building wealth is a process, like building a castle

Building Wealth is a Process

If I told you that all you had to do to earn $10,000,000 in the next year was to follow my secret steps to success, would you believe me?

Case of 100 dollar bills

Better question, would you want to believe me?

We like being told that we can find riches overnight.

As much as we try to deny it, we’re susceptible to get rich quick schemes and lazy thinking. The idea of overnight wealth seems like a perfect solution to whatever our personal problems are at the moment, whether that’s debt, low income, or dissatisfaction with our lives.

We look at examples like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, or Elon Musk, and we think that we can be like them. We disregard all the work they’ve put into getting where they are, and imagine that there’s a secret that, if only we could find it, would make us fabulously wealthy.

If you don’t think that’s true, I challenge you to explain why people are willing to pay for things like Trump University, or Tai Lopez’s courses. Subconsciously, we want to believe in a magic bullet for wealth.

The truth is, building wealth takes effort. It means changing behaviors, using our time more effectively, learning new skills, and even changing who we spend time with.

To illustrate what I mean, let me describe a hypothetical situation for you.

Imagine that you grew up in a single parent home and that, from a young age, all you knew was domestic chaos and confusion. Imagine that your parent had never completed any kind of higher education, didn’t know a trade, and had no career to speak of.

Imagine that your parent was overwhelmed with debt.

Imagine your parent had poor self-control and would spend money they didn’t have, increasing their debt and stress levels. Imagine they felt guilty about not being able to give you the presents you asked for during the holidays and your birthday. Imagine that when you were ten years old you realized they would spend rent money to buy you something from the thrift store if you asked for it, so you learned to stop asking for things.

Imagine that, when you were in middle school, your parent became physically disabled and bed-ridden. Imagine that you had no mentors, no support network, and you didn’t know how to change the cycle of poverty you found yourself in.

Imagine you barely graduated from high school by scraping by, or you didn’t graduate at all.

Imagine you had a dream of building a fortune. Imagine you had a dream to accumulate 100 million dollars in personal wealth.

If you can imagine all of those things, ask yourself how likely you would be to succeed in accomplishing your goal.

The reality is, far too many people grow up in situations just like this. They’re caught in the trap of poverty and succumb to the circumstances of their childhood.

If you started out in a situation like this, or if you’ve never been taught how to manage your money and grow your wealth, how do you go from there to a financially successful lifestyle?

The reality is that, not only will you likely never see 100 million dollars, but you also probably won’t be financially successful by any measure.

I’ve asked you to imagine yourself in this situation because I think it does a good job of painting a picture of the difference between where most of us want to be and where we start out. If you grew up in a situation like the one I described, how many bad habits and attitudes do you think you would have developed?

To put it another way, would you peg yourself as someone who was likely to make it to the NBA or get into a top college?

Probably not.

Which isn’t to say that people who grow up in situations like this don’t, sometimes, get into top colleges, get into the NBA, or become wealthy. They do.

But there’s such a wide chasm between where they started out and if they’re like you and me, where they want to be. Here’s the truth. If you aren’t already wealthy, you are this person.

Get that into your head before you read any further.

No, really. Read that again. Let it sink in.

Five Insights To Building Wealth

mason building a wall

If you aren’t already wealthy, you need to realize a few things, or you’re never going to get there. I’d like to share a few things that will help you bridge the gap.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, here are five things you need to understand if you want to be financially successful and build the wealth you want in your life.

Your family and friends probably don’t know the first thing about developing real wealth.

Really, they don’t.

Everyone has opinions on money.

Tell your friends you want to be wealthy, and there’s a good chance they’ll gladly dream about all the things they could buy or do with you if they were wealthy too. But they’ll never take action. They’ll dream away their lives or give you advice on what you should do, but they don’t actually have experience with handling money, and they’re ignorant on how to build long term wealth.

Here’s a rule of wealth building.

If you have a family member or friend who’s giving you financial advice, ask yourself it it’s the same thing everyone else is doing.

If it is, ignore it.

Also, if they aren’t wealthy themselves, guess what.

Ignore it.

Why? Because the vast majority of people are not wealthy. In fact, just 3.4% of the US population has a net worth over 1 million dollars.

If common wisdom tells you to do something with your money, ask yourself this question. Such and such a thing is what everyone else is doing with their money, so if it really worked, wouldn’t they be wealthy?

The only exception to this rule is, obviously, if they are wealthy. Then you should do exactly what they tell you. But be sure you know the difference between someone who has a high income and someone who is net-worth wealthy.

You have bad habits with money.

We all do.

For example, one of my bad habits is that when I go on vacation I tend to set a budget and then blow right through it. I also need to do better with wasting money by eating out for lunch. I know I could save about $100 dollars a month if I packed my own lunches, but I don’t.

If your bad habit is overspending, you need to face up to it and change. If your bad habit is blowing your savings every time you get $1,000 or $5,000 or 10,000 in the bank, you need to change. If your bad habit is buying expensive toys instead of investing your money, you need to realize that you’re sacrificing your long-term dreams for pleasure today.

No one is perfect, so recognizing that you have bad habits is the best way to start fixing them.

I feel like most people generally have a good idea what their bad habits are when it comes to money. If you can’t figure out where you need to improve, I suggest you take some time to think back on poor money decisions you’ve made in the past and write a list of them.

Asking close friends or family what they think of how you handle your money can also be a good way to figure out where you can improve.

