When nothing means a lot, and a lot means nothing.

by Ben Kemp

In the last 12 months interest rates have gone from historical lows to 11-year highs at a rapid pace. Cost of living has swelled and inflation across the board is seen, felt and increasingly heard through your daily conversations. While rates and costs were always going to rise at some point, nobody could have expected this rate of change. Bottom line is now, it doesn’t matter. It is where we find ourselves and now we need to mentally and practically approach this.

For some people, times are dire, they are cutting costs wherever possible and unfortunately missing out on getting their fair share of “discretionary” expenses and freedoms in life.

For some people, times are much the same as before, strong income and low debt may have a created a significant shield from these interest rate rises and cost increases. Essentially, it is probably business as usual for them from a day-to-day basis.

Let’s assume everyone else falls somewhere on the continuum in between…

(At risk of repeating myself again in another blog or podcast. Step 1 – personal stocktake of position, cashflow, assets, liabilities. – refer to the FineAnswers Podcast! – work out where you fit)

For many of our clients they have had a reminder of a good budget and that their awareness of cashflow can’t be taken for granted. Without too much impact they can tidy up and push on. For some it has been about scaling back or delaying something in their lives, maybe a holiday or renovation project, but the only way those changes were made was through good connection to their system and finances. As I mention, it ranges across all clients and no two households have the same finances even when they share many similar characteristics. The levers that need to be adjusted will vary in quantum, frequency and nature on a household-by-household level.

The emotion of money and the emotion of progress are honestly the biggest challenge we face. Making investment decisions, building investment plans and structures are hygiene. The challenge comes from being emotionally ready, resilient and reassured that you’re on the right track and that this journey is not linear.

In recent times, I have had the conversation with clients where they may feel they aren’t progressing as quickly as they were previously or as quickly as they would like. This is a great question to ask and mindset of ambition to have, but it is important to remind yourself that through these periods of time, minimal progress can actually be strong progress.

Conversely, through time of economic prosperity, we can sometimes over evaluate how well we are going.


Post COVID, markets were recovering strongly. I had a new client come in who had a 17% return on their fund for the year. Naturally, they were chuffed. When I explained it was potentially a poor or below average outcome they became very confused (“17% return, poor, impossible!). Unfortunately, this was actually a return circa 5% below the average for the period being looked at when compared across the board of like for like investments.

Put simple. Without context, it was great, with context it was not so great.

Context is sometimes hard to garner.

If we align this to our own personal finance and wealth situation, we can struggle to align what is “good or bad” because we can never really get context of where we sit on the continuum, or how we should be progressing. For many people, if they can simply maintain their style and comfort of living without making significant changes to plans currently in place, then they’re probably taking some massive steps forward – even though it may not be reflected in their balance sheet or minds right now.

The RBA wants people to hurt – so if you can just maintain the fort, things will look up quickly on the other side.

This blog contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives,
financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information.

If you decide to purchase or vary a financial product, your financial adviser, AMP and other companies within the AMP Group may receive fees and other benefits. The fees will be a dollar amount and/or a percentage of either the premium you pay or the value of your investment. Please contact us if you want more information.

PB Financial Solutions Pty Ltd ABN 67 097 381 523 – trading as Burke Britton Financial Partners & Securelife Financial Solutions is an authorised representative and credit representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee and Australian Credit Licensee.

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