Step 41: An Introduction to Pensions

Step 41 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: An introduction to pensions
Step 41: An introduction to pensions

Pension… a word dreaded by many, not just because they might not like the idea of being old, or – on the contrary – are worried it’ll be way too long before they can finally retire. Many simply don’t have a clue what their pension might look like and fear that they might never be able to retire properly, due to a (nearly) empty pension pot or the absence of a decent pension plan altogether.

Or maybe you just hate the idea of talking about pensions as it sounds like the most BORING topic in the world to you.

Be that as it is, ignoring your pension is not going to do you any good and considering the many changes that pensions are going through at the moment in many countries, it is wise to learn more about them and especially to understand your own pension projection better and to put together your own pension plan. So you are going to take the bull by the horns here and set up or review your current pension scheme. It might be tough, unpleasant or tedious at first, but once the bulk of the work has been done, you can sit back with a comfortable feeling, knowing you might still be a long way away from where you want to be, or from your retirement in general, but that you’ve put in a plan to get you back on track or closer to your end goal. Continue reading “Step 41: An Introduction to Pensions”

Step 34: Income stream 2: Profit Income

Step 34 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Income stream 2: Profit Income
Step 34: Income stream 2: Profit Income

Where step 33 described the features, (dis)advantages, and possibilities for change of an earned income, we are now going to look at profit income. A profit income is the money you get when you have a company (which can be anything from an Etsy shop where you sell handmade things to a multinational company) and are able to sell your products or services above the cost price thereby taking (some of) the profits as earnings.

Many people dream about having their own company, and although this can indeed be a lucrative project, being an entrepreneur also requires a lot of hard work, and often at least a few years before a company starts making a profit. It furthermore involves a lot of new skills, quite a bit of risk and a lot of perseverance, so the life of an entrepreneur isn’t always as rosy and making a profit income isn’t always as straight forward as it might seem. (You can take my work for this, I have some experience..). Continue reading “Step 34: Income stream 2: Profit Income”

Step 30: Invest 50% of a payrise

Step 30 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Invest 50% of any pay rise
Step 30: Invest 50% of any pay rise

In step 28 we’ve looked at how to put away extra money that you might get at a certain moment in time, such as a bonus or as a gift, in order to find a balance between rewarding yourself in the moment, whilst at the same time making the most of the extra payment in the long-term by saving a part of it.

From now on, you are going to do exactly the same when you get a pay rise. In this case you should interpret “pay rise” in a broad sense and think of it of an increase in your monthly cashflow, which can come about for many different reasons. This could indeed be a higher pay from your employer, but it could also be a little side income you might be getting from doing extra work, or even a lower mortgage pay or some other favourable reduction in your expenses on a structural basis, resulting in a little extra money left over at the end of each month. Continue reading “Step 30: Invest 50% of a payrise”

Step 29: Start a coins jar

Step 29 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Start a coins jar
Step 29: Start a coins jar

Maybe you had a coins jar at some point in the past, possibly when you were a child, and like me you might have looked at it in anticipation every time you put in a coin, hoping that single penny would somehow magically fill up the jar to the top… or at least get you to your savings goal in order to buy that new Nintendo game… I at least had one as a child and definitely enjoyed the process of saving up and seeing my little nest egg grow. But despite reading about coins jars on many money and finance blogs, I never started this in my adult life, as I wasn’t convinced or indeed saw the point of it, as I didn’t think those coins would ever get me anywhere near my savings targets with the amount of change I’d put in.

That was until recently when I read about this concept again in MJ DeMarco’s book “The millionaire Fastlane”. DeMarco agrees that a coins jar, or a change bucket as he calls it, won’t actually make you rich and definitely won’t make you a millionaire. But he does express two advantages that having a coins jar can give: Continue reading “Step 29: Start a coins jar”

Step 28: Keep 50% of any extra money

Step 28 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Keep 50% of any extra money
Step 28: Keep 50% of any extra money

As promised, the next few steps will focus on how to speed up your savings process and reach your savings target faster with some simple ideas. Although the tips and habits will help you to build your living fund faster, they are not meant to be just one-off ideas. If applied over time, they will help you to keep progressing towards new financial targets you have set yourself, even if they have since become other or bigger goals.

The first one of the tips – Keep 50% of any extra money – is an easy one to understand, yet as often is the case when it comes to money, difficult to implement, as it requires you to resist the temptation of instant gratification and instead needs you to focus on the long-term advantages of self-control. Continue reading “Step 28: Keep 50% of any extra money”

Step 27: Build a 3 months living fund

Step 27 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Build a 3 Months Living Fund
Step 27: Build a 3 Months Living Fund

Once you have built your emergency fund of $1000 (or the equivalent in yourn own currency) for unexpected or emergency expenses, you are going to continue with the new savings goal in line with our mission to reaching financial independence. In this step we look at the ins and outs of a 3 months living fund and you are going to start working towards putting together this fund.

