Building a habit of investing

If you want to get going on the path to riches and live in abundance beyond your retirement age, investing is the best choice you have! By investing, I mean two kinds of investments: investing financially, and investing in yourself!

Before you start investing, you need to look at your overall finances and see where you are at financially. I follow Dave Ramsey and recommend following his baby steps to get on your path to financial freedom. Even though I’m on the second baby step of paying off my credit card debt and student loan at the moment, I still wanted to build a habit of investing consistently. I have chosen Betterment, an online tool, for making my investment choices.

I wanted to internalize making investment a solid portion of my budget, regardless of the amount. As my focus is paying off my debt at the moment, I invest a minuscule amount to my account at Betterment. Along with making investing a habit, I also wanted to tap into the magical power of compounding.

Investing for you should not be a priority if you still don’t have a solid emergency fund and you still owe debt of any sort. But that should not stop you from learning about it and starting to invest. Even the minimum amount for investing at Betterment which is $10 per month is fine. To be honest, the amount doesn’t matter, it can be as little as you want; the main goal is internalizing this behavior.

Make investing an important and immortal category in your budget every month, like giving. Once you are debt free and have a solid emergency fund for 3-6 months, then you can start investing a good percentage of your income like 10-15%. If you’re already in a position where you can immediately start investing this percentage of income, I would urge to get on with it as soon as you can.

My current habit for investing is that I deposit a fixed amount every month for investing. No matter what organization you choose, make sure you’re investing in index funds and diversifying your portfolio. It is always wise not to have all eggs in one basket. If you’d like to read more about the importance of choosing index funds for your investments, I highly recommend reading Money: Master the Game and Unshakeable by Tony Robbins.

Investing should become a consistent habit. If the idea of investing in stock market scares you, just relax, because there is nothing to be afraid of. If people around you have scared you with perils of stock market investing, then I don’t think they have educated themselves well about the wonders investing can have on your future. Investing money is like a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a game mean to be played and you have to commit for the long haul, not for short term.

In your financial journey, never act out of impulse or fear. Many times, people are tempted to withdraw all the money we’ve invested if something unfortunate happens in the market. Let the money stay where it is and make use of the magic of compounding. Don’t let the rumors and fortune tellers of investment stocks market dictate your decision. Don’t give into the fear and keep your money invested.

Investing is the best choice you can make for the Future You. Even if you don’t understand all the numbers and the complications of stock market, don’t worry about it. At this moment, I’m not sure how things exactly work either (even after reading multiple books on them!). But I am constantly educating myself and I have grown exponentially in making better and wiser money related decisions. There are lot of useful resources like books, podcasts and online courses that can help improving your money management skills and help you understand the investing game.Pledge to become a life long learner. And that takes us to the second kind of investment: investing in yourself.

“The most important investment you can make is in yourself.” — Warren Buffett

Like investing in assets, make investing in yourself a habit. In today’s times, learning new skills and educating ourselves is paramount. Invest a fixed amount of money every month towards personal development. I am a big believer in making my personal home and digital libraries.

If you have outstanding debt and other expenses, allot a tiny, predetermined amount every month for personal development. These days there are free resources everywhere, online or otherwise. You can learn any new skill from Youtube and other online platforms. If you enjoy reading, Kindle and Audible are great options to start building your digital library. In addition, you can borrow books from your local public library if you’d like to keep your expenses low.

Personal development is my passion and at this moment, I make sure I spend 5% of my total income on books, audiobooks, online courses and other learning resources. As I get rid of debt and other irrelevant expenses, eventually I plan to allot 10% of my income to personal development expenses.

Decide what skills you have to learn and have your own self-learning discipline to keep you on track. I highly recommend following a daily routine to keep learning and educating yourself. When you invest in yourself, you will get closer to your higher self, and slowly but surely improve the quality of your life significantly.

Here are some action steps to get you started:

  1. Start building an investment habit no matter what your financial situation is; invest a fixed amount every month and make it automatic. Make investment a permanent category in your budget.
  2. If you’re debt free and have your emergency fund (three-six months of your expenses), invest 15% of your income every month.
  3. Invest your money in index funds. Believe in the magic of compounding, and use it in your favor!
  4. Become a member of an online investment service like Betterment. This will work great for you if you’d like to leave your investments in the best hands.
  5. Don’t act out of impulse or fear, and sign up for the long haul.
  6. Start your own library, preferably a digital one.
  7. Invest in yourself and make self-learning a daily habit. Learn new skills. Read books that will enhance the areas of your life that you need to work on. Focus on improving your money management skills and your know-how of the stock markets.

 
Further reading suggestions:

Books:

1. Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
2. Money by Tony Robbins
3. Unshakeable by Tony Robbins

Useful articles:

1. Retirement planning – How to plan for a successful retirement by The Minimalists: http://www.theminimalists.com/retirement/

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