Kim Snider
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April 02, 2007

Do You Deserve Financial Success?

I saw an article in MarketWatch the other day that made me sad. Apparently, 50% of Americans believe a secure retirement is an impossible dream. It makes me sad because self-defeating beliefs like this become self-fulfilling prophecies. There is absolutely no reason this has to be true.

 

Financial success requires three things: save prodigiously, invest wisely, and act like an entrepreneur. These things are simple. They are doable. But they are obviously not easy or we would all be millionaires.

 

In The Millionaire Next Door, Drs. Thomas Stanley and William Danko tackle the question of quantifying how wealthy you should be. They use a formula I have find quite useful. Multiply your age times your realized pretax annual household income from all sources except inheritances. Divide by ten. This, less any inherited wealth, is what your net worth should be.

 

If your net worth is more than twice this number, you are a PAW - a prodigious accumulator of wealth. If it is less than 50% of this number, you are a UAW - an under-accumulator of wealth. In between and you are average - an AAW.

 

At the age of 28, I was wealthy, by any measure. I didn't inherit it. But it was a stroke of luck. The company I worked for went public and my stock options were suddenly worth a lot of money.

 

By age 30, I was dead broke. I didn't have a penny to my name and I was in debt up to my eyeballs. All my cool toys were re-possessed. I sold my beautiful Uptown condo at a terrible loss just to stay out of foreclosure. My credit was wrecked and I had no job.

 

Today I am 43 - I'll turn 44 in May. I am again wealthy - by any measure. This time it wasn't a stroke of luck. It was damn hard work. And let me tell you something. It is far more gratifying than the first time.

 

There are many lessons to be learned in how and why I lost all that money the first go around. I'll save that for another day. I prefer to focus on how I got from the there to here - and to ask you a question? What can you learn from my experience?

 

One of the most useful exercises for me has been finding people who had what I wanted, figuring out what they were doing that got them the result I was after and then doing the same thing. That is why I found the Millionaire Next Door to be so helpful. It gave me a shortcut. I didn't have to talk with all these people, the author's already had.

 

Financial success starts with a simple principle. If you earn $100 and spend $110 you will always be poor - it doesn't matter how much money you earn. If you earn $100 and spend $90, you will always have money - it doesn't matter how little you earn. If you want to be financially successful, you must spend less than you earn.

 

Once you have put away enough to cover emergencies start investing your savings. The key to investing wisely is knowledge. I believe a financial education is one of the best investments you can possibly make.

 

Investing is simply a trade-off between risk and reward. You cannot have one without the other. That law is as fundamental as gravity - it cannot be suspended. The investor who manages that trade-off well will do well. If you don't, you won't. Too much risk or too little can be equally detrimental to achieving financial success. Your job is to always maintain a happy medium.

 

Risk is connected with financial success in many ways. For example, two-thirds of high net worth (HNW) individuals are entrepreneurs even though the self-employed only make up 20% of the workers in America. That makes sense given that profit is the reward for risk. The entrepreneur takes the risk to start and sustain a business and therefore makes more, when successful, than the person who works for someone else and has less risk. But he or she also stands to lose more if the business fails, which it often does.

 

So it is not surprising that HNW individuals are predominantly entrepreneurs. I am an entrepreneur. Not because I set out to make a lot of money but because I have a passion that burns deep inside my core - to make a profound difference in the financial lives of others by teaching them what I had to learn the hard way.

 

But the good news is that you don't have to be an entrepreneur to be financially successful - you just have to act like one. Most successful entrepreneurs I know have three traits you need to be financially successful: 1) commitment and determination; 2) creativity, self-reliance and ability to adapt; and 3) believing in yourself.

 

People sometimes ask me how I went from broke, to not, in thirteen years. I tell them I decided to. That is the truth. Without commitment and determination, you probably won't get there, because financial success requires making hard choices - usually involving giving up what you want now for the opportunity to have something better down the road. That is hard.

 

It is also hard not to get caught up in what everyone else is doing or to not keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. When the traditional Wall Street offering didn't meet my objectives, I created my own. If what you're doing isn't working, change what you're doing. Otherwise, you shouldn't be surprised when you keep getting what you've always gotten.

 

50% of Americans don't believe they can create a secure retirement. Sadly, they are right. Because if you don't believe you will, then you most assuredly won't.

 

Why do so many people doubt their ability to achieve financial success? Is it because they are afraid to try? Is it because too many people have told them they can't do it? Is it because we are a gluttonous, consumer goods oriented society where no one knows the value of delayed gratification any more? Maybe.

 

I saw an old beater car driving down Stemmons Freeway yesterday with a big screen plasma TV tied in the trunk. The driver was pretty obviously on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. Yet there he was with his big screen, which by the looks of it, was worth more than the car!

 

But maybe, just maybe, it is because we do not believe we are deserving of financial success. One thing I know for sure, anything I believe I am unworthy of - love, money, respect, friendship - will elude me until I can say with certainty, "I deserve this!". Do you deserve financial success?

 

 

TAKEAWAYS:

 

1. To be financially successful you must: save prodigiously, invest wisely, and act like an entrepreneur.

 

2. If you don't believe you are capable of financial success, figure out why.

 

 

 

So now you know what I think. How about you? What do you think? Feel free to 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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