As a financial adviser, I have occasionally found myself feeling envious of certain clients. Not because of their wealth — but because they were disciplined and determined enough to do all the right things that enabled them to accumulate their wealth and, in many cases, retire early. Despite my expertise, I, like a lot of people, sometimes struggle not to do the wrong things that make being rich, let alone retiring at all, a pipe dream.
Financially responsible and successful people don’t build their wealth by accident — or overnight. Becoming rich takes serious willpower and long-term vision. You have to be able to keep your eye on the prize of financial freedom, be willing to sacrifice your present wants for the sake of your future and develop good habits to win. Here are 10 habits you can start putting into practice now.
As the old saying goes: The early bird catches the worm…or, in this case, gets to retire in style. The sooner you put your money to work, the more time it has to grow. Earning a paycheck, whether you are self-employed or work for a company, means the opportunity to contribute to an IRA, which you should seize ASAP. If you’re fortunate enough to get a job with a company that offers a matching contribution to their retirement plan, you need to make it a priority to enroll in the plan as soon as you are eligible. It can be the difference between retiring early and never retiring.
Think about this: If you invested $10,000 and left it to grow for 40 years, assuming an average return per year of 8%, you would end up with over $217,000. But if you waited 10 years and invested $20,000 — twice as much — you would only end up with just over $200,000.
Whatever your situation might be, saving and investing money today is better than waiting until tomorrow. Start now.
You can be your own worst enemy when it comes to financial success. It’s all too easy to procrastinate and neglect what needs to be done and, meanwhile, give in to temptation and spend more than you should. It’s the perfect recipe for not becoming rich.
The best way to protect yourself from yourself is to automate your savings. That means setting up recurring transfers on a regular basis from your checking account to your savings and investment accounts (or setting up auto deduction from your paycheck to your employer-sponsored retirement plan). This way, you force yourself to avoid bad money habits and save what you would likely otherwise spend. If you haven’t already, set aside 15 minutes on your calendar now to do it. Not later, now. Your rich future self will thank you.
It’s true that there’s a price to pay for wealth, but unless you’re Warren Buffett, it is not gambling — and losing — on stock picking. Impulse, naiveté, and emotions, particularly greed and fear, can seriously hinder your chances of being rich if you let them. The best way to protect yourself and get a step up on your financial goals is to first invest in a team of financial professionals. This means hiring a qualified and experienced financial adviser, accountant and in complex cases, an estate planner. Yes, working with pros will cost you, and you can still do some DIY investing, but their objectivity, expertise, personalized guidance and ongoing monitoring can be well worth it (and relieve you of the huge burden of figuring it all out on your own).
Make sure that you interview several candidates so you can find pros you trust, feel comfortable with and whose approach is a good fit for your situation. And even if you work with an adviser, make sure that you’re still involved and aware of where your money is going — and why.