The Road to Wealth

Look through the Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world and you’ll find the majority of billionaires to be successful business owners, from Technology companies to Retail Shop owners to Property Developers. So what does this implies? That the surest way to wealth is to have your own business.

I guess no one became a billionaire just by working for others, in a 9 to 6 job. However, not everyone have the passion, drive, guts, and interest to be business owners or entrepreneurs.

So what are normal folks like us to do to even become remotely wealthy? While not everyone can be a billionaire, most people can amass a million or two (or even more), within their lifetime or by the time they retire. All it takes is discipline and determination, having the right mindset, and good planning. Or like what a friend like to say, have a good system in place.

I do understand that everyone is different, and not all are interested in being rich or to be able retire comfortably. Some just want to enjoy life, be lazy and comfortable, and not work too hard in life. However if you are like me and dream of being rich enough to have a comfortable retirement or to leave at least a million or two behind for your next generation, then you should seriously be following these steps.

1) Earn more
If you’re lucky enough to be born in a first world country like Singapore, then you should realized that there’s opportunities everywhere for you to make more money. From starting your own blog shop to teaching tuition to taking up a second job. I have a few friends whom I totally admire, who are sacrificing their time and energy to earn more while they are still young, or fulfilling their dreams of being an entrepreneur on the sideline while working for others. Either that or be so good at your main job that you are getting good increment and bonuses year after year. Don’t complain that you’re not earning enough. There’s always something that can be done to improve your current situation.

2) Avoid lifestyle inflation
How many of us are spending more now that we are making more money? So much more than when we first came out to work. I sure am guilty of that. I remember during my internship days, $600 a month was more than enough for me to both spend and save. And now, with many of us having a salary of 10times over, we are finding ourselves not having the ability to save. It is important to look back at our younger days and reminisce of how “free” we were from material wants and stick to that. Resist the urge to spend your increment from now on, and try not to splurge your bonuses away.

3) Save the differences
It is so simple, but many of us are not doing it. You earn a paycheck, you pay for needs and some wants, and you save the rest. The bigger the gap between our salary and spendings, the faster our savings will grow. I have friends who are not exactly high earners, yet they have an impressive amount of money amassed due to prudent spending and wise investing. They end up doing better than most high earners!

4) Invest
Once you set aside your emergency funds, you should invest to grow your wealth. Learn to study and pick up good businesses and invest in them. There are many things we can look at. From ETFs to Blue chips to REITs. It is important to invest in order to beat inflation and to slowly build up a portfolio that generate passive income to fund your dreams, which at the same time, offers capital appreciation so that you are not faced with a declining net worth as you grow older.

I know the steps sounds really simple, but not many can do them, or are willing to do them. Those in their 20s and 30s think that they have all the time in the world to start when they have their fair share of fun. However, time passes in such a way that before you know it, the bulk of it is already long gone.

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How Rich People Think

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They always say the first step to getting rich is to study those who made it, and to adopt their thinking. This post isn’t exactly a book review of “How Rich People Thinks” by Steve Siebold, but more of discussing some of my favourite points in the book which I believe in, and which enlightens me as well.

– Middle class worries about running out of money, world class thinks of how to make more money.

Normal folks worry about having to pay bills, their mortgage loans, their children’s education etc. They find themselves in a position whereby there is nothing left to save for at the end of the month. While on the other hand, the rich are making so much more that their bills took care of themselves, and not only are they able to save, but they are also able to invest or take advantages of any business opportunity. For the rich, there are always ways and methods to make more money.

– Middle class thinks about spending… World class thinks about investing.

The normal folks think it is impossible to be rich so they don’t see the point of saving and investing for their future. They rather spend money on material things and on entertainment to make themselves feel better. They are not able to see so far ahead into the future, hence they are not able to resist instant gratification, to buy that new pair of jeans, new designer bag, or that flashier car. The rich plans far ahead and knows how to make their money work hard for them, even when they are not busy making money.

– Middles class has a lottery mentality… World class has an action mentality.

