Once upon a time life was far more predictable. There was a well-worn path laid out in front of us and everyone understood what was expected. We would finish school, find a job, marry, buy a house and have children, at which time the wife would of course stop working. Meanwhile the husband would work for the one company and retire at an appropriate age, accept a gold watch and receive the old age pension.
Today, this 1950’s fairy tale has been exposed as just that: a fantasy. The concept of ‘a job for life’ is extinct and most of us will actively seek out not just different jobs but different career paths at least once in our working life. It’s not just in the world of work that things have changed. We now anticipate there will be more than one partner for each of us and the term family includes couples with single children, single parents, child-free couples, childless couples, gay couples, friendship groups and more.
There is also a growing awareness you don’t have to own your home and a growing suspicion there may not be an old age pension to rely on when many of us finally reach retirement age — an age that is moving further away as governments scramble to find the funds to support an ageing population. We’re also witnessing a growing movement of people who are keen to seize the day, to live for the moment and seek out experiences above all else.
The primary focus for many of us is becoming how to enjoy the here and now and to let the future take care of itself, because we can’t predict what three years’ time will look like, never mind 30.
Sure, today’s stories allow for more freedom and opportunities than the stories of yesteryear, but the reality is, if you’re not making conscious decisions particularly when it comes to your finances, modern society can also be an extremely perilous time.
That’s because with easy credit, the ability to spend 24/7, an unwillingness to be tied down, and less regard for future security, there is a strong possibility that many of us will wake up one day and realise the ugly truth: we had a great time for a period in our lives, but the rest of our time isn’t going to be particularly desirable. In short, we’ll find ourselves fabulous but broke.
In our fast-paced, ever-changing world, the challenge therefore is to ensure we are making the most of whatever situation we choose or find ourselves in, for however long we may be there. To not simply press pause until we get to the next stage — because there is no longer a traditional next stage. Instead, to be truly present and make great financial decisions for wherever we happen to find ourselves — not only for today but for the future.
That’s why we I believe, no matter where we are at in life, we need to seek out financial resilience. Now, financial resilience might not sound sexy or exciting, but it means wherever you end up in life you are able to land there without stress, worry and more importantly, with a whole host of options available to you.
Financial resilience is about creating a lifestyle that is about more than simply being fabulous in the moment, but broke next week. It encourages you to have the means to adapt and thrive, no matter which chapter you are up to in life and no matter where your life takes you.
Of course, to develop financial resilience you need to understand what you have to work with, to acknowledge where you are at, and perhaps what you are unconsciously waiting for. It is more than believing your pay packet is large enough to pull you out of whatever hole you might find yourself in but instead it’s about working out what you want out of life and making a financial plan to get you there. And most importantly, to act on it.
Whatever your story, whatever your life stage, the most important thing is that you become the author of one of the details you can control within it: your finances. That way, no matter what type of tale you find yourself in, you can be financially ready for every page-turning moment of it.