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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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        Published on May 7, 2019

        How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

        How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

        When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

        Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

        Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

        You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

        Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

        1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

        Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

        But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

        • Will you spend more time with your family?
        • What does retirement mean to you?
        • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

        Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

        Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

        2. Figure out When to Invest

        “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

        It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

        The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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        A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

        Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

        3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

        Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

        Why?

        Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

        Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

        Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

        Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

        4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

        Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

        If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

        You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

        1. Vanguard
        2. TD Ameritrade
        3. Charles Schwab

        5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

        Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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        Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

        That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

        Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

        A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

        6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

        The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

        Robo Advisors

        Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

        Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

        Bonds

        Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

        Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

        Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

        1. Treasury bonds
        2. Government bonds
        3. Corporate bonds
        4. Foreign bonds
        5. Mortgage-backed bonds
        6. Municipal bonds

        Mutual Funds

        Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

        One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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        Real Estate

        Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

        Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

        This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

        But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

        Savings Accounts

        Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

        7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

        Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

        So how can you master delayed gratification?

        By building your discipline.

        Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

        Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

        8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

        I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

        It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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        More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

        But, how can you invest yourself?

        Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

        Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

        But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

        Retire Happy with Excess Money

        The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

        It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

        I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

        Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

        One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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        Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

        Reference

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