The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about people who used high risk methods to buy high risk investments. These folks had turned relatively small amounts of money into exceptionally large gains in the past year. Earlier in the year, the WSJ also published an article about investors who had bought properties for short term rentals. These folks were making significant income from these investments. Several years ago, when fracking technology was new and oil was trading over $100 per barrel, people who owned the mineral rights to these properties began receiving royalty checks for significant amounts of money.
I have read the Wall Street Journal since 1986. Almost every year it seems there is some article about people who have received an enormous windfall. I also cannot recall the same people being so fortunate the next year or, bluntly, ever again. These are people who “won the lotto” and like many lotto winners, never repeat the experience.
So what is the key to real wealth, then? Unlike these folks I read about in the WSJ, there are people that I know personally who have managed to build real financial security. But it wasn’t overnight. It comes from the accumulation of small but significant steps over the years.
Here are my basic financial principles, based on years of observation of successful, and unsuccessful, people:
- Have a clear understanding of how much you spend each month.
- Save a reasonable amount of your income.
- Pay off expensive debt like credit cards or loans. I would suggest that any loan or debt that is charging you 6.00% of interest or higher needs to be paid off as quickly as possible.
- Ask yourself if what you spend your time and money on truly reflects what is important to you and your family.
My point here is that real wealth, real financial security, real meaningful ability to control your finances is a long-term discipline. Like eating healthy or physical training, it takes long term dedication and commitment to achieve true success. And like life, that success is not guaranteed. But I believe it is imperative that we put forth our best efforts. That means doing small things, slowly and consistently.
I have often described 2020 as “the best of times and the worst of times.” In many ways, a lot of good things happened, but the struggles of the year have also weighed heavily on all of us. We can see that weight as crushing, or as strength-building. It’s all in how you carry it.
I look towards 2021 with renewed optimism and wish you the best in the coming year.
Shadowridge Asset Management, LLC does not offer tax planning or legal services, but may provide references to accounting, tax services or legal providers. They may also work with your attorney or independent tax or legal advisor.