Facebook has recently changed its name to ‘Meta’.

More specifically, the Facebook parent company has changed its name.

Facebook as a company owns more than just the Facebook social media platform. It also owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and a bunch of other applications and technologies.

The name ‘Meta’ apparently represents Facebook’s intention to be a big player in the ‘metaverse’ going forward.

What’s the metaverse you ask?

I hadn’t heard of it either. It’s the future of the internet; a 3D virtual space that will “be the successor of the mobile internet” according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Today’s smartphone technology has enabled us to be so much more productive and connected. But it’s also caused us to become more and more reliant and connected to the phones themselves.

According to a study earlier this year, the average Australian spends 5.5 hours a day looking at the screen of their smartphone.

The same study also concluded the younger you are, the more ‘screen time’ you’re exposed to.

Gen Z (born 1997-2012) are exposed to the most screen time at 7.3 hours per day, followed by Millennials (1981-1996) at 6.7 hours, and Gen X (1965-1980) at 6 hours. It drops off from there with Baby Boomer (1946-1964) and Silent (1928-1945) generations coming in at 2.9 and 2.8 hours respectively.

It’s a little bit scary to think our screen time could increase as we move toward this ‘metaverse’.

Our smartphones have increasingly blurred the lines between work and home. The post-pandemic shift towards working from home has likely exacerbated that situation.
If we allow ourselves, it is conceivable that we will be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is not only very unhealthy but also completely unsustainable.

It’s a worldwide conundrum and you might have read that the Portuguese parliament has just passed legislation making it illegal for employers to call, text or email their employees after hours. Could Australia be next? 

Managing our habits around screen time must be one of the most important challenges individuals face today.

In my book I wrote about the vital role habits play in helping us to become successful and happy.

The tiny percentage of Australians who are in a position where they never have to worry about money (and that’s no more than 2 per cent) shine a bright light on the difficulty adults have in developing and maintaining good habits in multiple aspects of their lives.

At the same time, you see a lot of people who have money but aren’t happy. Likewise, you see some people who have money that are constantly fatigued, so unable to enjoy it.  Worse yet, I’ve witnessed some people achieve success with money only to lose control because they burn themselves out and make poor decisions under fatigue.

Achieving success of any kind – financial or otherwise – is like running a marathon race: you have to have enough energy to reach the end!

I believe having good habits around screen time is essential to avoiding burnout and sustained success. Screen time habits will become even more important if we are in the transition to a ‘metaverse’ where screen times increase even more.

What has worked for me personally is making a concerted effort every night during the week to turn my phone off two hours before I go to bed. Then on the weekend I turn it off for at least one of the two days (longer if my circumstances at work permit).

That has helped me generally avoid burnout and that feeling of fatigue and loss of control.

Every successful (and happy) person I know has a habit for managing their screen time.

If you’re keen to change or build your own habit when it comes to screen time, my habits workbook might be a good place to start! It’s FREE and you can get it here.

Research says it takes 66 days to build a new habit. Based on that research, the best time to start making changes in our life was 65 days ago but the next best time to start is today!

Fixed or variable?

Q – Should I be changing my home loan from variable to a fixed interest rate??

A – My answer is slightly different depending on whether it’s your own home or an investment.

I think today is a good time to fix your home loan for your principal place of residence (PPOR).

Most banks will allow you to fix your home loan at a rate in the low 2’s (some might even be in the 1’s). Depending on your situation, fixing your home loan today should save you at least half a per cent in interest each year. That will add up and make a difference.

The thing about fixing interest rates is that you lose the flexibility to pay down debt (they cap you on how much debt you can pay down each year) or refinance.

Provided you’re comfortable being ‘locked in’, and don’t have any intentions of selling or refinancing during the period of the fixed loan, it’s a good option today.

You could even fix most of your loan and leave a small portion on a variable rate (which won’t have restrictions on paying down debt). That way you can use the savings on interest to pay down your debt quicker.

When it comes to investment loans it will depend on the individual. The gap between fixed and variable rates on investment loans doesn’t seem to be as big as it is for PPOR. Plus, with values rising you might be wanting to access equity to add to your portfolio. As a result, most people will be better off having the flexibility that a variable rate offers (i.e., the ability to refinance if necessary).

For some people, fixing your investment loans could be worth it as the lower interest rates will improve serviceability with the banks (i.e., help improve your ability to borrow money).

Hope that helps with your decision!

James Fitzgerald