Top tips for saving students money?
- Get a 16-25 Student Railcard to save 1/3 on train fares and renew when you’re 24 for 3 years to extend it to when you’re 27.
- Get in the habit of cycling now and use the £1,400+ saved every year on a big, fun holiday
- “Pre-load”: drink at home before going out so that you don’t need to buy any more alcohol in the bar or club. Much cheaper!
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love reading. I’m currently reading books by Neal Stephenson and recommend everyone to have a look at Snow Crash. He predicted virtual reality, the meteoric rise of franchises, the internet of things and more 20 years before it happened. He’s latest book, Sevenes, is about what would happen if the moon was destroyed by an asteroid. It’s fascinating for anyone who has a penchant for engineering or problem solving.
I carry a book with me everyday and read it whenever I have free time. That’s on the train, bus, or when waiting for a meeting.
How do you save money?
I wrote a book called Money’s Big Secret
in which I introduce the idea of The 3-30 Money Diet. For 3 weeks, you live on £30 after rent. It’s a short and intense burst of money saving. I do this several times a year.
I also do ‘Inflation Resets’. This means living abroad for a a pro-longed period of time, say 1-3 months, in a place that is cheaper than the UK. This saves you money and prevents inflation from eating into your savings. I give multiple examples in my book.
What was your biggest financial mistake you made?
I’ve made hundreds of mistakes. In fact, mistakes are the way I like to learn. I prefer to discover by trial and error than through months of research, and am prepared to lose small amounts of money in the name of education.
When I first started investing I put £50 on Tesco. The mistake wasn’t that Tesco went down, it’s that I invested too little. When buying stocks and shares there is a transaction fee, and the service I used charged £11 just to make the trade. So on my first trade I lost 20% to admin fees! It is likely that I will have to wait 30-40 years to make that money back. The lesson was not to buy individual shares with small amounts of money, instead, put it into index funds which are much cheaper.
What investment mistakes do you think most people make?
Three things: First, not starting early enough. Second, assuming they know something. Third, not thinking of their job as an investment. I’ll go through each one:
1. Start Early, As Early As You Can
Money’s first big secret is that it grows faster and faster with time. This is called compound interest. When you invest it, assuming the same level of growth every year, it grows slowly at first, then more and more and more. The curve is shaped like a climb of a roller-coaster. However, it’s stretched out over decades. Sometimes 30-40 years. If you want to retire on £1 million by the time your 60, invest £500 a month, every month, from the age of 26 at 8% per year.
2. Assume No Knowledge, Diversify
Over 90% of professional finance “experts” do not beat the average over five years. These are the experts who do it all day, every day! So how can you and I, who do it for one hour a month or less, say that we know what we’re doing? We can’t. We have to accept that we’re guessing. And if we’re guessing, if we’re throwing darts in the dark, what should we do? We should take the shotgun approach. Throw not just one dart, but a thousand darts. Or a hundred thousand darts. Throw them everywhere. You can do this with index funds. You put your money in and it automatically gets divided between thousands of companies, Governments, shares and bonds, all around the world. If one goes down, you’re OK, because your eggs are in many, many baskets. It grows slowly with time. The fastest way to start is Nutmeg.com
3. Your Job IS an Investment
Your job will be your main source of income for your entire life. You invest more time into your job than anything else. So it is an investment just like anything else. Therefore, you should think hard about the returns you’re getting. Might it be possible to earn more by starting your own business? Maria ofThe Money Principle
advocates one should start a business for it grows in revenue much faster than anything else.
What’s the most extravagant thing you’ve ever bought?
I once bought a girlfriend £400 pair of shoes. A fool in love! They were nice shoes though…
What’s the one piece of financial advice you would give your younger-self?
Don’t go to University. A controversial thing, perhaps, but I don’t think the education is worth the £50,000 price tag it now comes with. Most courses can now be learnt online for free with Google and YouTube.
One bad financial habit you’d like to kick?
Not looking for cheaper rent more regularly. It’s the biggest expense and yet we tend to accept it as is. I should be looking for cheaper places to live every six months and figuring out how to make it less of a hassle.
What’s in your wallet?