3 min read
1. A little knowledge is dangerous. When I first started reading books on investing, I tried to implement various stock-picking strategies supported by different authors. I would acquire just enough knowledge about P/E ratios or dividend yields and attempt to buy and sell stocks on a weekly basis using this knowledge. This caused me to rack up trading fees and short-term capital gain taxes, without actually making any profits.
Because of my lack of knowledge, I would also listen to personalities like Robert Kiyosaki and Jim Cramer who would attempt to predict market crashes or individual stock price movements. I would then attempt to move my investments around based on their commentary. This also turned out to be a suboptimal investment strategy.
It wasn’t until I started to read more blogs like Jim Collins or listen to podcasts like Invest Like the Best that I realized just how much thought and analysis goes into individual stock purchases by professionals, most of whom still don’t beat the market. Once I began to build up some financial acumen, I saw that index funds were the best investments for novices like myself.
Generally speaking, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I actually know about most topics. It’s silly to think that I could become an expert on any subject in a short period of time, which means it’s probably a bad idea to make decisions (like investing) with only surface-level knowledge.
2. Living light is a financial life hack. I recently listened to an RV Entrepreneur podcast
episode with Bryanna Royal, who lives in an RV and travels full time with her husband, four children, and two dogs.
She mentioned that when her family initially started living in an RV, they didn’t have a concrete plan for earning income outside of her husband’s remote job. What enabled them to take the risk, though, was the fact that their monthly spending was incredibly low. They didn’t have outlandish housing or transportation costs, which meant they didn’t actually need a high income to support their lifestyle.
I have noticed this trend in other areas as well. On the How I Built This podcast, most of the entrepreneurs who start successful businesses explain that they live on a bare-bones budget when they’re first starting out so that even a low income can support their lifestyle.
Whether you’re looking to live in an RV full time, start a business, or just achieve financial independence as fast as possible, living light is a serious financial life hack.
3. Blogging improves writing and communication skills. I’m no modern-day Hemingway but my writing has improved quite a bit since I first started this blog. This has a direct benefit at my day job. Whether I’m writing an email, making PowerPoint slides, or creating a report, I feel that I’m better at communicating my ideas since I have been practicing sharing my thoughts and ideas here on this blog consistently for over a year.
4. Going for walks is underrated. I kept hearing about the benefits of taking walks on different podcasts and self-help articles from people like Ryan Holiday, Patrick O’Shaughnessy, and Cal Newport, but I always thought it sounded like a waste of time. That is, until I started taking walks.
I have had some of the best ideas and realizations come to me on walks. I also feel more energized and clear-headed after taking one. Something about physically moving in nature without a phone or any technology strapped to me is magical.
5. Broccoli is a life hack. There is no way you can eat an entire bowl of broccoli and tell me you don’t feel like a superhero.
6. Check-in’s are more effective than daily tracking. If you’re someone who tracks income, spending, and net worth on a daily basis, more power to you. But personally I have found that “checking in”, usually on the first day of the month, is a better way to keep an eye on my own financials.
Checking my investments on a daily basis just made me anxious. I was always nervous to see if my stock holdings and subsequently my net worth was up or down for the day. This was a ridiculous habit. Most daily market movements are just noise. To see any real trends you have to adopt a longer time horizon. I find that it’s easier to stick with a buy-and-hold strategy of index fund investing if I check stock prices less frequently.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
His favorite investment platform is M1 Finance, a site that allows him to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free, has no trading or maintenance fees, and even allows him to set up automated target-allocated investments.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer.