YOUR INVESTMENTS: Three steps to win financially

Do you want to “win” financially? Here are a few tips that will help you get on the path to financial independence.

A man counts New Israeli Shekels. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A man counts New Israeli Shekels.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” – Benjamin Franklin
As many of you know, I hate when people complain about how hard it is to make it financially. In fact, it was my birthday earlier in the week, and my awesome family made dinner for me. My oldest daughter actually asked if I had any meetings that day that got me angry. I said it must have been my birthday present because on that specific day I didn’t have any of those meetings that set me off.
I recently met with a couple who were seriously considering making aliya. They asked me if I thought they could “make it” financially in Israel. I answered that I believe if you live intelligently vis-à-vis your money, you can make it here like you can make it anywhere. Conversely, if you live for today and are financially irresponsible, you could have a salary of $200,000 a year and you won’t be fiscally stable.
Financial victory
I am often asked how I define financial success. For me it’s living within your means, having more income than expenses and having the confidence that when you make a purchase, you know that you have the money to pay for it.
Do you want to “win” financially? Here are a few tips that will help you get on the path to financial independence.
The credit card is not your friend
If you don’t have the money, don’t buy the item.
Sounds like grandma’s advice right? That’s because in modern culture, if you don’t have the money, Visa and Mastercard do! So individuals start buying things on credit and with payment plans even though they know that they are lacking the money needed for the purchase.
I don’t know anyone who has gotten rich from borrowing money for consumer needs. The only ones who get rich from debt are Visa and Mastercard. They can’t make money fast enough. Regrettably, much of their profits come from people who make less-than-brilliant money decisions.
Obviously, if you don’t have the money to pay off the initial loan, you won’t have money to pay off successive loans, and it becomes like a black hole. You just get sucked in, and it becomes more and more difficult to escape.
So how do you escape the black hole? The method I like to use is to list all your debts from smallest to biggest, and start attacking the smallest debt. I know that there is a school of thumb that says it makes more economic sense to pay off the highest-interest debts, but I like to have some mini wins. Getting rid of a debt creates a confidence and motivation that it’s really possible to succeed. Start paying off those smaller debts, and see how quickly you can start to turn things around.
Your money makes money
Are you sick of working so hard? Well, if you get your money working for you, you very well may not have to work until you are 67. After you become debt free, you need to make saving and investing a priority. Make a habit of “paying yourself first” every month. Whether you invest in real estate (where you get a monthly rent check) or you invest in a well-diversified stock and bond portfolio, focus on a slow and steady approach to build wealth. While you may try and hit a “grand slam” that would make you instantly wealthy, the chances of that happening are very slim. Slow and steady is the way to grow your net worth.
It’s now or never
Don’t let procrastination rule the day. Too often individuals delay investing because they think that their accounts are too small or the market is too high. They think that if they don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars, there is no point investing. So they end up keeping their money in a 0%-interest account in the bank. By doing this, not only are they not growing their money, they are actually losing money to inflation.
Or they say that the market is trading near all time highs, so they will invest after the market drops. Statistically, the stock market has been a very profitable investment over the long term, which actually means that it trades at record-high levels frequently. The best and brightest investors can’t time market movements, so don’t think that as a novice like you can do better and predict when the market will drop and by how much.
Getting debt free, focusing on saving and investing immediately can be a really good starting point to get you on your way to “win” financially.
The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc., or its affiliates.
[email protected] Aaron Katsman is a licensed financial professional in Israel and the United States who helps people with US investment accounts. He is the author of the book Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing.