Advertising
Advertising

Get Rich(er)

Get Rich(er)

Get Rich(er)

    It is true that no one can serve two masters, and slavish devotion to unrighteous mammon is indeed a road to misery.  Ambition to produce and “be rich” is not necessarily a bad thing, though.  And if you’re reading this, you’re likely among the richest 1-2% of people who have ever lived.  Historically speaking, you’re not just rich.  You’re super-rich.

    Advertising

    This means a couple of things.  First, it means that foregoing generations have left us with the capital, technology, and institutions we need to produce staggering amounts of wealth (which isn’t just “stuff;” wealth is whatever people value).  They have done this by establishing legal systems conducive to trade, by establishing an ethic of inquiry, and by refraining from consumption so as to leave us with plenty of resources that we can use to produce current and future output.  How, then, in this environment, should one grow wealthy?  And what are the social implications?  Here, I will relay some of the best advice I have gotten and discuss some of the social implicaitons of “getting rich.”  First, here’s how to do it:

    1.  Stop renting and buy a house. Homeowners build equity while renters line their landlords’ pockets.  This require a few important caveats.  First, don’t buy a house you can’t afford by agreeing to terms you can’t meet embedded in a mortgage you don’t understand.  Second, it is better to rent than to buy if you are only going to be somewhere for a very short period of time.  We bought our first house about a year ago, and we bought conservatively: we bought in a nice, semi-urban neighborhood based on the assumption that we would have to pay for the house on a single income.  We’re happy, we’re building equity, and we aren’t over-extended (yet–we have a six-week-old!!).

    Advertising

    2.  Step away from the latte. The Automatic Millionaire author David Bach refers to what he calls “the latte factor,” which consists of the money we spend on small, incidental purchases: a $3 latte here, a $15 lunch there.  It all adds up.  Of course, there is something to be said for having your morning coffee, and for some of us, it is more efficient to get our fix from Starbucks.  A first step might be to size down–Starbucks does sell a “short,” though it isn’t on the menu–or to go with a regular coffee that costs $2 rather than a $4-5 specialty drink.

    3.  If you’re being paid $50,000, do $55,000 worth of work. One of the best ways to ensure job security is not to do the bare minimum necessary to get by, but to do enough that you are competitive for another job.  In academia, our brass ring is tenure, which gives us wide-ranging freedom to explore the world of ideas.  Last summer, I heard it put this way: “don’t worry about being competitive for tenure.  Worry about staying marketable.”  If you’re marketable–and you may be perfectly content wherever you are–then you shouldn’t have to worry too much about job security.

    Advertising

    4.  Save. If you aren’t contributing to your 401k or your 403b and you don’t have an excellent reason not to (we didn’t during my first year at Rhodes because we were saving cash to buy a house), you’re throwing money away.  A Roth IRA is a fantastic deal if you’re young, and a 401k can reduce your tax liability considerably while giving you room to grow your capital in the future.

    5.  Bank the raises. What do you do with those little boosts to your income?  Do they go straight down the drain on a bunch of stuff you don’t need?  Or do you put them in the bank?  We have a system that has worked reasonably well in our house.  Whenever, we get unexpected shocks to our income, we split it four ways.  The bank gets 25%, the kids get 25%, my wife gets 25%, and I get 25%.  This has proven to be a somewhat reasonable and easy way to splurge every so often while making sure that we are wise stewards of what has been entrusted to us.

    Advertising

    6.  Be a cheapskate. This is something we have some trouble with.  When your income goes up, it’s fine to splurge a little.  My wife and I both have iPods, and we have a nice TV.  However, we had one car for our first four years of marriage, and we bought a deeply-used second car last summer from a Rhodes graduate who was advertising it on Craigslist.  We’ve never had cable, we just switched from cable internet to AT&T (slightly slower, much cheaper), and we try to take advantage of cheap entertainment (our church library, for example, has a ton of stuff).

    7.  Go with equities if you’re young. The younger you are, the better it is to invest in stocks because you have plenty of time to take higher volatility in exchange for higher returns.  As you get older, you will want to make your portfolio more conservative, but now is the time to take on risk.  Even in the current crisis, there is reason for optimism because it’s a great time to buy.  After you’ve salted away two or three months’ income in order to deal with unanticipated emergencies–like the new kitchen floor we had to get last month–you should begin investing in equity-heavy mutual funds.  Many companies offer funds that rebalance toward greater conservatism over time, substituting bonds and safer securities as you approach retirement.

    8.  Get educated. The market is screaming “stay in school!”  Wages for low-skilled occupations have stayed flat while wages for high-skill, high-tech occupations have risen dramatically.  If you’re serious about it, college is a great investment.  Strange as it may sound, the increasing cost of college is another reason to be optimistic.  Higher costs for higher education suggest increasing productivity in other sectors as well as general expectations that there are great opportunities in the future for the educated.

    9.  Be generous. Finally, it is important to remember all the cliches about wealth.  All that glitters is not gold.  George Bailey was the richest man in Bedford Falls.  It doesn’t profit a man to gain the world and yet lose his soul.  Ebenezer Scrooge, for all his wealth (which produced higher incomes for many people, by the way), appears to have had a miserable and wretched life.  Money cannot buy happiness or love, but it can buy a lot of things that contribute to happiness–such as the ability to help people who truly need it.

