Preface: These six simple rules may or may not make you a millionaire (see rule #1), but they will enrich your life. Just remember that your net worth is not your self worth.
Rule#1: Remember that “being rich” is relative.
There are a number of factors that determine whether a person is considered “rich” or “poor”, for instance, what part of the country you live in (see YouTube video below).
However, “being rich” simply means possessing enough wealth to meet your needs several times over. According to the above video, if you earn twice the median income for the area you live in, you are considered rich.
Additionally, “being rich” also means you do not squander a dollar as soon as you earn it. You also prioritize “paying yourself first”.
Which leads to…
Rule#2: Invest in yourself by prioritizing investments over paying/creating bills (debts).
I often hear people complain about the “investor class” and the “1%ers” who pay less in taxes because capital gains are not taxed at the same rate as income. Sadly, many of the people doing the complaining rent rather than buy the home they live in, spend money on frivolous things that they’d be better off putting in a savings account, and do not realize that like the investor class, they can buy stocks and participate in the markets as well. Thanks to the Internet, there are a myriad of safe and secure ways to become a small investor. Focus on creating a consistent buck, not a quick buck!
If you are not participating in your 401k at work or saving for your retirement because you have “bills to pay”, then you might want to re-examine your priorities and make adjustments. Remember, every time you pay your landlord, you are making him/her richer and making yourself less rich.
This is not to suggest that you delay gratification in the extreme. The life of a miser is quite unfulfilling. However, if you save or invest even a small portion of every paycheck, you will put that portion of your income to work FOR YOU instead of for someone else. Over time, you will build multiple streams of investment income, the so-called capital gains that everyone says should be taxed more.
Did I change your perspective on capital gains?
Rule#3: Remember that you create your own luck.
Working to build your own wealth trumps waiting to win the lottery or waiting for a rich relative to die and leave you his/her wealth. You likely do not have rich relatives who have you in their will. Wouldn’t you rather BE the rich uncle or aunt anyway?
I might add that unearned dollars seldom remain in your bank account for very long. There is a reason that 70% of lottery winners are broke within five years and “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” is a truism.
Rule#4: Work smart, not hard.
Studies show that someone who puts in 55 to 70 hours in a 40 hour work week produces nothing more with those extra 15 to 30 hours than the efficient person who works just 40 hours.
If you are working overtime just to make ends meet, then you should probably take a hard look at yourself and your situation and make adjustments. You were not put on this Earth simply to exist and toil at a job (that chances are you do not enjoy), pay bills, retire on Social Security, and then die.
“Hard work” does not equate to “more wealth”, “a better life”, or “quality of life”.
You can work hard your whole life and never have anything to show for it. If you are working the same job at age 30 that you worked at age 20 and feel no better off, then you are not growing in a way that is going to make you secure in the future.
“Paying yourself first” includes upgrading your skills, experience, and education. You are better off having a bachelors degree (in anything) than you are without one. It’s not about the degree, it’s about the education. Educational experiences broaden your perspectives and your horizons. There is a reason a college education is an employment discriminator. If college is not your cup of tea, a vocational education or professional certification will serve you just as well.
Point being, do not lull yourself into becoming stagnant. Wages are stagnant in this country because most people are stagnant in their jobs. Don’t become or remain stagnant in your career!
Rule#5: Strive to be a person of value.
Most people strive to become “successful” rather than “valuable”. There is a profound difference between success and value.
Success is an outcome. Value is a quality that renders something (or in this case, “someone”, namely YOU) as more or less desirable.
Success is a byproduct of being a valuable person. Whether you are a CEO or a janitor. If the perception of you is that you are an indispensable “person of added value”, you will always be assured of employment and opportunities will always come your way (thus, “creating your own luck”).
Rule#6: Become the absolute expert in your chosen field or profession.
A large part of becoming a person of value is realizing that being an expert in your business or professional career builds your value.
We all have the same 1,440 minutes a day. Taking a few minutes out of each day for professional reading will greatly expand your perspective on and knowledge of your profession.
Being well-versed on the nuances of your job as well as the jobs your colleagues and superiors perform will greatly enhance your ability to perform your own job at a high level. Being viewed as the absolute expert in your profession virtually assures steady employment and/or business opportunities, which generates a consistent income with which to build wealth.
In closing, “being rich” doesn’t necessarily mean “becoming a millionaire”. However, following these six simple rules will ensure you lead a productive, fulfilling, and happy life no matter what you choose to do. These six simple rules make you the director of your own play.
As Earl Nightingale said, “people succeed because they know where they are going”. Getting “rich” is a goal best defined by your own level of happiness and fulfillment, not by the popular definition of the masses. So decide where you want to be in life and what you have to do to be happy and fulfilled on just the power of your own labors and you will be rich.
-The Rational Ram