I’ve been trying to write a post on my current investment habits. I quickly discovered I’m not the savvy investment guru I thought I was.. You can’t beat an index fund returns by trading options. Maybe that post will eventually materialize one day, but it got me thinking about something else. Do friends, family, and those you surround yourself influence the way you spend and save?
Insert cliché, motivational internet quote here.
In the age of fancy font misquotes laid over a night sky Pinterest posts. It pains me to even use this one, but do imagine it with a backdrop of star lit sky.
“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”
I think Jim Rhon is credited with this quote or at least Google thinks so. And yes I know everyone has heard it a million times. There is no denying those you are surrounded by shape who you are, especially when it comes to spending and finances.
The younger years.
We pick up all types of good and bad habits from those who raise us. For me, my father taught me many great lessons with money and finances. My favorite that he made a point to pass on is to respect and take care of things you spend hard earned money on, especially expensive things. Keep things in good condition so you’ll need to replace things less which saves money.
A terrible one he never sat me down to learn but I soaked up like a sponge was his use of credit. The two ways were financing major purchases and balance transfers. I remember several times he would finance an appliance or transfer a balance to another card with a 0% interest rate. Sometimes both. Very much a rob Peter to pay Paul scenario.
In my twenties, I replicated this same method of spending all because I thought that was just what you did to afford large purchases instead of saving up. Which got me in to some serious debt trouble a time or two and set me back in saving for retirement.
I love my dad but it took years to realize and unlearn this habit. Some days I still struggle with it.
Keeping up with the Jones.
Have you ever bought a brand new car you absolutely couldn’t afford because your best friend did? No? Oh, just me? Nice.
Not super proud to admit that but I’m here to be honest. Although it might not of been a car, I know most can relate buying something to fit in with friends or peers at some point. It is a huge problem in our society and one that has tripped me up to time and time again.
I, for the most part, had the same core group of friends from the end of high school until my early thirties. While I love the good times we had, I just was surrounded by a group who loved to buy crap they didn’t need. Cars, expensive clothes, electronics, and frequent nights out of fine dinning and drinking heavily. I did not have the financial discipline to not join them. I wish one of them had said, “hey, let’s get drunk and max out some IRAs.” I would have done it in a heartbeat and be much better off today.
I’m not necessarily saying ditch all your good friends immediately because they spend wildly, but learn to catch yourself before you join them down the rabbit hole of bad spending.
Though there is something I’ve gained in my mid-thirties I didn’t have before. Not carrying what others think or what they have. Confidence to do things on my own and to hold myself accountable when nobody else will. It just took me time to get here. Now all I have to do is apply this to my spending habits and saving for retirement.
Do it alone if you must.
Who wouldn’t love to find a few local real life friends to confide in financially, compare budgets, and to challenge each other to save harder and smash net worth goals. I’ve made no such connections so far and that is ok!
Many on the path to financial freedom do it on their own. Sure, there is a robust online community to tap, full of like minded savers but nothing like having someone in person hold you accountable. Also, try and mention you want to retire at 45 to a coworker and they are guaranteed to respond, what will you do for the rest of your life. I don’t know.. but definitely not this.
Thanks for reading! And sorry for the shit post style ramblings.
If anyone does needs a FI friend to bounce ideas off of or encouragement to stay on the financial freedom path, my inbox and Twitter DM’s are always open.