This next article will focus on how to not compare yourself to other expats when it comes to investing. When we speak about investing, most people assume we are investing in stocks and bonds. However, that is not the only way to invest, and furthermore, that might not be the way you want to invest. After all, you are your own person, with your own strengths, weaknesses, and value system. I say this because I believe we spend far too much time comparing ourselves to others, and this may actually be detrimental in getting us to where we want to be with our personal finances. So, how do we get started with not comparing ourselves to other expats?
Realize, first of all, that every expat will not invest their money in the same way. One person may want to accumulate gold and precious metals, while another person may use real estate as a way to invest their money, while yet another person believes in investing in equities. Also, depending on where someone lives and their country of citizenship and residence, they may have different investments or programs available to them. None of them are wrong, although they will each likely see different returns on their investments, with different timelines. Take the time to figure out the type of investments that work for you, given your life situation, risk tolerance, income level, and financial goals, and make sure your investments suit your needs, instead of being envious or resentful of someone who may currently be in a better financial situation than you.
Also, when you take a look at a wealthy expat’s life on social media or in a social setting, you are really seeing a small part of what is going on in that person’s life. While life as an expat can certainly be exciting, there are many challenges as well, and it’s not always easy living in a country that is different from where you grew up. Additionally, expats come from all walks of life, and not everyone lives on a fancy expat package in a walled villa with a private driver. Believe it not, some expats are just getting by, and are not necessarily in a better financial situation than the average person in the country they are living in. I would always be told by others or hear others say that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, because we don’t know what their life is all about. It is easy to compare yourself to others who may be doing very well financially.
But I believe that we should not compare ourselves to others when we are dealing with such an important issue as personal finance. Many people have sacrificed years of their life to get to where they are now. One very important thing that we can all remember regardless of our age is that we have to learn how to effectively save and invest our money, and all of us should do so according to our own personal situation and to the best of our abilities.
In addition to what has been already mentioned, comparing ourselves to others when it comes to personal finances and other areas of our life, may plunge us into a cycle of negative thinking that will creep into our minds and consume us. It is too easy to be negative, and there will always be somebody that is doing better than us financially. Comparing ourselves to other expats or even finance bloggers can make us feel like we have been let down. For instance, if you were able to save and invest 20% of your income this year, up from the 10% that you saved and invested last year, even though that is a big accomplishment, you will always find someone who might have saved and invested 35% of their income in a year. Thus, you will feel like you don’t measure up to others, and you will be frustrated with your results. Whatever changes you are making to your finances in life, try to be happy with them, because as long as you are doing what you can to improve your finances, you are on the right track. There is a quote that briefly states why we should not compare ourselves to others, which we can use here to emphasize the main point. The author is not known, but he or she says: “Bottom line: don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to the person you were yesterday.” This quote is simple yet effective, because as long as you are making progress toward your financial goals, the person that you were yesterday is not who you are today. All of us are constantly evolving and changing, and that is actually a beautiful part of the human experience.
Too often, we look at the lives of the people around us and compare our lives to their lives. Most of us have done this before, so you are not alone in this regard, if you have done that. If such comparisons can help you to improve yourself and your finances, then that is a good thing. For most of us, these kinds of comparisons lead us into a trap of negative thinking, of feeling like we don’t measure up to others who have become more financially successful than us. We might then begin to feel like we are not good enough and that we don’t deserve to be financially successful or prosperous. The truth is that prosperity is our birthright. We have to make sure to focus on our financial goals and strive to meet those goals while staying away from the incessant comparison trap. With that being said, good luck with your investments as an expat and remember that you are unique, with your own set of skills and abilities, and your own life experiences.