The Real Road to Wealth

December 12, 2014

Road to Wealth

What are you doing to become wealthy? Are you truly happy in life right now?

If you can answer a resounding yes, you’re the minority. (And also probably a member of the Tightwad Nation, right?)

Most individuals aren’t on the road to wealth because they take the easy way out in the majority of their financial decisions.

That may be harsh, but it’s true.

We don’t have to look any further than the amount of credit card debt in the US to know that. The number is an astounding $881.8 billion. The average credit card debt is $15,608, and the overall debt numbers are increasing.

The secret to success is through delayed gratification and taking the road less traveled, but it’s clear that most people opt for instant gratification. That damages both their present and future financial situation.

There are other differences between the affluent and those that are going to end up in the average, less-than-ideal financial situation.

What Does Wealth Look Like?

Many people are familiar with The Millionaire Next Door, written by Stanley & Danko. They profiled a number of millionaires to learn what qualities they all had in common.

They found the following:

  • The majority of wealthy families included business owners, including self-employed professionals. These people made their wealth, and did not inherit it.
  • 20% of affluent households are retirees; of the remaining 80%, two-thirds are self-employed owners of businesses.
  • In the US, only about 18% of households are headed by a business owner, but the business owner is 4 times more likely to be a millionaire than the families that work for others.

There’s a clear pattern here, isn’t there? Many of the millionaires next door took the road less traveled, and created their own businesses.

They made the decision to take their employment into their own hands, and create something from nothing. That takes a lot of hard work, but the rewards can be well worth the effort to create your own career. 

And get this – wealthy families are five times more likely to send their children to medical school, and are four times more likely to send them to law school over other parents in the US.

These millionaires urge their children to become physicians, engineers, attorneys, architects, accountants, and dentists, because it’s possible to become a self-employed professional in any of these fields.

While the education is rigorous, remember that the difficult paths are the ones you want to go down, as they will yield more success.

That doesn’t mean the only way to wealth is by going out on a career limb and working for yourself. But people who do successfully become self-employed or own some form of business usually have some qualities that not everyone shares:

  • They’re self-motivated to learn; they ask questions, do research, and seek out professional help when their own knowledge falls short.
  • They’re willing to work hard now — and delay the things that want today — in order to build a more secure tomorrow.
  • They don’t settle for Plan A. They have Plans B through Z and are willing to keep trying when things go south, when they fail, or when they struggle. They take ownership and responsibility and believe life is something they make, not just something that happens to them.

So how does all this set the wealthy apart from the average?

What the Average Individual Does Differently

The main difference between the affluent and the average individual comes down to effort and investment. Most people aren’t willing to put in the time or the effort. They stick with the status quo, and wonder if life will improve on its own.

The average individual:

  • puts off investing in their Roth IRA or maximizing their 401k at work, in favor of spending on frivolous items to appear more successful.
  • hates their boss and their job, but does nothing to change their situation out of fear.
  • dismisses the dream of being self-employed (or pursuing a better career, or creating a side hustle) because they’re overwhelmed with how to get started. 

The truth is, most Americans are unhappy at work. They are working for a paycheck, dragging themselves through the workweek, living for the weekends, and returning to the daily grind come Monday. There’s next to no passion for their work. 

If you want to get on the real road to wealth, you need to be happy about the work you do while earning a decent living. There’s no one right way to do this, but you can consider full-time self employement, part-time self employment, or working on career development so you move into a position as an employee that you feel passionately about.

Does Money Buy Happiness? It’s Actually About Fulfillment

It’s a cliche, but money truly doesn’t buy happiness. Or at least, there’s a limit to how much it can buy — and it matters how you spend it.

Money can help buy happiness, but not if you spend it on stuff. If you try to live in, drive, or wear your money, you’ll only look rich instead of truly being wealthy. And you certainly won’t be happy.

Align your spending with your values and focus on investing your money in experiences, relationships, and of course, financial security and stability.

In our experience working with wealthy families, we see a common theme when it comes to financial success and happiness: fulfillment.

It’s very likely that Americans are dissatisfied with their work because they’re not fulfilled. They’re working out of necessity (for pay), not following their dreams.

When you build a business, or work for yourself in some capacity (full-time or part-time) you’re putting your heart and soul into it. It should be fulfilling.

There’s a strong sense of accomplishment associated with taking risks and coming out on the other end with a thriving company growing under you (or a successful side hustle or side business).

Considering most millionaires attribute their wealth to being business owners, it’s a great way to combine happiness, financial independence, and fulfillment.

At The Money-Guy Show, we believe the secret to happiness isn’t solely money, but personal fulfillment. You have to do what makes you happy while earning enough to live today while establishing financial security for the future.

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