Posted in Money on April 24th, 2017
When it comes to financial challenges, goals, or systems, we must know our baselines – in the financial sense “minimum points of achievement” for our vision. In some numerical cases, baselines differ for all of us – what is normal to you, is abnormal to me with exceptions involving things like the laws of the universe (gravity). For personal finance, we want our baseline to be the minimum equivalent of our vision (or goal). In this article, we’ll look at an example of how to build a wealth baseline for yourself, but this is only an example of a baseline. You may have any number of financial challenges that you need to build a baseline for, so the situation will vary.
Before building our baselines for our vision, let’s review what we’ve covered:
Then, build your baselines.
One of the most popular questions young customers asked me while I worked for the bank was, “How much wealth should I have by the time I’m 30?” This is an excellent question and it allows us to provide an example of how you can build your own baselines once you know your vision and have planned the steps.
Because wealth varies by region – like country, province, state, etc – we want to look at the minimum baseline here for a young ambitious person – one can definitely do more, but if someone aims to be ambitious, this term can be measured numerically. In other words, we’ll be answer what’s the minimum amount of wealth I should have by the time I’m 30.
There isn’t a hard number here because where you live often determines your income and cost of living. A simple example of this is compare the income and cost of living of Nebraska to New York; then compare some cities within both states to each other. We want an ambitious baseline, but we also want it to be realistic for the area we live in, though we may find areas where it’s highly unlikely to meet our goal (move).
Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect baseline to pick, but one good one is the median home price of an area. Since the median home price often reflects both the cost of living and wages and we know this varies by area, stating that a young person should have at least the median home price in wealth by the time they are 30. If you look at some numbers across the world, you will see that amount of money would place most young people in the top 10-20% of their peers. Since we’re using wealth, let’s note that the wealth could be in the form of a house, stocks, cash, gold, etc.
Some young people move throughout their 20s and what we suggest here is to take the median home price of each city, the length of time you lived in each city, and take the average of all those values up to your age at 30. As an example:
Jason lived in Omaha Nebraska for 7 years where the median home price is $150,600 and he lived 3 years in Miami Beach where the median home price is $401,500. The equation is simple: ((7 x $150,600) + (3 x $401,500))/10. Jason would need to have $225,870 in wealth when he’s 30.
The numbers could be further broken into months, if Jason lived in cities by months instead of years.
As we mentioned earlier, this provides an example of building a baseline. John D. Rockefeller’s baselines in life were to make $100,000 and live to 100. He surpassed his first baseline and almost hit his second baseline – which is impressive for a man born in the 1800s. Our baseline may be higher or lower than the example we provided, but it helps us see how well we’re doing.
In the case of money, some other variables also come into play. For an example, the feminist Catherine Rampell states that young men should prioritize work, if they intend to be in committed partnerships (see below video). She may or may not be correct relative to a young man’s view, but she does note that this is only true for men who want to be in committed relationships. This video provides an example of how a baseline is defined (have a job) with the assumptions of some variables (committed relationship is a priority) that come from a person’s vision. Ultimately, if a young man has a different vision, then his baseline will be different – perhaps having a job will be unimportant to him.
Our vision determines what variables will be true – perhaps we’re not ambitious, or perhaps we like short relationships which are more fun, but allow us more freedom. This vision would then change the variables and adjust the baseline.
Baselines help anchor and monitor our vision. If we’re not meeting our baselines, we must start to reflect on why and adjust our behavior accordingly. Remember, that we ultimately create these and while we provide an example of one, this does not mean that one should use this baseline in their own life. You are the ultimate director of your life.