How much of that French Revolution history lesson have you used in your adult life? I bet Pythagoras’ Theorem has come in handy. Just coming up with these questions has me pondering on what I learnt at school!
The things I did not learn, like how to manage my money, grow assets and possibly prepare a tax return would be life changing. I could have started adult life armed with the basic 101’s of wealth building.
Lesson One: Wealth does not come from income alone
How many times did your parents drill into your head that it was important to get a well-paying job, stay in that career for life and eventually, hopefully move up the ranks? This seemed to be the guarantee for making a lot of money which would one day make you happy.
Midlife happens and you realise you hate your job, you do not feel more financially secure than you did on your first day of work. This especially hits home when the approaching Tsunami of retirement is now clearly on your map (although thankfully, or maybe sadly, still on the hazy horizon).
The first lesson school would have taught is that income does not build wealth alone. Wealth is nurtured by creating a portfolio of income generating assets that keep earning and growing your wealth even as you sleep.
The nurturing of this asset crop would be done from a heart happily engaged in a productive activity that stimulated you and allowed you to realise your full potential, even if this was not from the place of what you could call a ‘conventional 9 to 5’.
Put simply, by doing something productive you are passionate about, you would build an asset portfolio and grow your wealth on your terms.
Lesson Two: Start saving as soon as you start earning
The key to building your wealth and your security is to start the habit of saving as soon as you start earning. A little put away every month coupled with the power of compounding, which is basically earning interest on your investment and earning more interest on the interest earned, would build a very nice nest egg!
If you had invested £100 every month, earning 10% from the age of 25 until 35 and then left it until 65 you would have earned £368,737. Alternatively if you start investing your £100 at 35 and continue investing until 65 you would have £206,284. A difference of £162,453 by contributing £12,000 over 10 years versus £36,000 over 30 years.
There are clear benefits to starting young, but equally there are benefits to starting at any point and staying in the investing game!
Lesson Three: Spend less than you earn
Yes, this is simple maths. If you want to grow your wealth the law of the universe states you have to spend less than you earn and save the difference. It is such an important lesson, it deserved more emphasis at school.
The belief that it is ok to spend more than you earn, because one day you will earn enough to cover the difference, was taught at school. It was called creative writing and probably required a few unicorns to feature in the story as well. This is the stuff of fantasy land and never comes true. How do I know? Because I wrote this story for myself over and over. Stick to the plain old rule book, spend less than you have and maximise the difference by saving.
Lesson Four: Never base a purchase decision on a minimum payment due
Ouch, this is an easy trap to fall in. Cue, guilty blush from me. The bottom line is that you have not just committed to that monthly payment. You have committed to the total cost now in addition to interest on it for the benefit of instant gratification.
You have tied up your future cash flow for a purchase which in most cases is unlikely to generate a return for you. Think about your car purchase, your computer and anything else you might have applied this logic to.
Planning these purchases, saving for them and being very clear on how much your future self is committing to in terms of payments means you consciously start to make the best choices to manage your money.
Lesson Five: Ask the questions
Another school hang up I carried away with me was not to ask questions that could show my lack of understanding, ignorance or just plain confusion.
The shame of admitting I really did not get the money talk held me back from asking many vital questions around my money which meant that it tended to head in sub-optimal directions.
Here are the facts, no one is going to care about your money as much as you do. They care about their money and maximising what they can make. This means you need to be super clear on what is happening with your money. If something doesn’t make sense to you, an investment, your workplace pension, even the details on your payslip, ask the questions. Keep asking until you understand. Your future self needs you to take this brave action!
Lesson Six: Stop competing with the Jones’
So you ran into a class mate from senior school and she is doing so much better than you. Wearing designer gear, driving the sports car and travelling to exotic places. You feel less than. Less than you should be. Less than you wanted to be at this stage. Less than enough.
Your solution? Spend, spend and spend to look and feel successful.
Eventually the stress of suspecting your money situation is about to go into cardiac arrest and the guilt and shame of pretending you have it all together financially becomes so overwhelming it is paralysing. Money rather than being a simple tool for building the life we want has become all tied up in our self-esteem, sense of worth and mental and emotional health.
The school lesson would have been to get clear on your thoughts and beliefs around money. Differentiate the money beliefs that are not empowering. Money is the tool, do not let it be your master. There is no shame in knowing you are directing your money consciously in the small daily habits you choose to do, not in the big flash new toys you own. Keep on your own path to wealth with conscious, focused action.
Lesson Seven: Have a big EPIC goal
Do you ever set out on vacation not knowing where you are going? Even on the off chance you do wing it you probably have a vague idea of which country you are heading toward. The journey of building your dream wealthy life also needs a destination.
A big, epic goal guides your actions. It provides the motivation to choose the seemingly more difficult route of delayed gratification. It issues an instruction to the universe on what you are trying to achieve. Take time right now to write out your financial freedom vision. This is the key to unlocking your abundance.
What money lesson have you learned through experience that should be taught at school?