A very transparent recount: From a savings account to (almost) investing
What you can expect in this blog post
Carina is a Customer Experience Manager at Selma. You will read about her personal journey towards structuring her own finances. It starts with a savings account, touches upon topics that relate to "growing up" and ends with 6 take-aways that might benefit everyone who is thinking about starting to invest money.
I had a savings account for a long time. Basically as long as I remember owning a bank account at our local bank office.
It was always there and what I remember from my parents’ explanations is that I should put all “excess money” I had (not that much, obviously) there, because THERE it will be put to good use.
In more vivid memories of the recent past though I can not recall hearing anything about savings accounts anymore. At the birthday party of a cousin of mine, my dad and my uncles talked about how useless savings accounts were.
It’s a funny feeling when you slowly realise you had never spent a thought on why you were transferring money to that “glorious” savings account, though the small “returns” always startled you a bit. Didn’t the money go there, because you would get interest there? 😬
Anyway, it was never interesting enough to spend more thoughts on it - probably that was just how it worked for everyone anyway.
At the moment I am in my mid-twenties and I have earned money for quite some time. Experiencing the economic ups and downs of startup life for a couple of years now, I did think about money quite a lot. Weirdly though, not about my own money. And definitely not about opportunities to grow it.
I was happy if my rather hip millennials lifestyle (hello Eggs Benedict brunches, hello newly-found identity as a whisky connoisseur, hello weeks-long backpacking trips) left me with some savings. Which I would happily transfer over to my beloved savings account. 😅 Not monthly of course, but whenever I felt like I wouldn’t need it to buy myself a new fitness tracker or running shoes the next month.
Then the panic starts creeping in
Given the startup life, there are always friends in your periphery who have a lot of money or at least like to brag about their bitcoins. This leaves you with quite a nagging feeling. Why didn’t I know how to mine bitcoins years back, when EVERYONE (definitely everyone) else starting building their fortune with these absolutely successful (maybe not anymore) money decisions?
Why are people saying “ETF” that often? In jokes and in combination with political happenings that I didn’t even realise happened, because this morning in the tram I totally wanted to find out what kind of coffee machine matches my personality based on my zodiac sign instead of reading the news.
This ETF term came out of nowhere for me. Like if it was an invention - until I realised I might have entered a life phase where you should know about it!
People talk about their pension, and after changing jobs a couple of times in the last years, I often get these letters from the employee provision fund institution informing me how high my pension would be in case I retired now. The number seems so randomly small that I usually don’t think about it. 🤷♀️
But when people start joking about my generation not being able to live from their pension, I tensely join in the banter by adding hilarious comments about marrying rich or profiting from one of the startup exits I have shares in.
This is the moment when I think I should talk to an adult and find out more. I’d ask questions about how I should start saving money for rough times, but then I realise that I am an adult myself. So then I’d look for a more adult adult, but are too scared to ask at this point, because - as an adult you are supposed to know all of this already!
But even if I did know…
I always thought that investing money is for those… rich people. Once you have a lot of money, you can make more money! But if you only have a bit of money on your savings account, it doesn’t really count as money and therefore nobody is interested.
I also don’t live the lifestyle of a typical investor person. In my mind you are supposed to live in a loft, dine out everyday and have your life rhythm nailed by going to a fancy gym every morning at 6am before walking to work, looking swell (even after your workout) and swinging your briefcase - full of energy.
Me? I’m living in a shared apartment, I choose the €12 dish instead of the €14 dish when dining out, sometimes kick myself out of bed to do sports in the morning, but if not, I oversleep and don’t even have enough time to have breakfast at home and then I hurry to work downing a full-meal shake and arrive to the office saying hello to the coffee machine before acknowledging human beings. ☕️
And I use a really cool backpack I got on Zalando, definitely not a briefcase. Not the type of person that should dare to think about investing her money, for sure.
Last time I googled ETFs, I got more confused than happy about my effort to find out more about funds and stock markets. But finally we are arriving at the turn in this story. Two months ago I joined a financial company. Yes, a financial company!
