Saturday, January 22, 2011

Helpful Behaviors for Building Wealth

There are some really good points in this article (link below), although the title is a little misleading. It's not so much about becoming super-rich, but rather, it's really about the behaviors that may help someone become more wealthy than they otherwise might, whatever their income level may be.

The author refers to these things as being traits, but they're really skills that can be developed by anyone. Not everyone has the ability or opportunity to become a financial expert or to even go to college, but that doesn't need to condemn them to a life of financial insecurity. It's never too late to develop these skills either, although they're certainly more beneficial if picked up at an early age. I agree that comfort and confidence with basic math is really important, as is developing a methodical approach to problem-solving. The article emphasizes planning skills as well. In my experience, I've found that many people have an aversion to planning simply because they are afraid of the unknown and what they might learn from the planning process. The simple truth, though, is that it's better to be prepared and to learn about potential problems as soon as possible in order to maximize the amount of time available to rectify them. Developing a willingness to encounter uncertainty and a fearlessness about tackling problems, therefore, can by extremely valuable behaviors. If parents could help their kids zero in on these skills, it would go a long way to improving their children's long-term prospects no matter what those kids end up doing in life.

What can someone do to develop these skills or to instill them in their kids? First, you get comfortable with planning simply by doing it. Start small in order to stay within your comfort zone. For example, if you find yourself running out of cash every month, then put together a simple monthly budget. If you're concerned about retirement, then play around with some of the retirement calculators that are available on the Internet. They'll help you determine how much you have to save every month prior to retiring in order to support your lifestyle in retirement. As far as the kids go, there's nothing wrong with getting them involved in household budgeting. Explain to them how much you make, how much comes off the top in taxes, and how you budget the remainder, which hopefully includes some savings. Demonstrate to them that it's important to not spend more than you make. Explain the concept of priorities. Help them understand that maybe spending $100 a month on a cell phone for them isn't a great idea when mom and dad are concerned about their retirement or making tuition payments. If kids don't know what the limitations are, then there will be no limit to their expectations. The main point, though, is you'll be getting them used to the planning process early, which they will hopefully carry forward into their adult lives.

Click here to read "Character Traits and Behaviors that Make You Rich," by Laura Rowley.