Once you’ve figured out what some of your bad habits are, set a goal and make plans to work towards overcoming them.

You don’t have the skills you need to develop wealth.

Again, no one is perfect.

Unless you’re already wealthy, there’s a good chance that there’s at least one new skill you need to develop to create lasting wealth for yourself. This is especially true if you intend to become an entrepreneur or invest in real estate.

If you don’t know how to budget, learn how to budget. You can’t create and control wealth if you don’t know what your money is doing and how much you have.

If you want to own your own business, you need to learn the basics of tax, accounting, financing, and business law. That doesn’t mean you have to be an expert in any of those fields, but you need to be able to talk to the experts you’ll end up hiring to take care of those things for you.

You should also understand the basics of the stock market and economics so that you’ll be able to identify market trends that might impact your wealth, either by creating a danger to you or an opportunity you can exploit in order to create more of it. Jeff Bezos is a great example of this; he started Amazon because he realized that e-commerce was where the world was heading and thought books would be a good place to start.

No matter what you end up doing to build your wealth, you should also know how to sell. Sales gets a bad wrap a lot of the time, but to become successful you need to be able to sell.

Far more often than we’d like to admit, succeeding is more about who you know and how you talk to people than it is what you know. Selling, for you, might mean learning how to talk to people and sell your own personality.  If you have time for a book, I recommend the book You, Inc by Christine and Harry Beckwith to give you an idea of the kind of selling I’m talking about.

Selling might also mean learning how to close a funding deal or sell physical products. Whatever kind of selling you end up engaged in, you need to realize that life is selling, and selling shouldn’t have a bad reputation as long as it’s done ethically.

You need to learn the art of selling.

Beyond that, there are numerous skills you might need to learn on your journey to wealth. The important thing is for you to be open to learning them instead of ready to shut them down because they put you outside of your comfort zone. Additionally, you need to learn how to determine which skills are ones you should say no to. Sometimes the best thing you can do is pay someone else to do something for you.

That said, you should also remember to become an expert in at least one area so that you can bring something to the table for someone else. Building wealth is about building your relationships with others, and you can’t do that if you don’t offer anything of value.

You have attitudes that will prohibit you from achieving your financial goals.

This is kind of like your bad money habits, but it can be more dangerous to your long-term wealth because it can be harder to identify.

Far too often we’re kept from wealth because we have limiting beliefs about wealth. Want a few examples?

Rich people are greedy.

Rich people waste their money buying expensive things.

Rich people are selfish.

Rich people are dishonest.

Rich people stepped on others to get where they are.

Rich people are stuck up.

Rich people aren’t rich, they just buy everything on credit.

Rich people inherited all of their money. You don’t have a chance.

Rich people are just lucky.

How many of those statements have you heard in your life, and how many of them do you, in your heart of hearts, believe?

If you believe something like that, do you really think you can build long-term wealth? If I thought that the affluent were greedy, why would I want to be lumped into the same group as them?

If you have those kinds of attitudes in life, you will never obtain wealth.

Why?

Subconsciously you’ll be working against yourself, and every time you suffer a setback you’ll find yourself falling victim to confirmation bias that points you away from wealth and towards poverty. For example, if you start a business with someone that cheats you out of your money, you’ll remind yourself that all rich people are dishonest, selfish, and greedy, and you’ll decide being wealthy isn’t for you after all.

Before you achieve wealth, you’ll need to confront your own limiting beliefs and attitudes about money. Again, some time for honest self-reflection will make all the difference. You need to change the way you think and feel about money before you’ll be ready for wealth.

If self-reflection isn’t enough, read books, talk to mentors, or do what it takes to change how you view wealth.

Personally, I think it makes a big difference to make sure you clearly understand why you want to be wealthy and what you hope to accomplish with your wealth. For me, I want to be wealthy so that my kids will never have to go through what I did when I was growing up, and I want to help others to remove themselves from poverty by funding scholarships and other programs.

Wealth is a magnifying glass.

A lot of the reason we get into trouble with wealth is because we don’t see it clearly. We think that an abundance of wealth or a lack of wealth defines the kind of people we are.

The truth is that an abundance of wealth will only magnify the person we already are.

If we’re a selfish person and we end up wealthy, we’ll be even more selfish. If we’re generous, the more money we have the more we’ll be able to give away to causes we care about, people we love, and things that matter.

The truth of the matter is that money is an imaginary thing that we’ve created to signify value and facilitate trade. If you end up with a lot of money and lose sight of that you run the risk of allowing the worst parts of yourself out into the public eye for everyone to see. If you keep a level perspective and recognize that money is unimportant compared to the person we are on the inside, you’ll be able to handle your wealth with dignity and compassion.

Don’t get caught up in how much more money you have than other people, get caught up in how much more you can help people.

Remember, wealth is a magnifying glass.

Who are you on the inside?

If I’ve missed something or if you appreciate what I’ve discussed, please reach out to me and let me know what you think.

3 thoughts to “Building Wealth is a Process”

  1. Fantastic points and well written! The truth about building wealth is that people who know how to do it don’t talk about it or look like it. Aside from us bloggers :). But really – you’d never know if someone was a millionaire by the way they dress or what they drive. Those are the people who know that it takes frugality, reducing your expenses, increasing your income and aggressively investing the rest! It’s not a quick game. It’s a marathon.

    1. Exactly! That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed The Millionaire Next Door and the Millionaire Mind so much. Have you read them?

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