March 26, 2007
The Road to Financial Success Is Well Marked
Do you ever look at people who are more financially successful than you are and wonder how they got there? There are only three ways to become rich: inherit it, marry it, or earn it.
Most of us aren't heirs to a fortune and unless your parents are in the minority, they are going to need all they have just to live out their power years. Some may be fortunate enough to marry into wealth but I certainly wouldn't recommend it as a wealth-building strategy. It reminds me of the line in Pretty Woman, "Meet the Olson sisters. They have made marrying well an art form."
So that leaves earning it. The good news is the road to financial success is well-travelled and those who have gone before you have left it pretty well marked. The only thing required from you is the discipline to make it happen. Here's how:
Forget about appearances. I bet you know someone who makes a lot of money, lives in a fancy house, drives fancy cars, and lives paycheck to paycheck. I know a lot of people like that. But I bet you also know someone who lives in an average house, drives the same paid-for car for ten years, and has a net worth of several million dollars. Thomas Stanley and William Danko call these people "The Millionaire Next Door." If you haven't read the book, get it.
Don't buy things you cannot afford. My grandmother is 88 years old. She was ten years old, living on a farm in East Texas in 1929 when the stock market crashed. She grew up, like so many of her generation, believing that you didn't buy something you couldn't pay cash for. When you have the discipline to save for the things you want, it gives you the time to decide if they are really important. If they are, they'll mean more for having saved to buy them.
Kick your bad habits. Do you smoke, drink, gamble or live on junk food? Our bad habits rob us in many ways. Let's take the difference between eating breakfast at home or grabbing a McDonalds on your way to work each morning. My breakfast every morning is a bowl of oatmeal and Crystal Light. I am guessing that meal probably costs me about $0.75. Compare that to $3.00 for an Egg McMuffin, hash browns and a soda (I don't drink coffee). Do that five days a week, 52 weeks a year, that's almost $600 a year. $600 compounded at 10% for twenty years is $4000. Do that every year for ten years and you have cost yourself a years worth of living expenses. That doesn't take into consideration the extra cost of insurance and healthcare if you are a high risk.
I am not suggesting you have to live in abject poverty or deny yourself a splurge once in awhile. I like a Whataburger as much as anyone. But you have to admit bad habits are expensive. If financial success is a priority for you, then kicking bad habits is one way to get there.
Visualize your goals. There is a tendency to become what you imagine yourself as being. So how do you attain your goals in life? By having a goal and knowing what it is! I, for example, have had a goal for almost ten years of owning a polo farm in Aiken, SC. Not a day has gone by that I didn't picture in my mind what the house would look like, how the barns and pastures would be laid out, and me playing polo on my own field. Today, that goal is a reality.
It is not enough to say I have a goal. The trick is to imagine exactly what that looks like, in excruciating detail, and hold that thought doggedly in your mind. The one thing we know is that our minds can't stand to have the inside not match the outside. If you are persistent with the visualization, and you have full faith in you ability to achieve your goal, your mind will, over time, make your outside world congruent with your inside world. I don't know why it works that way. I only know that it does.
Manage risk. Shit happens. Make sure you have six months of living expenses in a bank account. Insure any risk you cannot afford and update your insurance as your situation changes. The paradox is, the more at risk we are, the more likely we are to skip this step. When money is tight, it is easy to raid the emergency fund or cancel the insurance policy and hope lightening doesn't strike. But Murphy's law says that is just when it will and if it does, the financial setback may be too drastic for you to ever recover from.
Abolish get rich quick fantasies. Wealth is built one dollar at a time. I like the quote by Theodore Roosevelt. He said, "The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life."
Manage your own money. Imagine a broker has two mutual funds he can sell you. One is a low cost index fund that will match the market's performance exactly but pays him no commission. The other will under-perform the market two-thirds of the time but will pay him all sorts of money. Which do you think he is going to recommend? The only person who has no conflict of interest when it comes to taking care of your money is you. That makes you uniquely qualified to manage your own financial affairs.
Stop chasing the herd. The person who chases the latest hot idea, whether it is internet stocks, real estate, or commodities, is condemned to repeatedly buy high and sell low. The key to wealth is to buy when everyone else is irrationally selling and sell when others are irrationally buying.
Think of your money as a tool. Your money is no different than a carpenter's hammer or a truck driver's truck. It is a tool. Every day you put its little coveralls on, hand it its lunch pail and send it off to work. If, at the end of the day, it doesn't come back with four buddies in tow, your money isn't working hard enough. You need to find it a different job.
Be the Family CFO. You are your family’s chief financial officer and it is arguably the most important job you will ever hold. The CFO of a company is responsible for that company’s financial health. You are responsible for the financial health of your family. What separates the good CFO’s from the bad is knowledge. A good CFO works to be as educated about financial matters as possible. The more you know, the better you’re able to distinguish between a great investment opportunity and a cleverly disguised sales pitch.
1. There are only three ways to become wealthy: inherit it, marry it, or earn it. The last one is the most reliable.
2. Get started today. Tackle the items on this list one at a time. Make a plan for implementing these ideas. Let us know how you are doing.
Care to share? Which of these needs to be your highest priority? Leave your thoughts and comments below.
Kim Snider, Kim Snider Financial Communications, Chronim Investments and/or Snider Advisors make no representation that the information and opinions expressed are accurate, complete or current. The opinions expressed should not be construed as financial, legal, tax, or other advice and are provided for informational purposes only. Call 866-952-0100 to request the Snider Investment Method™ Owner's Manual, which includes a description of the Snider Investment Method, investment objectives, risks, suitability and other information. Please read and consider carefully before investing. All investments are subject to risk including possible loss of principal.
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Kim Snider is an author, speaker and host of Financial Success Coaching, Saturdays at noon, on KRLD Newsradio 1080, Dallas - Fort Worth. This blog is primarily devoted to empowering individual investors with information to help them be good stewards of their money. Above all, it is about achieving true financial success. Kim's book, How To Be the Family CFO: Four Simple Steps to Put Your Financial House in Order is in bookstores now. Order yours from Amazon or other fine booksellers today.
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