In our last two posts (#1 & #2) you learned the merits of saving vs. spending, the power of defining your vision and goals, and the math behind financial independence. This post is on hindrances that may currently exist in your financial life and the powers you can use to accelerate the growth of your net worth.
Step 5: Debt
One of the biggest hindrances to growing your net worth is debt. You need to create a plan to reduce your dependence on debt (i.e. loans, credit cards, etc.) and build a strategy to pay your debts off.
Here is a secret that no one tells you when you take out a loan. Any dollar you spend on a debt that you don’t have the dollar to pay for in savings, will require earning more than $2 to pay it off. This means that to pay off $100k in student loans, you will need over $200k in income to pay those debts off. This income is on top of your regular expenses. Income taxes and interest rates are why it takes so long to pay your big debts off. Get rid of your debt as soon as you can.
When it comes to paying off debt nobody is a better motivator than Dave Ramsey. I don't agree with a lot of what Dave Ramsey says but what he’s done to motivate people to take control of their finances is undeniable. His debt payment strategies use the technique of the debt snowball. To tackle your debts with the snowball effect you start by creating a list of your debts organized by their balance, smallest to largest. You begin by paying off the small debts first, when the small debts are paid off, roll that payment into the next smallest debt, when that is paid off, roll those two payments into the next debt, etc. Keep this up until all debts are gone. The benefit of this strategy is that once your debts have been paid off, what you once had going to debt can now be used for savings and investing. You've become accustomed to not spending those dollars on a monthly basis, keep it up!
Debt is as an anchor on your net worth. Every dollar worth of principal you pay off is an increase in your net worth. Build a plan and follow through.
Step 6: Investing!
Let’s talk investing! When you embark on your financial planning journey investments may spark your excitement. Conventionally you may think of this as investing in stocks and bonds. Have you thought about the effects of investing in yourself? What about the benefits an increase in your income may give you beyond an increase in your standard of living?
The effects of working through your budget to maximize your dollar amount available for savings and investing has a huge immediate impact. The flipside can be said for increases in your income. You can only cut your budget so much before it starts to impact your life. It's time to start thinking of the other side of the equation. So where do you start? What does your career path offer when it comes to increases in income? Can you get credentialed, does your employer offer to pay for additional education? What about taking on a side hustle for some extra income? Starting your own business is usually a great way to increase your income, gain experience, and meet cool new people. What about interviewing for an employer that appreciates your input and supports your growth? I’ve always enjoyed reading Liz Ryan’s Human Workplace Blog which is often about self empowerment, improvement, and brushing up on your job search skills.
Since step #6 is an investment topic, I won’t deprive you of your usual stock and bond info. There are a few things that are important when it comes to investing:
- Educate yourselves!
- Know your tolerance for risk (likely the more knowledge you have the more you can stomach)
- Use that risk tolerance to build yourself an asset allocation (what is your split between stocks, bonds, and cash in your portfolio)
- Invest regularly with every paycheck or once a month
- Invest for the long term (Last I looked, our average lifespans are eclipsing the 90 year mark!)
- Control your emotions
Your behavior and emotions are the biggest hindrance to any successful investment experience. Don’t allow your emotions to control your financial investment decisions.
These three posts combined house my six steps to becoming financially independent. Whether you start utilizing these strategies at your first job or in the midst of your career, your likelihood of financial success will increase. With financial stability you can take on opportunities when they present themselves in your life. The world will be a better, happier place once everyone is living their dreams and taking responsibility for their success. It’s an empowering position to be in!
Now get off your ass and use this information to get a head start on your financial future. If you need any help along your journey, I’m happy to lend a hand. Reach out to me at Gabe@CraftedWealthManagement.com
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