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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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      bad debt

        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 September 2, 2020

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        Personal 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. 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 to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

        4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

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

        1. Be Clear About the Objectives

        Any goal 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’s for. It could be anything, including your child’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 that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

        2. Keep Goals 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 beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

        It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as 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.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

        Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

        For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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        4. Short Term Vs Long Term

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

        As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a 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.

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

        How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

        Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-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.

        Ensuring Healthy Savings

        Self-realization is the best form of realization, 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 spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

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

        If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

        2. Pay Yourself First

        Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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        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 manage all the expenses from the rest.

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

        Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

        3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

        Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

        Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

        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. 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 counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

        • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
        • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
        • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

        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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        5. 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.

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

        6. Maintain a Journal

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

        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.

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

        Making Smart Investments

        Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

        1. Consult a Financial Advisor

        Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s 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.

        2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

        Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

        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[2].

        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 compared to equity instruments.

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        3. 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.”

        Use compound interest when setting financial goals

          Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

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

          4. 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 and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

          If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

          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

          Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

          and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

          More Tips on Financial Goals

          Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

          Reference

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