I have a background in marketing and tech - helping companies to explain their technology and software in easy and understandable words. Somehow I realised in my first talks with Selma that this ability might be useful for a financial company too. I like explaining things, I like making sure everyone understands.
And now I am here, having moved to Helsinki within 1,5 months after having an interview, getting the opportunity to recount my embarrassing money-matters story. 😅 Why are you reading this? Because in the last 3 months I talked with users, with clients and of course with our finance experts A LOT. And it made me realise that it’s okay to not use fancy words and specific in-depth knowledge all the time.
Because nobody is impressed by that and nobody wants to be bored by it. And it’s okay that I kind of want to know what I could do with my money instead of keeping it on my savings account, but don’t really really want to know all about it.
Even though I was convinced that I was alone with my utter lack of interest in figuring out personal finances, I realised I am not alone. And this is the reason for you reading my story.
So, I present to you: 6 take-aways after 3 months at a financial startup
1. NOT everyone knows about finance. And that’s okay.
People talk a lot. Mainly in order to make it impossible for you to ask about details, because you’re too scared to seem stupid. They use jargon and brag about what they do with their money (especially once they find out you work for an investment company).
But when confronted with humble opinions and your honest thoughts, they dial down and like to admit that they don’t really know what they are doing too.
2. Argh, banks!
I moved to Finland and the only way to communicate with my bank about my credit card or transfers on my savings account is to CALL THEM. Nobody replies in my online banking messaging feature. If I write an email, the answer is “please call this number”. Why does banking need to be this “offline”?
3. Investing money doesn’t mean I need to start looking at stock markets every day
Investing also stands for saving these days. The global economy has been growing in total, therefore taking a piece of it makes sense, as it will in general become more. Putting together a mix of investments (ha, ETFs!) which is spread globally and adapted to your financial life & plans is actually an at least rather low-risk way to invest money. But - only buying shares in one company might be a bit risky 😁
4. Saving accounts earn you less interest than the inflation steals away
The glorious days of saving accounts are over. Why my parents and my uncles are not talking about them anymore starts to make sense… If money stays on a savings account for – let’s say – 10 years, the interest rate is trumped by inflation and the money will actually lose in value. (This has been obvious, but I like spelling it out again and again.)
5. I don’t need to be the successful business woman stereotype in order to start investing
Once you have more money (on your savings account, höhö) than you need to survive for 3 months (keep them in case you get fired, or whatever), you should start to invest the money. Surprisingly, I could do this. It’s really quite a surprise. My “investor type” image needs some updates. Even the little money I have on the side could make me more money!
6. Finance can be quite enjoyable 🤓
I’ve started reading newsletters like finimize, from there I started looking into all kinds of apps and have finally activated Revolut’s “Vault” feature. This way Revolut rounds up all my payments to the next whole number (kind of like a piggy bank, where you’d collect coins, but with digital payments!).
And talking to some clients who’ve excitedly told me about the few stocks they own in a couple of companies they like (usually Microsoft or Apple ⌚️) gets me excited about the idea to buy a bit of stock too.
I’ve also gotten quite a lot of free investment plan offers from robo-advisors and investment platforms such as Selma in order to check out competitors. But also in order to get a holistic view of what savings/investment plans tools from different parts of the world would recommend for me.
So, what now?
I am starting to piece an optimal financial plan for my individual situation together.
By now I also understood that there is no bad time to start investing if you invest globally (global economy is growing as we remember). I’ll update you once I’ve figured out where I’ll invest my first few thousand Euros/CHF.
There is one thing I know for sure though: The next time I have to call my bank, I am going to start questioning the savings account. And that conversation might also be worth a blog post 😬
Carina Wetzlhütter is 27 years old, originally from Austria and joined the Selma team in order to help explain online investing to people who do not know which indexes follow which ETFs. Or no wait – the other way round. 😉
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and frequently also through our live chat. On the rest of the internet, you will find her as @trackingcarina.