Starting over at 40 with nothing, on the one hand, maybe a nice place to reset things. Personally, professionally, socially and environmentally.
However, it may also be a personal and professional nightmare.
Let’s stay away from the viper’s nest of how and why you are in this situation and just say its time to start again for better or worse, but ideally better.
Figure out the big picture
In the immortal words from the Spice girls
Ha ha ha ha ha
Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha)
I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah
Wise words I hear you say.
Now that you have this chance to reset, what do you really really want and what is it going to take to get there? In time, money and energy? And are you prepared to pay this price?
Some people say they want to be a highflying CEO, ok then are you prepared to work the 60+hours a week and spend a lot of time away from home (ok not right now but when things return to whatever normal is then)
What sort of life would you like? Do you want or for that matter need any of the below?
- To own your own place?
- Regular holidays (staycations for the millennia by the looks of it)?
- A new car every three or so years?
- To feel safe, stress-free, financially independent?
- Able to spend time with friends and family without having to worry about work all the time?
- Free from money worries and financial anxiety?
- Able to retire in dignity or make work optional asap?
- Do you know what a basic, leisurely or luxury lifestyle might cost you personally?
Trade-offs are everywhere
Maybe you can have all these, perhaps you will need to choose and compromise with a few trade-offs but can you guestimate what these needs and want might be?
You have the big house but can’t sleep at night because of the mortgage.
You don’t own you rent but have a decent amount saved knowing that you can afford all you need and can move if needed.
These are all trade-offs. You have to choose yours.
Whatever your big picture is it’s likely going to cost some money. If you have no money right now, then you need to get some.
The best way to do that is to keep most of the money that comes your way rather than spending it.
The most significant trade-off being what you want right now vs what you want most. Just make sure when you make decisions, especially spending decisions, you know which one this current move is heading towards.
You now have the first bit of data, where are you trying to get to. In the visioning of your ideal life, you should also uncover your why.
Why do you want such a big house or to make work optional? And do you really, really, really want it zigazigah?
Gather all the data you will need
Now you need to gather a few key numbers to help you understand what, where and how of restarting your finances.
How much do you spend?
Do you know how much you spend? Apart from all of it.
Knowing how much you spend and where you spend it will help you figure out if it is going on the right things.
It might also help you understand how and where you could make some changes, cutting down or cutting out the things that are less important.
Using this saving to save or spend more on the things that are important, like time with friends and family.
If you use a money app like MoneyDashboard* it will do a lot of the tracking for you.
Figure out your net worth
So, what’s your financial baseline or where are you restarting from?
Do you know what your net worth is?
Everything you own minus everything you owe. This will help you figure out where you are starting from.
Hopefully you are not starting from zero or minus zero but if you are you need to make your way back to broke.
What is your savings rate?
How much of the money that you earn do you get to keep?
Tracking your finances to understand how much of the money you earn is left over at the end of the month will show you what your savings rate it.
The higher your savings rate, the better your chances of growing your wealth.
Remember it’s not what you earn but what you keep that matters.
Once you review your spending, you might well see if you can increase your savings rate without much change in lifestyle.
Of course, you can see how frugal you want to go to maximise your savings rate. As far as you can comfortably but may not much further.
Your savings rate will have a significant effect on reaching your financial goals and financial freedom.
Here’s a great table and article from Mr Money Mustache explaining the savings rate vs year to retirement.
What’s your financial freedom number?
I know what you’re thinking “If I knew that I wouldn’t be here would I, I would be on the beach”
This is the number when reached means work has probably become optional.
The way you work this out is.
How much do you spend a month X that by 25 or 30 if you want to be more conservative.
So, let’s say you spend £3000 per month x 12 is £36,000 per year.
£36,000 x 25 is £900,000 If you had this amount in income-producing assets and withdrew between 3-4% a year, work would likely be optional.
£36,000 X 30 is £1,080,000. If you had this amount in income-producing assets and withdrew between 3-4% work would likely be optional
Now I know a few of you have already checked out cos I started talking numbers and big numbers that seem ridiculous.
But you can adjust these numbers to more or less of the amount of lifestyle you want, the less you want, the smaller the number.
