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You're killing your wealth. Got it?
Wait. Let me back up.
I wanted to write this post as a list of the top 5 to 10 things you need to do to become wealthy. Then, I realized that writing something like that isn’t going to help anyone. Sure, it’s nice to think about building wealth and day dreaming about how that might look.
But, in reality, most of us aren’t even close to that reality. It’s a pipe dream.
We want to blame the government or our upbringing. Maybe we blame our boss for making us slave away at a job when we rather be building a business. Or, hell, maybe it’s just the fact that we now have a ton of responsibility in terms of mortgages, student loans, credit card debt, and raising a family.
Regardless of what you want the reason to be, you are the reason you're killing your wealth. There, I said it. You are killing your wealth.
Rather than bore you with some long introduction, I’m just going to be frank with you. For whatever reason, I’m in that type of mood as I write this.
So, here it goes.
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Our own failure to discipline our minds absolutely kills our progress in so many areas. We are so easily distracted by every little thing in our busy culture. Sure, blame technology and everyone bent at the neck looking at their cell phones.
Can you or can’t you choose to be different? Instead of constantly refreshing your Facebook app on your iPhone, train yourself to use one less “Facebook session” per day. Use that time instead to focus on your wealth – even if just for 5 minutes.
I have to give credit to family friend, godfather of my son, and Orthodox Christian priest Father Martin for that brilliant tip. He gave me the Facebook advice when I was struggling to find time to read with my busy schedule. He’s right. It’s simple, but it works.
Now, I’m passing it on to you. Begin today to discipline yourself with your money and stop killing your wealth.
In what has become a personal development cliché, Alan Lakein, author of How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
I like to think of a budget as your financial plan. That’s really what it is, is it not? You know how much money you bring in and you know how much is going out.
If you’re particularly savvy financially, you know where you can cut expenses and increase what’s left over each month. Regardless, the point is that you must have a plan for your money.
Without a budget, you are planning to fail financially. That’s the unfortunate case for many whether they realize it or not.
This could easily go with the previous reason, but I wanted to highlight to further point about planning. Saving money doesn’t just happen. It must be planned for.
One quick insight about me here. A huge pet peeve of mine is when people say I “saved” money at this store or that store because I had a coupon or discount.
No, that is not saving money. That is money you simply didn’t spend.
Saving money is something you plan for in your budget. It’s money that is set aside from other “expenses.” In effect, you are paying yourself.
Heck, call it your “bonus” or something to make it fun. But, saving money is an action not a passive encounter with a few dollars at the local Aldi’s. That coupon is just allowing you to part with less of your hard-earned dollars.
It must be planned for and executed every month. Otherwise, you save nothing and continue killing your wealth.
My wife and I have a running that joke that the epitaph on my gravestone will read, “He thought things would easier.” I think that’s a mantra or swan song for our entire generation really.
I didn’t think life after college and trying to “make it” in the real world would be so damn hard. I lacked the mental preparation to fortify myself against the difficult things in life. Simply put, I wasn’t ready to embrace adulthood.
My focus was ease over hardship and I did everything I could to attempt to limit life’s difficulties. To this day, in many aspects, I still do. However, as I struggle to reorient my mind toward the reality that life truly is a “bitch,” I don’t want to leave my children with the misbegotten perception of life I came to know all too well.
That long-winded anecdote and window into my mind leads us to this simple truth: building wealth is not for the faint of heart. What I want you to take away from this section is this – know your number.
What’s your FIRE number?
Know that number and you know how much longer you need to play the game. Know that number and you have something to shoot for.
And know how you will have to work your tail off to get there. But, it will be worth it.
“For anything that is quickly obtained is also easily lost, whereas everything found with toil is also kept with careful watching.” - Saint Isaac the Syrian
Consider that quote above and also review this excerpt from an Orthodox Christian blog I follow:
“Americans are not a particularly patient people, as demonstrated by the fact that the fast food industry began with us. We don’t tolerate slow service, thus much of the food we consume is prepared before we order it. We drive our car to a window, order our food, and expect it to be ready, without delay, at the next window.”
If those two quotes don’t sum up our inability to delay gratification in the “Me Now” culture, I don’t know what does. The “I want it and I want it now” mindset is killing our drive.
