It’s not an understatement to say I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones. As the final season begins, I thought I’d share some thoughts that weave my passion for this epic show together with my passion for personal finance.
It’s not everyone‘s idea of a good time, but it’s a total party for me.
*Spoiler alert* If you haven’t yet watched all seven seasons of Game of Thrones, I would suggest bookmarking this page to read the minute you have.
Winter is coming
It’s the motto of House Stark and the message is pretty clear: With winter comes the creepy-as White Walkers and their army of the living dead. To survive, preparation is key.
When it comes to finance, there’s a few ways to get organised. The first is by having an emergency fund. Any amount is a good start but there’s a general consensus that your emergency fund should be the value of three months’ worth of expenses.
An emergency fund can help you out when unforeseen things happen like you lose your job, you get sick or the White Walkers attack Castle Black.
One way to prepare for possible sickness or disability is to get insurance. You can get income protection and total and permanent disability insurance through your super. It’s cheaper to get insurance this way as super funds purchase policies in bulk. Plus, the fees are automatically deducted from your super account.
Then there’s the winter of retirement. That’s always coming. To prepare, make sure your employer is paying the mandated 9.5 percent of your salary into your super fund, combine your super accounts into one to keep fees low and take an interest in what your money is invested in. If you’re young it might be worth going for a higher growth option in shares.
When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die
Cersei Lannister was really onto something about the stock market when she uttered these formidable words. I think what she was really saying is that before you invest, make sure you know how much risk you can tolerate, and understand how these risks can affect your gains.
All investments involve some degree of risk. In the stock market, the risk is much higher than putting your money into a bank account or keeping it in a jar. So, by taking the risk you should expect some kind of compensation.
When you play the stock market, you can win big, but you can also lose big.
Changing allegiances can pay off
Master strategist and keen wine drinker Tyrion Lannister switches sides after topping his father Tywin with a crossbow. He allies with Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons who wants to take back the Iron Throne.
You don’t have to stick with the Iron Bank. Use a comparison site to check your savings account and if you have one, your credit card, and see whether you might get a better interest rate somewhere else. Yeah, it’s a pain to switch banks or get a new credit card, but it could be worth some serious dragon coin in the long run.
The same goes for your mortgage, if you’re seeing better rates advertised than you’re getting, give your bank a call and ask for a discount. It’s much easier for a bank to keep an existing customer than it is for them to get a new one, so it’s worth your bank’s while to be accommodating.
A Lannister always pays his debts
The Lannisters have taught us to pay our debts promptly and in full, and also to make sure we never incur debts we can’t repay.
While some borrowing may be considered ‘good debt’, like a mortgage, bad debt, like the interest you rack up on a credit card, can put you on a slippery slope to financial ruin.
A history of debt can also have financial repercussions down the line when it comes to getting a mortgage, especially given that Australian banks have gotten pretty picky with how much and to whom they lend their gold dragons to.
Invest with your head, not your heart
Everything in Game of Thrones is driven by a desire for power or revenge. Robb Stark was going pretty well in his war against the Lannisters during his tenure as King in the North.
But… he followed his heart by marrying Talisa Maegyr rather than sticking to his deal with Walder Frey. It all ended with the Red Wedding, one of the most brutal scenes in Thrones history, and Robb quite literally lost his head.
Investor behaviour is one of the greatest factors in determining returns. If you freak out and react by selling your shares when they fall in price, you will lose money. If you understand the ups and downs of the market, still have faith in the fundamentals of the company, then holding onto them – as scary as the ride may be – may pay off.
In fact, if you’ve really got your head in the game, when stock prices fall, you buy more. In the words of the Maester of the finance world, Warren Buffett, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”
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