Let’s talk about Bill. He is a 29-year-old social media wiz / ‘digital native’. Outside of being an ‘influencer’ on five different social media platforms, even the one’s you haven’t heard off (like Viva), Bill works for a large bank. Bill’s income has increased over the last eight years from $35k p.a. as a graduate, to a salary of $100k p.a., now as a digital community manager. Bill’s 50 year old boss doesn't really know what Bill does, but when he says things like SEO, multi-platform communication and expanding digital footprint, he is convinced that Bill is nailing his job. On top of all that, Bill’s manager is really impressed by “all the followers the bank has amassed on the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram”.
Bill partied hard in his early twenties. He looks back with wonder at how he ever went out both nights of the week-end, paid rent and survived on $35k p.a. These days, with a much higher income and because he no longer goes out both nights a weekend (he is like, so mature), Bill has saved a lot more money, in addition to an incredible photography collection from bi-annual overseas 'discovery' travels. Even better, Bill is able to show off his Photography collection by posting a dozen pictures an hour to Instagram. This inspires astronomically high levels of jealousy from anyone who at that very moment was not personally having a spiritual awakening in Croatia. Bill finds discussing his latest trip with friends over some smashed-avo and 50/50 soy/skim latté’s far more rewarding than hitting some unknown savings target.
Despite a priceless amount of Instagram hysteria, Bill has actually managed to save almost $50,000 dollars. This sits in a bank account accumulating interest. He has thought about saving towards an apartment, but to buy an apartment where he is happy to live costs around $800,000 in Sydney. This means for a a 20% deposit and 5% for costs (stamp duty and legal fees), Bill probably needs about $200,000 to get into the market. With the property market seemingly rising faster than his ability to save, Bill has given up on the prospect of buying an apartment any time soon and is content to grow his @spiritualtravelawakening Instagram following.
What are Bill’s options
Bill’s current after tax income is about $6,254 per month. He spends a lot of this but is now able to save over $800 a month. When Bill begun his career he was living off a comparatively small after tax income of about $2,688 per month. In the last six years Bill has become accustomed to spending an extra $2,700 per month!!
Let's propose a scenario where Bill exercises a little self-directed budgetary discipline and saves a further $1,500 per month above his current savings. Bill is still enjoying a lifestyle where he is outlaying $1,200 a month (or $300 a week after tax) more than when he started his career.
Let's take this scenario one step further and propose that Bill now engages a financial adviser to assist. The adviser sets up an automatic sweep of funds from Bill’s bank account after each monthly pay check. This sweep moves savings straight into an investment portfolio. Bill no longer thinks about how much to save each month as his adviser manages this on his behalf. Bill knows that if he spends everything remaining in his bank account after the sweep, he is still on track financially and to top this off, he is able to check the status of his investment portfolio on the his iPhone 16 (Bill recently upgraded). Even better, instead of Bill’s saving's accumulating interest at less than 3%p.a., Bill has an arrangement with some guy called Frank who gives him tax credits to generate, on average, an 8% return per annum.
We have essentially outlined three scenarios for Bill (current, self-directed saving and adviser engaged saving). The below graph outlines the three scenarios, over a seven year period, and overwhelming demonstrates the importance of behavioral modification. Given that Bill’s career is likely to continue to grow, the below modelling is a modest projection of his wealth accumulation potential.
- Behavioral modification, resulting in a manageable savings regimen, is the most significant contributor to Bill’s improved financial circumstances;
- When sticking to a self-directed savings plan, within seven years Bill doubled the wealth he would have otherwise had if continuing down his present path;
- With the additional investment assistance of an adviser, Bill achieves this doubling of wealth within five years (net of fees);
- There is a negative correlation between Bill’s wealth and the number people following his @spiritualtravelawakening Instagram account.
If you are a disciplined saver then you are, or should be, on track to make the best of your circumstances. If you are not disciplined then the longer you wait to act, the more difficult your wealth accumulation journey becomes.
When young, you haven't yet generated a significant financial asset base, how you save is more important than how you invest. It is only as you begin to accumulate scale in your assets, that your investment decisions become progressively more important.
Our savvy investor Bill was so impressed with the financial impact his adjustment in lifestyle had in such a short space of time that he decided to sell most of his dozen camera’s and moderated his travel to one o/s trip per year.
Within five years, Bill was able to put a deposit on his house and begin a different spiritual journey.