Here’s an idea, you’re welcome to use it if you like, in fact I might even get around to it myself. Write a book about personal finance that isn’t aimed at someone in their late twenties or early thirties. You know, the people who can save for their retirement if they start “right now”. All they need to do is set aside 65% of their income for the rest of their working lives. By the way, this is practically impossible and the people selling you such plans for your retirement know that. However, they’re still selling plans because they’re still making money. What they don’t tell you is that fees, inflation and just living your life will all end up getting in the way. That’s ok, you say, my government super, 401k or some other savings based retirement fund will save me… yeah right!
When I was a kid my stepfather used to call me the Boy Wonder. He did this for two reasons, firstly because I was a huge Batman fan – you know, the TV show with Adam West. The second reason was because I never ceased to amaze him. This wasn’t always in a good way. Along with being a Batman fan, I had dreams of becoming an All Black (New Zealand rugby player). I had a plastic rugby ball and I liked to practise my drop kicks in the yard, usually when I was meant to be bringing in the washing. One day I was out there putting toe to ball, when bang, I hit it perfectly. I knew as soon as the ball left my foot that I’d hit it sweet. When I looked up it seemed like everything was happening in slow motion: my stepfather walked past the kitchen window, the rugby ball turned end on end as it sailed though the air, then the kitchen window smashed as my perfectly struck ball flew through it. Just a few days later I was back in the yard kicking the footie ball when, once again, I should’ve been sorting out the washing. It turns out if I had been doing the laundry, I wouldn’t have ended up paying for a second broken window in less than a week.
The point I want to make here is, just because you’ve become good at something doesn’t mean you should keep doing it, especially if it’s costing you.
You can’t save 65% of your income all your working life even if you’re the best saver on the planet. And even if you are a really good saver, what’s it costing you? Probably the ability to have a life. How about as well as working your day job, you set out to build something on the side? A good old fashioned side hustle. Hell, maybe have even more than one, then, who knows, you might be able to replace your nine to five at some point.
I read somewhere – or I maybe I made it up, no I’m pretty sure I read it – that most wealthy people have five to seven different sources of income. They’re not relying on their savings to see them through, they’re building businesses and creating value and assets.
Building a business might seem like a risky thing to do. What if it doesn’t work? Well, with the gatekeepers disappearing faster than your future pension, starting a business has never been cheaper. Not only is it cheap, it’s probably less risky than your nine to five. In “The End of Jobs” by Taylor Pearson, there’s a story about a turkey that is hand reared for a thousand days. The turkey, using historical analysis of the last 1000 days, sees nothing but a bright future ahead – of course, turkeys are good at stats. What the turkey doesn’t predict is that the 1001st day is Thanksgiving. Jobs in the new economy are like this, they’re great until they’re not. See my article “The Middle Class Are Getting Fired”
“The End Of Jobs” lays out the argument that setting up a business is actually a less risky proposition than betting on your nine to five. Over the coming months we’re going to meet some people who have worked on a side hustle. They’ve built businesses that have ended up replacing their jobs and have set them off on the road to generating multiple sources of income. They are the Generalists showing the rest of us the way.
Let’s not be turkeys