When we look back at our financial decisions, we’re more likely to think of our mistakes, what we wish we would have done differently. In fact, we point out here that even as financial experts, we mess up.
When was the last time you focused on the positive financial decisions you’ve made? Often, simple, consistent decisions have the most positive impact on our finances.
The best decisions I’ve made fall into three categories: real estate, saving and investing, and my mindset.
1. Real Estate
I bought a house in 2011. This year was basically the “bottom” of the real estate market in Arizona. My wife and I purchased a starter home for $110,000! What makes this one of the best financial decisions I’ve ever made was the resulting equity I built in this house. It allowed me to bankroll myself for a few years when I started Stewardship Financial.
I rented for several years. After selling the house and starting Stewardship, my wife and I rented for five years. Money was tight and not having the extra expenses that accompany home ownership was a blessing. Plus, it allowed us the flexibility to find a neighborhood where we would eventually put down our roots long-term.
I bought an affordable house in 2020. When we decided to buy this year, the real estate market was out of control. Prices were soaring. We wanted to get “the big things right” financially, and we knew buying an expensive house would take up more monthly cash flow than we wanted. We found a house we love for $335,000. Our mortgage payment is now less than 15% of our income.
2. Saving & Investing
I started a business. This is the best financial decision I have ever made. Building a business is a great way to invest and put your income in your control—not in someone else’s. The process was hard and my family sacrificed immensely. But I knew I would regret not trying.
I started a 401(k) out of college. I admit, I didn’t fully know what I was doing. I just knew saving 6% of my income and getting a company match was going to benefit me, especially as a 22-year-old.
I automated my savings and investing. I’m not great at budgeting. This means I need to automate saving to make sure it gets done. Even when it was uncomfortable, just doing it and living off the rest did wonders for my finances. As for investing, my portfolio is the same as the portfolio I use with my clients. This takes away the urge to change things or try to time the market.
I don’t let my emotions take over. As an investor, I cannot stress enough how crucial this is to preserve and build wealth. You cannot let your emotions guide your decisions, especially when it comes to the stock market.
I focus on the process, not the outcome. Things don’t always go the way I hope, especially with investing. If I was only focused on outcomes, it would be frustrating and would likely change my approach. I made a decision to focus on the process. If the process is solid, more often than not the outcomes will follow suit.
I am content. This is not a one-time decision, but a choice I have to keep making. Being content financially doesn’t mean I let my income or wealth be stagnant. When I think of financial contentment, I think of building wealth slowly and controlling my spending–not comparing my life to others.
It’s your turn
What are some of your best financial decisions? When you think of a couple, I’d love to hear them. Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Let’s learn from each other’s smart financial choices. Share this post and see what your network has done to live financially well.