WILL YOUR HABITS BUILD WEALTH OR WANT?
Follow these habits to build wealth
I have been thinking about habits and wealth, and decided I would write an article listing ten habits to build wealth. We have two children, and have been trying to teach them about self-discipline / self-control, and the habits we build.
Habits are great things in some ways, as we can do things without having to really focus on what we are doing. They can be time savers. Unfortunately, they can also be hard masters when they are bad habits. They can trap us into doing “the same old same old”, and prevent us from seeing solutions and new paths to solve problems.
I will begin using a family budget consistently again. I also plan to begin using a budget for my small business. I believe living on a budget is one of the most important habits to build wealth. It is a habit I used to have, but life and busy-ness got in the way. I got out of the habit of using a budget. I would float from month to month, knowing approximately how much money was in the bank. However, I quit regularly budgeting.
I didn’t balance the checkbook. I never really planned for Christmas, vacation, birthdays, and other special occasions when we would need to spend extra money. I would move money from savings over to checking to cover, and I had a couple of bounced checks. The money was in the savings account to cover, but the credit union did not automatically move the money, so the checking account went negative and we got hit with an overdraft fee. No more.
If you are reading this blog, I am guessing you are interested in finances and in wealth creation. So, let’s talk about 10 habits to build wealth.
1. Budget – Prepare a budget each month, before the month begins. This is something Dave Ramsey preaches as a major habit to build wealth. This is the first month I started doing that again. I remember when I was doing a budget regularly; it felt like I had gotten a raise. I knew how much we had, how much we would need to spend, when we had money coming, and how much we should have left at the end of the month.
2. Self-Control – For those of us who believe the Bible, one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control.
- Be willing to say “no” or “not yet”. I waited three years to buy a new flat-screen HD TV because we don’t have cable/satellite, and we didn’t really watch much TV when we did have it. However, we do “rent” movies from the library, and we have a couple of game consoles. I had the money, and I went to various stores several times, each time, intending to buy. At the last minute, after walking the aisles, I would decide to wait.
- Teach others self-discipline by example. I remind our children of that now… “It is ok to wait to spend your money. Daddy waited three years for a new TV.” Several times they were with us when I was looking at the TV’s. Frankly, I think they were shocked when we actually walked out of the store WITH a new TV. 🙂
3. Eat wisely – Don’t wreck your month’s budget for a few meals. Using your food budget wisely is one of my habits to build wealth consistently every month.
- Most of the time, we choose to eat at home. We gave up a lot so that my wife is able to stay at home. One of the things we chose to sacrifice is eating out. Of course, when we were both working full-time outside the home, we ate out more often because of the convenience… we would both be getting home late, and starting dinner after we got home meant that we were eating right before bed. Now, she is home and has the flexibility to make healthy, filling, inexpensive meals.
- Creating habits to build wealth require a little bit of ingenuity. I am only partially joking when I say we read the menu “right-to-left”… we look at the prices, then see what we will be eating. When we eat out, we do it inexpensively. However, we still spend roughly 2x as much per meal when we eat out, compared to when we eat at home. Of course, “nice” restaurants, or expensive meals would cost even more.
- We usually eat at Mexican restaurants. Why? Because, first, coming from SE Texas, we love Mexican food. In addition, they generally offer free tortilla chips. We find ourselves munching on the chips before the meal arrives, and with our meal. We end up taking ½ our dinner home. I take leftovers to work for lunch during the week.
- Often, R and I will split a meal. At a steakhouse, we each get a side salad (one usually comes with the entrée), and often, bread is included. By the time the steak is served, ½ is plenty for each of us. In fact, we usually don’t get dessert because we are comfortably full already.
4. Treats in moderation – Treats are nice, but moderation is one of the habits to build wealth.
- Drink water (usually free, and better for your health), instead of paying for sodas.
- Instead of paying $5-$8 each for a dessert at the restaurant, go buy a ½ gallon of ice cream and some toppings. Bake some cookies or brownies, add your ice cream, and make your own “lava brownie”. You can have dessert once a week at home for the next month for what you would spend on one dessert per person.
5. Garden – Besides producing food, gardening teaches patience, which is one of the best habits to build wealth. Just as you can’t pull up the plants after a week and look at what is going on underground, you shouldn’t pull your investments out and mess with them on a whim.
