Pop quiz: To be wealthy is to A) have a handsome salary or B) have absolute control over your time. If you picked A you’re…. wrong. The truly wealthy, those that are truly financially independent, are those who have the ability to do whatever they want whenever they want without having to worry about the consequences.
Even the professional footballer making millions of pounds a year has to show up for practice at a certain time and be on the plane with the rest of the team before it leaves for the big match in Munich. Whereas the guy who owns a chain of pizza restaurants, a car park, a convenience store along with some stocks and bonds is lounging on a beach in the Bahamas with no one to answer to and no alarm clock to bother him in the morning.
From Working Hard to Not Working
Achieving financial independence is not as complicated as one might think. What it takes is a willingness to embrace the mundane, a long term plan and the ability to stick to that plan. If you have those 3 things you stand a fighting chance of becoming financially independent at some point.
The following are 10 tips that will help set you on road to wealth accumulation and financial independence.
1) Spend Less Than You Make – Duh! Right? Well, yes and no. It may seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how many people cannot put this principle into action in their lives which often results in people having to seek debt advice. The truth is that if you can’t grasp this one the rest of the tips don’t matter much. It is the cornerstone of any wealth creation plan and the only one that is completely non-negotiable.
2) Ditch the Credit Cards – A pocket full of credit cards and the fees and interest that go along with them are like an anchor keeping your ship in port. Pay down any outstanding credit card debt then cut the cards up once and for all and redirect your money toward acquiring income generating assets.
3) Speaking of Assets – Sure the fancy car and inground pool might impress the neighbours but how do they help you achieve financial independence? The answer is they don’t. So don’t waste your money on them. Instead buy a car wash, invest in T-bills, open a self-storage business and buy real estate. These are the things that will truly set you free.
4) Work with a Purpose – You can go to work every day just so that you can make your credit card and automobile payments each month. Or you can work in order to save money to purchase income generating assets. One path leads to financial stagnation the other to financial independence. Can you guess which is which?
5) Cut Back – Embrace the notion of short term pain for long term gain. If you’re smart in how you do it that long term gain will be very gainful indeed. Cut back on non-essentials and direct the savings toward investments and assets that will generate income. Whatever you do don’t spend the savings on stuff. You know, stuff. Like huge TVs, sound systems, cars and cruises.
6) Reduce Your Tax Burden – People with big salaries but few investments tend to have lots of taxable income while those who have invested in real estate, businesses, tax free retirement accounts and more tend to owe minimal taxes at the end of the year. Invest your money wisely before the government takes it from you.
7) Review Your Situation Regularly – It would be great if we could make a few basic decisions, chart a financial course and put things on auto pilot. However, we live in a world where conditions and situations change at breakneck speed and so it’s important to stay on top of things by reviewing the effectiveness of your strategy at regular intervals. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments when needed.
8) Save, Save, Save – So far we’ve talked a lot about funneling your money toward income generating assets but that won’t be possible if you don’t exercise discipline and save, save, save. The person who can transcend the salary trap and reach financial independence is more of often than not the person who had the funds necessary to make that life-changing purchase or investment when the opportunity arose. And that was only possible because they saved enough money.
9) Don’t Depend on Education – Some people think if they go back to school to enhance their education they’ll wind up financially independent. Few things could be further from the truth. Education can be valuable in giving you a well-rounded world view and higher education is essential for careers in medicine and law, but for most people purchasing a car wash will be a better allocation of funds than going back to school.
10) Marry Wisely – Few things will torpedo a plan to gain financial independence faster than marrying someone who doesn’t see eye to eye on the importance of savings, investments and the purchase of income generating assets. Accumulating wealth is a long term process that requires everyone to buy into the game plan. Otherwise you could come home one day and find your spouse has bought a car with the money you were going to use for a down payment on an investment property.
Remember: no asset that generates income is a bad asset. While waste disposal isn’t a glamorous profession everyone needs to have their trash taken care of. Don’t be shy about purchasing or investing in things that aren’t sexy headline grabbers. Your only criteria for deciding whether to invest in a particular business should be “is there money to be made here?”
The road to financial independence is paved with discipline and lit with income generating assets and investments. There are no secrets. No magic spells to conjure and no substitutes for careful planning and long term commitment to the goal. Follow the above tips and never lose sight of the fact that your job should be a means to an end, not an end unto itself.