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How to Get Rich and Achieve Financial Independence

How to Get Rich and Achieve Financial Independence

If you’re coming here for another get-rich-quick scheme, this is not the article for you. I’m not about to sell you on a pie-in-the-sky fairytale that will have you driving a Maserati into the driveway of your mansion by next May. But if you’re looking for actionable advice on being smart with money while working hard to achieve financial independence, then let’s explore this concept further together.

First, let’s clarify by what I mean by “rich,” as this is a very nebulous term. The definition of “rich” is as individual as taste preferences of food or fashion. Many times, even when you are considered by others to be rich, you don’t think of yourself that way. After all, it’s all about perspective. In poorer countries, people would consider $20,000 per year to be rich, where in more prosperous countries, it is considered poverty. So, to make this topic much easier to follow, I will leave the number of what you would consider to be rich up to you. Whatever it is, here are some important concepts to ensure success.

Keep Breathing Room in your Budget

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breathing room for wallet

    No matter what your paycheck says, if every bit of that money is allocated to paying someone else, you will never feel rich. Only you can decide what percent of your paycheck you want to live on, but I don’t recommend pushing it to 100%. Keep your expenses down to a level where you aren’t strapped every month. You can have the most amazing home, car, and high-paying job, and still be stressed out and unable to pay your bills. Live within your means and save the rest of your income to build up your long-term economic equity.

    Limit Expenses on Bobbles and Bling

    diamond ring

      Whenever you are about to buy something, consider if that is the best investment for your long-term financial goals. Now, I’m not saying don’t enjoy life, but keep in mind when you buy that boat, that brand-new car, the time-share in Tahiti, the new diamond earrings, or that designer leather jacket, that you are making a purchase where you are most likely losing money. The boat, car, time share, earrings, and leather jacket will not normally gain value over the years. The more you limit these expenses, the more money you can keep for smarter investing.

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      Stop Living to Impress Others

      Sometimes, we can make some very foolish decisions to impress others. The sooner we understand that our self worth is not tied up in our possessions, the more likely we are to achieve financial independence. Keeping up with the Jones’ means a very flashy facade of big-ticket purchases followed by years of financial struggle to pay back the debt with interest accrued. There is no shame in driving a used car with some miles on the engine or finding clothes in thrift stores. You will have much less stress than those working extra hours at jobs that they hate to pay their high credit card payments.

      Avoid Debt, Unless It Makes You Money

      While no debt is necessarily embraceable, there are a few scenarios where debt is often necessary. For example, my husband is in medical school. Since most people right out of college don’t have $250,000 lying around to attend medical school, taking out loans is often the only option. Education loans eventually pay you back much bigger dividends in higher earning potential over the rest of your life. The same goes for real estate. Rather than tie up all of your money by paying off one house, you can use the same amount to put down a deposit to purchase five homes or businesses that you can rehab or rent at a profit, while paying off the remaining loan amount with money from the rent or sale. If the profit gained by utilizing the bank’s money is greater than the interest you are paying to use the money, you come out ahead. You can also utilize credit cards to build up your credit line and get points to reduce other expenses like airline travel. Just make sure you can always pay them off at the end of the month so you don’t waste money on interest.

      Get Out of Bad Debt

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        Think of your financial security like a bucket of water. In order to fill it up, you have to make sure you plug all the holes where it is leaking. Avoid the type of debt that has you paying interest on non-necessary items like the plague. When you carry this debt, you are making someone else richer while you stay poorer. If you already have this debt, make it a priority to pay it off as quickly as possible. Pay the highest-interest balances off first and make minimum payments on the rest of the cards. Then, when the worst offender is paid off, take the exact amount you were paying on the card you have paid off and roll it into the minimum payment of the next card. Continue doing this until you are out of bad debt.

