At what age did you start thinking more about your financial future? And how did you go about building a savings?
(Set aside circumstances and socioeconomic details. Some responses may be subject to the cohort effect. I'm more curious about the personal decision to be more fiscally responsible and how that was implemented in your life thereafter. And I certainly don't want to hear "the man keeps me down" BS)
Question 1: When I had kids. Everything changed at that point.
Question 2: First, we mastered how to keep our expenses as low as possible. Second, we learned how to invest our savings. Third, I stayed focused on how to increase my work income without getting greedy.
Okay. Sacrifice seems to be the key word here. It sounds like at some point things came into perspective as far as frivolous spending.
Sometimes we can't do anything about our base income. Did you find passive income on the side?
Sacrifice usually means losing something, but I have learned it also means gaining somethig. It's more about balancing wants and needs.
There is a limit to the priorities we can handle in terms of time and energy.
My career and family for 30 years consumed almost everything. What I had left was devoted to managing finances, taking care of my health and a few other personal priorities.
To answer your question directly, my career growth and expense management consumed all of the time and energy I had available for building financial security. I had nothing left for passive income.
Someone who is less career focused could certainly spend more time pursuing passive income. But I'm confident that expense management pays bigger dividends for less time and energy than passive income.
So for those people, I suggest focusing on expenses first and passive income second.
Here is a simple test:
If you are more than 10 pounds above the ideal weight on the Body Mass Index chart, you are eating more than you need.
Why chase after passive income if you end up spending it for unnessary food?
A true fiscal conservative is not overweight, never wastes money on food or anything else and may never need passive income.
That is fantastic information. Thank you so much.
My fiance and I are about to upgrade to a bigger house in the next 2 months. It's a rental but it has forced us to re-examine our expenses nonetheless. It's just the motivation we've needed to take our entire life to the next level. Hopefully, I can keep that pace of "stepping up" little by little every few years.
Hmm. Instead of renting a bigger house, I'd be inclined to buy a smaller house.
I might. But I will have student loans to face soon enough. Adding a mortgage to the pile wouldn't be very wise.
What if the smaller-house monthly mortgage turns out to be the same as the larger-house monthly rent?
Good question. I live in Washington State ($$$). Does that answer your question? HAHA
And anything smaller than where I'm at would be an apartment. I have a dog and a cat. And a fiance who collects everything.
Consider that your rent has to cover a mortgage, taxes and repairs or the landlord goes out of business (talking of single family homes here). Mortgages are very often less than rent. Of course, if you're talking downtown Seattle or even Spokane that might not be true; "old money" owns a lot of that and there IS no mortgage. Plus there is often the matter of a down payment as well.
I've made improvements to every home I've owned, increasing it's value, and that isn't something you can do to a rental. My dad went through about 6 homes when I was young, buying "fixer-uppers", remodeling while we lived there and selliing for enough to buy another one for cash. I did much the same thing, they just needed a basement finished or some such instead of a total remodel. Just something to think about.
That all makes sense. But I'm in no position to apply for a home loan. I have botched credit and debt in some other places. I'm just trying to break even. The housing market all over WA state is treacherous and highly competitive. I would love nothing more than a quaint little ranch house in Montana or Wyoming with a few acres of stomping ground. I've accepted that this will be a reward later on in life.
Yeah, there's always that little problem of getting a mortgage, too. I don't know what it's like now - it's been 20 years since I had to apply for one - but do know it changes. Some years it's easy, some years it's not.
But get your debt paid and work on you credit - make darn sure every bill is paid on time - and you shouldn't have a problem. That makes a huge difference. The last time I got a mortgage they came to me and although I couldn't show income to pay it back - retired with nothing but SS and a IRA - they were still happy to make the loan because of a perfect record for many years and because the loan was for less than half the value of the home. Rather comical because I already had one with that same bank, and they offered to re-finance at a lower interest plus pay all closing costs. Pretty much a no-brainer for me!
Wow. Sounds like a miracle from where I'm sitting haha.
I'm also getting married soon. And this will change some things for the better I hope. My credit and debt aren't near what they used to be so hopefully my record won't eclipse hers if we ever do decide to apply for something like that.
