Growing up, Tim didn’t learn about investing. After some trial and error, he’s figured out a strategy that works for him and his goals—and sets his young family up for the future.
Tell us about yourself
I’m 26 and live in Northern Beaches, Sydney. I work as a handyman and in relocations at a university. My partner and I are currently renovating our house. We’re also expecting our first child soon. It’s all happening!
What’s your money story?
My dad was a barrister, and for the first half of my childhood, money was abundant. When my dad had to stop working, we went from having plenty of money and going on overseas trips every year to food rations. We moved to a cheaper city, and I started working from the age of 14.
I was never explicitly taught about money, but I learnt a lot about what not to do from observing my parents. My approach to money now is about making sure I don’t end up in the same situation. I can only make so much money today, but I can see it stretching further—I can make my money work for me, instead of the other way around.
Why did you start investing?
When I got my first proper job out of school, I built up a few thousand dollars in savings. In the past, I’d spent it all on the dopamine rush of a shiny new guitar or something, but that reward never stuck. Eventually, I clocked on to the fact that the people I grew up with were doing okay—half of them weren’t even working. I was like, how are they doing that? They’d made their money from businesses, property, and shares. I figured that’s what I should try and do too.
The first time I invested in shares, I did very little research. I invested in a company that everyone was talking about, and spent lots of money on high brokerage fees. When the share market dipped during COVID, I knew it was time to take advantage of opportunities. I did what every other silly punter did, and made some money. It made me think, if this is what I can do when I’m not even paying attention, what would happen if I did actual research and learnt more about investing?
How would you describe your investment strategy now?
Investing is extremely high on my priority list. I try to keep my expenses low and live off less than half of my paycheck so I can invest the rest. I use a few different investment platforms, including the Sharesies app. I like to keep them separate, use them for different kinds of investing, and figure out which ones to recommend to friends and family to help them get started.
My portfolio has changed over time too. I’d invested in so many different companies that I’d essentially created my own, terribly-performing fund. I spent time consolidating that, and taking advantage of the upswings to sell investments that weren’t worth holding onto anymore. I’m trying not to touch them now unless something significant changes (I’ve set up price notifications 👀)—I’ve realised they have a much longer investment horizon than I originally thought.
I’ve also been dollar-cost averaging into exchange-traded funds (ETFs)—essentially buying more units when it’s cheaper, and less when it’s more expensive. I look for ETFs that track an index with minimal fees, and then buy and hold. The consistency has made me feel more confident. I see investing as something that I “get” to do to secure my future, rather than something I “have” to do.
How have you learnt more about investing over time?
Podcasts and books were essential to learning the basics and understanding the complex stuff; Rask, My Millennial Money, and Equity Mates have all been in rotation at some point or another.
The most important thing for me has been trial and error, and learning from my mistakes. There was a brief period where I was honestly just gambling and not even realising it. Accepting that there’s still a lot that I don’t know, recognising and trying to address my own biases, and talking to people who are further down the path that I want to be on have all been really helpful.
These days, I look for investment ideas in trends I see around me, read crowd-reviewed research, and follow announcements from companies I’m interested in. It’s about understanding the business, putting that into context, and committing to an expectation of share price. What’s the company doing? Where are they headed? Do I want more, or less of that in my portfolio?
What are your money and investment goals?
We’ve started investing for our soon-to-be newborn baby—and she’s making money already! Because I enjoyed a relatively privileged first half of my childhood, I want to be able to provide that for her too. Hopefully, small contributions over the long term will mean we won’t have to worry about her first car, education costs, travelling, possibly even a home deposit!
Longer term, the goal is to build a large enough portfolio where the capital gains match what I’d otherwise be investing, and the dividends are equal to the salary I’d need to live comfortably (minus the money required to invest). I’m still a long way off from reaching that goal, but I’m okay with that. With higher-risk investments, you need time for a chance for the investment to grow —and I’m now accepting that going for a moonshot isn’t an investment strategy.
What are the most important money lessons you’ve learnt so far?
Invest small amounts, regularly, over time. I wish I’d started investing earlier! I’ve become a big advocate for it with my family and friends. Compounding has got to be one of the biggest free kicks in life—I’m forever playing with the compound interest calculator on the Moneysmart website. The time is going to pass anyway, so why not put your money to deliberate, good use in the meantime?
“Wait for a fat pitch.” At times, I was jumping from one idea to the next, without forming an investment thesis or thinking about my wider strategy. Try not to swing at everything, but know what to look out for and when to invest in something with higher conviction.
Money creates choices. I’m happy to make financial sacrifices now so that I have a more stable future. I’m investing for the freedom to follow different pursuits, have the ability to control my day more, and have commitments that I want to keep rather than have to keep.
Understand your money psychology and cognitive biases. For example, I’ve been helping people around me reflect on how quickly the time has gone by since COVID, or since they finished high school, or got their driver licence. It helps put into perspective how much better off they may have been if they’d invested consistently over that time.
Investors who take part in our Investor Journeys series use the Sharesies platform and agree to share their personal perspective and experience. They receive payment from Sharesies AU Pty Limited for their participation.
The statements made throughout are the investor's personal views and do not constitute professional or financial advice. They are not to be attributed as the views of, or financial advice being provided by, Sharesies AU Pty Limited.
Ok, now for the legal bit
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