Building wealth has little to do with your job title. Some of the richest people I know are college dropouts, teachers, and unpretentious professionals who lead modest lives. But one look at their bank accounts, and it’s clear they’re doing something right.
What’s confusing is that a lot of the people you assume to be rich – doctors, lawyers, and executives – spend their money and go into debt playing the comparison game with their peers.
So what is the secret to creating wealth?
Your habits. All of my richest clients share five lucrative habits.
1. They set clear financial goals
The mind is a powerful tool. When you clearly understand what you want, when you want it, and have a strong “why” behind your goal, your brain can’t resist. You have given it a clear objective to optimize your actions.
And for my wealthiest clients, the goal is just a starting point. After deciding what they want, they put in place repeatable systems that align their actions with their goals. This is what drives real progress.
So the next time you set a financial goal, like saving $ 50,000 for a down payment on the house, for example, don’t stop setting it. Describe the weekly or monthly actions needed to reach your goal. In this case, it could be a monthly transfer of $ 1,000 into a high yield savings account that you have titled “Future Home Buyers”.
2. They invest every month without fail
There is no wealth creation without investment. Rich people know this, which is why they use their income to buy appreciating assets like stocks and real estate.
They also know that investing is not about synchronizing the market. It has turned out to be a wild ride for long term investors with a horizon of a decade or more, which happens to be the majority of us who want to retire someday.
Instead, my richest clients know that investing is spending a lot of time in the market. Rather than catching the random ups and downs of the market at the perfect time, they simply invest the same dollar amount on a set schedule. Like clockwork.
By making investing a habit (using direct transfers every month), my clients avoid costly mistakes, like missing out on the best performing days in the stock market and losing years of compound returns. This nifty metric is called the average dollar cost, and it’s something anyone can do.
3. They plan for bad times
Creating wealth is one thing. Hanging on to it is another ball game. My richest clients never leave them to chance. Instead, they proactively plan when the wrong things happen.
Whether it’s a medical emergency, a stock market crash, a trip to the vet, or replacing an unholy room in your home, there are ways to protect yourself from financial ruin.
Here are the most common disaster protection strategies used by my clients:
- Have an emergency cash fund equal to six months of income
- Find and choose the right mutual
- Protect your income with disability insurance
- Protect your family with life insurance
- Protect their inheritance with an estate plan
Without the “protection” part of your plan, it’s all too easy to blow up your financial goals when an inevitable surprise presents itself.
4. They diversify their income
Speaking of protection, my wealthiest clients understand the power of diversification. Yes, with their investments, but even more with their income.
Think about it: if you only have one source of income, which is a salary for most of us, then your entire financial future hinges on your ability to maintain that income. The second you lose your paycheck, you’ve gone from boom to boom.
This is not a fear for the rich, however. If they lose a source of income due to a surprise event, such as a
, they have four or five more to help them pay their bills, keep saving for retirement, and avoid falling back on their goals.
The most common sources of additional income among my clients include:
- Own income-producing assets like stocks, bonds and real estate
- Make their expertise a consulting or coaching activity
- Build a scalable side business through writing, e-books, and lessons
- Leverage their network to find great companies to invest in
5. They invest in professional help
The latest habit shared by my richest clients will come as no surprise. When they need help or just don’t have the time to do something on their own, they invest in professional advice. This rings especially true for their personal finances.
Instead of tinkering with things like investing, taxes, insurance, and major financial decisions, they understand the value of partnering with a financial advisor to put all the pieces in place.
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Anthony Carlton, CFP, is a consultant at More distant finances, the first digital family office.