"I don't make enough money to save."
This is the budgeting equivalent of the “my dog ate my homework” excuse. If you invest even $10 a week—a.k.a. one glass of wine—from the age of 18, you’ll have $100,000 (assuming a 5-percent rate of return) by the time you’re 65. It’s never too late to start: Pick up this habit at the age of 35, and you’ll have $35,000. Or try this hack from Toronto-based personal finance expert Preet Banerjee: Take 10 percent of your paycheque and set up an automated transfer into a savings or investment account. “The worst thing that can happen? After a couple of months, you realize you can’t make it work and you now have a few hundred dollars saved. The best-case scenario is you find you don’t miss it.”
"If I hear one more person tell me I need to make a budget, I'll go off."
Cringe at the thought of itemizing every last latte? Banerjee suggests working backwards: Think about your priorities—like shelter, food, daycare, gas—and make sure you have enough money for these first. Add 10 percent of your income to this figure for savings, and make sure that whatever is left over doesn’t get to zero by the end of the month. But, he warns, this still requires some scrutiny of your finances. “Unless you’re willing to sit down and go over where your money has been going, you’re never really in control of your cash flow.”
"I don't want to live in my parents' basement until I'm 40 so I can afford to buy a house."
When did we start equating being a grown-up with owning property? Yes, a home can be a great investment, but Alex Avery, author of The Wealthy Renter, argues in his book that if you have enough discipline to invest (in the stock market) your savings from renting versus having a giant mortgage, you could come out ahead in the long run. If you’re stuck on that white picket fence, you may need to expand your search outside your dream neighbourhood.
"I need my vacations, my manicures, my dinners out, my Gucci slides."
Hi, we work at a fashion magazine, and we want all the things too. Unfortunately, unless you’re a secret heiress, you’re going to have to pick and choose your indulgences. “Assess what your personal values are: Where do you want to spend your money?” says Jessica Moorhouse, a Toronto-based accredited financial counsellor and host of the Mo’ Money podcast. If it’s on a collection of Louboutins, then you may have to cut back somewhere else. Before you fill up and click “check out” on your online-shopping cart, consider this: Research suggests that people are less likely to regret spending money on experiences than on things.
"I want to invest, but I have no clue where to start."
Women need to be especially savvy with our investments—we generally live longer than men, we make less money (the gender pay gap is still so real, friends) and if we take time off work to have children, we can fall even lower on the pay scale. Since these societal imbalances won’t correct themselves overnight, it’s best to set up a consultation with a certified financial planner to talk strategy. If the thought of discussing your spending with another human is terrifying, non-judgy robo-investors like Wealthsimple are ideal alternatives. Advisers, both real and virtual, should require you to fill out an investor questionnaire to determine your risk tolerance. You should also be doing your homework by reading up on this stuff. We love Wealthing Like Rabbits by Robert R. Brown. This oldie but goodie takes concepts like compound interest and relates them to things you’ll actually understand, like zombies.
This article first appeared in the March issue of ELLE Canada.