A Stat About Wealth That Made Me Think
A headline of a recent article online read “If you aren’t rich by 45, you might as well give up.” I thought that seemed kind of harsh. Before I opened it to see what it was about (a study of Social Security Administration data showing how earnings corresponded to age), I assumed it was about money habits. And I started thinking about it.
Many people have become rich and successful after age 40, including Warren Buffet (check out this list that includes Vera Wang, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sam Walton—the founder of Walmart).
And at 40, you should be starting to reap everything you’ve been working for over the prior couple of decades.
So whether this stat means anything to you depends on your version of “rich” and “successful.” For many people, rich means having enough to cover your needs so you’re worrying about money, and having a life you enjoy. Because being a millionaire doesn’t mean you’re happy. In fact, more and more people are opting for a happier, simpler, financially secure life over trying to be society’s version of rich. Of course, once you have the former, you have a good base to build the latter if you choose.
That said, while the title itself seemed harsh (and for some of us, it’s a swift kick into action mode), there’s some truth to it that can inspire you to save more. Minus the part about ‘you might as well give up’ because that’s just silly—people have created huge change in their lives and become wealthy well beyond age 45.
The reality is that some people just don’t have good habits. And for many, those habits may not change much over the course of their lives. If you didn’t learn good work habits, money habits, communication habits, relationship habits, health habits from an early age, then it requires change. And our brains don’t like change. So it’s not easy. It takes challenging your perceptions, it takes courage and action and a huge step outside of your comfort zone. And the majority of us just won’t do the work.
It’s much easier to just promise yourself you’ll try to do better than what you are, and hope for better results. We crave comfort and security and we get that from our old, worn-in habits (like worn-in jeans). Human nature’s home is the comfort zone.
That said, what if you want a richer life?
Your money is a tool to having the life you want. So you want to accumulate more of it. And that means creating a good ritual or rituals that make it happen.
So how do you start a good ritual (that will become a good habit) when it’s so hard to do?
Just know that thinking about it won’t get you there, reading about it won’t get you there. You need to step up to the plate and swing.
Just take one action that builds your toolbox and moves you toward the life you want.
And if you’re close to or over 45, of course you’d need to up your game more than someone who is 35 or under. You need to save and invest more aggressively. But creating a richer life and building your wealth on top of a financially secure base can be done.
Especially if you decide to make financial security and ultimately financial freedom a priority in your life (for many it’s top of mind, but on the back burner).
Almost anyone can find places to save more, whether it’s a $1 a week (just to start the habit until you have more) or $1000 a month. It’s just a matter of creating that new savings ritual, or better yet, a set-it-and-forget it plan, such as automating your savings. For example, opening an online savings account through CapitalOne360 or Ally (do your research to find what’s best for you) and setting it up to do a withdrawal each pay period from the account where you deposit your paycheck. An online account makes it feel less immediately get-able (and spendable).
Stepping up to the plate: Start saving 1% more of your income. Then 3% more. Try to increase it every 6 months or as you can. One small victory will spur you to take another action and claim victory. If you keep going, you’ve got something. Small daily strides equal big victories (athletes know this one well).
All that is to say, if you want a richer life, make it happen.
It’s not a matter of age. It’s a matter of action. Make your financial goals happen with a good plan and consistent action. It can take you farther than you thought possible.
What actions have you taken to create a richer life and/or grow your wealth that have given you great results? We’d love your feedback, and your comments and questions and shares help others.
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