The path to wealth can be simple, but it won’t be easy.
Whenever I’m working on something important, I try to start with the end in mind. In this instance, the starting point is for you to determine what “wealth” is. Merriam-Webster defines it as an “Abundance of valuable material possessions or resources.”
I encourage you to get a pen and paper, and at the top of the page write, “What is wealth.”
Then start writing. Write down whatever comes to mind, don’t overthink it.
I like to take an integrated approach and think about my family, my health (physical, mental and emotional), time, money and assets.
We’re talking about creating a simple path to wealth, so it’s essential to know where you want the path to lead. Without it, you’ll keep following along, never knowing if you’ve arrived.
Once I figure out where I want to eventually end up, I ask, “What would this look like if it were easy?” Personal finance can be complicated, but if you can break it down into segments, it becomes a lot more manageable.
I’ve broken the planning process into 8 steps. While it’s by no means a complete process, following these 8 steps will most certainly get you on the path to success, and in this case, wealth.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Saving and investing steps
Let’s get started.
Every new project must start with a strong foundation. Without a strong foundation, the quality of the rest of the project will be at risk.
You could have the most extraordinary architecture on your new house, but if the foundation is weak, the smallest thing can destroy it.
The same is true of your financial situation. It must be built on a solid foundation.
Step 1. Cash flow
This is a simple concept, but do you know how much money you have coming in and going out every month? How often are you reviewing your spending? Are you operating at a surplus or deficit? The only way to know is to look. I recommend you review your cash flow and spending monthly.
Step 2. Budgeting
Slightly more complicated than monitoring your cash flow, a budget is a plan for your money. The more specific you can be in your budgeting, the better your outcomes are going to be.
Keeping a budget allows you to know if you’re on track to meet your goals and objectives. It also lets you know if you can afford to do something. Can you afford to go on vacation this year? Can you afford to buy Bitcoin? A budget can help you answer those questions.
If you’d like to dig deeper, check out our Get a Budget course.
Step 3. Risk
It’s essential to address risk in your financial life. This comes in two forms.
There are many kinds of insurance you’ll need to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you’d like to dig deeper into this, check out our The Right Coverage course.
You must also know your investment risk tolerance, which leads to your investor profile, which informs your asset allocation. There is danger in taking on too much risk, as well as not taking on enough. A risk tolerance assessment is a first step in this process.
If you’re in credit card debt, it’s imperative to put a plan together for getting out of it. You can access our Get Out of Debt course at no-cost.
Saving and investing steps
Time horizon is an essential part of your simple path to wealth. It helps to keep us organized in our planning. I think about it in three parts; short, mid and long-term.
Step 4. Short-term
Short-term means zero to three years. Common objectives are saving up your emergency fund, saving for vacations, and debt elimination. Think about what you want to accomplish over the next three years, determine how much it will cost, and then how much you’ll need to save every month to make it happen.
Step 5. Mid-term
Mid-term means three to 10 years. Common objectives are saving for the down payment of a house, and a kid’s education. Think about what you want to accomplish over the next three to 10 years, determine how much it will cost, and then how much you’ll need to save every month to make it happen.
Step 5. Long-term
Long-term means 10 years and beyond. The most common objective here is retirement. Think about when you want to be able to retire, determine how much you’ll need to accumulate, and then how much you’ll need to invest every month to make it happen.
It’s no small feat to accumulate enough to be able to stop working. It can also be challenging to take the money you’ve saved and turn it into income that will last for as long as you need it to. That’s where retirement income planning comes in.
Step 7. Retirement income
To be successful in this step, you’ll need to create a new retirement budget. This will help you figure out your fixed and variable expenses, which will help you figure out how much income you’ll need to generate. From there, you can make decisions on the proper accounts and investments to make it happen.
To dig deeper, check out our Retire Happily course.
I fancy myself a disciplined person, but also know how much I benefit from automating things.
There are many aspects of personal finance that can be automated.
Step 8. Automation
Work to set up automatic bill pay and contributions to as many of your accounts as you can. Set up reminders for the things you can’t automate, and set recurring meetings in your calendar to review your plan and progress on a monthly basis.
Your path to wealth can be simple, but it won’t be easy.
The first step is the most important one, and it’s what will get you started. If you’d like additional help, check out our DIY Financial Plan workshop.
Financial success is available to you. Let me know how I can better support you on your journey.
If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, check out our DIY Financial Plan course.
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