Two words: Delayed Gratification.
This message really spoke to me in Robert T. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad and I feel it was one of the major things that separated rich dad from poor dad. Even in the beginning before any lessons were taught, he talked about how rich dad lived in a smallish, beatdown house, whereas poor dad had a nice-ish house. It’s the classic “Keeping up with the Jones” that I talked about in my post, “You’re BROKE because you act rich.” Turns out, rich people don’t “act” rich—at least not until they are rich.
It’s not your fault you’re broke. Mostly not your fault anyways. The problem is systemic; our entire system is set up so that we spend, spend, spend. Have you ever wondered why its called a “stimulus check,” and not an “investment check?” We need to spend all our money so that the big businesses always profit and the 1% get richer, meanwhile we work hard for the rest of our lives, never stopping to wonder why we’re in the position we’re in and not better off. Again, it’s systemic; we aren’t taught to think of money working for us, instead, we’re taught to work for money. We aren’t taught to play the long game, we’re taught instant gratification—more now, worry about later when we get there.
The advice is always the same; go to college, work hard, make a decent living, be happy. The reality is that a lot of us (myself included) struggle tremendously with budgeting, saving, building wealth. A lot of folks are just trying to make ends meet and survive the workweek without losing their grip and that’s the way corporate America likes it. If you are reading this and thinking, woah conspiracy theorist over here, take a moment to think about why public schools don’t teach financial literacy? According to a February 2020 article by CNBC, only 21 states in the U.S. require a personal finance class in high school, stating “By fulfilling a state-requirement as middle-schoolers, they’re learning skills that will have life-long implications for their future finances.” I don’t get it, “life-long implications for their future finances” but less than half of U.S. states require learning personal finances in school?
Conspiracy theories aside, if you aren’t financially literate, you should start educating yourself sooner than later. It’s never too late to start investing in yourself, even if you’re of retirement age, what you learn can be passed on to generations after you. I always go back to this quote I posted in, “One of the Most Important Success Habits” where Mark Cuban says, “Everything I’ve read was public. Anyone could buy the same books and magazines. The same information was available to anyone who wanted it. Turns out most people didn’t want it,” to make the point that knowledge is free, and access to knowledge is mostly free, but few want to access it.
If you’re reading this post, I can only imagine you are interested in improving your financial situation but don’t know how. I already touched on the first step and that is to educate yourself. Just as you cannot win at tennis if you don’t know the rules, you cannot build wealth if you aren’t financially literate. In order to know what you are up against, you need to remove the blindfold that’s been keeping you in the dark and arm yourself with the knowledge to accomplish your goals.
Create a Plan
Planning is an invaluable skill because it acts as a roadmap to your goals. The best way I’ve found planning useful is by starting at the destination: what are your goals? What is it you are hoping to accomplish? There are several goals you can be working towards, like building a savings fund, paying down debt, building passive income streams, etc. Taking a moment to mentally prioritize what’s most important to you is step number 2.
Put it in practice
Goals are easier said than done. Educating yourself and creating a plan means nothing if you aren’t taking action. I’m the first to say I mess up my plan and set myself back all the time. It’s inevitable but we have to keep on going if we ever want to make progress. Not only do I have to keep going, but I have to keep reminding myself of where I’m going. Step 3 is all about moving forward.
We ain’t meant to be rich
Despite all the rags to riches stories we hear all the time, the systems in place aren’t set to make us all rich; they are set up so that the rich get richer and everyone else stays in place or worse. As the non-wealthy, we have to work harder to get out of the noise bleeds. The good new is that those rags to riches stories exist because folks were successful in making it to the top. It’s not impossible, but it takes the kind of of time, effort, sweat, and disappointment that not many are willing to swallow.