After being a financial adviser for over 30 years and helping many people to financial freedom and retirement, I have definitely learnt that having a ‘rich life’ is far more important than ‘being rich’. As having all the money in the world is useless if you don’t have your health and not happy with life. I have met some very rich but very miserable people over the years and don’t envy them at all.
For me, it’s all about having enough money to be happy, healthy and to be able to live the life you want now and in the future.
So while I am no wellness expert, I have had the chance to listen and learn from some amazing finance and health experts from around the world and have built this list of my Top 8 tips to enjoying a ‘rich life’.
Catch the FIRE bug (Financially Independent – Retire Early)
FIRE stands for Financial Independence and Retire Early, something I believe we can all agree on. This doesn’t mean you need to stop work as you may really still enjoy doing this, it just means you want to be in a financial position to work because you want to, rather than being forced to.
You need a plan and for me you need to do three things, firstly set some goals to reach financial independence, for example, how much do you need to live on (you can work this out for a yearly or monthly amount) and then when you want this by (10 years from now for example). These numbers and time frames could change but get something down on paper and can always review.
The second thing is to what you will do when you reach financial independence, is that to continue to work, travel, go back to study? It’s worth thinking about now, and again while it may change over the years, write it down to make it feel real.
The last step is to work out where you are now and if you are on target to reach you financial goals. There are plenty of free calculators to put these numbers in, my own website has a free calculator as does MoneySmart and most superfund websites. In short, you can look at possible ways of bridging the gap to reach your targets, through extra savings, seeing how your funds are invested to get them working harder or seeing an adviser but at least you have started this journey and having a plan is half the battle.
Enjoy some quiet time everyday
So many people in their 50s and 60s find themselves doing stressful work or having other sources of stress in their lives. Of course, we’ll never get rid of stress altogether – having some level of stress can be a good thing – but you need to have it under control, understand it and be able to deal with it.
Just 10 or 20 minutes every day whether first thing in the morning or before you go to sleep, to just find somewhere on your own, is a simple but powerful way of keeping stress under control I find.
Read books for enjoyment
I have discovered there are significant benefits to regular reading, including mental stimulation, relaxation, better memory and improved sleep. It’s also just enjoyable.
Google may have largely replaced reading as a source of information, but to my mind it is still books that provide knowledge – and enjoyment.
Exercise – we are living longer so we want to make sure we enjoy it
Not everyone has the necessary motivation to get fit and keep their weight under control, but the truth is that the older we get the greater the likelihood of health challenges arising. And the best way of being ready for those challenges is to have a reasonable underlying level of fitness.
While football and golf work for me, for you it might be tennis or swimming or another sport. Perhaps taking part in organised fitness classes with a friend, or walking with a group, is your thing as you all help keep each other motivated. Whatever works for you. The important thing is that you’re getting off the couch and doing some form of regular exercise. As life expectancies increase, we want to make sure we are maintaining quality of life and not just quantity.
Have 8 hours of sleep
It wasn’t so long ago that time management experts were encouraging us to squeeze a few more minutes into the start and end of each day in order to get a bit more done … at the expense of sleep. The science of sleep has advanced substantially in recent years and its importance is now recognised as critical to almost every aspect of our health and wellbeing.
What most experts agree on now is that eight hours of sleep each night is important and you’ll get even better results if one to two of those hours is before midnight.
Try to avoid late-night snacks, avoiding drinking (other than water) in the two or three hours before bed and making sure you get off the computer and other devices for at least an hour before bed as well. Of course, you are never going to be perfect every night but something to aim for.
Watch what and how much you eat
Getting our diet right seems to become increasingly more challenging as we get older. Even maintaining the same diet can lead to weight gain as we don’t need as much food as we used to, to sustain ourselves – particularly if the amount of exercise we do drops off. Like so many, I have had a not-so-healthy appreciation of junk food, sweets and meat – all things we are told we should be eating less of.
We all need to find what works for each of us and for me, it was discovering the benefits of small portions of meat with plenty of pasta and salads of a typical Mediterranean diet. I still love a good steak but there’s no doubt that a more moderate approach to red meat consumption has been good for me.
Work on a positive and happy attitude
It might sound overly simplistic, but having a positive outlook on life can make a big difference to your health. Think this won’t work for you … you’ve been a pessimist all your life? Think again. There are programs built around mindfulness and happiness that can turn almost any naysayer into a much more optimistic soul.
I recommend everyone watch Shawn Achor’s TED Talk, ‘The Happy Secret to Better Work’. He points out that most people have things the wrong way round. We tend to believe that when we reach some target – get the dream job, get a salary increase, etc. – this will finally make us happy. Whereas it should be the other way round. Be happy first, then you will find it easier to achieve your goals, targets, find the right job and so on.
Of course, the thing that sits behind everything I’ve talked about so far, is motivation. If you can’t find the motivation to manage your money, you’re unlikely to spend any time and effort doing so. If you can’t find the motivation to eat well, exercise or get enough sleep, you’re unlikely to do those things either. I am a big advocate of having someone in your life who keeps you accountable.
It may be a number of people. But we shouldn’t assume that we will be able to motivate ourselves. The top sportspeople, even in individual sports like tennis, still have coaches. So do the most successful business people. If you can find a coach or coaches that will work for you, they will almost certainly be worth the investment. So, if you’re going to sign up to a gym, pay the extra money and get a trainer, or at least find a gym buddy who’ll motivate you to turn up with them. Likewise, when it comes to your finances, you need a coach too – especially if you’re someone who does not enjoy that aspect of your life.
As my final message, it’s important to understand you only get one chance at life, so it’s important to put some work in, and if needed get some advice and coaching, and best of luck on your own financial wellness and ‘rich life’ journey.
Article by Marc Bineham – Money coach, speaker and award-winning author of The Money Sandwich