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The playbook for personal finance success isn’t complicated. Spend less, save and invest more. But despite this relatively simple formula, it seems as though some people know something about money that you don’t. Today, I aim to change that. I’m sharing with you 15 money secrets that can change your financial outlook for life.
Money Secret #1: Modest Spending is the Ticket to Financial Success
If there was one hidden secret of money, it’s that managing your spending is the most important thing you can do to be financially successful.
While it’s a lot sexier to focus on investing returns and earning more money, those things are harder to do. It’s much easier to keep money in your pocket. Why? Because it’s already there. You just need to keep it there.
If you want to achieve financial success, the only way – yes, the only way – is to spend less than you earn. The MVP when it comes to managing your spending is a budget.
Money Secret #2: Setting Goals Works
Next, your finances aren’t different than anything else in life where you have an objective in mind. To be successful, consider setting goals.
By creating specific, actionable long-term financial goals, you’ll be more likely to make decisions in the near term that can help get you there.
Whether you plan to save for the down payment on a house or retire early, choose goals that fit your objectives. You’ll be more likely to meet those targets once you put them on paper.
Money Secret #3: The Wealthy Track Their Progress
Want to know one of the money secrets of the rich? They track their money very, very closely. No, not all of them are financial whizzes, but they’re good at knowing where their money is going and whether it’s working for them.
While budgeting is one such way to track your progress, that is a near-term financial indicator. A longer-term indicator of financial progress, though, is your net worth. By keeping tabs on your net worth, you’ll have a clearer picture of your assets and liabilities and can see month-after-month and year-after-year whether you’re making progress.
Personal Capital is a comprehensive suite of financial tools that helps you track your net worth, make sure you stay on track for retirement, and much more! The best part about Personal Capital is it offers a FREE way to track your investment and cash accounts and plan your financial future! Check out this review to learn more!
Money Secret #4: Follow People who are Where You Want to Go
Ever heard the saying that you’re the average of the five people with whom you spend most of your time? I am a big believer in this assertion.
If you want to be successful with money, find people who are where you want to go. Want to retire early? Make friends with someone who has done exactly that. Want to invest in real estate? Find a real estate investor who is willing to share their knowledge.
Being successful with money is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it harder by trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, follow people who have been successful in their journeys, and avoid making the same mistakes that they did along the way.
Money Secret #5: You Can Have Anything but not Everything
This one is a mindset shift that can change your life. You can have anything, but you can’t have everything. Let that sink in for a moment.
Human desires are unlimited, but the resources we have are not. When making financial decisions, the truth is that you can’t have everything. You’ll need to prioritize and choose the things which are most important to you. You must live below your means.
If you want to drive a nice car and can afford it, I think that’s great. But you can’t have a nice car, a big house, a yacht, and two vacation homes (unless you’re really lucky). Prioritize your spending based on which items bring you the most happiness per dollar (hint: it’s usually experiences, not material possessions).
Money Secret #6: Focus on High-Value Activities
There are countless ways to earn and save more money. However, in choosing which of these to pursue, be selective in your approach.
Time is your most limited resource. Is it easier to make $5 taking online surveys, or is it easier to save $5 skipping Starbucks once a week? Probably the Starbucks.
Particularly when it comes to earning money, it probably doesn’t make sense to try doing things you know nothing about. Would it be easier to make money on YouTube or put some extra effort into your day job so you can get a raise? Probably the raise.
I’m all for side hustles but focus your time and energy where you’ll get the greatest return on investment.
Money Secret #7: Hustle
Next, if you’re serious about boosting your income, you’re going to have to hustle. Mark Cuban started his career selling garbage bags door-to-door when he was 12 years old because that’s how he could afford new basketball shoes.
If you want to build some additional income (be it to accelerate your retirement, pay for your hobbies, etc.), getting a side hustle is one of the best ways to do it.
While I started this blog to help people with their finances, it has become a lucrative side hustle that helps fund my hobbies and investments. And it has diversified my income, so I am not wholly reliant on my day job.
If you want to build an additional income stream, check out these 30+ ideas to make more money.
Money Secret #8: Making a Lot of Money isn’t Enough – You Need to Own Assets
One of the biggest myths about wealth-building is that the secret to financial success is a high income.
This is entirely untrue. While a high income can certainly help, the secret to wealth is creating a sizable gap between what you earn and what you spend.
This difference can be used to buy assets. By buying assets, you’re making your money work for you. These assets generate passive income, allowing you to exit the rat race and replace your day job income sooner.
Most millionaires didn’t become millionaires by earning ultra-high incomes. They became millionaires by saving and investing a considerable percentage of what they earned.
Making money is great, but if you’re not investing much of what you earn, you’re not using that income to create a better financial future.
Money Secret #9: Start Investing Early
When investing, it’s easy to focus on your returns. However, rather than trying to pick the perfect investment strategy that optimizes returns, instead leverage what you can control – time.
Because of the magic of compound interest, starting to invest as early in life as possible will have a significant impact.
Compound interest states that the longer you’re invested, the more wealth you’ll build. Why? Because the wealth you’ve created starts to produce more wealth. Said differently, you begin playing with the house’s money, and your investment returns generate more investment returns.
If you haven’t started investing, make that change. Start investing today. Even if it’s investing spare change through an app like Acorns, the money you invest adds up over time.
Money Secret #10: Reinvest Profits
Compounding only works when your investment returns are allowed to create more investment returns. That’s why you should always choose to reinvest profits if you don’t need them.
Reinvest stock dividends to buy more shares. Put business profits back into the business. And even put raises from your job into more investments!