    More by this author

    21st Century Opportunities Learning from A Master: Review of “Bear Bryant, CEO” On “The Substance of Style” Productivity Hints from Booker T. Washington Get Rich(er)

    Trending in Money

    130 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much 235 Real Ways to Actually Make Money Online 3How to Make Money with a Blog (According to 23 Successful Bloggers) 4This List of 50 Low-cost Hobbies Will Excite You 530 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    30 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much

    30 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much

    Summertime can be a real strain on your wallet. The sun is out, there are people to see, places to be; it’s no wonder you might be short of funds during these sunny months. Not everything has to cost you an arm and a leg.

    Take some time to go through this list of 20 cheap summer activities and make some realistic goals to complete as many as you can.

    Video Summary

    1. Visit a strawberry festival

    Summer is prime time for tasting strawberries. More often than not, an area that grows strawberries will have a strawberry festival. Indulge yourself in strawberry pies, jams, cakes and more!

    2. Have a picnic

    Take your partner or your family to the local park and enjoy a relaxing picnic. Designate each person to bring one food item of their choice to add to the fun.

    3. Camp in your back yard

      The summer heat can sometimes make it hard to sleep. Why not enjoy the heat outside in the yard? Pitch a tent or gaze into the night sky.

      4. Take long walks

      Discover something new where you live. Take the afternoon off from your chores and go for a long walk. You may be surprised by what you discover.

      5. Break a world record

      Breaking a world record doesn’t have to be time-consuming. You could even break one on your lunch hour. Give it a go!

      Advertising

      6. Go on a bike ride

      The number of bike paths on roads in big cities has increased dramatically over the years. Take advantage, and enjoy the summer breeze.

      7. Join a gym class

        The gym is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but why not go with a friend a join a class? Spinning, yoga and step classes are always more fun with friends, and a lot of gyms allow you to pay-as-you-go.

        8. Find a new hobby

        The summer is the perfect time to find a new hobby. Serotonin (our body’s natural “happy” hormone) is produced by the sunshine and will be at a yearly high, which is great for when we want to tackle something new.

        9. Join a sports team

        Not all sports teams are competitive and require huge amounts of your time. Join in the fun with like-minded people, get fit, stay healthy and make some friends along the way.

        10. Make a slip ‘n slide

          Gather your friends, some plastic sheeting, a hose, washing up liquid if desired, and make a huge slip ‘n slide just like these guys. Granted, yours won’t be as big, but you get the idea… it’s fun!

          11. Make a treasure hunt for your kids

          Today’s digital world sees our children more often than not playing inside than outside. Why not create a sense of adventure by making a treasure hunt? Only rule? It has to be outside.

          Advertising

          12. Visit a free festival

          Towns and cities are awash with free festivals, with themes from film to science. Scout your local area and discover something new.

          13. Visit the zoo

            Let’s face it: we love animals. While browsing news websites and social media networks you’re bound to come across a few pictures of cats. Take a trip to your local zoo for a better experience.

            14. Take a road trip

            Enjoy the open road with a few friends and take a road trip somewhere–anywhere. Just go out and enjoy the sunshine!

            15. Play ultimate frisbee in the park

              Frisbee is always great fun down the park, but why not turn it into more of a competitive sport by playing ultimate frisbee?

              16. Make your own ice cream

              Ice cream is a very versatile dessert. Make a sandwich, enjoy a cone, or simply just enjoy a bowl full. Better yet, making your own ice cream allows you to create any flavor you want.

              17. Invite your neighbors over for a BBQ

              Advertising

                When was the last time you invited your neighbors over? Do you even know them? Now’s your chance. Just ask each person to bring a food item so costs don’t mount up for you.

                18. Get a summer job

                For many students, summer is the time for relaxation and fun. But who said earning money and being productive isn’t fun? You only get out what you put into a situation.

                19. Attend a charity event

                Attending a charity event is a great way to raise funds and awareness for a cause, meet new people, and generally have a good time. Search for your local charity event today.

                20. Visit a national park

                National parks are a great way to explore nature and learn something new. You could even volunteer and make a difference in helping restore natural habitats.

                21. Visit your local comedy club

                  Local comedy clubs are extremely underrated. They are cheap to attend and no doubt you’ll have a barrel of laughs.

                  22. Make your own hammock

                    Hammocks are very relaxing, are perfect for summer afternoons and are surprisingly easy to make.

                    Advertising

                    23. Read in your new hammock

                    Now you have your very own hammock, the only thing left to do is enjoy it. Grab your favorite book and read to your heart’s content.

                    24. Watch a movie outside

                    Movies are great. Relaxing outside in the evening is great. Put them together and you’ve got a perfect combination. In D.C, Maryland and Virginia this summer, for example, you can enjoy a huge number of movies outside.

                    25. Take a hike

                      Hikes are a great way to keep fit and see more of Mother Nature. There are countless trails available for you to explore. Why not try some this summer?

                      26. Learn how to fly a kite

                      As a child, you probably had a kite and haven’t touched it since. Why not dust it off and attempt to fly it? It’s tricky, but well worth the challenge.

                      27. Work out at the park

                      American cities are full of parks with ample space for a work out session. No doubt you’ll be happier to work out in the sun rather than a crowded gym.

                      28. Take your dog to the beach

                        One of the many joys of owning a dog is taking him or her for long walks during the summertime. This joy is enhanced when visiting the beach, for both you and your dog.

                        29. Make a summer smoothie

                        Healthy, delicious and perfect for the summer. Not only that, there are countless recipes ready for you to try.

                        30. Attend a free yoga session at the beach

                        No experience needed and all skill levels are welcome. Take yourself and a buddy down to the beach and try some yoga. You’ve got nothing to lose!

                        Read Next