Here’s a loaded question some people think about from time to time: “Why am I not rich?”
There may be an incident that sparks this question, such as seeing a social media influencer post photos of their new home. You may feel tired after another busy workweek or disappointed by your paycheck, especially once it has been divided to pay for your budget’s expenses. Or you may find yourself reflecting on a lack of financial assets as you get closer to another birthday or the end of the year, and resolving to make next year “your year.”
Rather than continuing to buy lottery tickets hoping to get rich quick, you may simply need to shift your mindset about what it takes to get wealthy. According to experts, there are a few common traits individuals who aren’t rich often share, and some tried-and-true ways to actually make big money.
Why You Aren’t Rich
Individuals who aren’t rich yet often have these traits in common.
When Chloe Elise, CEO and founder of Deeper Than Money, started her company, she could see people had all the knowledge they needed to get ahead with money. The key aspect missing from their ability to build wealth, however, was the mindset.
Elise refers to this as the “bajillionaire mindset” — the amount of wealth you define in order to live your richest, most fulfilling life.
“I truly think one of the biggest reasons many people are not rich yet is because they don’t encapsulate that bajillionaire energy,” said Elise. “Simply put, they don’t actually believe they’ll be rich.”
One of the primary reasons for not believing one can be rich is self-sabotage. This is especially true of individuals who grew up in families where there wasn’t wealth, and nobody talked about money. Elise said it can be very hard to break the cycle and say, “I know I am going to be rich.”
“It’s like the ultimate imposter syndrome. You start to question yourself, ‘What really makes me worthy of wealth?’ or ‘Who do I think I am?!’ These negative self-critical thoughts sabotage our way back to mediocracy because we think it’s where we belong,” said Elise.
Assuming Money Is the Key to Happiness
If I only had a million dollars, my life would be perfect!
I just need to make a six or seven-figure income and then I’ll be financially set for life.
Lauren Anastasio, head of financial advice at Stash, said there are some people who truly believe money is the solution to all their problems.
“There are some people who truly believe if they just had more money, everything would be perfect,” said Anastasio. “However, we see this attitude consistently regardless of how much they earn and achieving higher salaries can actually be detrimental because spending also increases.”
Someone who believes money is the key to happiness, Anastasio said, is more likely to buy things to achieve happiness. As a result, they may be more likely to have credit card debt regardless of how much they earn.
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Keeping Up With the Joneses
How many times have we scrolled through our social media feeds and felt pangs of jealousy seeing acquaintances and even friends sharing photos or videos of lavish vacations, new homes or cars or 5-star dinners? Even if we are happy for these people, sometimes we can’t help but be a little envious. When is it my turn to enjoy the good life?
Anastasio said it’s common for people to use money as a status symbol or associate their self-worth with their net worth. This ties in with the term “keeping up with the Joneses,” referring to the behavior associated with feeling jealous or insecure when it comes to the material possessions or lifestyles of others.
Feelings of jealousy, Anastasio said, can lead to overspending. However, spending too much to appear wealthy can result in a lack of wherewithal to save and build wealth.
Survival Mechanism >>> Leap of Faith
For as much as we may ask ourselves why we aren’t rich yet, Elise said many do have an inner-caveman brain. Our brain loves safety, security and knowing what is going to happen next. This means avoiding danger.
It also means we’re relying on a survival mechanism preventing us from tapping into our best self. The inner-caveman brain will feed us thoughts like the following:
- Don’t accept this new job, even though it’s a promotion. (What if you get fired or laid off?)
- Don’t start a new business venture. (What will you do if it fails?)
- Don’t invest in the stock market. (You’ll lose all your money.)
“As much as mindset comes into it, you have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone if you want to be rich,” said Elise.
Getting Rich: Tried-and-True Approaches
Michael Liersch, Ph.D. in behavioral science and head of advice and planning for Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management, said there are proven ways to make money and get rich. Those who decide to get on this path make multi-year commitments to the idea, are patient, determined, intentional and have a wealth abundance mindset.
Not rich yet? Liersch recommends changing your mindset about these three buckets to reach wealth.
Liersch said to evaluate your non-discretionary and discretionary spending habits, or needs versus wants. He uses the example of everyone in your social circle owning a luxury car. You may see this as a need, or a means of keeping up with the Joneses. However, you just need transportation to get around. This could be on a scooter, a bus or driving a used car.
“People with a goal of becoming rich tend to shift their decisions deliberately with their long-game in mind,” said Liersch. “If you’re the kind of person who spends every raise or tax refund, you are not maintaining a long-game perspective.”
Reaching wealth means re-embracing a childhood practice about saving money. Ready for it? It’s the piggy bank. You’d fill it up with coins and any dollars accumulated via doing chores or receiving an allowance. Over time, you’d have around $20 to $30. It may not seem like much, but this amount can only grow from here if you keep contributing to it.
Liersch said this is how those who aren’t rich yet need to think about saving. “If your intention is to grow wealth, you have to keep in mind small amounts do build up into a substantial amount over time when you are deliberate and consistent about saving money.”
If you find yourself easily frustrated about not being rich yet, well, you may not relish the idea of the timeline associated with proper investments. While it is true it takes a long time to see substantial growth when investing, Liersch said you must trust the process. Compound interest is an investor’s best friend.
Liersch uses the example of someone who saves $50 every month and has invested in the 500 largest companies in the country (S&P 500) for the last 27 years. Your net investment would be $10,923!
“The actual value of your portfolio including all of the growth at the end of the 27 years would have been $80,171 based on dividends and appreciation, which is a 9.67% annualized return!” said Liersch.
This example, Liersch said, demonstrates you can never start saving too early. The key is discipline.
“The longer your money stays invested, the better your chances are of growing your nest egg,” said Liersch. “It doesn’t matter if you add to your savings monthly, quarterly or annually but make yourself a promise to continue to add consistently.”
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