I see that I'm a bit late here, but I feel like I have to reply because I really disagree about focusing on expenses over passive income.
Common advice is to cut back on your savings. That surely is important, but let's put this into perspective:
If you skip your daily latte at Starbucks and eating out at restaurants, you won't even save 100k over a lifetime.
If you build several smart streams of compounding passive income, you can easily earn millions in less than 2 decades
If you work a standard job and focus on saving part of your income, how much can you really save?
$500, $1000, maybe $2000 per month?
Let's say for the sake of argument you live frugally and focus entirely on cutting expenses and saving. No passive income like investment returns. Let's say you save $1000 per month. Over a 12 month period that's $12000. Over a 10 year period that's 120000. OK, your income is likely going to increase. But so are your expenses, especially if you want to start a family or buy a home. So perhaps by the time you are in your mid-30s, you have enough to afford a mortgage on a home. You invest all your money into a home and now you have no capital and a mountain of debt that you'll spend the next 10 - 20 years paying down. You won't achieve financial independence that way.
On the other hand, if you focus on building a side hustle and put in some more work while you still don't have a family, you can probably make a lot more than focusing on cutting expenses. I made an additional 3k-4k a month a year after starting a side hustle. Much more than would have been possible by saving money from my day job.
After a year or two, you have a solid financial basis part of which you can invest in index funds at a conservative and relatively safe return of 5-10% per year. Now you have three income sources: Day job + side hustle + stock market. The great thing about the stock market is that your income will compound. The more you invest, the higher your earning potential. Congratulations, your income is now on an exponential growth trajectory. If you intuitively understand the mathematical principle behind exponential growth, you will also understand that this is much more powerful in the long run than just cutting savings:
In the beginning, growth will be slow, but after a while, it will take off. Then you can invest in other areas with exponential growth potential such as real estate.
Smart investment always beats savings over the long run because of the exponential factor involved.
Addendum: There are, however, certain natural laws that occur in an economy such as the Pareto distribution which states that the majority of wealth inevitably ends up in the hands of a few. This is largely due to the fact that the square root of the number of people in a workplace does half the work. Without getting too far into how to redistribute wealth, we have to solve the riddle of why it is so difficult to get from zero net worth to 1. Because it's much easier to go from 1-5 if 5 is the most desirable income.
You are mistaken about who does the work.
The population of this country is 237 million.
104 million are retired. That leaves 133 million to do the work.
There are 85 million in school, which leaves 48 million to do the work.
Of this there are 29 million employed by the federal government, leaving 19 million to do the work.
2.8 million are in the Armed Forces, which leaves 16.2 million to do the work.
Take from the total the 14,800,000 people who work for State and City Governments and that leaves 1.4 million to do the work.
At any given time there are 188,000 people in hospitals, leaving 1,212,000 to do the work.
Now, there are 1,211,998 people in prisons. That leaves just two people to do the work. You and me. And you’re sitting at your computer reading jokes!
Okay, prices law is a statistical law that's irrefutable and I think you've completely misrepresented my point. Not everyone is equally productive. I'm not saying that 7 out of 10 people in a workplace do NOTHING, I'm saying that 3 out of 10 people are doing HALF the production. This should be more or less self-evident if you've ever done a group project in school.
People have their gifts, talents and work ethics. Some have a little more hustle and bustle than others. Those people happen to be represented as the most successful earners in the country.
I'm not trivializing the role that everyone plays. I'm looking at this mathematically and economically.
I respect your attempt to look at it mathematically and economically. That said:
If I have a net worth of $1 million, and Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $100 billion, his net worth is 100,000 times higher than mine.
Is he 100,000 times smarter than me? Does he work 100,000 times more than me?
Capitalism is efficient to a point. But sometimes it simply breaks down and awards or punishes some people more than they deserve.
Well, I never said we didn't have problems with inequality. It's definitely a problem and people cut corners often. But the general takeaway is that we shouldn't condemn every successful person as having only succeeded because they cheated or bullied their way through life.
And it does help to think about that mathematically as well. A simple reminder that the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire is far greater than the difference between a millionaire and someone like me with hardly anything.
You are looking at this wrong.