How many times have you heard others saying they will become rich when they won the lottery? Rather than leaving such chances to luck or fate, the rich become rich by doing something to make it happen. They never stop learning, they find their passion, and became so good at doing what they love that they make money from it. They take risk and never give up even if they fail numerous times. They can fail 72584937 times, but they just need that one time to succeed to make a difference. The poor wait for outside factors to rescue them from poverty, winning the lottery, inheritance from a rich relative, or for some woman, finding a rich husband is the solution for them.

– Middle class is waiting to be rescued from financial mediocrity… World class knows no one is coming to the rescue.

This is similar from the point above. Normal folks just sit around, feeling sorry for themselves, resenting the rich, and hope that a miracle will happen to them, and one fine day they will become rich. That day never came. What’s worst, they pass on such mentality to their children. I remember my father always tell me he will buy me this and that when he won the lottery. After 20years, it never happen. For so long, I had such a mindset too, digging myself into debt and hoping someone or something will rescue me from my predicament.

– Middle class believes money changes people… World class believes money reveal people.

I believe if someone of good values become rich, they will do even greater good than before. Similarly, if someone of ugly character become rich, they will misuse or abuse their wealth. Problem is, movies and the media only portray the bad sides of wealth. That is what normal folks choose to believe, that wealth equates to greed. They think that being wealthy is bad, so they make themselves feel better by being mediocre their whole lives.

– Middle class believes money is about status… World class believes money is about freedom.

Similar to another point in the book, “Middle class believes people seek money for power, world class seek money for control”.

If you ask someone what will he or her do if he has a windfall and he’ll tell you about that fancy car, big house and expensive suit he is gonna get when he is rich. All these represent status of wealth. That is why so many lottery winners squander away their winnings within a few years and became worse off than before. They use money to buy things, to buy status. The rich understands that money buys time and choices, not just status. With money, one can choose to quit their meaningless job or get out of unpleasant situations. They can hire help to take care of the mandate aspects in their lives and focus on the important things like their health, loved ones and contributing to a cause they believe in. In short, having money is about having the freedom of choice.

– Middle class lives beyond their means… World class lives below their means.

The rich are able to live below their means not just because they lead a frugal life, but because they earn so much money, regardless of how they spend, they are still able to save and invest a large portion of their earnings. While it is important to save, one should also focus on earning more by constantly learning and improving oneself to develop a win win situation whereby one can afford a luxurious lifestyle, and still have enough financial security for their retirement etc.

– Middle class believes the more money you make, the more money problems you will have…World class believes the more money you make, the fewer problems you will have.

Similar to another point:

– “Middle class equates money with stress, world class equates money with peace of mind”.

– “Middle class never makes the connection between money and health, world class knows money can save your life”.

I have heard people saying things like money cannot buy happiness, love or good health. To me, these are just excuses for staying within your comfort zone. For it is easier to not try at all, than to try and fail numerous times. I don’t think one will feel happy, being broke and not being able to pay their bills. And with the extra stress, how can one stay in good health?

Anything that can be solved by money is not a problem. Need repair for your car? Your television just broke down? Tuition fees for your child has increase? All these are not a problem at all if you are rich. I am not saying money can buy you a long life, but with money, you will have access to the best health care, medicine, and doctors available at your disposable. The rich definitely has a peace of mine compared to normal folks.

10) Middle class teaches their kids about money by example… World class does the same thing”.

I grew up with a mentality that money is a scare resource. In a normal family, you hear parents telling their kids stuff like “money doesn’t grow on trees”, or that “rich people are greedy”. Children grew up thinking being poor is noble, and that one has to get rich on the expense on others.

The rich on the other hand grew up with an abundance mentality. There are the few bad eggs that squander off their parents’ wealth, but the majority manage to build their family empire and bring it to greater heights. There are also many second generation self-made millionaires that earned their keep through their ambition, innovation, and rich mentality due to their upbringing.

Being rich is never easy, that is why the majority of us are just mediocre. The first thing you have to do is to open up your mind, stop wallowing in self pity, and believe that being rich is possible. Read about successful people and see what they did right in their lives and replicate their success. Do something, start saving, learn to invest, plan for your future, and stop complaining. You might not end up being a millionaire, but you will at least retire comfortably, bringing positive mindset to your children. Regardless, you will end up being in a better place than you currently are, just by opening up your mind and making an effort to save and earn more. If they can do it, so can you.