If you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about shares, investments and things like that, you’ll probably assume that you’re not an investor. That’s a reasonable assumption, but we’re about to blow your mind—we’re pretty sure that everyone is an investor in one way or the other, and “everyone” includes you.
You don’t know me!
That’s true—we don’t. But let’s take a look at what investing is.
In a nutshell, investing is putting resources (usually money) towards something that you hope will pay off later. If you invest in a business, that business may spend your investment on some kind of improvements that increase its profits, then give some of those profits back to you.
But think for a second about what money is. It’s basically just a resource. There’s nothing that says money is the only resource you can invest. When you start to think about other resources, you’ll start to realise that you’ve probably been an investor all along.
Imagine you’re a gardener for a moment. You might plant some veges, and “invest” water, energy and time. After awhile, you get your return—some delicious fresh vegetables, ready to be chopped and eaten.
Did you go to university or polytechnic? If you did, then you’re an investor. Studying is expensive and time-consuming. If you’re not surrounded with rich (and generous) family members, you have to live off your student loan and work part-time in order to (barely) pay the bills.
You probably wouldn’t do this just for fun! But it may not be about the money either. While people who study do, on average, make more than people who don’t, there are lots of other reasons you may study. You may get a lot of personal satisfaction out of working in a particular field. In order to get that “return” of a satisfied feeling, you’re investing in studying to work in the field.
The same goes for apprenticeships. Apprentices often get paid minimum wage. In some cases, they could get paid more elsewhere, but they’re investing in their future by taking a lower pay and learning a skill that will increase their ability to earn more in future.
In the workforce
Ever pull a late night to impress your boss by getting a project done? Congratulations—you're an investor. There’s no immediate gain from you sacrificing your evening, but if it builds your skills and puts you closer to a promotion, you can bet those will pay off.
Eating your vegetables? Exercising? Avoiding fast food? Having a burger every day would be delicious, and getting up to go for a run can be absolutely excruciating. Yet most people don’t have burgers every day, and lots of people go for a walk, or a run or to the gym. If you’re one of these people, then congratulations again—you’re an investor. Every time you drag yourself out of bed and go running, you’re investing in future you—even if current you would much rather be in bed.
The really cool thing
Looking at your life this way can teach you a lot about investing your money as well. Think about exercising, studying, working late and so on—these things can be mild annoyances from time to time, but they’re hopefully not completely horrible. Studying for an exam may be stressful, but overall, peoples’ memories of university tend to be pretty positive.
That’s the great thing about investing in yourself. It doesn’t have to be a complete trade-off. You don’t have to exchange total misery now in hopes of a big reward in the future. Rather, you can have it both ways.
The same goes for investing your hard-earned money
You don’t have to invest so much money that you can barely make ends meet. In fact, you don’t even need to invest so much that you need to make significant changes to your lifestyle. Investing little bits, here and there, lets you have it all—you get a return in the future, but you don’t have to sacrifice so much today that your quality of life is a lot lower.
If you’re a member of KiwiSaver, you’re already investing your money. And with Sharesies, you can really start to invest in a way that works for you.
Just like how there is no typical investor, there is no typical way to invest. It's about doing what’s right for you.