If you're anywhere near my age (I'm going to be 50 very soon), you know you need to be investing a sizeable portion of your income.
Not should be.
Need to be.
There are plenty of reasons for this, not least of which is the uncertainty around how much money you'll need when you're done working.
But there's another very good reason, and it's stress.
As a midlifer, I find that stress creeps up very easily these days.
Work and family pressures, coupled with a growing sense of mortality tend to make me worry a lot about money, and whether it's working as hard as me.
This leads me to an important point.
Once you realise there is some urgency to invest at this age, it's tempting to start reading all the financial news; scour websites, and ask friends and relatives for advice.
But this is a recipe for bad decisions and long-term problems.
One thing I learned a long time ago, is that I must only seek advice from people who've had consistent success doing EXACTLY what I want to do.
It's not enough to ask Uncle Terry where you should buy a townhouse if he made all his dough with a parcel of BHP shares his grandma bought him 50 years ago.
Likewise, you shouldn't expect an accurate prediction of future values in Carlton from your mate at work just because he reads The Financial Review every day.
The principles of investing are very simple
But people screw it up in two ways:
1. They're impatient.
2. They get bad advice.
I can't help you with number one.
As Buffett said, "The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient."
This is true of the property market, too.
You either play the long game and win, or you don't and you lose.
Of course, there's the issue of research, planning and strategy, but with or without those, you still need to be patient.
Sure, there are always a few unicorns who time things beautifully, and they cash in big time.
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I did that once, and like most people, it was pure luck — nothing more.
Then my divorce wiped it all out, so it's like it didn't happen.
Anyone who peddles advice about quick wins using complex arrangements should be avoided. Instead, look at how the true masters created their wealth.
Consider, for example, how Buffett's wealth grew.
This hockey stick graph, fuelled by the magic of compounding, illustrates the importance of playing a long game.
So who should you listen to?
That's easy — the man or woman who has at least three market cycles of success behind them.
For both property and shares, that means at least 25 years.
And so for real estate, that's our very own Michael Yardney.
If you're new to this blog, you probably don't realise how lucky we are to have a guy like Michael here in Australia.
He's done the work, he has the results, and his reputation for clear-headed, unglamorous-but-effective advice is extraordinary.
I would listen to everything he says.
And like me, I would pay him for tailored advice if the property is where you want to invest.
If it's the stock market, it has to be Buffett.
Otherwise, Robbins' book, Unshakable, is brilliant and should be on every investor's bookshelf.
So, like all things in life, the principles are simple and unexciting.
It's us humans who make everything complicated.
But once you really get this, you'll realise that treading the proven path is exciting. It's exciting because you will know it works. You'll be emulating those who've succeeded over and over again.
And just knowing this will fill you with a genuine sense of control. You'll be part of the rare minority who swim upstream — against the masses rushing to the next shiny object.
You'll be a real investor, and in the long run, you'll win.