The First Step to Wealth

It’s early in 2020, therefore we are still focused on those “new decade” resolutions. How about actually building some wealth this decade? I know it is hard to do because we are present moment biased, but imagine entering the 2030’s in a position of strong wealth! But big goals are hard for the human mind. As mentioned, we are present moment biased. And it is difficult to think about next week, let alone a decade from now. Our brains get overwhelmed by the concept of say saving $100,000. And then most just give up. But that goal is built $10 at a time. And there is an often overlooked first step.

a cup of coffee with your older self

But imagine for a minute you had an incredible opportunity. You could sit with your older self for a half an hour and have a cup of coffee. What would that person have wished you had done today? I don’t have all the answers for you, but I have a pretty good idea how you could start building wealth. And a simple step you could take right now. It’s called writing down a simple budget. All that is required is a pencil, paper and your mind.

Back to Basics, You Are Where You Are, You Can Be More

There are certain fundamental and back to basics required to build wealth. In general, they are the following:
  • Quality steady employment
  • Living within one’s means
  • A basic budget
  • A basic financial education
Before one builds a house, there are plans, materials, etc. Same thing goes when we build wealth, we do not just jump into buying the next hot stock. That would be like hanging the curtains first. In order to build wealth, a person must first secure quality and steady employment. It is very hard to build wealth on a minimum wage job or being unemployed. It is also hard with employment that is off and on in unpredictable spurts. The good news is that it is possible to build wealth off an average salary. In some ways, making less can be an advantage because it forces someone to live within their means and develop the habits required to build wealth. At the end of the day this is a numbers and discipline game. There is really no right or wrong kind of employment. This could mean blue collar, white collar, factory, teacher, public sector, private sector, etc. The job just has to be steady, tolerable and have solid middle class pay and benefits. One of the best ways to achieve this kind of employment is to gain the training required and then do internships and apprentice work to get your foot in the door.

Within our means

Millions of people live a “lifestyle” they cannot afford. They are creating the illusion of wealth by driving a car they do not own, living in too big of a house and using furniture purchased on credit. Next they buy fancy clothes on credit cards and expensive meals out. At the end of the day we would all be better off by encouraging a culture of saving and utilizing resources in the wisest ways possible. This means using resources in accordance with our highest values, cultivating patience and developing the tools to build wealth.

Basic Budget

I am a fan and user of basic budgets. The reason budgets are so important is that without one we really have no idea how our cash is flowing. Is your cash flowing into the right things or the wrong things? But budgets are not most folks idea of fun. I am not a fan or user of detailed budgets and complicated excel spreadsheets tracking each penny. I find it cumbersome and boring. What do we mean by a basic budget? This is a simple list in a word doc that I set and periodically amend. It starts with what is coming in after taxes. Then I list most monthly expenses. The number at the bottom cannot be negative, that is the key. This is not about tracking every penny like an accountant. This is about a basic understanding of where your money is going. This is a framework for ensuring your money is flowing every month to the highest priorities to build wealth, stay out of debt and live your best life in the moment. The goal should be to first ensure you are getting ahead each month. And secondly maximize the amount of cashflow going into assets (401ks, IRA’s, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.) and limit the amount of cashflow going into liabilities.  


  Monthly income – Expenses = what is left over to build wealth   Income (ideal to have multiple income streams) Earned income from employment Income from dividends & investments Income from rental property Side hustle income   Expenses Mortgage/rent car payment (try to avoid!) food entertainment electric and gas insurance (home, car, life…) college fund health insurance childcare misc. haircuts (not for MV Greg), clothes, etc. entertainment The main concept here is simple: See the truth about where your money is going. Know where it is going and ask yourself if it is being directed into ways that will make you Money Viking strong over the long run. Is it being directed to things that bring you great joy and add the most value to your life?

You Can Be More

We are all thrown curve balls and challenges in life, that is the nature of this existence. But, you can focus and do more than you realize. I was diagnosed with a learning disability as a child and now I am writing books and blogs. People called me stupid and slow.

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