The more savings or investments you already have, the smaller the gap you need to bridge.
The more time you have to let compound interest work in your favour, the easier it will be to reach your financial freedom number.
If you want to talk about how this might work for you, let’s have a free chat
What are your next three moves?
1. Draft your what I really really want plan.
Make it clear and make sure you want it. No point working hard for something you don’t really want.
Make sure its what you want, not what other people want or what you think you should want because other people want it.
2. Start saving. Set up an emergency fund of 3-6 months. Something that’s going to help you ride out a rough patch or two. Keep this emergency fund topped up. It’s going to get you out of an emergency one day.
3. Start your wealth-building machine. Use your savings after building up an emergency fund to set towards your other goals.
Name these goals on your bank account whether short, medium-or longer-term goals, i.e. house deposit, round the world (staycation) or retirement.
The longer the goal, the more you can consider investing the money for potentially higher returns (but you also need to be prepared to ride out some volatility and potentially more risk in the process)
If you would like to learn more about investing, click the link below and we can have a free chat.
Your process is the key after starting over at 40 with nothing.
The little things you do every day will be the tiny building blocks of success or otherwise.
Your daily habits, even your tiny habits around money, will be what builds you wealth or watch it slip through your fingers.
- Do you know where your money is going?
- Do you save first and then spend what’s left? OR spend and then see what’s left to save.
- Do you automate your key bills?
In the excellent book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he has 4 laws of habit making which I think translate well to building wealth.
Make it obvious – Set a time each week and month to review your finances. Maybe the begging of the month or week when hope is at it highest, not the end when you are tired and fed up.
Make it attractive – keep picture’s up of what you want nearby so you can see what you are working towards. Have mini-goals within the bigger goals and reward yourself with something you like when you reach them. Could you get a savings buddy to join you to high five (over zoom) when you reach a milestone?
Making it easy – you could automate it so that the saving just happens. Name your bank accounts with what you want so the savings just head straight towards their goal. Start small and then grow the saving. Use an app if that helps with some of the number crunching.
Make it satisfying. – Set up a wall planner or graph to show your progress. The charity fundraising thermometer might give you an excellent visual to show your savings and wealth going up.
What should I do with my life after 40?
More of what you like and less of what you don’t, I guess, just an idea.
Whatever it is, it is likely to need some money, even if just a little.
Far better to have a safety net in place, i.e. an emergency fund to catch you in case you fall.
Far better to have some savings in place to experiment with new things without them being an all or nothing scenario.
These financial buffers or savings are going to take time. It cant be cheated.
Using a credit card or loans to get somewhere fast might work, but possibly only up to the point when it needs to be paid back. Then it doesn’t work anymore.
Put together a plan, use a pen and piece of paper. Sketch out what good looks like and what steps you thin you will need to do.
Will you need help from anyone?
And then start one step at a time.
Conclusion: starting over at 40 with nothing.
Figure out the bigger picture – what do you really really want? It might take time to figure this out, but it will be worth it. Make sure you are heading off in the right direction and not someone else’s.
Figure out your four numbers,
- Your networth – where you are starting from
- Your monthly and yearly saving – where its all going and if you are happy with that.
- Your savings rate – how much of your money is left after all the spending. And can you do anything to increase this gap between spending and saving?
- Your freedom number – the place you might like to head to
What are your next 3 moves? You don’t need to know every next move; you just need to figure out a few of the small ones. They could be the next one or the next three. Just move to the next one and then the next one.
Your process is vital, what are the day to day habits that are going to make your journey more comfortable and faster?
What are your wealth, building or destroying habits?
Can you create new ones, modify or stop bad ones to help you start over at 40 with nothing but start heading to something asap?
What should I do after starting over at 40 with nothing?
Focus on what you want most and not necessarily what you want right now.
As a financial coach, I can help you to think about how to manage your money for a stress-free life and what your options for budgeting, saving, and investing might be.
Through this education and guidance process, you will be able to make informed choices for yourself and start taking action towards your Financially Happy life now before it becomes even more painful and expensive.
I won’t be recommending specific products or trying to sell any. If you need specific debt or product advice, then a financial advisor might be your best call.
Contact me here for a free chat about what options you might have for making money work for you.