Hi Nate, can you introduce yourself within a few lines?
Hi, I’m Nathan Stranart, soon to be 27. I’m Belgian and originally from Congo. I guess others would say of me that I’m someone that is always optimistic and that I communicate that well to others. I always try to balance everyone’s opinion and understand their position. It is important to me that I remain objective.
I like to describe myself as a “green entrepreneur” who loves kitesurfing. I’m currently developing wind farms for a company. I would say that my passions are sustainability, personal development, and extreme sports (freestyle skiing, skydiving, kitesurfing, etc.). I also love philosophy and debating on any kind of topic as soon as I get the chance.
Can you talk to us about your current financial situation?
Since I am an employee, I have been using my salary to invest in real estate, art and cryptocurrency until now. I used to invest in stocks as well, but I withdrew everything when I invested in crypto. I wouldn’t say that I’m satisfied with my current situation, although I’m satisfied with the plan that I have drawn for myself. I have a long-term plan with several steps.
One thing I would like to improve is how I handle my costs and investments. I’d like to be better at cost-cutting as I can sometimes be impulsive. When I talk about investments, I mean it broadly. So I would include things like buying new kite material. Increasing my monthly income is also on top of my list. I believe that this is in my control, contrary to what others may think. I know that I can do that by improving my skills and finding other ways to earn an income, such as doing freelance work.
Personal finance is something that I have grown with because I have seen some of my family members be successful with it. However, because of some of their success, it also came with some kind of pressure. Sometimes it caused limiting beliefs like “it’s only for others… It is too difficult… I am not good at it…” which took me a while to overcome. One of the reasons why I feel like it is important is because you can’t be truly independent without being financially independent. By that, I mean having enough wealth to be able to do what you want.
What habits do you have when it comes to managing your finances? Do you have any fears? What tips would you give to others?
I record all of my expenses, I track them month by month on an Excel file. That way I can set, split and track budgets. I usually set a fixed budget per week. I don’t have an investment budget just yet, this is linked to my current situation, although I know that I should probably have one. I also have a time planner, it’s kind of the same as a budget, but for how you spend time. In that planner, I make sure to have a time slot to work on my finances. I typically allocate a few hours per week on all investment matters, but I prefer to allocate my time on building other things which have a lot to do with my investor profile.
There are a few fears that I try to overcome: the fear of losing money, of not making enough money, but also the fear of making wrong choices. In the end, there are several techniques—I’m sure I don’t know all of them—to manage your risk. That’s a lesson that I’ve learned: I’m somewhat of a risk-averse investor, I prefer ensuring that I win, rather than winning a lot by risking too much.
The only tip I would give you is to read a lot and be knowledgeable. It’s easy today to research, the information is everywhere. You could also watch videos or listen to podcasts if you prefer. Accordingly, I would suggest building a network of friends you learn from, and always sharing your ideas with them.
Can you talk to us about your objectives as a young professional? What are you proud of having achieved? What would you have done differently?
I usually divide my life goals into 3 categories: my relationships, my career and my personal goals, which are unrelated to the previous categories. I try to assign a priority score for each. For instance, there would be a higher score on building my own company, rather than on being able to speak 3 languages. Based on those, I can then set up a time planner to work on achieving these, step by step. Before getting there, I think that it is important to take time to analyse your values and what you truly want. Anyway, it’s a perpetual habit to have. It’s about iterating. I try to review my goals every 3 months, but I review my weekly planner every week.
Although I did not pursue that career, I reached the stage of becoming a professional football player and I am proud of that. For that, I also have to thank my parents, and all the efforts I have had to put in to reach that stage. It takes a lot of determination. Another one that I am proud of, is to be a renewable energy developer. At my age, it is quite uncommon to be one. I am also proud of the investments I have made. My real estate and art investments are doing good and I’m happy with that.
I would say that what I have “failed” is to understand what I wanted to do, earlier. I’m talking about being a green entrepreneur and practising extreme sports. It’s funny, I got into football, I became a pro player but it had nothing to do with what I truly wanted. Why? Because I never truly questioned myself and ensured I followed what appealed to me the most. But at the same time, it helped me understand that it was not what I wanted. I, therefore, have no regrets in that regard. That’s how I learned a lot about self-discipline, and how to reach your goals.
How do you get inspired to reach these goals? Do you have any books in mind? What do you want to say to conclude your interview?
I get inspired by Ted Talks quite often. I have also read quite a lot of books on personal development. Also, friends are probably the most important resource regarding how you can get inspired (Greg from financia.io being one of them). We’re stronger when we’re together: when we share. Here is a list of books I recommend: the “4 Toltec Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz. “Building Social Business” by Muhammad Yunus, and “Tao Te Ching” by Lao-Tzu.
Here are a few things I’ve learned: 1) do your own thing, try out what you want to, but be mindful and learn from each of your actions. 2) Try to live to the fullest of your potential. Do not restrict yourself to society’s standards. Our educational system is not doing the job. Many are prevented from fulfilling their potential. If you find an excuse to push back what has meaning to you, it will come rushing back eventually. You can’t avoid it. 3) Pursue meaning, not happiness or money. If you find meaning and link all your actions to it then you will ensure a meaningful life that will bring all the rest.
What tips would the financia.io team give Nate?
Nate is someone that pays a lot of attention to how he makes use of his time. As any billionaire would probably tell you, time is the real currency, not money. If you can learn to use it to your best advantage, great things will come out of it. Start investing early, but also use the time to maintain a proactive mindset and a good balance in life. Nate uses his passions to great effect as it seems to fuel the life he is building. Don’t we all want to enjoy our days passionately?
Nate is also clearly a goal-setter. He sets and tracks his goals, and does the same with budgets. Although he mentions that he has some areas to improve in that regard as he sometimes spends too freely.
Here’s how we would encourage Nate to complement his good financial work:
First, have a budget for investing even if it appears insignificant. Nate mentioned having no current budget for investing because he has already invested a lot in real estate, crypto and art. We would argue that is it best to have a perhaps ridicule investing budget rather than none at all. If you can oblige yourself to maintain one, even if it’s only 20 Euros a month, then you set yourself up for greater success in the long run.
The main reason for that is that you set a good basis, a system for investing. You force yourself to maintain pace, even if it’s slow, it’s still progress. You keep on learning along the way and you can then easily increase it when you have more income or leftovers to be invested. Do not underestimate momentum: a good habit needs to be maintained as much as possible.
Then, consider renegotiating your salary as another way to increase income. Nate mentioned wanting to increase his income through other ways, which is a brilliant idea to pursue. However, one should not forget to have the guts to renegotiate his or her salary. It is important to know how to value yourself, your work, your contribution to your employer and society as a whole. You are exchanging value after all and this should be a win-win for everybody. There is no shame in renegotiating parts of an agreement. It would be wrong to think that a salary increase might only come from the other party, a discussion does not hurt in any case.
Just like Nate, you can identify your objectives, strengths, and weaknesses when it comes to personal finance. This is the best way to set yourself up for success.
Thankfully, financia.io is currently building a free personal finance platform to help you do that! We encourage you to sign-up below to get notified whenever it is launched.