Back to Basics, You Are Where You Are, You Can Be More
It’s over, I am declaring meme stock madness of the Fed infused pandemic mania over. It is time to return to the fundamentals. And without further ado, here are the fundamentals that I see:
There are certain fundamental and back to basics required to build wealth. In general, they are the following:
- Quality, steady employment
- Living within one’s means
- A basic budget
- A basic financial education
- Automation into a diversified portfolio of assets
Before one builds a house, there are plans, materials, etc. Same thing goes when we build wealth. We do not just jump into buying the next hot stock. That would be like hanging the curtains first.
In order to build wealth, a person must first secure quality and steady employment. It is very hard to build wealth on a minimum wage job or being unemployed. It is also hard with employment that is off-and-on, in unpredictable spurts.
The good news is that it is possible to build wealth off the base of an average salary. In some ways, making less can be an advantage because it forces someone to live within their means and develop the habits required to build wealth over the long term. Many studies from the book The Millionaire Next Door document many who make very good salaries, but fail to build any substantial wealth. At the end of the day this is a numbers and discipline game.
There is really no right or wrong kind of employment. This could mean blue collar, white collar, factory, teacher, public sector, private sector, etc. The job just has to be steady, tolerable and have solid middle class pay and benefits.
One of the best ways to achieve this kind of employment is to gain the training required, and then do internships and apprentice work to get your foot in the door.
Within our means
Millions of people live a “lifestyle” they cannot afford. They are creating the illusion of wealth by driving a car they do not own, living in too big of a house and using furniture purchased on credit. Next, they buy fancy clothes on credit cards and expensive meals out.
At the end of the day we would all be better off by encouraging a culture of saving and utilizing resources in the wisest ways possible. This means using resources in accordance with our highest values, cultivating patience and developing the tools to build wealth.
I am a fan and user of basic budgets. I am not a fan or user of detailed budgets and complicated excel spreadsheets tracking each penny. I find it cumbersome and boring. What do we mean by a basic budget?
This is a simple list in a word doc that I set and periodically amend. It starts with what is coming in after taxes. Then I list most monthly expenses. The number at the bottom cannot be negative, that is the key.
This is not about tracking every penny like an accountant. This is about a basic understanding of where your money is going. This is a framework for ensuring your money is flowing every month to the highest priorities to build wealth, stay out of debt and live your best life in the moment.
The goal should be to first ensure you are getting ahead each month. And secondly, to maximize the amount of cashflow going into assets (401ks, IRA’s, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.) and to limit the amount of cashflow going into liabilities.
Monthly income – Expenses = what is left over to build wealth
Income (ideal to have multiple income streams)
- Earned income from employment
- Income from dividends & investments
- Income from rental property
- Side hustle income
- Car payment (try to avoid!)
- Electric and gas
- Insurance (home, car, life…)
- College fund for your children
- Health insurance
- Misc. haircuts (not for MV Greg), clothes, etc.
The main concept here is simple: See the truth about where your money is going. Know where it is going and ask yourself if it is being directed into ways that will make you Money Viking strong over the long run. Is it being directed to things that bring you great joy and add the most value to your life?
You Can Be More
We are all thrown curve balls and challenges in life; that is the nature of this existence. But, you can focus and do more than you realize. I was diagnosed with a learning disability as a child. People called me stupid and slow. And now I am writing books and blogs.
What is the End Game?
In our investing life, I think it is important to have a guiding light or big goals in mind. When you reach them, of course we can reassess further goals. Mine is quite simple: to have enough assets and passive income that I can choose the work I perform. This is based on what I have estimated as my monthly living expenses and the kind of lifestyleI would prefer.
My personal goal / lifestyle is about a comfortable and solid middle class life with the ability to pay for my child’s college, take a couple of trips each year and not have to worry about the month to month bills.