Once upon a time there was a well worn path laid out for us – we went to school, found a job, got married, had kids upon which time the wife would leave work and the husband would stay at the one job until he retired and received a gold watch. It all rolled out in a predictable, if not always happy, order. Nowadays, I’m so thankful that we have choice. The choice to stay single, to start a business, try a new career, take sabbatical, have children or not have children, to live with our life partner (regardless of gender), to move overseas, have a sea change, tree change and the list goes on and on.
However, what I’m incredibly surprised at sometimes is how little consciousness or mindfulness we give to our choices.
Part of my role in the financial advising space (other than consciously shaking it up a little) is to highlight to people that they have a choice and to give them a voice around what that looks like. That’s because it’s all very well to have choice but when you’re so used to just following the herd it can be daunting sometimes to choose something different.
My piece for Fairfax this week (in the Money Section of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, etc) highlighted our ability to have choice – the choice not to mindlessly buy a family home to live in because that’s what is expected of us. To challenge the belief many of us have that in order to financially grow up we need to put down roots and that means buying a home to live in. To highlight that there are viable alternatives to consider. Of course, what I also suggested is that for some people buying their family home is the exact right thing to do but to understand it’s not something that we should all simply default to.
Like anything that is slightly controversial there was a bit of chatter around it (which I love) and I was invited to be on Weekend Sunrise as a result. While it was only a short segment, Sunrise popped it on their Facebook Page and it started a debate (to date, 162 comments, 45 shares and 180 likes) around whether it was better to rent or buy.
What I love most about this (despite the fact it was clear some didn’t watch the video or read the article) is that we’re talking about it. We’re questioning norms and we’re (hopefully) becoming conscious consumers.
What about you? Over the last month I’ve met with couples and we’ve looked at whether they should buy vs rent and the obvious answer hasn’t always been clear cut. However the one thing they all appreciated was that they now had choice. They knew the pros and cons, they understood the impact of their decision and they could make a mindful decision, rather than simply doing what everyone else was doing.
After all, keeping up with the Joneses is so 1990’s. In today’s age or mindfulness and forging our own path – let’s really decide to do that – to exercise real choice, especially when it comes to our money and finances.