        Revisit the Time = Money Concept

        Most people understand the thought process that when they give their time, they get a certain amount of money back. Unfortunately, there is a limit to this, as there is a limit to how much time you can give. The financially free people often learn to create multiple streams of income and get mailbox money. Think about someone who owns real estate. They do not put any time or effort into your rent check, they just collect the mailbox money every month for allowing you to live there. Or, think about when someone creates a new invention or writes a book. Even if they sell the product to others to market, if they are smart they will set up the contract to continue to collect royalties for the life of the invention. This is mailbox money. After the initial work launching or selling the product, they simply sit back and collect the checks. Or, consider those who invest in the stock market. Once they go through the up-front work to become educated on market trends and how to invest wisely, they put their money in a company and simply ride the market up or short-sell the market and make money as the market goes down. When you realize that you can make money beyond the typical hourly rate, your financial horizons expand exponentially. Most people feel intimidated by this initially. After all, this can push people outside of their comfort zone. But, this is where the truly rich play. They are no different that anyone else, they just learned to invest their time in educating themselves in these concepts.

        Follow a Budget and Set Aside Money for Saving and Investing

        Most people are shocked when they document where their money goes each month. There are so many online tools now that link with your bank account and help with budgeting. It makes it very easy to analyze your spending habits. Try to limit your purchases on frivolous items and learn to set aside a certain percent of your income for saving and investing. Take advantage of company-sponsored 401Ks, set up tax-sheltered retirement accounts, and learn about investing in the stock market or real estate. All of this can be done while still working your day job.

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        Budget Your Time Wisely

        Many people in America watch four or more hours of television per day. Now, if you’re watching the latest investment news, I will give you a pass. But, if your filling up that time with Honey Boo Boo episodes, then it’s time to revisit your priorities. I would challenge you to take just one hour per day you normally watch T. V. and read a book on investing. Or, start a business out of your home in the evening and enjoy additional tax breaks offered to business owners while making money on the side. Or, find other people who are financially free and ask them their advice. If you follow people who are successful, you find they are always learning and broadening their minds on new ways to improve their financial status. And, in my experience, they don’t mind giving advice or helping others along the way. Being rich is not a golden ticket only offered to the fortunate. While some wealth is certainly inherited, there are enough rags-to-riches stories out there to inspire us. It’s simply that few people are willing to change their lifestyle and achieve their financial dreams, because, frankly, it takes hard work and reality shows are just so much more intriguing.

        While this is not a get-rich-quick article, if you apply all of these concepts, you will find that you are well on your way to financial success, whatever your definition. With the right amount of passion, education, and hard work, anyone can achieve their financial dreams. Like most adventures, the length of time to get to the finish is different for everyone. But, like all great journeys, with each step taken, you are that much closer to freedom.

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        Sarah Hansen

        A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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        Last Updated on August 20, 2019

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

        In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

        5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

        Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

        1. Be Clear About the Objectives

        Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

        It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

        Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

        2. Keep Them Realistic

        It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

        It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

        3. Account for Inflation

        Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

        Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

        For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

        4. Short Term vs Long Term

        Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

        As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

        More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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        5. To Each to His Own

        The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

        It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

        By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

        11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

        Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

        • Ensuring healthy savings
        • Making smart investments

        You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

        Ensuring Healthy Savings

        Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

        This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

        1. Track Expenses

        The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

        Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

        2. Pay Yourself First

        Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

        Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

        The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

        Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

        3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

        Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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        Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

        At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

        Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

        You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

        4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

        Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

        If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

        Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

        All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

        5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

        In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

        Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

        Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

        If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

        If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

        So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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        6. Talk About It

        Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

        Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

        7. Maintain a Journal

        For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

        So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

        Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

        When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

        At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

        Making Smart Investments

        Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

        8. Consult a Financial Advisor

        Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

        Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

        9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

        Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

        Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

        Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

        It is here where that classification will help.

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        So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

        10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

        Einstein once remarked about compounding,

        Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

        So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

        Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

        11. Measure, Measure, Measure

        All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

        If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

        If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

        Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

        The Bottom Line

        This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

        As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

        More About Personal Finance Management

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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