We are celebrating our freedom this week. I don’t know about you, but I don’t take the time to reflect often enough, to think about the unprecedented blessings we have in this country.
For most of human history, someone lorded over you and told you what to do. They set the rules ; how much of your money you had to give them (which could change on a whim), who and how you should worship, how you lived according to their law (that they often times set arbitrarily), and if you dared speak out, dissent was met with swift retribution.
But this great human experiment that began in 1776 changed all of that. We chose our leaders, even if we don’t particularly like our choices. We are free to worship how we chose. We have invested in a proud and skilled military in which men and women willfully put their lives on the line every day to protect and preserve the experiment. We are free to move around at will, and aided by technology, we can go anywhere in a short amount of time and see more of the world than ever before. And we are free to build our own American dream.
It’s that last one that seems all too elusive. Perhaps, it’s because Americans have been beaten down and lost too many times and have given up. Perhaps, they’ve listened to too many media reports or celebrities who’ve told them the system is unfair and you can’t win. Whatever the reason, too many people are not taking advantage of the opportunity to work hard and create a better future for themselves and for their children. We need to find the winning formula again.
I ran across an old Forbes article entitled, “Five Traits of Successful Wealth Builders.” It highlighted the characteristics that the author observed in her career as a financial planner that set successful builders apart.
- Healthy Skepticism
Notice it doesn’t say unhealthy skepticism. There is such a thing. It would be unhealthy to become so jaded that you blame everyone else for your problems and fail make a decision to invest in your dream. A healthy skepticism means that you do not just go along with the crowd. You don’t buy whatever product someone is selling because they told you to. You listen, learn, and make an informed decision, balanced with a realistic expectation. At GenWealth, we strive to listen first, then educate in a transparent way. It’s why we host free workshops monthly. It’s why we strive to match you with an advisor that will best fit your personality and connect with you. It’s why we don’t recommend investments on the first appointment.
- Status and Self Worth not Dependent on Material Things
My parents never used a credit card growing up. I never knew what it was until I went to college. My Dad taught me if you don’t have the money, don’t buy it. Pretty simple logic. But, obviously, we, as a country, have not listened. I have not always listened. Frugality comes natural to some people. It doesn’t to me. For me, it requires a behavioral shift, a change in mindset. And it requires discipline. It may require sacrifice. For me, it was a reorganization of priorities. I had to decide what I truly enjoyed versus what I bought just because everybody else did. Once you decide not to let the world tell you what you want, or define who you are, you’ll find there’s extra money magically left in your account each month. That’s money you can use to build your dream.
This is a rare virtue. But, it serves the dream builder well. The Brexit vote last week put many investors into panic mode. The DOW dropped nearly 1,000 points in two trading days. A presidential candidate declared Americans had lost millions from their 401k’s. Patience, though, would tell you that you didn’t lose that money unless you were trying to sell your investments. Patience would give you perspective to remember that after the financial crisis of 2008, came the beginning of a 7 year Bull market in 2009. According to research from Fidelity, if you moved to cash in 2008, you got about a 2% return from 2009-2011. If you stayed invested, you got around a 50% return in that same time frame. And, if you stayed in, AND kept adding money to your investments, you gained an average of 64%. If you replace patience with panic, you do the wrong thing, at the wrong time, for the wrong reason.
I am fond of relaying the reminder I adopted from Chris Hogan’s best selling book, “Retire Inspired.” Chris tells his readers to write down, “I am the CEO of my retirement.” I wrote it on a sticky note, and placed it on my desktop monitor. It reminds me every day that no one else will build my dream. It’s up to me. But, like any good CEO, I have to delegate. A successful dream builder recognizes his or her need for help. That help comes from a financial advisor who has the heart of a teacher, and acts as your guide with your dream as their goal.
- Risk Taking
There are four ways to deal with risk. You can ignore it, accept it, manage it, or transfer it. Successful dream builders don’t shy away from risk, but they pick the right way to deal with it, at the right time. That’s where a plan comes in. GenWealth is committed to personalizing your plan to meet the risk head on in different ways, depending on your needs. Our advisors can use a program to analyze your level of acceptable risk, and match it with a portfolio that fits you
As great as this country is, for most of its history the idea of building real wealth and having the time to enjoy it, has been non-existent. Retirement meant you were either dead, or no longer physically able. Most people didn’t live long enough to think about having both time and money. It is an opportunity afforded to few in all of human history. It’s worth the effort to get the most out of it.