it is probably worth getting a financial advisor to do for you. I like the guys at Lifecheq (https://www.lifecheq.co.za/), or ask the League of Fucking Grownups (https://www.facebook.com/groups/leagueofgrownups/) for a recommendation < (disclaimer, the Lifecheq founders are friends of mine)
I'm not sure how much you know about this, because it's not a mass-market type of question...
Let's say I've read your responses here and have already checked pretty much all of your boxes. I'm comfortable and my savings are steadily growing, ret. funds are getting pumped as hard as possible, additional equity, no debt besides a smallish bond that I'm hammering too...
What is the next logical step to take to go from quite comfortable to wealthy? Just keep plugging away with traditional instruments and hope someday it'll be enough to retire early? Or are there ways to take a bit more risk with more potential upside to ratchet up earnings... that don't quite reach the levels of straight-up gambling?
Here, take a look at this: http://www.rollingalpha.com/2018/01/23/assets-make-wealth/
Once people start moving up the wealth ladder, you'll see that the thing that really starts to make a difference is direct business interests. This can mean starting your own business, or investing directly in other people's businesses. These are high risk investments and you have to be comfortable with the fact the value of your investments really could go to zero (in fact, this is likely, even). You can lower your risk by spreading your investments across a few different businesses.
You probably shouldn't do this at all unless you have a pretty high level of business acumen (and bear in mind that most of us overestimate our business acumen), or you can find an investment in a sector that you have a special level of understanding in.
Direct real estate investing is another high-risk, high-reward option, but again, you need to have a special level of personal expertise for this to be profitable. And you've got to find it interesting, because it's essentially a second job. And there are a lot of people trying to play this game.
Consider these options. But don't discount the slow and steady route you're taking. It's not exciting, but having a high level of certainty that you will be financially independent before you retire is not to be scoffed at. If you do decide to start dabbling in direct investing, consider doing so with only a small proportion of your total portfolio. Wealth preservation is as important as wealth creation.
There's a great book called The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley, that you should read. It's American, but it condenses a lot of fascinating research about how people actually get wealthy. I think you'll find it interesting.
If you had a time machine, what would you go back and tell your 17-year old self?
(for financial well-being purposes).
(after you kill Hitler and all that other stuff obvs).
I think I'd be too busy laughing at 17 year old me's terrible hair to have time to give her any financial advice.
So what advice can you give us on writing a book to teach others to write books about teaching people to responsibly manage their finances?
I find it really hard to take you seriously when you don’t even know what a Roth IRA is. Seems like the main thing you know is how to compile advice from r/personal finance and then repackage it for dummies.
This is indeed pretty much what I know how to do: take complicated things and explain them to people in a simpler way! It's not the job I imagined having when I was younger, but I'm pretty grateful that enough people find it useful that it can be my job now, because it is pretty fun :)
I do kind of know what a Roth IRA is, but only vaguely. You might not be aware of this, but it's a uniquely American term that only applies in your country and nowhere else in the world. I do know a hell of a lot about my own country's financial instruments, though, so that's what I mostly give advice about. I also know a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer trivia, but I haven't figured out a way to turn that into a job just yet.
Anyway, best of luck to you, grumpy person on the internet!
Was your book made simply because of the recent "edgy" trend of putting "fuck" in book titles?
Fuck yes ;)
Broad question: I know that some of the worst mistakes can happen with debt, but given that I am 33, I have no debt right now (I just rent a house, I have an old Corolla that I love) and I earn enough to probably stay out of debt, what pitfalls should I be watching out for?
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