All of us inherit something from our families. Some of us get legendary recipes. Some get a second language. Others get a favorite sports team. Many of us get at least a couple things we’d prefer not to have. Every one of us, though — no matter who we are — gets a starting point for defining our financial future.
It’s only natural to want a better financial situation than what your parents had, no matter what that was — and you have the advantage of learning from their generation of success (or mistakes). Improvement and progress are just part of setting financial goals. Knowing what came before you is crucial for deciding where you’d like to go.
For some, that may only mean improving stability or developing a clear plan for the future. For many more of us, though, financial growth can mean anything from achieving true financial independence, to hunting for a way to add a new comma to our net worth.
How do you do that? The only way to meaningfully improve something is to do it differently. As the common adage goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
Now swap “insanity” with “financial stagnancy.”
At the crux of financial improvement is the willingness to try different strategies, even if you think you inherited and were taught pretty solid fundamentals. Chances are, even spectacular financial principles used to amass a fortune in 1998 can stand to benefit from a few tweaks twenty years down the road.
So, if you’re looking for ways to build a financial future that’s even stronger than what came before, below are useful strategies for managing your finances in ways that may have not been available or obvious to your parents.
1. Establish Multiple Income Streams
One of tech’s most important contributions to finance has been its introduction of new possibilities for multiple income streams. Where members of older generations largely relied on the sole income earned from their 9-to-5’s, the tech-savvy of today’s workforce have easier access to alternative income, on their own time and on their own terms.
Affordable HD cameras and video editing software make a YouTube side hustle a real possibility. Ready-to-use blog platforms let specialists burn the after-work-oil and turn their niche wisdom into cash. Education companies use video chat to connect teachers and students around the world, making it possible for anyone with teachable knowledge to earn an income as a tutor. And online investment platforms, like Fundrise, make it easier than than ever for even novice investors to potentially build a passive income streams using their own investment portfolio.
Why does that matter? Well, evidence shows that there’s a strong correlation between how many investment streams a person has and the ultimate health of their finances. For example, a five-year study by Tom Corley, the author of “Rich Habits,” found that on average 65% of self-made millionaires had three income streams.
Using tech to add a brand new current to your cash flow isn’t just a way to spend your free time here and there — it’s a bonafide way to forge financial strength, in ways never before conceivable for many people. Where adding a new income stream might have seemed like an epic task in past decades, today it can be a manageable and meaningful financial level-up.
2. Diversify Into New Investment Types
For decades, the average investor has repeatedly been instructed to invest their money in a predetermined balance of stocks and bonds, according to the Modern Portfolio Theory created (and last updated) in the 1950’s.
One convention dictated that unless your financial means were extraordinary, you should follow a simple diversification strategy and allocate your portfolio based on how old you were. Your percentage of bonds should equal your age, while stocks should cover the rest. 30 years old: 30% bonds, 70% stocks.
For most people, that was it — the full extent of their portfolio. Just stocks and bonds. For today’s investor, that’s not enough. A more nuanced understanding of portfolio allocation reveals that, typically, the more you diversify the better your portfolio performance overall. In other words, diversification doesn’t just improve stability — it has also historically boosted returns. And to reap the full benefits of that fact, investors need to diversify beyond stocks and bonds.
Unfortunately, many of the best diversification opportunities have been limited to only accredited investors for decades. In the past, even if your parents knew it was optimal to diversify beyond stocks and bonds, it’s likely that their options were limited.
Now, again largely thanks to tech, there’s a new world of diversification options available to a new generation of investors, even those just getting started. From Initial Coin Offerings (untested and uncertain) to real estate (conventional and well-understood), the internet has granted all investors the power to diversify with sophistication.
These are options that were truly unavailable to your parents — because they hadn’t been invented yet.
But now that they exist…
3. Use Data to Your Advantage
Financial success and financial knowledge often go hand-in-hand. The better you understand market trends, budgeting fundamentals, historical patterns, and other big picture ideas, the more effectively you can handle your money.
But, a lot of the time, even more important than understanding the big picture is understanding something much more specific: yourself. And in finance, there’s a lot of personal information to analyze.
Today, fortunately, we have a wealth of tools that we can use to reveal our financial habits, tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses, which can help us monitor aspects of our lives that we might not even be aware of. Personal finance insights are one of the most valuable resources for someone serious about money. Monitoring yourself is mandatory for maximizing your opportunities, and today’s technology gives any user the capability to instrument and track their financial life with all the detail of an EKG machine measuring a heartbeat.
Platforms like Mint, for instance, equip you with the capability to track and meter all your financial moves without needing to spend a fortune on an accountant; while a dashboard like the one Fundrise provides investors lets you monitor minute details vital to your portfolio, all the way down to the dividends produced by the dozens of properties in your investments, on a daily basis.
Historically, the best investors have only gone after the opportunities that they’ve understood — and that’s smart. You should always makes sure you have a confident, detailed understanding of how your money’s working.
Then, once you’ve mapped your own financial universe, it’s easy to take advantage of all the data and tools available, which unlock sophisticated financial opportunities, for investors of all types.
Unless you’re a professional money manager of career investor, it’s not feasible to learn everything about every market. Tech-driven solutions, however, have given personal finance a modern-day renaissance, and you can now do more than ever as an average investor.
A simple internet connection equips you with an amount of financial firepower that would have taken a lifetime of effort to muster even twenty years ago. If, for example, you see an opportunity for your portfolio to benefit from a real estate investment but know nothing about the subject, a cornucopia of detailed knowledge from industry experts is no more than a click away.
Make ‘Em Proud
There’s a direct link between financial education and financial evolution. The more you know, the more options you have — and the more opportunities to discover how to do what your parents didn’t. If you’re looking for the kind of opportunity that wasn’t around in back in the day, consider starting now and learning more about the sorts of opportunities that are available for the first time.