Pattie's Blog: Want to get rich? Learn these 6 money habits
(AP / Michael Sohn)
Published Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:19AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:28AM EDT
There's a lot more to being wealthy than you might think, which is why wealthy people have a lot of things in common besides money. They've developed good money habits, and that's the most critical part of financial success. Why? Because it's a lot easier to spend money than it is to make it, and as I've often said, it doesn't matter how much money you make -- if you're spending out of control, you'll never be rich. What habits keep the wealthy from getting into trouble? Here are the big six.
1. The Mindset Habit
To develop a positive money mindset, you have to begin with a change of attitude. Most of us have a high level of anxiety about money; we don't feel in control of our money and are often paralyzed by the thought of investing because it can seem so complex. Money can be a driving force but I guarantee it is not a motivator. Yes, money choices can be difficult. But when you tackle them head on instead of shoving them into a drawer, you'll discover that life suddenly is not about money any more. You have the freedom of choice, and that is a great feeling. You need to set concrete goals and have the personal discipline to see them through.
2. The Spending Habit
Our need for stuff to fill our big homes, along with the confidence that our house will continue to appreciate has helped lead us into a negative savings trend. Negative savings simply means that for every dollar we earn, we spend at least a penny more. This has to stop. We keep using plastic to buy stuff so we can keep up with the elusive and infuriating 'Jones' family next door who are in as much debt as we are. Time to ditch the cards and feel the cash. Eliminate our compulsive spending and look for ways to cut back....car detailing, kitchen upgrades, impulse shopping, spa days, cleaning lady, extra cell phones, club dues, eating out and the list goes on. Don't beat yourself up about it, simply decide today to take positive action and one of the best ways to do that is to pay yourself first.
3. The Savings Habit
The wealthy say that the secret to being wealthy and staying wealthy is to live below your means. Being prudent -- saving your money and investing it wisely -- may seem obvious, but hardly anyone does it! Part of the reason is, it's harder to save when you're earning less than other people. The rich save tons of money because they have tons to begin with. What about us? Well I believe we can still take a page out of the lives of the rich and not so famous, as long as we live prudently. Every time you get paid, immediately siphon off a set amount -- between 5 per cent and 10 per cent, or more if you can, into a long-term investment account. And leave the money alone. You will be surprised at how fast your money begins to grow and that's the power of time and compounding.
4. The Investing Habit
The more you learn about investing, the better off you will be. Whether you plan to work with an advisor all your life or want to be a do-it-yourself investor, it pays to know the field. What return do your really need over the long haul? How do you minimize risk, yet still meet your financial goals? We all have important questions we need answered before we invest. Knowledge is priceless and be relentless until you find the answers. You should know something about asset allocation. This is just a fancy way of referring to the best mix of cash, bonds, stocks in your portfolio based on your age, time horizon and risk tolerance. Asset allocation is used to minimize risk and maximize return. Once you understand this, the next step is to diversify. Asset allocation and diversification work best together.
5. The Compounding Habit
Here is how compounding works to magnify your success over time. But remember,compounding only works if you leave your investments alone to compound in peace and quiet. There is a simple rule called The Rule of 72. Whatever rate or return you're making, if you divide this into seventy-two, you'll discover the number of years it will take to double your money. For example, if your portfolio is making 6 per cent you will double its value in 12 years. This requires discipline, commitment and focus.
6. The Collaboration Habit
Money is a very personal thing, so if you decide to work with an advisor, make sure it is someone you feel comfortable with. The advisor needs to connect with you both emotionally and financially. Financial advise doesn't have to be expensive. Don't decide that you don't have enough money to work with someone. Go into your bank and ask for help. We all started somewhere and it never hurts to have a second opinion. I am a Certified Financial Planner and I have someone working with us. Why? Because I like to bounce ideas off them, I like that someone is watching our money closely while I'm doing other things and I like the idea that two heads can be better then one.
By the way this isn't about becoming rich or even becoming a millionaire. Although it would be nice if that's what you want. To me, true wealth comes from happiness, and happiness comes from within. This is about taking charge of your finances and getting real about the money you earn, save, spend or invest, and there's one thing you should always remember. It is your life, your money, and ultimately what you do with your money is no one's choice but yours.