We all love living vicariously through the lives of the rich and famous, don't we? The huge houses, the bling, the far-flung vacations, the champagne flowing from pure gold kitchen faucets.
But that's not the reality for most wealthy families. For every loaded celebrity who spends money extravagantly until it's all gone, there are dozens of rich people quietly building their personal fortunes.
You'd never know how much money they have because they live so simply.
True, most wealthy people are born into affluence and are taught how to keep their assets growing. But what about the ordinary folks who build their prosperity themselves? What are their secrets? Lucky for you, we got to the bottom of it and boiled it down to 8 money secrets of wealthy families we should all steal -- starting now!
1. Think about your money and future every day. "It's like when people diet," says Andrew Bauer, CEO of his family business, Royce Leather. "You can't just go on a diet for a while and expect those changes to stay permanent. You have to change your whole lifestyle." Your finances are the same way. "You need to create a healthy budget that keeps you focused on the future every day," he says.
2. Invest in yourself rather than investing in others. "I came from one of the poorest financial districts in New Jersey," Bauer says. "But my family was able to succeed by investing our money in our business as opposed to investing our money in the marketplace."
This means Bauer and his family reinvested their profits back into the family business before putting anything into the stock market. It's an effective strategy because he has more control over and autonomy with his business. "I have more freedom to allocate our funds for the highest outcome, as opposed to the market where we have no control. You're better off investing in your family and personal gains first."
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3. Wait for sales. Wealthy people love a good bargain. Bauer says he waits for holiday and flash sales for two reasons: "You're not only getting a better deal, but you're making sure you really want that item." So no impulse buys: Make purchases slowly and deliberately.
4. Manage your money -- don't let your money manage you. "Wealthy people pay attention to their money, while lower income people scramble last-minute with emergencies," says Nancy Gaines, founder of Women Gaining Wealth, a company that teaches women financial skills. She advises us to plan ahead well in advance for all our necessities and bills. "Every month, look at the expenses you have coming and decide how much money you have to work with."
For example, Gaines always refills her gas tank when it's about a quarter empty so she has time to find a station with the lowest prices. This is better than waiting until you're all out and having to fill up at the nearest station, no matter what the cost.
Another trick? Gaines had some tenants fall behind on the rent when they had to pay a ticket for being late on their car registration -- an expense they could have avoided if they'd anticipated that registration fee, budgeted for it, and paid it on time.
5. Save 10 percent of your income no matter what. "Most people can do that if they really try," Gaines says. Look to see where you can cut to make sure you save that 10 percent.
6. Don't increase your standard of living when you get a pay increase. "People will take their raise and buy a new car or a larger home," Gaines says, "and they'll never get ahead because they're just increasing their cost of living." You don't really need more stuff, according to Gaines. "Take your increase and save it instead," she suggests.
7. Get the education you need to increase your income. This doesn't necessarily mean going back to college or taking a finance class. But adding to your knowledge can help you find ways to earn more money. "Learn how to trade in the stock market, learn how to sell real estate," says Gaines. "Invest in yourself and your personal development."
This doesn't even have to cost you money. It can be as simple as having coffee with an expert. Gaines recommends attending free meet-ups. Even your local bank provides free workshops and other educational personal finance programs.
8. Close your spending leaks. Are you wasting money on "healthy" food you think you'll eat but don't because you just never get around to washing and chopping that head of lettuce? "Not paying your bills on time and having to pay a late fee, paying more for necessities you can buy for less at other stores -- these little expenses are like a leaky faucet," Gaines says. "They seem small, but they all add up over time."
I don't know about you, but a few of these lit a bulb over my head. I actually do need to plan ahead better. I could save more if I just committed to it. I may not become enormously wealthy, but if I manage my money more carefully, I think I could create more abundance in my life and for my family.
Should we try it together? With any luck, maybe next time I write about personal finance, we'll all have just a little more money in the bank.
Do you practice any of these habits already? Anything else you've found that makes a difference?
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