If you Google ‘rules of personal finance’ and you will probably see the usual list like ‘build an emergency fund’, ‘pay off high-interest debt’ and ‘automate your savings’. These rules are invaluable but we believe there are a few unspoken rules of personal finance that can set you apart for true financial success.
4 Unspoken Rules of Personal Finance
Develop Self Awareness with Money Matters
This could be the most underrated unspoken rule of personal finance. It is easy to fall into the trap of blaming losses on the market or listening to bad advice from a “trusted source” but the first step to success is financial self-awareness.
Practicing self awareness is built over time but there are methods that can help speed up the process. Some investors keep a financial/trading journal to track their investments. This helps them spot patterns in their investment choices and more importantly understand ‘why’ they made those choices.
With an trading/investment journal you can track:
- short, mid and long-term investing goals
- profits and losses for each investment / trade
- risk type for each investment
- exact entry and exit points of each trade
- performance of each stock, bond and mutual fund you hold
- tips and guidance from experts
- notes on industry trends and market performance
Additionally, gain more clarity about yourself when you record:
- why you made a trade,
- why it was a success, and
- why it didn’t work
Recognising your behavioural patterns can prevent you from indulging in the next rollercoaster of emotions before making any financial decisions.
If you want to start your own trading journal, Nasdaq, The Balance and Rayner Teo have created great guides. Whether it’s a Google Sheet, Evernote page or an app, find an easy-to-use format that works for you. This will help you stay consistent!
Ignore Social Noise and Comparison
Comparing yourself to others is part of human nature but the danger lies when you benchmark your progress against someone else’s. We all start our lives at different points, so learn to recognise if the comparison is inspiring or demotivating you.
Set aside one weekend where you design the life that you want. Map your goals and identify the distractions and people that sway you off course.
- Declutter, deactivate or delete your social media
Social media is not all bad. There are great accounts that share invaluable financial tips such as HerDuit and Dividend Magic.
Take stock of your social media habits and decide whether it’s time to:
- Declutter: Audit your social media and redesign your feed for education. Use it as a learning platform instead of a ‘stalking’ one.
- De-activate: Reset your mind and take a break from the noise. It can help refocus on what is important. Here are the how-to links to disable your social accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
- Delete: Cold turkey might be your best option if you struggle with self-regulation.
- Reduce or revamp your social circle
Pay attention to how you feel after being with friends and family. These interactions can have a big impact on our well-being and focus. After a hang out session, decide if the person falls into the following categories:
- Draining: Unsupportive, critical, self-absorbed, or toxic people require more energy, that means less energy for you to work on what’s important.
- Triggering: Sometimes a person may not be doing any harm but you may feel frustrated or uneasy after being with them. Hearing about their new investment property can leave you feeling inadequate. If it is important for you to work through this make time for it but if it takes your focus away from more pressing matters, limit your interaction with them for now.
- Energising: These people make you feel lighter, more positive and inspired. Their energy and support fuels you to reach your goals. Nurture these relationships.
Identify your distractions to help you stay focused on what really matters!
Create a Financial Learning System
Learning is messy! As an adult you are both the student and the teacher, so it really helps when you have a self-learning system in place. Setup a structure that helps you distill, absorb and retain key information easily.
Whether you follow the SQ3R Study Method, Feynman Technique or take notes, try out different learning techniques to find the one that sticks. Not sure where to start? Here are some different techniques to check out:
- 10x Your Knowledge — How To Create a System For Constant Learning by Brian Tan on Hackernoon
- Study Tips – How to learn new content video by YouTuber Ali Abdaal.
If you are looking for great places to learn about personal finance, here are a few we recommend:
- Websites: Investopedia, Grow Acorns
- Financial thought leaders: Dave Ramsey, Robert Kiyosaki
- Local financial content creators: RinggitOhRinggit, Mr Stingy, KC Lau
Remember, every financial expert you learn from started with no financial knowledge. Learning is gradual and requires effort, so consistency is key.
Change Money Mindsets and Habits that Don’t Serve You
Heard the saying ‘Knowledge is power’? Well it isn’t! The real power lies in your ability to ACT ON the knowledge you have. This is the real gold standard!
Despite practicing self awareness, you can easily fall back into old patterns. Therefore the hardest unspoken rule of personal finance is… to challenge and change any money mindset or habits that do not serve you.
Whether it was programming learnt from your family or was developed as a survival mechanism, your habits and mindsets can block you from reaching your financial goals.
- Identify if you have an abundant or lacking mindset
Is the glass half empty or half full? Your inner state really does manifest your reality. Look at this list and start with small changes to shift your mindset.
Picture credit: https://pin.it/7wnv4iN
- Appreciate what you have
You can either create a list of all the things or just call out one thing a day, take time to acknowledge what you have. You’ll be surprised how you can look past the ‘smallest’ things.
- Acknowledge good financial behaviour
Recognising your emotions will help you understand your motivations, but acknowledging your good behaviours, this will help you build confidence!
- Do the opposite
The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When your choices are not working for you, try something different! From being homeless to becoming a millionaire, Garrain Jones transformed his life by just doing the opposite. This is a hard one but a transformational one if done right.
Following the normal rules of personal finance can guide you towards a financially sound life but as we know life is unpredictable, pandemics happen and timelines change. Applying these unspoken rules of personal finance can equip you to handle the changes better.
To help you get started on your financial journey, we have shared 4 Important Steps To Take Before You Start Saving.
Remember the best investment starts with investing in yourself first!