I am more likely to burn out than to goof off – and what that means for my money
This post sponsored by BMO Nesbitt Burns. BMO SmartFolio is a product of BMO Nesbitt Burns. All opinions are, as ever, my own.
The most common thing I get asked in random conversations involving the question ‘what do you do?’ is ‘wow… create content from home, aren’t you worried you’ll just Netflix on the couch all day?’
Excellent question. One that usually leads to a much longer conversation.
The answer is, yes, it’s a very real danger. For like the first 6 months! Or every so often; for a day.
The truth, and one that I rarely get around to telling people in these conversations with any kind of clarity, is ‘no’. Ain’t no self-employed people going out of business because they Netflix-and-chilled for too long!
That’s the stereotype. We’ve moved past that as a people 🙄
If anything the opposite is the problem.
I can speak for my solo squad when I say that more often we’re overworked, burnt out, and brain-fried than we are guilty because we took too much time off in the absence of accountability. (i.e. No 9-5 clocking. No disapproving-boss-gaze if you’re not pulling those socks way up. Heck, no rush hour to beat on the commute to the couch. And, I mean, who would really know if I put something stronger in my 9am coffee?)
Nobody would care.
This as I see it is a ‘job’ I’m never checking out of. Because where would I go? To the competitor? To a start-up that I’ll pour my whole soul into (it may as well be mine)? To some large corporation I’d never fit into? Whose restrictions would either kill my spirit or aggravate me into a flamboyant, bridge-burning exit? #HardPass on all those.
When it’s yours, and it’s what you want to do, you rarely check out. And if you do, it’s likely because you’re done. At which point you’ll get out on the quick (we’ve got strong instincts us watch-our-own-back-ers; even those of us that think we don’t. Learning to trust them, however, is a lifetime job.)
Most of the stories of ‘entrepreneurship’ you hear are either the wild successes or the crazy failures. (And the crazy failures will tell you they were either on the path to something bigger or just not meant for it.)
Many of us who are self-employed though are perhaps in a middle space. This is really, really important to us, and we make a legit living out of it. Just like anyone in a ‘permanent job’ we try to make that living better as we go by improving ourselves.
Some might call this discipline. I prefer commitment.
And commitment, I realize, is a teachable skill.
So I’m teaching it to myself in other aspects of my life. Starting with my finances.
Here’s my story.
Nothing motivates me like travel. If I can find a way to change my scene once every 3 months, and find a way to stick some luxury in there, so ‘slumming it’ isn’t factoring anywhere on the itinerary, two thumbs up! That is the closest thing to the definition of success that I hold myself to.
I’ve tried some avatars of accountability to facilitate that travel fund.
Swift aside to define ‘travel fund’: In my head, it’s this central space (oh ok, call it account then). I’ll keep feeding into it in some way – no fixed frequency *shudder*. It’ll be in this fantastic, if fictitious, holding. I’ll add more to it often from all this financial commitment I’m teaching myself. It’ll keep growing. It’ll all be very liquid and operationally easy to take from, as I need for my quarterly sojourns, but will still continue to grow!
Yeah, nothing is that perfect. I get that. Like I said, I’ve tried a few things!
One time I decided to get literal about the fund.
The method included putting money in a jar. I kid you not! I read some money guru thing about how handling your money (and fully comprehending it’s physical power) brings good juju. So the task involved incremental amounts of money each day into a glass jar where you could see it and touch it. And while I’m all over energy talk, remembering how much to put in each time, and using cash when I’m so not a cash person was not for me! There ended that effort, never really even scaling from a piggy bank to an investment account.
So I changed the tool. Maybe there’s something poetic about that fact that good juju in my life, money or not, needs to be digital more than tangible. BMO SmartFolio is what I’m using to build my financial commitment now. Civilized and online, and in keeping with my happiest-when-I-don’t-have-to-talk-to-people personality.
I mean, who doesn’t like playing with an online calculator? Pretty, interactive variables? Fun!
Shiny objects, people. Shiny objects. Love me some shiny objects with a purpose. If you can put some gaming into math, you’ve got my attention (and respect). That’s what the goals section of this platform does for me. It’s not gaming technically, but I use it like it is 🙈
It helps me visualize my imagined scenarios. I’ll make a rudimentary plan out of my goal to travel the world as much as I possibly can before I die, I say. And I’ll break it into bite-sized chunks.
