What it really takes to be ‘good with money’


Disclosure: I am not licensed to provide financial advice in Australia and this information should be taken as educational only. Read the disclaimer.

Getting better with your money is work.

Not necessarily hard work.

It’s a bit like gardening.

You need to give your plants some attention, some water, some care. You pay attention to their needs and over time you'll have something that’s suddenly thriving.

Not into gardening? Let's try another example – fitness.

Many people have goals or ambitions with their state of fitness, just like they do money.

Also, a lot of us struggle to commit to putting in the work and getting results.

The might say “I want to lose weight”, but when you ask them how they'll do it the inspiration fizzles out.

My point is, getting your finances in order takes some effort. It takes work.

You can't download a PDF and follow some steps, put your money into an ETF or switch to a bank with a better interest rate and think that is all it takes.

You still need to be active and on top of things regularly.

It came to me (in the shower, where all good thoughts occur) that I should list down exactly what I do regularly to make sure my money works effectively and for me.

What I saw was that its not about what products I choose or investments I make but the overall energy I put into the little things.

I also want to show you the details. The detail matters cause that's what makes a difference.

A friend who runs might go running 3 times a week and tell you that's the way they get became great at it.

What they forget to tell you is that they do recovery every other day, plan their meals to coincide with runs, spend hundreds on supplements or go to a specialist once a fortnight.

People forget those little things when they get good. Not because they want to hide them, but because they become so regular they don't think they are worth mentioning.

Here are the little things I do that I think have made me better with money over the years.

  • Keep tabs on spending through my banking apps
  • Setup dedicated savings accounts for savings goals
  • Setup automation, so each regular expense is scheduled to be paid
  • Balance my credit card expenses at the end of each month, allocating money from dedicated savings accounts to pay it off
  • Add up my net worth each month to understand personal finance performance
  • Follow people who know money and be open to a new point of view
  • Block out noise and media about market crashes, why I need to buy a property or anything else I don’t have but “need”
  • Look at better options of the things I pay a lot of money on (childcare, utilities, ca, insurances etc.)
  • Spend money to get better through education, experiences or opportunities
  • Sleep on big financial decisions
  • Have conversations with people about how they think of money
  • Wow that list suddenly got long. When you add it all up there is a bit of energy spent just handling money.

How about you try this yourself and give yourself a review of all the action you take with your money each week or month. Is that list as it should be? Are there areas you want to spend more or less time on?

It's those little things that count. Do them well.

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Tim Ellis is the creator of DadInvestor.com.au, a website dedicated to getting people confidently investing and managing their money. Inspired by his own experiences, Tim has a passion to create a financially secure future for his family and loves to share the knowledge he's found in personal finance with the rest of the world.