There’s an interesting maxim about how long wealth actually stays with a person and their descendants. The saying is three generations, tops: one to make it, one to spend it, and the third to blow it. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but have you ever sat down and seriously thought about wealth and what it means to you? Or do you figure, “What the heck, I’ve always been broke, my forefathers were broke; it’s generational” – it’s just a rite of passage of sorts. If you feel that wealth is out of your reach, you aren’t alone. According to some experts, there are millions of ‘clueless potential millionaires’ who could be at the top of the wealth ladder if they only reined in a few bad habits. However, you may be a skeptic, and rightly so. Being wealthy means different things to different people. But according to the experts, there are financial mistakes many people make that keep them away from their possible wealth.
What is Wealth Anyway?
Most people do not equate wealth with a mansion or a big yacht. In fact, a scanty 7% of people surveyed associate wealth with material possessions like cars, houses and boats. Rather, to many, being rich means having just enough to not worry about the next payday – that’s according to 33% of those questioned. An additional 26% define being wealthy, or rich, as having more than enough money to quit their jobs. Still, few people place an actual dollar amount on what it means to be wealthy. Only 17% felt that being rich means having at least $1 million or more, and 11% stated a six-figure yearly income would make them feel rich. Yet most people who are rich don’t even consider themselves rich. Maybe it’s because being ‘rich’ or ‘wealthy’ has very little to do with material possessions, and more to do with how people feel about themselves. Nonetheless, according to financial experts you will never be rich if you are bogged down by anything on the following list:
If you have a ferocious appetite for spending beyond your means, you’re not alone. According to a survey, of the 52% of people who habitually overspend, many balance the shortfall by taking from their savings, and 22% rely on credit cards. Blowing all your money each month is not a realistic pathway to wealth. Start tracking where your money goes each month, check where you can cut back, and create a ‘realistic’ budget that allows you to pay your bills and invest in a retirement account or an emergency fund.
2. Not Saving Enough
Welcome to the club! The personal savings percentage in the US is a measly 4.9% of disposable income. Saving should become a priority if you want to accumulate wealth. Start with an emergency fund. Once your emergency fund is substantial, you can redirect small amounts toward other goals like purchasing a home or paying for college.
3. You Have Too Much Debt
Certain debts are a precursor to financial success, like purchasing real estate or starting a business; however, a high-interest credit card balance is not. Pay off credit cards with the highest rates first.
4. You Don’t Have a Plan
Without a definite, clearly defined plan, becoming rich will seem like an unbelievable dream. This alone will solidify your excuses for overspending and not saving. As the saying goes, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Putting together a financial plan may seem tedious, but it doesn’t have to be, and you can get used to it.
5. You Don’t Have an Emergency Fund
Experts say you need at least six months of income saved in case of an emergency. Life is tricky, and not having some type of safety net can turn a comfortable situation into a disaster.
6. You Started Late
Time is slipping by. Just like starting an exercise routine, the most difficult part about saving is getting started. Even if you have debt, a small income, or many expenses, you can save something, even if it’s only a small amount.
7. You Complain Rather Than Commit
“I don’t earn enough money”; “Life is too expensive”; “It’s hopeless, I’ll never get out of debt.” Have you uttered any of these statements before, or perhaps all of them? Old habits die hard; however, as long as you do nothing to change, nothing will change. Stop complaining and making excuses. Instead, take responsibility for your non-productive habits and concentrate on how to change them – and then do it!
8. You Live for Today, and Forget About Tomorrow
It’s no fun getting serious and thinking about retirement and all that stuff. Nonetheless, eventually it has to be done. The problem is that impulsive and unregulated spending leads to debt… period! Do yourself a big favor: Get rid of the ‘buy now, worry later’ attitude, and switch to a ‘save now, get rich later’ way of thinking.
9. Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket
You might get lucky by wagering all your money on one type of investment. Just like you might get lucky winning the lottery. But that’s not a strategy to live by, or for getting rich. Putting all your money in one place is not advised because it puts you at too much risk. Your investment portfolio should include multiple investments with varied levels of risk and ROI potential and liquidity.
10. You Just Don’t Get It!
You may be one of those people who believe that somehow something will come along and save you, so why bother with saving or trying to get out of debt? Maybe you will get lucky and land a fantastic job, receive a big pay raise, inherit money, hit the lottery, or whatever! But ‘whatever’ won’t cut it if you really want to become rich. Yes, life is uncertain. No one knows what will, or will not, actually happen; therefore, why not focus on what you can control today? Get it together now and save yourself, in case someone or something else won’t.
One thing you can be sure of: You are already rich. Think about it. If someone came to you and offered you a million dollars for your arm, would you give it up? Why not, you have two; you can surely spare one of them! Of course the answer would be no! Being rich is more than physical ownership; it’s a state of happiness and well-being, while wishing the same for others. So while you are working on getting rich materially, remember to be happy along the way!