Jeff Bezos’s fortune is not because he is smarter or works harder...
He made his fortune by taking risk and succeeding...
He and Bill Gates and other successful entrepreneurs created wealth by creating a product or services that people want...
This wealth creation is at the backbone of capitalism...
The pie is not fixed. He grew the pie larger so that he retains a big share while others like his employees and his customers and his vendors... all profit from the business he created.
For every Bezos, there are probably thouands of other bisiness owners who try their luck and failed.
That is also the beauty of capitalism. Competition provide for the best way for the market place to decide winners and losers.
Would I be dubious if I pointed out that conscientiousness and hard work are, in fact, good predictors of long-term success?
How can we have an honest conversation while also saying smarts and hard work have NOTHING to do with success? Everyone tip-toes around this. It's total rubbish. Give credit where it is due. People bust their asses and are better at things than others. That's reality, sorry.
C'mon, fellas. Is the topic of finances always going to lead to the revival of the war between the "have's" versus the "have-nots"?
I am the poorest person I know of besides children in Somalia but somehow I am blessed every day of my life. No one is to blame for what I don't have except me. If anyone who makes more money than me is concerned with inequality, hand over some of your money then
Someone I just met would say you are poor in wealth but rich in other ways. The quality of your character has a lot to do with how your life will turn out.
Regarding haves and have-nots:
Life outcomes are largely the result of effort and luck. Some people work hard and get lucky. Other people work hard and get unlucky. Many factors in life are completely outside of our control.
Don't misunderstand me, people who work hard SHOULD be rewarded for it. I worked hard for 30+ years (50-60 hours a week, nights, weekends, skipped vacations, etc). I got my reward.
You misunderstand my point. It's clear in my final paragraph.
What mechanism decides what others deserve? That is the while point of capitalism vs. communism or socailism...it is not perfect but the decision is left to the market place.
In an entrepreneurial sense, I could see that. The market determines whether a product or service is valuable or not. Businesses fail left and right as you mentioned yesterday (and perhaps this is healthy for the economy). But if we're talking about a hypothetical manager working at a corporation his income SHOULD be (as promisem pointed out) proportionate to his character, his skills, his dedication, his effort, etc.
We don't live in a "dominance" hierarchy. We live in a hierarchy of competence. Thank God for that because I don't know how to run a hydroelectric dam or perform surgery on a burst appendix. It makes sense to be able to shop around for the best surgeon, not just one provided by the state.
I wouldn't characterize our economy as Capitalism that has suddenly "gone off the rails" as others have asserted. Do people go unnoticed or treated unfairly? Yes. But we're lucky to have what we have. The standard model of civilizations is starvation, poverty, disease, and war.
"And you’re sitting at your computer reading jokes!" Really? An ad hominem to top it all off? Thanks. Much appreciated.
Sorry, Jessie. The whole post was intended as humor, not as a serious reply to your statement. Guess it didn't come across that way - apologies.
(You DID "sit at your computer and read my joke", after all, even if you didn't recognize it as such )
Thanks for the clarification. I'm hypervigilant on these posts. Never know who is gonna jump into these discussions swinging.
I hear that. And I do agree with your figures - 3 out of 10 doing half the work seems about right, based on the many different work crews I've been on.
The population is 300 million. Are you just talking about workforce population?
It started right out of college. I got a good job and was able to save 10% of my income... first it was a company stock plan...which allowed me to put a down payment on a house in about 5 years. Then it was the 401k plan at work in the 1980s under President Reagan. I was able to put the maximum deductions into it over all my career. I was also lucky enough to work for a company that had a traditional pension plan. When I retired a few years ago, I was able to collect a pension till I and my wife both die.
The key to saving for retirement is not hard. Just start early and save. 10% is a good rule of thumb but any amount is better than spending paycheck to paycheck...
I worked a P/T job when I was 16, then got a job at a bank about two weeks after I graduated from high school. It was in the International Dept. of the place, and I loved it, I met people from all around the world. I went to college at nights, so it took me long to get my business degree. I was dating my later to be husband at 19, but was always responsible. Once we got married, he worked at a family owned company for a few years and they had a profit sharing plan. That later became a 401k. So that allowed us to save, and really we just spent the money I made, and later supported my widowed Mom, and helped my brother, who had health problems. I also have some chronic ones.