- Start a garden. Food from your garden is better quality, better tasting, and better for you. Once you overcome the initial startup costs, the food is also less expensive. Research Square Foot Gardening.
- If you can’t garden (apartment dwellers, etc), find a local farmer’s market.
6. Have a side hustle – Working hard is one of the best habits to build wealth.
- I got the term “Side Hustle” from Michelle at Making Sense of Cents. She began her “side hustle” blog in her spare time, built it consistently, and eventually, her part time work grew into a more-than full-time career. Michelle is now in business for herself, and does blog management, website management, ghost writing, web design, and freelance writing, among other things. You can hire her if you need those services.
- Another blog I like is ClubThrifty.com. Holly is another hard working entrepreneur. I have learned a lot about blogging and ways to earn additional income from her site.
- Long before I had heard the term, I have had a side hustle. At various times over the past decade, while holding a full-time day job, I have delivered pizza nights and weekends for Dominos, delivered newspapers seven days per week before going to my day job, and picked up many extra shifts at my current day job employer. I often worked 12+ hour days, sometimes seven days a week, sleeping in my car on my lunch hour. Not what I wanted to do long-term, but it can really help provide additional money in the short-term.
7. Start a business – Currently, in addition to my full-time day job, I also have a small business. I guess it could also be considered a side hustle.
- I am a mobile DJ. I average over 100 events per year. It is something I am very good at, and I make excellent money doing it. I have considered doing it full-time, but I’m the sole breadwinner, the industry is feast-or-famine (at least in my geographic area), and I need to provide health insurance.
- Finding legal ways to have a business pay for things you need is a habit to build wealth. Many things in your personal life can be tax deductible if you have a business. In my case, for example, I am able to use business income to pay for my cell phone, internet service, alarm monitoring, part of the rent & utilities, some fuel & maintenance on my vehicles, office supplies, music (as a DJ, I have to purchase music), and other things. Obviously, check with your tax professional for details for your individual situation. … Actually, having a professional to help guide you with tax and legal matters is also a habit to build wealth!
8. Give – Giving is one of the most important habits to build wealth.
- Give your treasure. Give money and help meet the needs of others.
- Give your time. Your time is important also.
- Give your talents. Use your abilities and bless others.
- Give to a local charity, where you can see that they are using the money well.
9. Education – Never stop learning. Learning is one of the most important habits to build wealth.
- College can be a great investment in yourself, if you do it the right way.
- The first two years of most college degrees are primarily a re-hash of the last two years of high school. If you are/know a high school junior/senior, take a CLEP test as soon as you finish a course. The material is still fresh in your mind, and if you pass the CLEP, you now have a college level credit for the class. That is one less class you will need towards your degree, one less semester you are stuck in a classroom. CLEP tests are also less expensive than the course and books for college.
- Consider earning your Associate’s degree first. Many Associates degrees pay as well as or nearly as well as a Bachelor’s degree. If you decide later you want the Bachelor’s, the credits will generally apply, so you are already half way there. You are potentially earning an income two years earlier, and have two years more “hand’s on” experience.
- See if your employer will cover or reimburse some of your expenses for education. Taking advantage of programs offered for free education can be a great habit to build wealth.
- Intern for a local business. You don’t have to be in college. Do you know someone in your future career field? Offer to work part-time for/with them for 3-6 months. See what they do on a daily basis. Make sure this is REALLY the career you want, and gain practical experience in the field.
- Educate yourself. If you know you are not interested in climbing the corporate ladder, you may not need a college degree. You can still take college courses. I am a sophomore, almost a junior, based on the number of college credits I have. I simply took courses I was interested in. You can take online courses. You can check out relevant books from the library. You can learn from YouTube. You can just roll up your sleeves and jump in for on-the-job learning.
10. Under promise and over deliver – Surprise those you work for, whether your boss, a client, or a co-worker. Do more than you promise to do. Come in earlier than you are expected to. Stay a few minutes later. Instead of only providing 10 habits to build wealth, throw in a few additional bullet points. 🙂
What are your top three, top ten, top twenty habits to build wealth? What habits are you weakest in, and how do you plan to change? What habits are you strongest in?