It’s hard to put a number on “wealth” because it’s personal and it depends on many factors, including where you live. Generally, having wealth means not having to worry about being able to pay your bills and knowing a comfortable retirement at a decent age is feasible.
Here are 10 easy steps to help you slowly build wealth — whatever that means to you. Even better, a lot of these tips go hand-in-hand and require little work or maintenance.
1. Diversify your investment
The best long-term investments are low-cost, diversified, and aggressive. You don’t want to waste money by throwing it at unnecessary expense fees or by putting all your eggs in one basket. It is also important to have the right mix of stocks and how much risk you can handle. The absolute worst investment is not having any investment at all.
2. Diversify your source of income
Just as you would diversify your investment portfolio, you should also diversify how you make money. For example, if you have a full-time job, work on creating a side business. Not only will it provide you with an additional source of income for savings and debt reduction, but it may also form the replacement for the job you lose in the next recession.
If you have a business, look to diversify into related sources of income. You may even consider creating passive income sources, such as being an investor in a small business that is run by someone else. Multiple income sources, in and of themselves, can represent a form of financial independence all by themselves.
3. Don’t spend too much money on property
Warren Buffett is one of the richest people in the world but lives in a house he bought in 1958 for $31,500. He told BBC, “I’m happy there. I’d move if I thought I’d be happier someplace else.” Buffett, like all of us, doesn’t need an expensive mansion to be happy and his modest home is a sign of thriftiness that has allowed him to spend his finances on things he values more. If you’re spending less than the recommended 30% of your income on housing expenses, you’re on the right track.
4. Consistently earn raises and promotions
Having a steady job and salary is nice, but it is even better when you are being rewarded for your hard work. A good career can quickly become a dead-end job if your salary doesn’t even keep up with inflation. So, make sure to get the periodic raise you deserve – it can be as simple as asking.
5. You have everything you need, but not everything you want
Living below your means is a good indicator of financial responsibility. When you can afford luxury goods, but resist the temptation to spend at will, your money goes to saving instead of impulse purchase that’s unnecessary.
6. Don’t spend all the extra money you have
If your company gives out bonuses and your first thought is to spend it all on a luxury holiday vacation or gourmet dining, you may be doing it wrong. While this extra income may feel like an extra reward, you should think of it as money earned. Treating yourself in small doses is fine, but it also makes sense to do something productive with this influx of cash, such as adding to your investment portfolio or paying off your student debts.
7. Financially prepared for an emergency
Life is full of unexpected surprises — and sometimes the unexpected can be costly. That’s why it’s crucial to save for a rainy day in the form of an emergency fund. While the conventional wisdom is to save enough money to cover you for at least three months with no steady income, the more you save, the more freedom and safety you have for when the inevitable emergency hits.
8. Always pay your bills and loan on time and in full
Whether it’s a credit card debt or your electricity bill, it is best to make all payments as soon as they come and in full. Paying off less and missing loan payments will end up costing more in the long run.
9. Eliminate and avoid debt
If you’ve got credit cards, car loans, or other debts, you should have a goal of getting out of debt as soon as possible. You can have a different time frame for getting out of debt with each debt category. For example, you can commit to eliminating your car loan in 5 years, while eliminating your student loan debts in 10 years, and your mortgage in 15 years. That’s not an overnight solution to your current debt problems, but it sets you to heading in the right direction of financial freedom.
10. Start saving for retirement as soon as you started working
A portion of your monthly paycheck — including the first one when you start working — should be set aside for savings. Retirement may seem like a long way down the road when you first begin your career, but the wait will be even longer if you don’t prepare. Saving as early as possible triggers compound interest and can lead to a huge difference in the long run.