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Mirna Funk: What I wish I’d known about money before

Published May 18th, 2022

Turning money into more money, making financial provisions – Mirna Funk wishes she’d known how all that works a long time ago. And also that the whole process can be fun. In this instalment of our ‘A penny for your thoughts’ series, she talks about what she does differently these days, how she approaches her finances and why time is such an important factor when investing.

I earned my first money when I was 13 – with a paper round. Dragging a handcart behind me for six hours, hands black from the ink and beads of sweat forming above my upper lip, I trudged from door to door, ringing the bells outside each apartment building, hoping that I would be let in so I could stuff the newspapers into their mailboxes. Some people were mean to me. Most people, in fact. But I’d also meet the odd person who was sympathetic. At the end of the day, I returned my cart and received around 45 deutschmarks for the entire day’s work. What did I do with the money? No idea! And just a few years later – when I was 17, to be precise – I began working as a waitress. I had already moved out of the family home, first living in a shared flat and then in my own apartment, and the money I earned went on my rent, food and all the other things I needed.

Nothing left at the end of the month: living from hand to mouth

In those days, money was all about survival. It was linked to my very existence and there was never any question of it being used for pleasure. All my money went on my apartment, food and maybe a taxi home from work at night. I wasn’t thinking about my future or any kind of financial nest egg, let alone investing my money wisely. And I had no idea how to get it to multiply. All I knew was how to spend it. This meant that, for decades, the notion of money generating income was entirely alien to me.

Needless to say, this was because I hardly had two pennies to rub together. Because there was nothing left at the end of the month and because I didn’t have the kind of financial cushion that is ideally the equivalent of around five months’ income. Thankfully that’s no longer the case today. But I’m 40 years old now. And I wish my financial epiphany hadn’t come just five years ago but much, much earlier.

These days, my finances are organized

I wish I’d known that I needed two accounts, one current account and another one, like an instant access savings account for putting money aside. Simple stuff like that. But for years, all my money went into my current account and all I did was spend this money, rather than diverting my income into another account and then transferring a kind of allowance to my current account to cover my monthly expenses.

I wish I’d started paying €25 a month or so into a private retirement provision when I was 20. Then I wouldn’t have to pay €150 a month at this point in my life, 25 years before retirement age, even though I know it still won’t be enough to live off when I’m in my mid-60s. Just like I wish I’d had the good sense ten years ago to listen to the good friend who told me about this new thing called bitcoin and that I should buy myself a hundred of them at the then price of one euro per coin. Just for fun, shall I work out how rich I’d be now if I’d bought 100 bitcoins? I’d be a millionaire, a multimillionaire even!

Making money out of money 

The penny has finally dropped that, rather splurging any money left at the end of month on shoes, it makes sense to channel part of it into safe, long-term investments and another part into high-risk, short-term ones. In a financial context, this is called diversification – yes, diversity is a thing in financial circles as well! Thankfully, I’ve had an ETF account for quite some time. So has my daughter, in fact. I’ve even set up stock-based private pension insurance so she’s not in the same sorry situation I was when she’s 30. So the children’s allowance that I get from the state goes towards her future. Of course, I’m only in a position to do this because I don’t need to touch this €200 a month – that’s why I can use it to make more money. That will be a whole lot more when my daughter is 65. So much money, in fact, that she won’t have to worry about it for the rest of her life – and this generation will probably live until they’re 120 at least!

As well as saving €150 a month in a securities account, I invest in cryptocurrency and have a crypto wallet with different coins that I believe will increase in value in coming years. I believe this because I have spent months reading up extensively on cryptocurrency. And I also invest in art. This is ideal for me because I love beautiful things, I love being able to help support creative people and I love it when money ends up multiplying itself.

Money can mean fun and independence

People can decide for themselves what to do with their money. The only important thing is that you are able to actually relate to your money. That you ask yourself what money means to you, how you can make it your friend and partner and – above all – how you can find a simple way to make your money multiply in the long term, thereby securing your own future finances and being able to afford the things you want. Women in particular need to play a more active role in the finance game and shouldn’t just leave it to their partners, brothers or fathers to answer these questions for them. Managing your money can be fun. Knowing everything about it gives you confidence and being able to juggle it expertly makes you independent.

Please note that these are the author’s personal experiences and should not be taken as investment advice or recommendation for buying and selling.

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