I was browsing through Quora the other day and stumbled on a thread about how people became wealthy. The answers were insightful, but one answer got lodged in my head and wouldn’t leave.
This answer was written by a guy named Jason. He is only 36 years old (a year younger than yours truly), but his answer was super interesting and I can’t help but re-post his answer here for you good people.
You probably have your own financial principles that you live by to get wealthy, and some of yours most likely overlap with his.
And, I think this guy’s principles start off with a bang. 🙂
Key principles he lives by to build wealth
Here’s are some principles that I personally have learned and adapted over the years that have served me well.
Stop listening to broke people
- There’s no shortage of opinion when it comes to what to do with your money. After listening to way too many people, trusting too many opinions, and worse, acting on some of those opinions, I finally stopped to reflect on who I was listening to.
- When you do this, ask yourself a simple question: “Is this person already doing what I’m aspiring to do?” Equally important…. “Do I know for sure that this is the case or am I just basing it off of what they’re telling me?”. A lot of people out there talk a big game. Most are full of shit. Guard yourself accordingly.
Learn the rules of the game
- Money and investing, like many things in life, can be a zero-sum game. This means in every deal, in order for there to be a winner, there must be a loser. It may seem unfair to many, but it’s a harsh reality so you’ll be better served to accept it, learn how the game is actually being played, and do what you can to stack the odds in your favor.
Stop stepping over dollars to pick up pennies
- If you listen to almost every investment/financial “expert” what are they actually touting?
Rateof return. They all have a better mousetrap to help you earn a better return on your investment. Again this is noise…Intriguing noise. Compelling noise. Sexy noise even. But noise all the same.
- Rates of return are unimportant, but they have far less impact long term than the more glaring opportunities sitting in front of you that are probably getting overlooked.
- I started by auditing the following:
- Fees (both disclosed and hidden) – you’re probably paying significantly more than you think.
- Insurance premiums – where are you paying too much in premiums and where do you have potential overlap in coverages?
- Taxes – again, you’re probably paying way more than you should be, particularly after recent tax reform. If you aren’t sure it might be time to consider upgrading your CPA.
- Bad or inefficient loans – if you’re carrying balances on multiple loans, which most of us are, chances are you paying on them inefficiently which can cost you thousands in additional interest, not to mention the lost interest that this money could be earning if reallocated to something more productive.
- Just these 4 areas are likely to uncover thousands in “found money”.
- Think of it this way….if you were able to recover $10,000 through this audit process (which is well within reason for most of us) in order to match this, you’d have to invest $200,000 at 5% guaranteed interest. No easy feat these days. Just remember this as the pundits continue to squabble over getting you an extra percentage point of return on your investment.
Money is a tool designed to serve you, not the other way around
- All too often I feel like we get duped into serving money and all that it represents in our world.
- Money is a vehicle to serve us, so that we can provide for our needs and our wants.
- Once I shifted my thinking here, it changed the way I looked at money, and ultimately how I treated it.
Invest for cash flow, not return
- When I peeled back the onion and started thinking about what is actually most important to me and my wife, it ultimately boils down to lifestyle and working towards creating a freedom of lifestyle. I would define this as doing what I want, when I want, with the people I care most about.
- While most of us get caught focusing on growing net worth so we have a number that looks good on a bank statement, the reality is that, at least for me, I know that if I can create a passive income that fully supports what we need to have that freedom of lifestyle, we’re officially wealthy in my book.
- As a result, everything I focus on from a personal finance standpoint is built around that objective. Driving take home cash flow that my family can rely on forever.
Establish a value system
- Get clear on what is actually most important to you, and why. What do you really want to do, and who are the people that you care most about that you want to build your life with?
- Having these priorities in place helps to serve as a filter when I find myself falling back into bad habits. With this value system firmly established, it becomes a simple question of whether that decision moves me closer to the things I value most, or further away from them. The decision is made for me at that point.
Immersion over Dabbling
- When I stopped listening to all of the outside noise and started taking more personal responsibility for my family’s situation, I realized real quickly that what I really knew and understood was a lot less than I thought.
- Until I owned that, I was really just caught in perpetual state of “dabbling”. I’d read about something over here, and then look at the next shiny object over there, and then get distracted by the next idea right behind that. This meant that I was getting familiar with a lot of things, but didn’t really have a deep understanding of anything.
- Once I got clear on what my real value system was, and what was most important to me, I had better clarity on what I needed to focus on, and then I went really deep on that thing. I became intensely focused on learning everything I could about it, good, bad, and otherwise, so that I could make better decisions that I was sure were aligned with my goals. This is where the effects started to compound themselves for me.
Amazing insight, and it got me thinking about my own principles of building wealth. They look similar to Jason’s, though we keep a much more hands-off approach to building wealth.
We let auto-diversification through target retirement and life strategy funds do a lot of the heavy lifting for us. We’re in the market for the long haul. We understand that it’s going to do what it’s going to do.
But, the highlighted principles are sound:
- Know from whom you are taking advice
- Understand how money actually works
- Focus on what’s most important
- Realize that money is only a tool, not a way of life
- Focus on achieving financial goals with energy
How close are these financial principles to yours? Is there anything that you’d disagree with?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.