Finance: If I could be 30 again

PHUKET: In my last column, I wrote about what advice I would give my 20-year-old self, if I could turn back the clock and do it all again. Today, I will focus on a much more recent time frame in my life and discuss what kind of advice I would give to someone who has just turned 30. What are some of things you might want to consider as you enter this phase of your life?

First of all, don’t grow up – it’s a trap! Keep this advice for as long as you live. No matter how ambitious you are, if you can maintain that sense of optimism we all have – or most of us have – in our twenties, you will achieve much more in life. The worst thing that could happen to someone in their thirties is to fall into a rut that lasts until retirement.

Don’t be afraid to make a career change – even if you have spent a fortune on your education. The reason is that at this point, your education is already a sunken cost. And many people discover that the career they studied hard for didn’t really materialize.

If you really love what you are doing, then that’s fine, but let’s face it, people who are truly satisfied with their jobs are in a minority. And yet, for most of us, nothing is more terrifying than change. Just remember, if you don’t take a chance now, imagine how terrifying it would be in your forties or fifties.

A second very important thing I would advise is to invest in some form of real estate. What many find surprising is that investing in something other than your primary residence will leave you better off in the long run. Most people stretch too far when investing in their primary residence, and this can become a ball and chain later in life.

Land is what appreciates most in real estate, so I am a big fan of diversifying in land when young and buying in cheap plots with the potential for a high return. You can always develop the properties later. Take advantage of the low entry price now, without having to fork out to develop the land.

For most thirty-something people, developing land means taking on a certain amount of debt that is not conducive to a happy-go-lucky mindset. Of course, I am assuming that you are in a location like Southeast Asia where you can rent accommodation cheaply. If you are in a high-rent location like Europe, then my advice would be to move to Phuket!

Saddled with a big debt, it is much more frightening to make the move from employee to business owner – the most profitable financial decision you can make, in my opinion. I am a firm believer that everyone should end up working for themselves, rather than for somebody else – especially if they want to feel that they have truly succeeded in life. Of course, you can remain an employee your whole life and still retire well off, but you will have spent your entire career enriching somebody else.

There’s no doubt that my advice is based heavily on values that are important to me, but freedom and independence to make one’s own choices are two things I value highly, and I think everyone should strive for these values too. My biggest fear now would be to have to answer to a “boss” again – other than my wife, of course!

The biggest financial blunder I think everyone in their thirties should avoid is to get stuck in a rut that could last a lifetime. Only you know in your own heart if you are doing what you truly love and are most passionate about. If not, the best thing you can do financially is to try something different. Finding your true passion and calling is the best thing you can ever do for yourself financially.

David Mayes MBA resides in Phuket and provides wealth management services to expatriates around the globe, focusing on UK pension transfers. He can be reached at or 085-335-8573. Faramond UK is regulated by the FCA and provides advice on pensions and taxation.

— David Mayes

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