By reinvesting your profits, you can’t help but grow your money!
Money Secret #11: Invest Only in What You Know
Recently, I’ve been bombarded with Facebook ads about investing in wine. The ads feature flashy investment returns. While the returns sound appealing, I have been relentless in ignoring the advertisements.
I like to drink wine. But I know absolutely nothing about wine as an investment.
My advice for you is the same. Only invest in what you know. Everyone is talking about crypto investing. But if you don’t understand crypto, don’t buy it.
If you invest in things you don’t understand, you will lose (even if lucky in the near term).
This is not to say that you can’t learn about a new investment. When I started investing in real estate, I knew next to nothing about it. But I read dozens (yes, dozens) of books and listened to hundreds of hours of real estate podcasts to get a handle on what I was doing. If I hadn’t, I would have made some foolish choices.
Invest only in what you know.
Money Secret #12: Diversify
Ever heard the saying, don’t put all your eggs in one basket? This proverb is especially true as it relates to investing.
Stocks go up. But they also go down. Real estate prices go up. But they also go down. No asset class is risk-free other than government bonds (in certain countries like the US).
Diversify your risk by investing in different asset classes like stocks, bonds, real estate, and alternatives.
Are you looking to diversify your existing portfolio? You can get started investing in real estate with just $10 on Fundrise. I invested in Fundrise several years ago and have been exceptionally impressed to date.
Fundrise is my favorite tool for getting started with real estate investing. It allows you to invest in a diversified portfolio of commercial real estate at low costs and with a great deal of transparency. Check out my full review to see if this tool is right for you!
Money Secret #13: The Wealthy Don’t Pay Taxes
Okay, this money secret may elicit a visceral response. I get it. You pay a lot of taxes. I spend a lot on taxes, too.
But, the fact is that paying less in taxes is possible if you make choices based on government incentives. The tax code is nothing more than a series of incentives.
One such incentive is that the government wants private investors to create affordable housing. To stimulate this, the government allows real estate investors to claim something called depreciation expense. The general idea is that buildings wear over time, and the government will enable you to treat this as a phantom expense even when repairs aren’t taking place.
In doing so, real estate investors significantly reduce their taxable income, with many of them earning near tax-free income on their investments. Of course, there are hooks around this concept, but the general idea is that by doing something the government wants to incentivize, it’s possible to reduce your tax burden.
Investing in private real estate is one of the easiest ways to generate wealth and passive income on which you likely will pay little in taxes. Check out the book How to Invest in Real Estate if this sounds appealing to you.
Other ways to reduce your taxable income include investing in retirement accounts, funding HSA/FSA accounts, making charitable contributions, etc. All of these activities are ones the government wants to incentivize.
Money Secret #14: Figure Out How to Stop Trading Time for Money
If you work a day job, you’re trading your time for money. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s call it what it is: the rat race.
If there’s one money secret that the wealthy understand, it’s that trading time for money is a losing battle.
Instead, the financially successful invest their money in assets that produce income. This so-called mailbox money allows them to earn money without investing time.
The more money you can earn without trading time, the more time you’ll have to enjoy life.
Create streams of passive income to reclaim more of your time.
Money Secret #15: Money is not the End Game
This one should be obvious, but money is not the end game. Money by itself has no value. But the things you can do with money are valuable.
Money can buy freedom. This means more time with friends and family. More hours spent traveling and experiencing new places. Money buys you the opportunity to live life on your terms – spending your time doing the things that are most important to you.
So, instead of focusing on money for money’s sake, identify how you can use money to create a better life for yourself by spending more time on what really matters.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Secrets of the Rich?
The rich are rich because they spend less than they earn and invest the difference. It is that simple.
In the book The Millionaire Next Door, the author explores the habits of the wealthy. In most cases, it wasn’t lottery winnings or super high income that drove wealth. It was a high savings rate and living a modest lifestyle.
If you want to become wealthy, focus on both income and expenses. Use a budgeting tool like Tiller Money to identify ways to reduce your spending. Then build income streams by investing in stocks (through a brokerage like M1 Finance), real estate (using a platform like Fundrise), or other asset classes.
If you spend less and invest more, you will start attracting money much faster than you ever thought possible.
What are the Secrets of Making Money?
Focus on high-value activities. Perhaps you can make more by focusing on your day job to earn a raise.
Or maybe you can start a side hustle to generate an additional stream of passive income.
Making money isn’t that difficult. There are countless ways to make money. Choose the ones that best fit your skills and schedule, and you’re bound to start earning some additional income.
How can I Grow my Money Fast?
If you want to grow your money fast, the secret is to invest as much as possible. There are no shortcuts to building wealth. Any financial product or advisor that tells you otherwise isn’t being honest.
Instead of focusing on maximizing investment returns, spend less and invest more. That is how you will increase your wealth.
15 Money Secrets that Will Change Your Life: Summary
To recap, here are the 15 money secrets that will change your life.
- Modest Spending is the Ticket to Financial Success
- Setting Goals Works
- The Wealthy Track Their Progress
- Follow People who are Where You Want to Go
- You Can Have Anything but not Everything
- Focus on High-Value Activities
- Making a Lot of Money isn’t Enough – You Need to Own Assets
- Start Investing Early
- Reinvest Profits
- Invest Only in What You Know
- The Wealthy Don’t Pay Taxes
- Figure Out How to Stop Trading Time for Money
- Money is not the End Game
While this may be a lot to digest, start simple. Sign up for a budgeting app like Tiller Money, open a brokerage account someplace like M1 Finance, or start tracking your net worth with Personal Capital. Small steps will add up to big results.