Today’s post is inspired by one of my favourite personal finance thought leader, Ramit Sethi, who introduced me the 10 Money Rules concept.
What it is: Once you get to the stage where you learned the basics of money management, you should then make your own Money Rules, a set of guidelines that you can embrace without hesitation even if they directly violate the usual financial advice because they reflect your own values and priorities in life. This way, you are living a life that you want to live, rather than a life that you thought you should live.
For example, this is Ramit’s own 10 Money Rules:
Isn’t that fascinating? I don’t agree with some of them, but that’s the point – what I think doesn’t matter. It’s something that Ramit has decided as important for his life.
I thought it was a fun thought exercise, so I decided to do my own 10 Money Rules, which reflects my priorities and values. Here they are:
- Ignore displays of wealth to the best of my ability
- I aim to educate myself. Educating others is good, but not my responsibility
- Be sceptical with financial companies. They want your money more than they want to help
- Learn marketing to find out what a company is *truly* saying
- Trust the data (Expense tracking is data)
- Redistribute thy wealth
- Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without
- I make the best financial decisions when I am happy and content
- Stop asking $3 questions and focus on $30,000 questions
- Liquid investment >>>>> other investments
The longer version:
1. Ignore displays of wealth to the best of my ability
I don’t agree with lifestyle choices that focus on excessive consumerism, but it *is* your money and you have the right to spend it however you wish, so go ahead, I won’t tell you what you shouldn’t buy.
Instead, I will simply.. ignore. And specifically, ignore it in this way:
That’s right. My #1 Money Rule is to embrace my petty side.
2. I aim to educate myself. Educating others is good, but not my responsibility
Yes, I maintain a personal finance blog. But at the end of the day, other people’s financial education is not my responsibility.
For one, that’s the government’s job. I pay my taxes so they would do it.
Secondly, I don’t want to develop a hero(ine) complex and feel like I need to go around ‘saving’ people by ‘educating’ them. I’m not a coloniser.
Ultimately, I make personal finance content because I enjoy it; I love organising my thoughts and figuring out different ways to monetise my skillsets. If you found the content in ROR helpful, great. I will not take the credit. You saved yourself when you put in the effort to read and learn. I’m just the messenger.
3. Be sceptical with financial companies. They want your money more than they want to help
NEVER believe companies that say they want to help you at face value. Sometimes I wish they would say ‘we want your money’, that’s more accurate.
Case in point: those damn Buy Now, Pay Later companies.
4. Learn marketing to find out what a company is *truly* saying
ALWAYS wonder why you’re seeing an ad. Try and figure out what psychological tactics they’re incorporating so you’re more likely to spend on a particular product or a service.
For example, companies frequently use the ‘fake scarcity’ tactics like countdown timers and ‘limited time sales’ (which happens every month!) to encourage sales!
Related: Why We Can’t Stop Spending Money
5. Trust the data (Expense tracking is data)
The reason why I love expense tracking so much is because I believe in the phrase ‘You are what you spend’. I don’t *guess* what my priorities are. I *know* what they are, because I have the data. If it tells me I’ve been spending too much on ‘self-care’, that means work is too stressful until I feel like I need those distractions, so I better do something about it.
6. Redistribute thy wealth
It’s weird that society’s role models are people who amassed an obscene amount of wealth, especially those who get there by exploiting their workers. This ‘keep most of the money to yourself’ mentality is so prevalent in society that I had to consciously fight against and unlearn this tendency to hoard money.
How I’ve done this in practice:
- Spend generously at small businesses and to family members
- Pay freelancers whatever they ask, never bargain with them
- Set instructions to donate to charities of my choosing
I don’t think I’m the best at this, but I’m trying.
(I’m also aware how virtue-signalling this may sound. I don’t care. It’s just… you really can’t take it with you when you go.)
7. Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without
Maximising an item’s utility value gives me a lot of satisfaction. I also enjoy the creativity that comes with repurposing an item, and find it satisfying to decide to go without something a company tells me I ‘need’.
For example: I’ll never have to buy a hair colouring kit, ever since I decided my white/grey hairs are natural and not something to be ‘fixed’.
8. I make the best financial decisions when I am happy and content
This is probably my favourite in this 10 Money Rules list.
Rather than thinking that money brings happiness, I like to think being happy and content attracts money in my life.
Reason: When I am in a good headspace, I earn better, I invest better, I don’t shop on impulse, all in all I make better financial decisions. Therefore, my happiness and contentment are non-negotiable and I will do everything in my power to preserve them, including saying No to things that are not good for my well-being and learning the science behind buying happiness.
Note: I’m not saying that money isn’t necessary for happiness. Here I am acknowledging stress and unhappiness as barriers to good financial health, holistically speaking.
9. Stop asking $3 questions and focus on $30,000 questions
This one is taken straight from Ramit Sethi’s material. The idea is to stop spending my energy on small things that don’t matter, when I can use them for making Big Wins, or high-impact decisions.
10. Liquid investment >>>>> other investments
The ability to quickly liquidate an investment (ie turn it back to cash that I can use to buy food and other necessities) is THE most important factor in choosing investments, for me. And that is why everything in my investment portfolio is liquid.
I understand why some people do property investment (they like physical assets, got tax benefits, etc), but it’s not for me, exactly for this reason.
I also don’t collect art, but mostly because I am uncultured lol.
What is YOUR 10 Money Rules
What is the #1 Money Rule that defines your financial life? I especially want to know the Money Rules that you have that are a little bit unconventional, and truly reflects your own values and priorities. If you don’t have one, this is a good time as any to reflect!
As always, let me know in the comments. Have a good rest of the week and take care 🙂