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Tarah @tarah
, 23 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
One of the best things you can do in this new year is to sit down every weekend and automate/tune up one single thing about your personal finances, whether that's an autopay for your utilities or for the first time ever looking at your company's 401k distributions for you.
Did you know that if your company has a retirement plan for you, that you can change how they've allocated it in terms of investments? Go look into it and spend even 15 minutes looking at how your money has been invested. Even if it's just a few dollars.
I winced away from the idea of looking at money for so long. I had/have/absolutely will have forever some monster student loans. Didn't come from wealthy folk, so I didn't understand anything about it and was in general scared of it.
I figured: "I'll always be more in debt than I'll ever be able to figure out, so why bother to do more than make sure that rent money won't overdraw my bank account?"
Turns out that good conversations about money and retirement and personal plans can actually *strengthen* a relationship with your partner instead of just be a source of conflict. Who knew?
But it's time to hold my nose, coffee up, and look at how long I can work, what my retirement will look like, and how to pair this with my partner's efforts with honesty and clarity and hope. I'm going to be 40 in just a few weeks, and big girls figure this stuff out.
I had that magic realization a few years ago that we often talk about when it comes to people who aren't poor anymore: I don't have to be afraid of the quack quack noise that comes from un-updated VeriFone POS terminals in grocery stores anymore (seriously update your UX).
Growing up without a lot of money has led to some humiliating conversations. The first time I ever sold any stock, I didn't know how to do it. I walked into an E-Trade office and said "how do I sell this?" They looked at me and clearly thought I was off my nut.
I'd asked several people "how do I sell stock?" and they'd given me that *look* we give people who ask us "how do I get an email account?" and said "You just go do it." This was a Not. Helpful. Answer.
But it's also led to some really good conversations, like what an exchange traded fund is, and why long term investors who have >10 years to retirement should consider mutual funds and ETFs with a minimal expense ratio. (That means the price you pay to have them watch your $$.)
If you dedicate just a few minutes to do one single thing each weekend to fix up your finances, I think it will pay off just like compound interest does over time. Automating just one bill you normally take 5-10 minutes to pay can save you a couple of hours over the year.
Please, please know this: I know what it means to be income and housing unstable. If you can't automate or drop a few dollars in a retirement account each month, I know *exactly* what that fear feels like.
However, if you are blessed enough to be making that transition over to having a bit more stability, don't be like me and let your fear of how to manage money and your belief that none of it will last stop you from making good small decisions over time.
We always start just a bit too late with retirement planning, right? That mythical kid in Forbes who always seems to show up in social media posts around this time of year who has been contributing to a retirement account since their grass mowing days doesn't help either.
Hey, if you don't know anything else to do with retirement, here's kind of a safe thing (and oh lord don't take my advice if you can find someone better): find an ETF that tracks the stock market over time and put just a bit of money into it.
You know that wisdom that's always going around about how managers don't beat the stock market over time and you should just put your money into a fund that tracks it? Blew my mind when I found you could just DO that, like this fund:…
Your bank probably has a partnership with an investment firm or even lets you directly open up an investment account. Don't let any nervousness around money stop you. You can put in just a few dollars! Install a stock app, and get used to looking at it.
This whole thread is specifically for people who didn't grow up with money and now maybe can look one day forward to a time when they don't live paycheck to paycheck--but our culture does NOT talk about money. How do we learn about money when it's embarrassing to ask??
So I just accepted that it was embarrassing, and asked a couple of smart people how to Do Things With Money, and they answered. I asked literally "what even IS a 401k? Do I have to get some kind of certification to invest? What are taxes on that?" It was...some basic s**t.
So, I will in no way offer you investment advice, but I will say this: you can take $50 and spend even a month figuring out how to get an investment account, buy a stock or ETF or mutual fund (they'll help you on the phone), and start tracking it.
OMG Google Sheets does the coolest thing. If you buy a bit of stock or a fund of some kind, get its abbreviation (Like GOOG or AAPL or TWTR or VTI), put that in a cell (e.g. cell A1) and use this fx: =GOOGLEFINANCE(A1,"price"). You can see the current price!
If you're reading this, you're probably a giant nerd like me and you know your spreadsheets. Take that GOOGLEFINANCE fx and rock and roll from that point. Take the amount of shares you have in something, multiply it by the previous formula, and see what your current value is!
I can't tell you how to fix your finances or not be afraid of student loan debt. I know this: small contributions, automating, and 15 min of research/weekend pay off in compound interest, freedom, and *stronger relationships* over time. You can do it! </end>
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