I think it's important to save, but also to enjoy the fruits of your labor too. We traveled a lot, entertained, and liked to try new restaurants. He passed suddenly at 58, so I'm glad we enjoyed ourselves as much as we did when we did, since we didn't get to have any retirement years. Some people work until they get too old and sick to enjoy any of it. Of course, we wanted to leave assets to our son too, so planned for that. Saving is important, but money isn't everything. Love and family and sharing the good times while you can is the most important. You never know what life has in store for you, you can't plan for everything.
I used to be fiscally responsible, but then I ran out of money.
Me too. But I will redeem my dignity by never giving up.
I just met a mutimillionaire who lives in near poverty to support a homeless mission he now runs.
A friend of mine is a millionaire who lives in a small house and drives a car with 200,000 miles on them.
They are people who use wealth for a higher purpose. They don't care about their dignity, their possessions or what people think about them. To them, luxury is a silly waste of money.
I have never met a person yet who can't save at least a little money.
Good for you... you know a million dollars is not that much these days. Due to inflation, a dollar is worth about 15 cents in 1960 dollar. I drive a van that has 180k miles and it works fine.My house is modest and paid off. I have a pension and collect social security and I have my IRA which I manage myself. I raised 3 wonderful kids who are working and paying taxes... I volunteer at the local archives and give to my church... anyone can live a healthy an productive live if they follow conservatism. I wrote a guide for millennials and it appears on my home page.
At about the age of 16, when a college education (pointed towards a decent job) was planned for.
But the "more" started, I guess, when I got that job and started a retirement account as soon as one was available - several years in as I recall and the pension plan was discontinued and a 401K began.
Sounds like the inclination to consider your future came more or less naturally to you. Some people are born with their future in mind. Some of us live in the moment which happens to be financially unsustainable, obviously. But that's been me for too long now.
I think its also important to make the distinction between where one wants to be versus having what one needs. Every day I am more grateful for the things that I have despite being at the bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy. Overall wealth is such these days that I live like a king compared to historical standards. But there will come a time in my life where I will need something to fall back on for support. I think this is crucial because I'm not trying to become rich, I'm simply trying to build a future with more opportunities.
Yes, you have the right attitude. It is not how much you make but how much you save. Also, the poorest of the poor here in the US, are much better off than some third world countries.
Some people who make a lot of money and spend even more are financially bankrupt.
Some who makes a decent living but saves can retire with a million dollars...
It depends on how you look at life.
A divorce hit me hard financially. It came just as I was starting a business. I had borrowed against my retirement, took a chance, it didn't work out. I've remarried a wonderful woman. She's a teacher. I have a new job. I'm now a federal employee. I contribute the max amount to my pension plan. Saving 9% of my paycheck- employer matches 5%. It's growing. Stock market getting the "Trump bump" helps. I'm also looking at low-risk passive income, trying to educate myself financially. I'm a little late getting started, but better late than never. You and I are veterans so our burials and headstones are covered by our government. Take advantage of veteran discounts and benefits whenever you can. Thanks for posting, Jessie.
Indeed I do. Now I'm attempting to orient myself in the world in a way that I can keep serving, keep giving back to my community. But it's tough when you're simply trying to make ends meet. Trying to get from zero to 1.
Investing is not as hard as people thinks.
Anyone can do it and especially if you are young and have time on your side.
The best way to invest for the long haul is invest in index funds...
You will get a better return than savings banks, mutual funds, annunity and CD...
Just keep some in cash for the periodic downturns...
I wrote an article on this topic...
Just search “a simple way to invest in the market”
You're a sharp young man. You're going places. You'll get it all worked out. God speed, brother.
My success for having a comfortable retirement was always to put a small amount of money away for later. There was never a goal for that money, but there always was the comfort that there was something to see in dollar signs for when it may be needed. I started as a teen with this habit. To always have the money set aside I needed to pick and choose what was spent. Denying something at the check stand was done everyday at every store. No credit cards.
Also, the opportunity to participate in a stocks and ERA savings plan at work was taken advantaged of at first offer and at maxium amount.
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