I wish someone had told me...

3 min read

If only we knew then what we know now, how much better off might we be?

I started well and then gave myself a break. I’d like to tell myself, don’t stop saving and investing because you think you’re in a good financial position just because you’re doing better than your friends. They will soon catch up and overtake. Focus on yourself only and make sure you set yourself up for your best future.

We asked a number of financial experts what piece of advice they would give to their younger selves to help them get moving and prepare for the best. Here is what they said:

1. Don’t underestimate how with time, small things can really turn into big things!

“I remember one year I was trying to save for spending money for an overseas trip so I decided to get a piggy bank and throw in any spare change that I would use to buy things like coffee or gum… before I knew it, I had accumulated about $3000 in that piggy bank. I initially thought this strategy would probably amount to a negligible sum, but it worked and because it was small amounts over time, I didn’t miss the money I was throwing in the piggy bank but it made a big difference for my goal to have spending money for the trip.”

Diana Saad, Senior Financial Planner, Westpac Financial Planning

2. Time flies – capture what you can.

“Time flies and I would focus better on what my end picture looks like. When you’re younger and think you have so much time ahead of you, and have the world at your feet, you don’t stop and think – would I like to revisit the places/feelings I enjoyed earlier in my life? Plan to make sure you will have the opportunity later if you so desire it. Can I go back in time to recapture the time? Do I want to buy a home by the beach in my retirement because it bought me so much joy when I was younger? Make plans using a strategy that will help hit that sweet spot- knowing what you would like to end up.”

Catherine Tripodi, Senior Business Adviser Commercial, Westpac Financial Planning

3. Set up a savings plan and leave it in place for the long term.

“I set up a regular savings plan into a managed fund in my 20s. It was a very small amount, barely missed. However, I withdrew it all several years later and squandered it on who knows what: a couple of dresses? If only I had kept going I would have had an impressive lump sum in my 40s – to spend on dresses in Italy!.”

Anne Maguire, Financial Planner, Westpac Financial Planning

4. Make easy to follow plans.

“I would have most definitely told myself to establish a plan which was balanced and practical so that it had a greater chance of working, which would be unlikely if the goals were unrealistically stretched. I’d start with a realistic budget (including holidays, clothing, entertainment etc), then I’d work on saving the surplus with a short (less than 2 years), medium (2 to 5 years) and long term objective (5 years +). For the short term - this would include establishing a high yielding savings account (saving for something like a holiday/car), for the medium term – a portfolio of assets like shares, managed funds (saving for something like a deposit for a home) and for the long term – potentially superannuation (saving for retirement). Having things arranged in such a way would provide more options and prevent the temptation of swaying hence increasing the likelihood of success.”

David Simon, Partnership partner, BT Advice

BT offers a range of advice, from general advice given over the phone, to comprehensive strategies with a financial planner. Book your complimentary initial meeting with an adviser here.

This information is current as at 27/05/2015.

Westpac Financial Planners are representatives of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL & Australian Credit Licence 233714. The above information provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such. The information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.