The rationale behind a 3 months living fund is that it would cover your basic living expenses if for whatever reason you no longer receive an income. This might be because you lose your job, are unable to work or voluntarily decide to take time out of work, for example to care for an elderly parent or sick relative or because you want to take time to focus on something else. It a safety net that ties you over for at least three months that will at least cover your basic living expenses for some months, leaving you time to find a new job, an alternative income or just allowing you to take those three months off before returning back to work. Continue reading “Step 27: Build a 3 months living fund”

Step 26: Open a new savings account

Step 26 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Open a New Savings Account
Step 26: Open a New Savings Account

Now that you know all about the power of interest over time, are building (or have built) your emergency fund and have started paying down your debt, we are moving on to a new area of your finances: your savings. In the next few steps we will look at your savings in greater detail, but the first step for today is to open a (new) savings account.

Looking at the title and this introduction you might think can skip this step as you maybe already have a savings account, which you are of course free to do. But opening a new account starts with investigating what’s on the market and I recommend you at least read through this step and potentially still consider opening a new account, as it never kills to have more than one savings account, especially if they don’t involve any costs, and because it can be helpful to have different accounts allocated to different savings goals. Apart from that, it is also a good habit to compare saving accounts from time to time, to make sure you are still getting the best deal. And if you find out you aren’t getting the best conditions possible, it is a good moment to consider changing your savings money to a new account. Continue reading “Step 26: Open a new savings account”

Step 25: Start a Monthly Finance Review

Step 25 of the #100stepsmission to financial independence: Start a Monthly Finance Review
Step 25: Start a Monthly Finance Review

In step 18 we looked at starting a weekly finance review and what to focus on during that weekly half an hour, to ensure you stay on track for that month’s spending, bills and goals.

Today we are going to take this one step further, by starting a monthly finance review, in addition to your weekly review. Whereas the weekly review is incredibly useful to ensure you achieve your monthly goals, the monthly review helps you to achieve your longer term goals that you set out to achieve, such as becoming debt free, getting to a certain net worth or saving a specific amount of money. It is the moment to plan and look ahead a little further and to readjust your goals and spending patterns.

During most months you can probably combine every fourth weekly review with your monthly review, although for your monthly analysis you will need to set aside more time, as you are analysing the entire past month and also looking further ahead. I recommend scheduling in roughly 2 hours every month to complete this step.
Continue reading “Step 25: Start a Monthly Finance Review”

Step 24: Become debt free

Step 24 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Become debt free
Step 24: Become debt free

Becoming debt free might or might not have been a goal you identified when you put together your principal financial goals in step 2. Whether this was the case or not, you hopefully have realized that becoming debt free is possible with some extra effort and money, and in your interest (no pun intended) if you want to avoid paying the extra costs of oustanding loans. It might take you three years, 10 years or 20 years, but being able to say you have finally paid down all your debts is a huge achievement. And as we saw in the last few steps, the time it takes to pay off a debt can be sped up incredibly by making extra payments.

The next part of your mission and the main focus of this current step is for you to set yourself goals to pay off your debts. You will set yourself a target date to pay off the first debt that you have already started working on, then for each and every other debt you will do the very same, all the way to the very last debt you will be attacking. That will be your target date to becoming completely debt free. Continue reading “Step 24: Become debt free”

Step 23: Start paying off 1 debt

Step 23 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Start paying off 1 debt
Step 23: Start paying off 1 debt

From the previous step you are now up to speed about the positive effect of extra payments on outstanding debts. That leads us to the current step: start paying off a debt. You might think you are already paying off a debt, or several of your debts, but the point here is that you are going to pay off a debt faster by making higher monthly contributions than the minimum required.

When you pay off a debt faster than scheduled, a few amazing things happen:

  • You end up paying less interest, resulting in a lower amount of money paid back overall;
  • It takes less time to pay back the loan, meaning you can tick it off your list a lot sooner;
  • Psychologically it is a great relief to have paid off a debt: one less thing to worry about;
  • It increases your motivation by showing you that you can achieve your goals;
  • And here’s a great thing: once you’ve paid off a debt, that monthly amount you poured into this debt suddenly becomes available, which you can then use in its entirety to pay off another debt, meaning it keeps up that momentum!

Continue reading “Step 23: Start paying off 1 debt”