No, it’s not about latte — well, at least according to Ramit Sethi, entrepreneur and New York Times Best Seller author I will teach you how to be rich. He says we shouldn’t focus on issues like the cost of our coffee, but rather on bigger issues if we want to increase our bottom line. He writes on Twitter:
“In 2022, stop asking $3 questions and start asking $30,000 questions. Stop worrying about coffee. assets, negotiate your salary/earning plus, fees (cc debt, mortgage interest, 1% advisory fee).” (Good news on that front, too: Many savings accounts now pay more than they have in years, and you can see the best savings account rates you can get now here.)
The pros say Sethi is onto something – although they don’t always agree with everything he says. Certified Financial Planner Cristina Guglielmetti of Future Perfect Planning says the examples Sethi provides will have a bigger overall impact than cutting small expenses, but she recommends making a few tweaks.
“Housing and cars are a big part of people’s available expenses. Keep them manageable and you not only free up cash flow to save, invest, or pay off debt, but you also set your lifestyle expectations for later,” says Guglielmetti.
And while nickel and dime eating yourself and ignoring choices that will really move the needle is a mistake, Guglielmetti advocates relying on a safe spending number for small lifestyle expenses that allow you to achieve your most important goals. “You need to spend some time figuring out that number, or have a planner help you figure it out; the point is not to have a hard limit on different categories, but to proactively decide how your money will be allocated,” says Guglielmetti.
Regarding the prioritization of the big picture elements, Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, says, “increasing your earning power, increasing your savings rate and properly allocating your investments are the necessary ingredients to build wealth over time. Minimizing fees will further streamline your efforts by keeping more of those savings in your own pocket rather than filling someone else’s. See the best savings account rates you can get now here.
For his part, certified financial planner Chris Chen of Insight Financial Strategies, says the two most important items on Sethi’s list are increased savings rate and automatic investment. “They both have to do with compounding rules, where money invested earlier will grow much more than money invested later,” Chen says.
Moreover, Chen offers this simple advice to help people achieve this goal. “Increase your contributions to your retirement plan. It is automatically withheld from your salary so you don’t miss it and automatically invested in your investment choice so it can grow. There are a number of studies that show automatic restraint and investments work for people,” Chen says.
But don’t completely ignore the little things, says Certified Financial Planner Andrew Feldman of AJ Feldman Financial: “There’s a lot to be said for financial balance and happiness and whether a cup of coffee or a specific small object brings happiness, there is a lot of value,” Feldman says. See the best savings account rates you can get now here.
Not everyone agrees with Sethi. Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet, says that while it’s generally true that focusing on big financial choices like where you live and what house you buy can have the biggest ramifications on your life , it’s also true that our seemingly minor daily choices of what to buy and how to shop have a major impact on our money over time. “Making small changes, like cooking more instead of ordering takeout or replacing an unnecessarily expensive car insurance policy with a cheaper one, can have a big impact on your financial health,” says Palmer.
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