What has it done to us? Well, if it doesn’t come easy (see above) and we don’t get our way right away, what do we do?
Oftentimes, we give up. We consider the task at hand impossible or ridiculous. Then, we move on because our frustration becomes overwhelming and too great.
What is that about?
Frankly, it’s called weakness. The inability to be patient and wait for something is an all but dead virtue in modern America. And it’s killing your chances at wealth and happiness.
What do you want to teach your children? Well, whatever you do on a daily basis (more so than what you say) is how your sons and daughters will live.
It’s amazing. My son is a few months shy of his 2nd birthday as I write this. He’ll be 2 in October.
The little guy mimics me constantly. On weekends, we brush our teeth together. And as Daddy bends down to grab a quick drink from the sink … so does my little mini me.
Fine, so my bathroom habits aren’t the best. But, it shows how much they watch us.
With that, what are we teaching our children about delayed gratification and wealth? Do we carelessly spend money each week at the fast food joint du jour? Or do they see how Mommy and Daddy work hard, have a financial plan, and use their money like the blessing it is?
We need to stop teaching our kids to expect something from nothing. Instead, we need them to know how hard work pays off, but not at first.
How much do you actually know about personal finance and money management? I know these subjects aren’t taught in school. So, we all need to either find out the hard way or learn from books and other people.
What do you spend your time doing? Are you invested in your financial education or do you like to leave things up to chance?
I believe you can tell a lot about a person’s financial knowledge by whether or not they cringe when they open a bill. If you’re surprised by what’s in the envelope, chances are you’re not in tune with your financial life.
Truthfully, if that’s the case, it’s going to be an adjustment if you actually go about making strides in your financial literacy. However, as we have indicated above, you need to put in the work.
I fully encourage you to do your own research. Please don’t just rely on me. There are a lot of great financial bloggers, authors, journalists, and podcast hosts to learn so much from.
I will share with you some of the best resources I’ve found useful over the years as I’ve increased my financial IQ:
Does money burn a hole in your pocket?
Do you find yourself spending money before it’s even earned?
Are you the type of person that believes the world owes you something?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re a poor person and have little control over your financial future. Notice I didn’t say you were stupid. You’re just poor in terms of wealth.
What I’m trying to say is you lack discipline. Your attitude toward money and how you interact with money leads to the two of you parting ways rather quickly.
You don’t have money because you don’t care about money. If you did, you wouldn’t use it so carelessly.
Instead, you would look after each hard-earned dollar. I recall hearing an interesting illustration of how important each dollar we earn actually is. The author described each dollar as a little soldier that is either fighting for our wealth or we spend the dollar and our financial soldier dies.
What about you? Are you giving your financial platoon backup or are you letting them get shot down without even a chance?
If you do things the way you always have, you will get in turn the same things. You reap what you sow. Enough clichés for you?
Again, clichés exist for a reason. Oftentimes, they’re value axioms or supposed “old wives tales” that are beat into us simply in every day conversations. We don’t even given them another thought as we deem them “just things a person says.”
The same thing goes with anything we hear over and over. It just becomes background noise.
For me personally, I know that over the last 10 decade, I’ve read countless books, articles, and quotes about personal development, creating businesses, and financial literacy. I’ve practically given myself an MBA in the concepts.
However, although I have all this knowledge, do I put it to use? Am I living out what I learned and practicing what I preach? The short answer is ‘no’ with some ‘yes’ sprinkled in.
I’m not where I want to be career wise or financially. That’s on me. I made the mistake of failing to live out the lessons provided to me.
What about you?
I saw this one Instagram the other day (see below). It’s from Jim Kwik over at Kwik Learning. I liked it so much I shared it on my own Instagram feed. Kwik explains, “Here's the trap: saying to yourself, 'I know it already.' What robs you of mastery is taking for granted the familiar, the basics, the fundamentals.”
How true is that in our own lives?
I know it's tough to admit our failures. Just ask my wife how I do with that. It hurts and it's incredibly humbling.
But, if you're off track with your finances and you're killing your wealth, it's time to 'fess up. Get with the program and start making some serious changes.
Only you can do it. I would hate to see you learn something or have something you already know not be put to use.
Do it for yourself. You and your family are worth the effort. Good luck.
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