No, it’s not about the latte — well, at least according to Ramit Sethi, entrepreneur and author of the New York Times Best Seller I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He says we should not be focusing on the questions like how much our coffee costs, and instead, on bigger questions if we want to boost our bottom line. He writes on Twitter:
“In 2022, stop asking $3 questions & start asking $30,000 questions. Stop worrying about coffee. Focus on: Increasing your savings rate, automatically investing, asset allocation, negotiating your salary/earning more, fees (cc debt, mortgage interest, 1% advisory fees).” (Good news on that front too: Many savings accounts are now paying more than they have in years, and you can see the best savings account rates you may get now here.)
Pros say Sethi’s onto something — though they don’t always agree with everything he says. Certified financial planner Cristina Guglielmetti at Future Perfect Planning says the examples Sethi provides will make a bigger impact overall than cutting out small expenses, but she recommends making some tweaks.
“Housing and cars take up a big chunk of people’s available spending. Keep those manageable and you not only free up cash flow for savings or investing or debt repayment, but you also set your lifestyle expectations for later,” says Guglielmetti.
And while nickel and dining yourself and ignoring the choices that will really move the needle is a mistake, Guglielmetti advocates backing into a safe spending number for smaller lifestyle expenses that allow you to hit your bigger goals. “You do need to spend a little time figuring out that number, or have a planner help you do that; the purpose isn’t to have a rigid limit on different categories, but to proactively decide how your money will be allocated,” says Guglielmetti.
In terms of prioritizing the big picture items, Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate, says, “boosting your earning power, increasing your savings rate and properly allocating your investments are the necessary ingredients to build wealth over time. Minimizing fees will further streamline your efforts by keeping more of those savings in your own pocket rather than lining someone else’s.” See the best savings account rates you may get now here.
For his part, certified financial planner Chris Chen of Insight Financial Strategies, says the two most important items on Sethi’s list are increasing the savings rate and investing automatically. “They both have to do with the rules of compounding, whereby money invested earlier will grow much more than money invested later,” says Chen.
What’s more, Chen offers this simple advice to help people achieve this goal. “Increase your contributions to your retirement plan. It’s automatically withheld from your paycheck so that you won’t miss it and automatically invested in your investment choice so it can grow. There are a number of studies out there that document that automatic withholding and investments work for people,” says Chen.
But don’t ignore the little things completely, says certified financial planner Andrew Feldman of AJ Feldman Financial: “There’s a lot to be said about balance in money and happiness and if a cup of coffee or a specific small item brings you happiness, there’s a lot of value,” says Feldman. See the best savings account rates you may get now here.
Not everyone agrees with Sethi. Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet says although it’s generally true that focusing on big financial choices like where you live and what home you buy can have the most significant ramifications on your life, it’s also the case that our everyday seemingly minor choices like what to buy and how to shop have a major impact on our money over time. “Making small shifts such as cooking more instead of ordering take out or replacing a needlessly expensive auto insurance policy with a cheaper one, can have a big influence on your financial health,” says Palmer.
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