Archive for category Investing

Want to become a millionaire? One expert says you can.

I’m in the midst of an interesting book, Everyday Millionaires, by financial guru Chris Hogan.

The book is based on a survey of more than 10,000 U.S. millionaires. Using the data, Hogan dispels many of the images we have of the wealthy, and argues — quite strongly — that a seven-figure net worth is within reach.

Who are the millionaires?
Hogan found the vast majority of millionaires earned their wealth through hard work and by prioritizing savings — living well below their means — and that they continue to follow these habits.

Hogan spends considerable time debunking the myths of how people became millionaires. Most came from humble beginnings. Seventy-nine percent received no inheritance from their parents, and eight out of 10 came from families at or below middle class.

Education matters, as 88 percent earned a college degree. Incidentally, 68 percent of the graduates never took out a student loan.

Somewhat surprisingly, the key to wealth isn’t landing a high-paying job. Hogan found that less than one-third earned more than $100,000 a year. Can you guess the top three occupations of millionaires? Engineer, accountant, and teacher.

Keys to success
So, what is the path to wealth? Hogan identified several characteristics. Topping the list are discipline and consistency. The tortoise definitely beats the hare on the path to $1,000,000.

Hogan found that millionaires:

  • Save consistently, largely by living below their means.
  • Avoid unnecessary risk and get-rich-quick gimmicks.
  • Practice patience, realizing that it takes time to build wealth.
  • Believe that they control their own destiny (but also ask others for advice and guidance).
  • Invest in retirement plans. This was identified as the biggest contributing factor.
  • Establish and reach financial goals.

Whether or not you fit these criteria, the book is a worthwhile read. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself in the next millionaire survey!

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21 bits of investment wisdom from the years

I’ve been intrigued by investing for years, and lately find myself engaged in frequent conversations about the topic with friends.

Here are some of the best tips I’ve picked up over the years. Please keep in mind that I’m not a financial advisor, and you may want to consult with one if this motivates you to dabble in the market.

  1. Keep your costs low, whether you go with a low-fee mutual fund or a stock reinvestment program offered by many corporations.
  2. Time is your greatest ally – start young.
  3. In general, the greater the potential reward, the greater the risk — and many people don’t think enough about risk.
  4. Read everything you can about Warren Buffett.
  5. In most cases, your home is not an investment.
  6. Think twice about investing in things you don’t understand.
  7. Pay yourself first. A 401 (k) plan where you work is a great option and you’ll probably never miss the money from your paycheck.
  8. Playing too safe brings the risk of not keeping up with inflation, and seeing the purchasing power of your dollar drop.
  9. Putting your investments on autopilot is an easy way to save. For example, you can make automatic, monthly contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) from your bank account.
  10. Every little bit helps, and adds up over time.
  11. Put enough into your employer’s 401 (k) to earn the company match. If the plan matches the first 6 percent of your contribution at 50 percent, you’re immediately turning $100, for example, into $150.
  12. People know the mantra “buy low and sell high,” but often do the opposite. A dip in the market might bring an opportunity.
  13. Diversifying your investments helps spread your risk by avoiding “too many eggs in one basket” syndrome.
  14. The web has a wealth of investment tools. Use them to help you make decisions about investment options, risk, retirement planning, and more.
  15. Spend less than you earn.
  16. Know your tolerance for risk and invest accordingly. It’s very likely different from mine, from your neighbors, co-workers, etc. Be realistic about how much you can risk, and how much of a loss you could tolerate.
  17. Building an emergency fund is a top priority.
  18. Follow the data, and invest in something because it makes sense, not because you love the company’s product line or because your neighbor says it’s a great investment.
  19. On the other hand, if you really like a product, consider looking into the company to see if it makes sense as an investment.
  20. While the stock market is generally considered the best long-term investment, making money in stocks is far from guaranteed.
  21. As with anything in life, if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Your turn. What’s the best investment advice you know?

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