- When it comes to money, it is easy to get hung up on our mistakes.
- After 25 years of financial experience, I have learned that the best financial moves you can make have little to do with money.
- Investing in yourself, learning the difference between goals and systems, and focusing on the long-term can help put you on the path to financial independence.
I've made my share of good and bad financial moves over the years, but here are my best ones.
After I invested in my first stock in high school, I was hooked. Since then, I have experienced the tech bubble, the 2008 financial crisis, the pandemic, and more. It's safe to say it hasn't been smooth sailing all the time.
When it comes to money, it is easy to get hung up on our mistakes. Focusing on what you did right, however, can help you stay motivated and continue moving forward. After much reflection, here are the three best financial moves I have made and continue to focus on making. The great thing about these three moves is that anybody can do them, too.
Investing in myself
Many people are always on the lookout for the best investment to make money. It may be a stock or a piece of real estate. However there is one investment that many people overlook. It is the best investment you can make: yourself! You are your greatest asset.
I learned that becoming a valuable asset personally and professionally is much more important than my 401(k) account. I lost my entire savings during the 2000 tech bubble. By investing in growing my financial knowledge, I learned to invest for the long term so I wouldn’t make the same mistakes. When the 2008 crisis hit, I saw it as an opportunity to buy stocks at a discount, a lesson I had learned from 2000.
I focused on investing in myself to increase my human capital. Your human capital consists of things like your education, professional expertise, relationships, and your health. By investing in getting an MBA and multiple professional certificates, I increased my financial opportunities despite the different financial crises I faced.
Learning the difference between goals and systems
Goals are needed for setting direction and keeping you focused. A system sets the framework and is the means to achieving your goals. Systems-based thinking is not about hitting a certain number, but sticking to a process where you can continually build on your progress. Systems help you focus on what you can control.
One of the top financial goals people have is to save more. Saving $1 million dollars is the goal. Creating a budget to save 20% of your income is the system. Losing 10 pounds is the goal, eating healthier and exercising more is the system.
Instead of focusing on a certain amount to save, my system is to invest a certain amount per month (dollar-cost averaging), despite what the market does. If my success was tied to reaching a certain financial goal, the 2008 financial crisis certainly would have increased my stress. But by focusing on my system of dollar-cost averaging, it helped me continue moving forward and reap the benefits of the market recovery.
Focusing on the long term and future
When the pandemic hit, the U.S. the stock market crash of 2020 included the three worst point drops in U.S. history. From Feb 12 to March 23 of 2020, the Dow lost 37% of its value. The Dow in the 2008 financial crises lost close to 50% of its value. With each crash, however, the market has recovered, historically generating a 10% annual return.
Focusing on the long term can help prevent emotional and panic selling. Investors who sold out of fear in 2008 and 2020 lost out in the remarkable recovery. By staying invested during both the 2008 and 2020 financial crises, I was able to see record gains in my investment portfolio. By focusing on a long-term financial plan, investors will be more likely to get the results they want over time.
Over the years, I learned to focus on what I can control. I can’t control the stock market, but I can control investing in myself, setting up disciplined systems, and focusing on the long term. This helped equip me to face any future financial challenges and turn them into opportunities.
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