Let me introduce two of my favourite books - The Millionaire Next Door and Stop Acting Rich, both written by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley. The main theme of the books is that you can’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to personal wealth. The author has spent many years researching the typical life of a millionaire, which goes against many misconceptions that people still have today. In Stop Acting Rich, Thomas defines a group of people he calls "aspirationals," as people who choose to act rich, but don’t have the financial resources to back it up. They are typically high income earners but aren’t wealthy, and are low net worth individuals with little savings. Aspirationals often spend exorbitantly beyond their means (think luxury homes, country clubs, BMWs, Rolex watches, and the like) just to appear rich, leaving them vulnerable to losing everything should their financial positions turned for the worse.
Gold is often described by many as the “barbarous relic” of the past. It’s a favourite phrase of gold-bashers everywhere trying to make gold the object of derision. Even legendary investor Warren Buffett criticized gold this way: "It gets dug out of the ground in Africa or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head." Gold not only doesn't earn you interest, you even need to pay storage cost for your gold. Furthermore, many speculators got burnt speculating gold. The long-term total returns of gold are not that fantastic and therefore should have discouraged most investors.
Indeed, gold is one of those investments that attracts extreme viewpoints. Are there still good enough reasons to include gold as part of your investment portfolio? Or should you just forget about investing in gold altogether and focus on other investment vehicles instead?
Debt is bad! At least that's what most people think. Are they correct? If not, is debt good then? Well, it really depends. Whether debt is good or bad depends on the reason for incurring the debt, and whether you can afford to repay it.
Debt is a complex concept. If you use debt carelessly and irresponsibly, you'll get into financial trouble. On the other hand, if debt is used in a calculated and intelligent manner, it can help you build tremendous wealth. Therefore, you must be able to distinguish between good debt and bad debt if you want to be successful financially.
What is the difference between good debt and bad debt?
Ever wonder why most people are not wealthy? Without a doubt, people would love to have some extra money. Better still, they want to have enough money so that they never need to worry about finances again. However, given the opportunities that most of us have in the countries we live in, why is it that many people can’t achieve financial freedom and retire young?
Investing is about making money grow over time. The earlier you invest, the more time you let your money grow. Time is critical because of the miracle of compound interest. Compounding means you gain returns not only on the money originally invested, but also on the interest it earns. With the power of compounding, a small investment made earlier in life could generate a larger amount as compared to a big investment made later in life.
You stand to gain much more if you invest a smaller sum of money now and stay invested for a longer period of time than waiting until you have a bigger amount of money to invest later. Therefore, it makes sense for you to start investing as soon as you can afford, and as early as you can. To illustrate, say you invest $10,000 at 12% returns compounding annually. At the end of 10 years, you'll have about $31,100. At the end of 20 years, you'll get $96,500. If you stay invested and take out the money at the end of 30 years, you'll gain close to $300,000!
You need to invest your money for your wealth to grow. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to become rich. I have not come across anybody who becomes rich just by saving money. The fact is, if you don’t invest your money for some decent returns, you will become poorer over time because of inflation. With inflation at work, the value of money decreases as things get more expensive. Hence, the purchasing power of your money decreases over time. With the low interest rate offered by banks that hardly covers inflation most of the time, can you afford not to invest your money? It is crucial to invest your money at some point in your life to be financially prudent.
Ready to invest your money? Let me highlight five important factors to consider before you start investing.
People are getting more health-conscious nowadays. Their growing expenditures on gym memberships, fitness equipment, health supplements, organic foods, etc. are testament to this fact. Surely, it’s not difficult for you to find health-conscious colleagues and friends around you. While people are concerned about their physical health, they don’t really pay much attention to their financial health. Most people don’t have the habit of conducting regular financial health checks for themselves. They simply don't care, or don’t really know how to and where to start.
Recently, I was going through my financial statements and realized that in 2011, I incurred expenses of more than $1 million dollars in cash within 11 months! Now, you must be wondering whether I had been jet-setting around the world, purchased a sparkling new Lamborghini, or bought an exotic holiday home. No, no, no, I did none of these! I spent the money on another 3 new investment properties to expand my property portfolio instead.
Am I crazy? Well, I didn’t regret my decision as all the 3 properties have appreciated in value since with a combined value in excess of $2.85 million. What’s more, the additional properties have been generating good rental yields for me since 2011. Would you call anyone crazy if he or she spends a million today for an asset that brings you cash flow and could increase significantly in value in the future? You probably would invest every cent that you have on that asset, wouldn’t you? However, no one has a crystal ball to tell if a property would rise in value or would fetch good rental returns in the future. The truth is that many people get burnt in buying investment properties. Really, most people don’t make it in real estate investing. They don’t succeed in making money out of their properties as they are not doing the things that should be done, and the reason is they don’t know what should be done in the first place!
Kelvin Wong is a millionaire investor, author, and landlord in 3 countries. He currently owns a multi-million dollar property portfolio in Singapore, Australia and Malaysia. With his assets generating multiple streams of income to sustain his desired lifestyle, Kelvin became financially free at 39. He holds a Bachelor of Business (Dean's List) degree and a Diploma in Business Management. Kelvin writes about building wealth and achieving financial freedom in his free time.
Copyright © 2011 Kelvin Wong
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