Long-Standing Habits Confirm On Track to Building Wealth

As the header of this blog says, I am just your average booted biker in the ‘burbs. I work for a living, have a spouse, own a home, and have regular bills and financial commitments like anyone else to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads.

By no means are we among the top 1% who benefit from the recently enacted income tax reform bill that brings huge tax breaks to the ultrarich while socking it to the middle class, the 1% and the idiot-in-chief call losers.

However, upon reading a recent article in Kiplinger’s titled, “4 Simple Habits to Build Wealth Faster” and taking a quiz on how my financial outlook impacts ability to build wealth, I have confirmed that…

…I naturally have and follow these four wealth-building habits. I am quoting from the article to get it right, and am within copyright standards as this is a direct review.

1. Frugality

Frugality means you spend less than you earn. Most millionaires are able to ignore the temptation to buy a bigger house, newer car, latest tech gadget and so on. They may notice what other people are buying but do not go on a shopping spree themselves.

Yep, that’s me. We do not spend more than we have. We do not buy the latest gadget or car just because the yuppie neighbors do. I’m fine driving my 2003 Chevy truck and my 2008 Harley. And as readers of this blog know well, I refuse to pay the monthly ransom charged by rich companies whose CEOs laugh all the way to the bank with the money they get for dataplans used for sillyphones.

2. Discipline

Self-made millionaires are also disciplined. They choose moderation over extremes. If they buy a luxury car, it is often a used one. You are unlikely to find them living in the most expensive, elaborate house on the block. As investors, many millionaires do not try to time the market. Slow and steady wins the race.

Bingo #2, and as stated above. We have good, natural, financial discipline. Our house suits needs for two people and was the lowest model in our neighborhood among a choice of five, with the largest being three times the size of ours. We are not so cheap as to not get things we want, but at the same time, we do not go out and get the newest, latest, priciest thing, either, just because other people choose to do that.

3. Hard Work

Another defining characteristic of many millionaires is their work ethic. Money was not handed to them on a silver platter. It is incredibly difficult to build long-term wealth yourself if you have relied solely on handouts from parents or other family members. The adage “from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” rings true: A sense of entitlement quickly erodes family wealth.

My parents were not rich, and with raising 15 children, certainly had more expenses than the average family to keep us all clothed and fed. We were taught from a very young age to work hard and plan to be financially independent by age 18, when it was expected that we would move away from home and start our own lives, either in college, at work with our own apartment, or in the military.

We all worked as kids. I mowed lawns and did odd jobs for neighbors. We all delivered newspapers (sort of a family hand-me-down job where we “inherited” the route of either the Washington Star or the Washington Post). By age 15, I had a part-time job in a local camera store. My twin brother worked as an athletic assistant at a gym.

While our parents wouldn’t leave us to be homeless, we were expected to be on our own at a rather young teenage age. And we did… wasn’t easy. Life was hard; it was work. But these experiences developed a work ethic that has proven to provide for great success over a lifetime.

4. Time Management

Effective allocation of time, energy and resources is another guiding trait of self-made millionaires. Even if hiring an outside financial adviser, a millionaire still monitors the family budget and ensures the investment portfolio matches the level of risk taken. He or she takes the role as household CFO seriously….

Actually, this trait is not really time management, but financial management. We practice both. I manage my time exceptionally closely to have time for things I must do, would like to do, and are necessary to maintain my standard of living and community standing. For example, if I am supposed to be at a meeting at 7pm, I am there at 6:55, but probably not sooner, and definitely not late.

I also manage our finances. I keep track of every cent we earn and every cent we spend using Quicken. I’ve been doing that since 1987. I can tell you to the penny what income we have received and from what sources and what we have spent from all sources in all categories of expenses… dating back 32 years. While that may be exceptionally wonky, it is safe to say that yes, we manage our finances well and know where our money comes from, where it goes, and our accounts status in real-time.

Summary

Everyone is different. We are definitely not “millionaires.” But we are comfortable. We have no debt. We live comfortably within our means. Life like this is much less stressful, so we can accommodate the unforeseen bumps in the road, such as the fiasco recently thrust upon our country by the disaster in the White House (aka “the DIC”)

Life is short: build wealth the old-fashioned way — be frugal, disciplined, work hard, and manage time & finances.