Making money is not the same as building wealth.
Money in the bank means that you're living below your means, paying off whatever debts you've collected and that you can afford to pay for the things you want while still balancing savings for emergencies that might come up.
Creating wealth is the process of building your finances up over the long haul. The goal of creating wealth depends on the person behind it. It could be for the point of retiring early, traveling with your spouse or socking enough away so your children will have ample funds to pay for college.
Accumulating enough wealth for your goals depends on when you start saving. The person who starts at 22 is likely to be a lot better off in the future than the one who waits until they are 44. Regardless of your age or your current portfolio worth, there are several tried and proven ways to accumulate wealth.
The one key that ties all the rest together is to create a plan and stick to it.
Ways to Build Wealth Over Time
Start today and benefit from compound interest: A lot of people wonder when the best time to start investing might be. The answer is today, no matter who you are or how old you are. Most of us learned about compound interest in school, and it's a powerful tool that you can put into practical use. The younger you start investing, the more time your money has to grow, but it's never too late. Open a high yield savings account as a start to your wealth building strategy.
Only buy what you need: This is perhaps the most grueling task to stick to as it defies our natural tendencies to want to buy “stuff.” The most significant two steps to live comfortably but still be able to save, are to eliminate high-interest rate debt, such as credit cards, and to practice moderation. You might make enough money to buy a $5 coffee drink every morning, but what if you only bought it once per week? The result would be an extra $30 per week, $120 per month, and $1,440 per year applied to building wealth. Being mindful of the small stuff can add up to significant savings for long-term wealth.
Keep making your contributions: When you start investing money in creating wealth, don't be surprised if the first year or two is a rocky endeavor where you only save what you can. As you get the hang of things, raise the bar of how much you're contributing to your long-term wealth creation. If you get a tax refund, send that money straight to your investment portfolio. If you get a raise at work or a performance-based bonus, the extra money can be added to the pot as well. Find costs and services in your day-to-day life that aren't essential, and turn the money spent on them into investments.
Find and use your advantages: If you work for a company offering a 401(k) plan, get all the details about it from your HR representative. Most companies have a matching offer up to a certain percentage, meaning if you contribute 5%, so will they. That means if you can afford to send 10% of your income into your retirement account every two weeks, you'll be receiving 15% thanks to the matching program. Other professions – including teachers, public safety officers, and members of the military – have tax breaks and savings plans that can help you save more money during your career. Investigate what they are and how they can benefit you.
Ways to Build Wealth Quickly
Never get a car note: As of March 2018, the monthly car payment on a new vehicle was $479 per month. That's nearly $6,000 a year gone from your bank account. Buying a new car every few years is a tradition for most Americans despite not considering exactly how much they'll use it or how much money they're spending when you factor in the loan process. Between services like Uber and Lyft, the ability to work remotely for a lot of jobs, and the millions of used cars in existence, plunking down hundreds of dollars a month to get the newest model doesn't make a lot of sense. Research, planning, and saving can have you in a vehicle that's efficient and paid off.
Rent, don't own: Another American dream shattered! Buying a house is the ultimate status symbol of being a successful person, but that status has lots of hidden costs. It's becoming more common to hear that the costs of owning your home over the years may outweigh the appreciation (of course this depends on many factors). When you're renting a home, you don't have to worry about property taxes, costly HOA fees or repairs. Air conditioner goes out? Call the landlord. Water heater cracks? Call the landlord. Yes, you're making a monthly rent payment, but the things you don't have to worry about translate into more money invested in your future.
Find multiple income streams: You work hard at your day job, and that's great. But to maximize the amount of money you send out to build wealth, you need as much money flowing in as possible. Whether you call them side hustles, gigs, consulting services, or just plain old freelancing, there are more and more ways to do get paid for work outside of the typical environment. Start a business online for something you make or do. Get paid to plan perfect trips to Disney World for other people based on your intense love of the theme parks.
While there are multiple ways to create wealth, three points stick out that encompass every person undertaking this journey. Work hard, be consistent, and start today. It might take you longer to reach your goals than the people around you, but those three mantras will see your wealth grow and your goals become realities in the long haul.