So, many blissful (and oddly-soothing) minutes later, I had changed deets around until I’d seen the circle in all kinds of colours and percentages 😂 And I got me some numbers.
By my particular variables of calculation, it appears I need to put away a princely sum of $352 a month to make my personal #TravelGoals for the foreseeable future a reality.
Sounds do-able, right? So do-able! 🤘
Now obviously that’s just the base of it. It’ll change over time. But you get why it’s nice to have things broken down like that, right?!
Now, I should say that I didn’t save all that ‘gaming’ I did. I understand you can only set one goal per portfolio. And that all my investment objectives need to be geared toward helping me there (i.e. if saving for travel, my risk questionnaire should reflect that I may want access to my money in the short term. That would translate to perhaps investing in a lower risk model portfolio to avoid the ups and downs of the stock market). Since the big life goal that I put down when I opened this account is to not have to retire in the streets, I realize my random travel interludes, were I to put them in, would actively mess with the process. The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to make this ETF portfolio support our travel goals as a family, and that is probably what I’m going to do.
Delayed gratification dream come true in the making right there. Motivating. Commitment-inducing. And entirely scalable into many larger investing habits.
A way to move stuff out of the ‘piggy bank’ of good intentions on this front for me, and into the ‘bank bank’ 😄
Now have you never invested before, you ask?
Of course I have.
I’ve been ‘in the workforce’ for over 20 years. I’ve had my share of company-matched contributions to things, lock-away plans, insurance thinly-veiled as investment, poor real estate decisions, and ‘high-interest’ things! In different parts of the world too, as if to make things extra challenging for thrills! 🙄 I still have a motley collection of those in different shades of ‘needs resolving’. Especially now that I work for myself, and things have changed considerably.
I do value consistent financial advice and I will seek it out at many points in my life, like I’ve done before, I’m sure.
What BMO SmartFolio does for me is offer a user-friendly option.
I cannot stress enough that the clincher for me is that it’s online, it’s easy to use, and it’s smart. Experts manage your money for you so you don’t have to. The portfolios are managed by portfolio managers and CFAs that know their gig, and it’s all delivered through smart front-end tech that you interact with. I like technology, so this method of delivery I’m all over. Bonus? The fact that registered Nesbitt Burns advisors will support you if you have questions or want to make changes.
Told ya. Commitment is a teachable skill. And apparently, you learn it better with the right tools!
So I’m teaching myself to rethink how I look at investment as a solopreneur in 2018. Because the truth is every entrepreneur I know who made it big and wasn’t just a ‘one hit wonder’ built sustainable wealth by investing intelligently. They found a way to understand investing and make it work for them.
It’s got to be done.
So, what’s my pitch to you?
If this is a way of investing that appeals, try it with something small. Maybe you were looking put something into a TFSA or RRSP, for example… give it a try using BMO SmartFolio.
Brand new information: Recently, SmartFolio has reduced the minimum balance from 5K to 1K. The same fees and benefits apply. It’s now just easier to get in and get started seeing your money grow IMO.
It’s simple enough to invest online like we’ve discussed in my first piece here, and since they’ve got this referral program, if you use this the code MM79VR to open an account (with the minimum balance), they’ll manage your first 15K free for one year– that means no advisory fees. Plus they’ll deposit $50 into your SmartFolio account for extra good juju 😊😊
And in the interest of complete transparency, I will get $50 in my account for each referral. And while that’s lovely, who doesn’t like ‘free money’, you do know I wouldn’t suggest you give something like this a try just for the 50 bucks, right?! Yeah, you do! Phew!
Cooler still? If you open a SmartFolio account and like your experience, you can pass along your referral information to anyone else interested, and the exact same benefits will apply to you and the people you refer. Sounds like a super even playing field to me – in an everybody wins kinda way 😊
If you’ve stayed with me this far in the story, (5 whole episodes of it) you’ll probably agree this is a pretty compelling investing option to investigate for yourself.
Images 📷 credit: Shutterstock – licensed to BMO SmartFolio