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What are the traits, behaviours and attitudes that lead to success?

12 October 2017

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Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” said Benjamin Franklin over 200 years ago and countless others since. When it comes to financial planning, the three top regrets of Australians who don't have a financial plan are: not saving enough; poor decisions; and not taking care of themselves.

But the good news is research has found that one in four Australians believe they are “living the dream”. According to the FPA Live the Dream Report* conducted by McCrindle,almost one in four Australians (23%) believe they are definitely or mostly “living the dream”.

Most of the measures people attribute to living the dream are linked to success in the area of personal finance. The “dream” is defined as the ability to have the lifestyle of their choice and move forward each day towards greater independence.

Other financial regrets included not studying enough, not investing enough, missing career opportunities, not making time for holidays, working too much, not working enough and investing in the wrong things.

Although the dream can mean different things to different generations, the report found that all Australians who felt they were mostly or definitely living the dream, have the following in common:

  • Strong personal habits
  • Plan ahead and stick to the plan
  • High levels of self-belief
  • Seek advice from others.

Those who believe they’re living the dream are also:

  • Three times more likely to seek advice from a financial planner
  • Three times less stressed about money
  • Five times more likely to meditate.

Expert advice

Chris Yena is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and general manager of Warringal Financial Services in Heidelberg Victoria. Yena likens having a financial planner to having a personal trainer.

“If you’re trying to get fit it’s easy to come up with excuses not to exercise, but having a personal trainer will make sure you get it done,” says Yena. “A financial adviser will do the same for your finances.”

Pay yourself first and save

Yena says in his business he often comes across clients who have worked hard for many years but just don’t seem to have been able to accumulate any real savings – life just got in the way.

If you are self-employed, you need to place a percentage of your profits into savings and pay superannuation for yourself (not just your employees). And if you are an employee, set a minimum amount to save out of each pay. For example 15%-20%.

Have a financial roadmap 

Getting financial advice from a professional not only ensures great outcomes but good ones will “save you from yourself”, says Yena. “Accountability is hard to self-impose for many people.”

Avoid making ‘random’ investments

Yena says that many people make random investment decisions in life that might be based around a great tip that you got “at your child’s fifth birthday party from one of the other parents.” Or you might want to get a Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) because “all your mates have one.”

While these investment opportunities may well have merit, having someone help you make informed decisions and choices about your money is always more valuable than the investment itself, he says.

“Having a financial planner to guide you is more than just someone who tells you about financial markets, asset allocations and portfolio construction,” says Yena. “These are all important but the real value in having a good financial planner will come when they tell you want you need to hear, not what you want to hear.”

Optimism is vital

The FPA Live the Dream Report also found that those “living the dream” are more optimistic about creating their dream life. They have higher levels of self-optimism, believe in themselves and in their ability to create the life they want. Nearly half of those not living the dream (46%) struggle to believe in themselves or flat out do not believe in themselves.

The obstacles Australians feel are preventing them from living the dream the most are:

  • Low bank balance
  • Not enough time
  • Debt
  • Illness or poor health
  • Too many responsibilities

Financial Planner AFP® and principal adviser at AP Financial Solutions in Sydney, Adrian Patty offers these great tips to prevent having major financial regrets.

  • Spend money on experiences, not stuff, for example travelling to new places. New experiences make a lasting change on you by altering the way you see the world, usually for the better.
  • Worship your superannuation. Feed it whenever you can. It’s your backstop. If you do this, you will then have the freedom to take risks outside of your superannuation in business or lifestyle.
  • Get your exercise out of the way in the morning before ‘lack of time’ and other excuses can prevent it happening. Your children and grandchildren will thank you.

Health, wealth and wisdom

Chis Yena stresses that balance is key, “because wealth without health is pointless”.

*FPA ‘Live the Dream’ 2017 National Research Report