Finimize Book Club
Investment Ladies Book Club
I’ve been involved in an investment book club, hosted by Finimize, for over a year. Finimize is a startup whose mission is to empower more people to invest through their daily financial newsletter and App.
The book club originally was a one-off meeting to engage with women, who tend to invest less than men. It's turned into a monthly meeting where we discuss a book over wine and cheese, and hear from each other's experiences. We’ve learnt so much about budgeting, finances and investing in a fun and supportive environment where we don’t have the fear of judgement from friends or family. We celebrate our wins and support each other when we’ve been knocked down.
I wanted to provide a neat summary of what we’ve learnt to act as a handy reminder for existing members and a mudmap for new members who want to get up to speed.
Michelle Sims, Global Community Manager at Finimze, is the host of our monthly book club sessions and she let me run a design workshop at the final event of the year. I asked everybody to write down on post-its what their key take-aways are from a year of reading finance and investment books. We split up into two smaller groups and had some discussions, then re-grouped and shared our thoughts. I collated the findings and sorted them into themes, ordering them into steps to take before investing.
I’d originally planned to work on my visual design skills for this project, but I procrastinated so much and realised that I could be just as helpful writing a shortlist of steps to take. I did create some visuals that members could look at on their phone and a going to continue to work on these with feedback from the book club. I captured the lessons in brief headings that match the steps in this post and set them against a sunrise themed background. The user can swipe through each step which brightens progressively like a new day dawning, as their financial knowledge and journey improves.
Mood board for the design of the phone swipe cards. I'll keep working on the styling.
1 Debt - smash it
We’re not talking about a mortgage here. There’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ debt for sure, so if you have the bad kind, get rid of it. No amount of savings, interest rates or return on investment will beat the interest you owe on debt.
“Pay off more expensive first not necessarily the biggest balance #debtfree.”
2 Credit - cut it
Credit is only your friend if you’re the one calling the shots. Otherwise it’s like one of those people you know is a liability and causes havoc whenever they’re around. Use a credit card to boost your credit score if you’re looking to secure a mortgage. Make sure you read the fine print and pay it off in full on the monthly. If you can’t do that then it’s more of a problem than a benefit.
“Pay yourself BEFORE you spend a dime of your salary.”
3 Budget - nail it
Whether it’s with old school ledgers, detailed spreadsheets, pen and paper or the latest technology in an app, just sit down once a month on your own and decide how you’ll spend your money. Divvy your dollars (or pounds, yes, but alliteration) into separate pockets, accounts, envelopes or buckets, and appreciate that budgeting is a ticket to freedom, not a restriction on your life.
Pretend you’re an accountant in a Dickensian novel if you have to. That’s what I do.
“There's rice at home!”
4 Goals - sort 'em
Do you want to save for a mortgage? A big holiday or a car? Spending a few minutes writing down your goals will help you sort out all your other steps, and give you something to look forward to with a smile when you’re doing your budget. I set up an automated ISA account that rounds up every purchase and automatically saves them. It’s amazing what can happen when you’re not watching.
We all want to retire in comfort, so keep track of what your pension plan is doing (or superannuation for Aussies). If you have several, see if you can consolidate them to reduce the fees you pay. They’ll chip away at your funds. There are tax benefits involved in contributing to pensions, so while we don’t need to look at it as the only plan for retirement, we might as well take advantage of those benefits.
“Invest for your future 'cos the government will keep raising the pension age.”
6 Escape fund - keep it secret, keep it safe
Also known as a f#%k off fund in some books… To tide you over in a worst case scenario. My dad had been a magistrate and spent time presiding over a domestic violence court and he recommended this to women all the time. You never know what might happen, so have enough funds for travel to safety, accommodation, and freedom to get back on your feet.
“Everybody should have a f#%k off fund.”
This is different from an escape fund. Keep a liquid savings fund for scenarios like losing your job, a boiler breaking, or car troubles. A benchmark is six months of living expenses. Knowing your budget will help with knowing how much you need.
“I saved my money!” - Deacon Blue
If you’re done with the preceding steps, you’re ready to invest! When you have savings that aren’t in your escape fund or emergency savings, it’s a good idea to make your money work for you. Over the years inflation will eat it up if it’s kept in cash. You probably won’t become a millionaire through investing, but historically, the rate of return on investing over ten years beats cash. There are various ways that we’ve started investing, including:
• Stocks and shares ISAs
• exchange traded funds (ETFs)
Consider the timeframe you might need or want this money, because investing is a risk and the market goes up and down. Generally, investment funds may take up to seven years for a payoff, so it may not be worthwhile if you want the money sooner. Choosing what to invest in is not just about your risk aversion but the length of time that you’re looking to part with that money.
“Start. It doesn't matter with what amount. Just start.”
9 Compound interest
The best time to start investing is when you first start earning an income. But don’t worry, the second best time is today. Compound interest is that magic thing that if you invest your money, it will grow on top of itself, like a good little mutant. Use it to your advantage. If you receive dividends put them back into your investment portfolio and watch it grow.
“Compound interest is QUEEN.”
10 Diversify diversify diversify
To reduce the risk of your investment portfolio dropping dramatically with the ups and downs of the market, diversify. Tony Robbins suggest we diversify:
• across asset classes
• within asset classes
• across markets, countries and currencies globally
• across time.
This lesson of diversification can also be applied to your whole financial plan - nobody here says you should invest ALL your money. There’s real estate, pensions, yourself or your business, and investing.
“A little bit all the time is better than a big one-off investment.”
11 It's a long game
Spend time doing your research prior to making an investment, and check that things aren’t deviating too far on a regular but not too frequent basis. Hold your ground when the market is going south. Remember that investing pays off in the long-term and the market is not in charge of you. Calm your panic monster and don’t be disheartened.
“Time in the market beats timing the market.”
This is a guideline for the lovely crew in my bookclub, and I’m not a finance guru. Investing is a great way to contribute to the world economy, make your money work for you and lets you back businesses that you believe in. I’ve included a booklist below and some handy resources for further reading. Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any thoughts or want to join the book club yourself. I'll leave you with my favourite quote from a fellow book club member, that gets me excited to be a Wall St wolf incarnate:
"When blood is running down the streets, it's time to buy."
Swipe cards to send to people in the book club, to remind us of steps to take to our financial freedom.