Members that are single tell me that managing their personal spending is hard compared to their coupled-up friends. They need to splash more on socialising, rent, living expenses and health insurance, etc.
Others have kids and say, “Bec, they’re bloody expensive, we can’t invest like DINKs (double-income-no-kids) can.”
And I talk to DINKs who rent, who look at people with a house, and say, “They earn more, we can’t buy like they did.”
So, we’re all looking at each other's relationship statuses, family situations, and income scenarios, and thinking, ‘It’s easier for them to save, invest, or buy. I’m not in that position, so I won’t, I shouldn’t, I can’t.’
There’s merit in some beliefs. The single life can add up. It’s about $600,000 to raise a child. The barrier to entry into the housing market is intense.
But equally true is that we all have our own shit to deal with, and if we’re holding back on our goals or financial growth because we’re comparing ourselves to others, we’re seriously missing out.
Every scenario has its challenges
A common excuse for inaction is relationship status.
For example, some individuals, if they haven't found a significant other, and that’s part of their plan, are less likely to be committed to their medium-term goals such as buying a house or starting a business. Some can’t even visualise medium-term goals, as they’re banking on them changing when someone turns up.
Meanwhile, DINKs can get stuck on compromising. There’s three people in the room — the two individuals and the couple. And families have even more perspectives to take into account.
Flip these around, and the single people are free to be the CEO and CFO of their decisions. And DINKs and families might have the economies of scale to make things happen faster.
All have their pros and cons — so the key is recognising the stories that are holding us back.
What are we telling ourselves?
It doesn’t matter what stage we’re at, there’s always an excuse not to pursue our goals and sort out our finances. The key is to acknowledge the comparisons we’re making, and if they’re based on facts. There are a few ways to do this:
Keep goal focused: The more connected we are to our values and goals, the less we’ll care about what other people are doing.
Realise it’s ludicrous to compare: Ask the question, ‘Am I the same as that person?’ You’ll have different goals, different careers, relationships, values, and incomes — it will be like an apple versus a cheesecake.
Go back to the five ‘why’s?’ For example: ‘Why do I think I can’t save because I need to spend on my social life?’ Then ask, why, why, why, why why of each answer to get to the bottom of the belief. Maybe it’s uncertainty or fear? Is it a timing thing?
With this new knowledge, we can change things.
Holding patterns aren’t helpful
If we don’t unpack the stories holding us back, we’re compounding potentially years of financial ambivalence. Add to that, if we’re putting on the brakes because of our relationship status, we could get stuck in holding patterns.
On one hand, things might not unfold as we think, and we’ll have missed out on reaching other goals that matter to us.
And if things do change, for example if you suddenly meet the one and they say, ‘Let’s buy a house!’, and you’ve been playing a waiting game, your answer might be ‘Ahhh f**k, I don’t have a deposit!’ The social factors have come together, but financially you’re still back in the dark ages. You can’t just turn up on the day and run a marathon without preparation.
This is where having goals and taking action on our finances, wherever we’re at in life, is important. We don't have to know what’s going to happen in five years, but we can be prepared for optionality so we can take up opportunities as they come.
Like we talked about in When analysis paralysis strikes, it’s about having goals, aligning our finances to those goals, but being open to pivot as new things arise.
You might look ahead and think you’d like to have a child, but are unsure. But by having that goal, and working financially towards it, one day if you say, ‘I’m ready’, your money will be ready. And if change your mind, that money can go towards another important goal.
There’s not a ‘better’ state of being
Adulting is hard and it can be scary, and sometimes we have to make it up as we go along.
For me, having a family one day is important, but after years of being a DINK, I’ll have to make some serious adjustments if that happens. So I’m already saving for that day, because I want to survive the transition!
The key is knowing our goals and aligning our finances to those goals — rather than waiting for a change of relationship status, for our kids to grow up, or to earn more money before we do it.
I genuinely believe the best time to start is now, and the hardest time to start is now! There may be a reason to delay, but if you’re going to delay today, when is it go-time?
We need to have the courage to say, ‘Everyone has their own shit, so do I, but my grass is looking pretty good. There’s some patchy bits, but I have my own lot. I'll set goals, I’ll work towards them, and be open to changing them. And I’m OK with that.’
If you’re comparing yourself to others and it’s keeping you in a holding pattern with your goals and finances, I’d love to chat about why, and how you can kick on.