The Boring Way to Become Wealthy
When some people think about becoming rich, they might imagine suddenly coming into a bunch of money. Maybe they'll win the lottery. Maybe a rich relative will die and leave a fortune to them. Or perhaps they'll suddenly make it as a famous actor.
While these things can happen, and these are the type of stories that make the news, planning to become wealthy this way is a non starter.
The vast majority of wealthy people make their money the boring way: with time and discipline. This might not make the news or sound that exciting, but this is the way to become wealthy that is within your grasp.
In this article, I will describe the principles that wealthy people understand and that can make you wealthy too.
Hold a Job
As if this couldn't start sounding any more boring, we need to start with getting a job. Without some form of income, nothing else will happen. The good news here is that it doesn't have to be a high paying job. While amassing a fortune will be easier with more money coming in, the principles described in this article do not require a huge income.
I know this really goes without saying, but I didn't want to skip over this. I didn't want to pretend you won't need a job to get going. Over time, these principles can mean you don't need to work a regular job. But you'll need some money to get started.
This is the big one. The average American has spent most of their paycheck before they even receive it. How can you possibly amass a fortune when you don't even get to keep and use the money you earn?
Avoiding debt will seem extreme to most Americans because the American culture is that this is the way things are done. How weird would it be if you didn't borrow money? Well, how weird would it be if you weren't living paycheck to paycheck and could easily afford the things that you want? Most people in the US are broke. Do what they do and you will be broke too!
In fact, as many people earn larger and larger incomes in their life, they generally upgrade their car, hobbies and their house--on credit. Ironically, this means the people who earn more money often owe more money than their counterparts who earn less! This is the guaranteed path to struggling with money for the rest of your life. If you want this to be your path, just keep borrowing money.
Debt on things like credit cards are the worst. Here, it's not for a specific thing that you need. Rather, it's a way of life. Just live like all your friends at ridiculous interest rates.
If you can avoid borrowing completely, you will be better off financially. It's so exciting to buy that new car, and it's so easy to get it financed. But the temporary emotional satisfaction of buying something you can't really afford just makes the corporations rich. Do you think you really need that nicer car or more expensive cell phone? Would it be worth cobbling together the money to get a cheaper item if it would make you wealthy in the future? That's a big question. Give it some thought.
There are cases in life where giving up on immediate emotional satisfaction in favor of having the discipline to improve your life will make your life better. And this is one of those cases.
The one exception is buying a home. Unlike a car and other things you buy, a house actually becomes more valuable over time. And very few of us could ever live in a house without borrowing money. While you would be far better off to buy a house without borrowing money, this is one purchase where a loan is understandable.
When the average person gets a paycheck, the first thing they pay are the payments on the debt. Next, they pay their monthly bills like rent, utilities, food, gas for the car, etc. Then they might buy something with the little bit that's left. And just like that, the paycheck is gone!
Your money went everywhere except to you. You paid your lenders, the corporations that service your utilities, and so on. And you have nothing left to show for it except for covering your living costs for one more month. There's not much point in complaining about how the corporations are getting richer and richer while you give all your money to them and don't keep any for yourself. How much wealth do you suppose you'll accumulate this way?
The priorities are wrong. Just think if you took some reasonable amount from your paycheck and stuck it in a savings account for yourself first, and then paid everyone else with what's left. Things might be a little tougher. You would have to stretch a dollar further, but you'd have your priorities straight. And you would break the cycle by starting to build your own wealth instead of just making the corporations rich.
This can be difficult to do at first. Unexpected bills will arise that may make you come up short that month. Over time, you will build a cushion for those unexpected expenses. For best results, build up a smaller savings account just for those unexpected bills, and don't spend that money unless you have to. But then also build up your main savings account, and do not spend the money in that account. Let it grow.
Saving is difficult. But you can do this. And it will just become habit if you do it over time. And if you do, you will build a small amount of wealth. It's just a start, but you have to start somewhere. And there's virtually no chance of ever becoming wealthy without this step.
Whereas the last section talked about keeping some of your paycheck for yourself, this section is about using the money you keep to make even more money.
This is one of the keys to becoming wealthy. After all, you can only work so many hours a day. The more money invested, the more money it's possible to earn. Earning money this way is not limited by the hours in a day. And wouldn't it be nicer to spend those hours doing something else anyway?
If you're still young, this is where it gets really exiting.
According to How Teens Can Become Millionaires, imagine two investors: Jack and Blake.
Jack started investing $2,400 every year at the age of 21. He continued to invest for nine years and then stopped.
Blake, on the other hand, also invested $2,400 every year but didn't start until age 30. He continued to invest until he was 67 (37 years).
At age 67, Jack has invested $21,600 but now has over $2.5 million! By comparison, Blake has invested $91,200 and now has nearly $1.5 million.
Now let's not dismiss what Blake did. He paid $91,200 and got $1.5 million in return. That's pretty good! This is due to the power of compound interest. This is where you earn money on your money, but then that money you earn also starts to learn interest. This is how you become wealthy.
But because Jack started early, he is a multimillionaire at age 67. What if he had continued to invest after age 30? Instead of living paycheck to paycheck, investing builds your wealth over time.
As far as where to invest, while the stock market can be a rocky ride of ups and downs, over time it has performed very well. Buying and holding real estate is another investment likely to increase in value significantly over time.
Of course, this is just a very brief tour of some fundamental principles. If it sounds interesting, you'll want to read more about saving and investing. I just wanted to spark the ideas.
The takeaway is that you can choose, by making some shorter term sacrifices, to start funneling some money to yourself instead of only to everyone else. You can choose if it's more important to have that new car or more expensive gadget now, or to become financially independent in the future. The power is yours. The choice is yours.
Jonathan Wood is a software developer working out of Salt Lake City, UT as the owner of SoftCircuits. In 2007 he was diagnosed with diabetes. Since then, he has completely reversed his diabetes and he lost half his bodyweight in the process. These days, he hikes with his dog and plays guitar and bass when he has time. You can read more about his experience with diabetes in his short book, How I lost Half my Bodyweight: And Reversed my Type 2 Diabetes.
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