Let’s get one thing clear at the start: Anyone trying to sell you an easy, foolproof path to riches is a fraud. Even if there was a simple path to getting wealthy, humanity is constantly producing better fools who are quickly parted with their money, frequently by get-rich-quick schemes. The number of people who invested in Trump University should be warning enough for the unwary.
That said, getting rich is totally possible even for those who think they know nothing about managing money. It doesn’t require any particular financial savvy and you don’t need a foolproof method. All you need is the desire and the self-discipline to use that desire to build the proper fiscal habits. It won’t be easy and it won’t be fast but that’s how gaining wealth is really done.
Avoiding the “Cult” Of Home Ownership
Remember I told you that weren’t going to like it. A house is the biggest financial anchor people drag around with them in their financial lives. Houses are expensive, they have high ancillary costs and they are illiquid, which means they’re hard to turn into cash. Here’s the story of a couple in their 30s who worked, saved and avoided buying a house so they could retire short of 40 with over a million dollars in the bank.
Building Your Own Business
Again, a reminder that I didn’t say you’d like the answers. I find a surprising amount of resistance to this path, particularly when the economy is doing well and unemployment is low. Seventy-five percent of the wealthy believe that the path to wealth lies with building something of your own. There are many advantages to running your own business and the positives outweigh the negatives in my opinion. I personally started working for myself after finding that waiting on other people to get things done was somewhat limiting.
Yeah, I get that I can be a bummer sometimes but if being wealthy were easy more people would be rich. The fact that most people are poor should tell you that the easy path leads toward poverty. The wealthy consider themselves more willing to sacrifice for their goals. Reading the story of that couple who retired in their 30s, they sacrificed a lot of short-term pleasures in pursuit of the long-term goal of retiring early.
The strategic application of debt, called leverage, can advance your long-term goals but the majority of people use debt as a crutch to stump along blindly through their financial lives without a thought. Every month that credit card bill rolls around and every month it’s a surprise. Avoiding debt means living within your means. To live within your means you have to know where those means are going every month. That means developing habits like tracking expenses, down to the penny.
Invest in Tangible Assets
The wealthy understand that cash is only worth what it can be exchanged for in trade. The wealthy keep a significant portion of their wealth in tangible assets. Among those assets you’ll find things like high quality gold and silver coins, timber, farmland, commercial real estate and income producing machinery. To get the most value from tangible assets, they have to be in a form other than a strictly paper investment. There are things like a Gold ETF, sometimes called paper gold. Paper gold wipes away the greatest advantages of actually holding silver and gold coins in your safe. A paper investment in commercial real estate is called a REIT and a lot of people own shares. But investing in a REIT means missing out on the real tax-advantaged benefits from owning that commercial real estate yourself or in a corporate structure.
You can get rich. As I’ve said many times, it’s not easy and it’s not quick but consistently do the right things and you’ll get there.