Wealth Creation & Destruction

Wealth is simply the accumulation of money, and it can only be created by the amount of money that is received and never spent. If you want to build wealth, then anytime you receive money: don't spend all of it. Sure it is a very simple concept, but it is very difficult to continually achieve. Luckily there are readily available allies to help you: find some compelling reasons to start saving, build it into a habit, watch the results of your efforts build, and set some financial milestones to reward yourself.

Setting aside a percentage of any money that you receive is the best method to follow through and build the habit of saving money. There are a few misers among us who find saving easy to do, but most people want to spend far more than is earned; let alone have the discipline of spending less than what they earn. So it starts as an uphill mental and emotional battle that gets easier by following through with the habit and seeing the results of your effort. Spending less than what you earn every week, every month, every year is the only way to amass money.

How much money should you set aside to build up savings? It should be a percentage so that you automatically move it into a separate savings account anytime you receive income, without exception. It is my experience that the range of 3% to 10% is the most successful starting percentage for people who continue saving over long periods of time. Saving only 3% is so small that it is nearly painless to even the lowest income earners (this is actually where I began years ago). Selecting a percentage under 3% accumulates to such a tiny amount of savings that I haven't heard of anyone sticking with it. And starting out by setting aside over 10% is too painful for even high-income earners to withstand because they are so accustomed to spending on every whim. As you repeatedly save a set percentage rate, it will become more habitual, automatic and expected. Then you'll be ready to increase your percentage rate. And the higher the savings rate, your growing pile of money will create more motivation to continue to save. This summer, I spoke with a successful saver who lives very well on only 30% of his income. Because he saved diligently to continually buy rental homes, after a couple decades he earns over a million a year in rental income by Ashville, North Carolina.

In the fragile first years of saving money, it can take only a single wrong financial move to wipe out everything that you've saved so far. And the most common wrong move doesn't look like it when it is occurring. This draining move can also start insidiously small and build a different habit, the wealth-destruction habit. You know the problem: pay your credit card balance in its entirety, every month, without exception. As an example, if you haven't saved money for a vacation before you depart, and then charge it all to your credit card, there is a giant probability that you won't pay it off for a very long time. The credit card companies know this and they are extracting interest dollars from you instead of earning interest yourself. You've shifted to the dark side of wealth destruction where it is more common for your credit card balance to grow than shrink.

Let's get back to building your wealth. Once you start setting aside the savings percentage that you've decided and opened a dedicated savings account, you need to closely review your account statements for motivation. Reviewing the progress that you've made so far you'll see how you are moving toward financial goals can be self-reinforcing. And another motivator is rewarding you by spending some money on yourself when you've reached certain milestones. For example, you could start with a goal of accruing $500, and reward yourself with something meaningful; and then each time you double your amount of savings you get another reward. My advice is to at least begin with a savings percentage, even as small as my 3%, and allow this simple concept be of great financial benefit to you.


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