Change your money. Change your life.
What do you want in your life and how are you going to pay for it?
That’s the question finance educator Vanessa Stoykov asks from her evolution media group office, an internationally recognised boutique content house dedicated to wealth education.
The Sydney-based CEO and host of award-winning TV shows Secrets of the Money Masters and The Investment Series is dedicated to showing Australians in mid-life how it’s not too late to get financially free and start living the life they really want.
Author of The Breakfast Club For 40-Somethings: A Novel Approach to Unlearning Money and Reinventing Your Life, Vanessa is on a mission to help Gen X realise the true barrier holding them back is themselves – and the shackles are their finances. She’s rewriting the bestseller into a practical handbook to deliver learnings around mindset, life choices and financial wellness to stop corporates limiting their potential.
Growing up in Gunnedah, a small town 333km from Sydney where her father ended up as a migrant from Serbia, Vanessa wasn’t always a “big city girl”. Her father left war-torn Europe post-WWII with a league of others just like him to work tough labour jobs in an unheard-of part of Australia and ended up in the coal mines in the middle of nowhere.
Vanessa eventually left the small town where she started her media career working at the local paper before moving to the big smoke – and took with her the strong work ethic her father passed on to her.
Parents of his generation believed in working hard, saving hard and using whatever money they could earn to invest in property to create a secure future for their kids. As parents, baby boomers wanted to give their kids a solid education so they could find a stable job and be set up to settle down, have a family and buy a house to have a roof over their heads.
“My dad taught me you could do anything if you were smart and worked hard. But working smart is more important than working hard these days,” Vanessa admits.
Go your own way
After Vanessa left the small town, her beliefs about money had to change. While she worked hard, she discovered that hard work isn’t everything, and realised that what you think you want based on social norms isn’t necessarily what you actually what.
By the time she got to her late 30s, she discovered that being creatively fulfilled is far more important than the car, the diamond, the clothes, the house.
Vanessa believes anyone at any age – particularly those in mid-life who might feel like it’s too late – can make a real change in their life if they get really clear on what they want and strip back some limiting beliefs holding them back.
“First, look at what you’re spending your money on. If it doesn’t align with your values, bin it,” Vanessa says. “How you spend your money reflects your values – for me it’s education, food, health, home.”
Getting your budget sorted is the first step so can identify what you can let go of and make room for what you actually want.
“Show me your bank statement and I’ll tell you what you really value. We can all say we value certain things, but our spending reflects our true values. So, what does your spending say about you?” she questions.
“If you don’t know exactly how much you spend every month, it’s time to do that budget. Once you have a true picture of your expenses, you can start to make a plan to change for the better. Without doing the work you won’t be able to create a plan that works.”
Don’t dream it’s over
Vanessa reassures that you have a choice right now to do something different or to keep going with what you have always done. “There is a way to change how your story ends. It’s not too late. You can have the life you want,” she affirms.
You may have been stuck in a comfortable cycle for decades, living a life you were conditioned to want, but it may not be the life you really want to live.
Twenty years of marriage, three kids sent to good schools and a successful career is nothing to balk at, but Vanessa knows she followed a path that just about everyone else in her generation did without thinking twice about it.
The first thing Vanessa wants you to do is Google “life design”. The concept of creating the life you desire is about being strategic about your life choices. “What is your ideal life? Visualise it. The first step is to just look into it,” she says.
“So many of us go into the future without having a life design plan. Just like building a house, there needs to be a plan of where you want to go and how you are going to get there,” she explains.
“Designing your life is rewarding and increases your chances of success. Making a life plan and just thinking about your long-term strategy is the start you need.”
If there’s anything that country girl Vanessa wants to pass on to fellow 40-somethings, it’s that it’s not too late to live what her father called a “beautiful life”.
“My vision is that I just want a beautiful life for people. People should have that. That’s what I stand for. I want to help people have a beautiful life,” she says. “But to do that you have to change your mindset and unlearn money.”
We’re kidding ourselves if we think money and freedom don’t go hand-in-hand. Living the life you want starts with changing how you think about money, according to Vanessa. You can’t reshape your life if you keep doing what you’ve always done. You need to unlearn the old story first.
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