This is a picture of me on my graduation day. I did a lot of things right. I went to college, I got the right degrees. I got a job. I started earning early on in my life. I started saving early on in my life. I did not accumulate credit card debt or any debt for that matter.
However, there are these four financial regrets that I have till date and you realize that it's not all about the money.
1. I did not start investing my money early enough
I have a Master's in economics and I majored in finance, which means that I actually was more financially savvy and educated by the time I came out of my masters. I also happened to be taught by some of the best financial brains in the country by actually the lady who had set up the Indian financial stock market index and she had given me two pieces of advice during my masters:
The first one is that save and invest because you don't want to die hungry when you are 110, so invest with a long time horizon in mind.
The second one was invest in a tracker fund. Set it and forget it.
Now, when I think back to that advice, it was so simple, so effective, and it came from one of the best financial brains that I would've likely ever seen in my life.
I did not take that advice.
Because I got lazy.
I thought it was too much admin, and I just let my money sit in a low interest savings account for years. By the time I realized what I had done, it was already too late to put that money into a high risk fund because I needed that money for the deposit towards my first home. That means that when I could have grown that money, I didn't take advantage of that time.
Of course, it's not too late to invest. In fact, I started investing, years back, but this is just to bring some color. Even I, as a finance major, having known all of the right things, chose to not follow through, which to me says a lot.
Financial literacy is one thing, but financial literacy without any action doesn't have any result. That is what people miss. You have to take action.
2. Not understanding my money dials
I have never really been a spent thrift. I always saved money before I have spent money. However, I did not spend money on the right things. Meaning I did not spend money on the things that brought me joy. I wanted to keep up with my friends, keep up with the Joneses.
I started spending money on things like handbags and coffee, which frankly doesn't bring me a lot of joy. It could bring joy to someone else, but that's not me. I do not enjoy partying in the night. I do not enjoy spending a ton of money on flashy things, but that's me. Things that bring me joy are a book and tea. Things that bring me joy are 10 pounds worth incense sticks that no one else can smell but me. Things that bring me joy are also expensive things that most people don't even fathom buying.
3. Feeling guilty about spending on things that I really value that really bring me joy.
For example, five years ago I bought this coat. Which was expensive. I have spent considerably more money than I have spent on any of those handbags on that one piece of clothing, I felt really guilty when I was buying it. However, in the last five years, every winter, I have worn that coat almost every day. I live in a country where winter is almost six months of the year, so I feel like I already have gotten the ROI from that coat. You know, it still looks new and I feel good when I wear it. I will probably continue using it for the next five to 10 years. So, actually feeling guilty about something like that in itself doesn't make sense, and I regret that so much.
One of my other big money dials is travel. I love travelling and I don't mind spending money on it. However, when I started traveling in Europe a few years back, I felt so guilty about spending the money. But the experiences that I got out of that, the photos that I got out of that, the videos that I got out of that, which actually I share on Instagram. If you follow me on Instagram @theabundancepsyche, you probably can see some of the videos and pictures, that I actually posted from my recent trip to Turkey.
So, yeah, feeling guilty about spending money on things that really bring you joy in my mind is one of the biggest financial regrets that I have.
4. Closing down my business.
Let me explain. I used to have this digital marketing agency back before digital marketing was called digital marketing. So this was back in 2006, 2007. I was doing this on the side of my university. Somehow I was really good at it, and that grew exponentially in the three to four years that I ran it.
However, when I moved into corporate consulting, I actually stopped that business because I was told that you can't do two things at the same time. You are going to probably break the law, et cetera. What I did not realize is that I needed to read the legal contract and under many circumstances, it is actually okay to run your thing on the side as long as there's no conflict of interest. When I look back to this now, even when I was consulting with the big fours, there was no conflict of interest they would have had with my digital marketing agency.
I actually do regret the fact that I closed down my business without really trying to understand the nitty gritties of the circumstances under which you can run your own thing on the side. Of course, I will say that it was probably not going to be possible anyway because I worked in management consulting, which means that I used to have really, really long hours and I probably wouldn't have had time to run an agency.
However, had I really thought it through, I probably could have hired a CEO for myself and not taken all of that stress and just kept the profit. That's the regret that I have.
So, moral of the story is read the legal contract. Speak to your human resources and find out what is it that you can actually do on the side. Don't just assume that you can't do this or you can't do that. Don't be like me. Don't throw away your business that's paying you more than your day job because you want to do your day job.
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