If there is one question I get asked frequently, it’s “Do you have a hot stock tip?”
Unfortunately, most people are looking for a silver bullet or a single stock that will make them wealthy. A few lucky individuals will buy the next Apple or Amazon stock and strike it rich – but for the majority of other investors, there is a different road to travel.
The sad fact is that most people will never reach financial prosperity, although everyone is capable of reaching this target. That’s right: Everyone has the potential to be financially independent if they are willing to put in the time and effort.
So what do you need to do to reach financial independence?
You can’t achieve financial independence without making some sacrifices in your life. The No. 1 requirement is you must spend less than you earn. That’s it. My suggestion is to target a savings rate of 25 percent of your income every year. I realize this number is shocking to most people, but you just can’t get there without saving a significant portion of your income. Most people will think this is impossible and will not even look for ways to cut spending, but here are places we can start.
To cut spending, you must acknowledge the war being waged for your budget. Think of all the marketing ideas that are thrown at us on any given day. You need and deserve an elaborate vacation, house, car or clothes; no wonder most people have very little saved for retirement.
We all make daily choices when it comes to our budgets, but areas to cut spending are there if we choose. For example, how many people immediately want to buy the latest smartphone when the new version is released? How many of us choose to eat out rather than cook at home? Perhaps one of the biggest culprits is buying a new car while the older one is still working just fine. These are just a few examples of ways to jumpstart your savings or retirement nest egg.
Dieting and saving money are closely related. We have all had that feeling that “my clothes are just a bit too tight; I need to lose a few pounds.” It’s the No. 1 New Year’s resolution, the most frequently broken resolution because we can always put dieting off until tomorrow. I’ve said it myself, “I’ll start Monday.” “I’ll start after my birthday celebration.” “I’ll start after the holidays.” Putting it off never gets you the reward, while starting now puts you on the right path.
The same can be said for saving. You can get a real feeling of pride from watching your brokerage account grow. Just remember the first $1,000 or the first $10,000 is the hardest. Once you take that first step and feel the rewards, it becomes easier to stay the course.
The old saying goes: “Do you work for your money or does your money work for you?” To reach any level of financial prosperity, you must have some money working for you. You must be an owner. Now, I’m not saying to go out and buy a company – I’m saying over a longer period of time, you will grow your wealth faster by purchasing stocks and thus becoming an owner of that company.
One of the reasons people don’t buy stocks is the fear of making a mistake such as buying the wrong stock or buying at the wrong time. There is really a fairly easy way to overcome this. Purchase the stock of some very well known companies whose products you use every day. This is not a new approach, but some people are still afraid of making a mistake. If you really don’t like the idea of buying an individual stock, purchase a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF). These investments hold many different stocks and lessen the potential of buying a stock at the wrong time.
If you don’t know how to get started, please talk with a local investment professional. There are many financial professionals who will be happy to help you start and monitor your progress on the road to financial prosperity.