The oh-so-simple secret to building long-term wealth

Deadline Calendar Means Target and Due DateKJ: And…the oh-so simple secret to building long-term wealth boils down to a few basic concepts: time and patience. That’s it. Take patience, and add in a little bit (or a lot a bit) of time, and voila!

The inspiration for this blog came when we stumbled across a Motley Fool video some time ago that really emphasizes this point in further detail, but the reality is that it is that simple.

Time
The longer time frame you have to accomplish your goals, the more comfort you can have in knowing whether you will accomplish them. Not only do you have a longer period of time to actually save TO your goal, but if you’re investing your money, then it means you have time to weather the markets.

We’ve written about this concept a few other times too on starting your savings while you’re young. Check out one of our prior posts for some startling numbers on why it’s so important to save early and let time be on your side!

Patience
Most goals you set are not very short-term. In fact, most of them are probably very long-term goals when you think of purchasing a home by building up a down payment, retirement (that could be 20+ years away), children’s education (that could be 15+ years away). Keep in mind that getting to those goals takes years, so don’t get frustrated if you’re making what seems like slow progress. Check up on your goals periodically and how you are doing: it’s a good way to not get discouraged and to actually see the progress you are making.

If there’s one thing that markets do, it’s that they ebb and flow. Some years will be great, some will be terrible, and others will be middle of the road. In fact, you probably will have very few “average” years. Learn early to take the panic out of investing and try to keep as level-headed and analytical a view as you can. Endure the ebb, so you can be part of the market’s subsequent recovery (flow)!

Making any investment should not be a whimsical decision. Whether you’re investing in your own “human capital” (i.e. an investment in yourself), buying bonds, or buying stocks it can take some time to realize the fruits of your labor/analysis. Keep patient and don’t react instantly. Sure, if fundamentals change or new information comes to light it may make sense to change course, but if your thesis hasn’t changed and the fundamentals are still there, don’t panic in a moment of uncertainty!

Get Your Plan on Track
With such a simple solution to build your wealth over time, why wait? Start creating those good saving habits early in your life, and it will have a compounding effect over very long time periods. The younger you start saving and investing, the better! There’s always going to be something that you could say “let me get past this month, and we’ll start next month.” Learn to get your expenses in check with a handy-dandy budget tool, and start maximizing what you save each month.

So what’s stopping you from getting your wealth kick-started?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The oh-so-simple secret to building long-term wealth is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

Are you working like the job you want to get paid for?

3D Business Man Going UpstairsKJ: This post is dedicated to those of you who are career climbers in your organization – do you get paid for the job that you do now or do you work like the job you want to get paid for? It’s quite the philosophical question when it comes to your job for the people you hire (if you manage people) and for your outlook on your own career. They’re vastly different points of view. One implies that you get paid for anything and everything you do. The other implies that you prove yourself of sorts to be able to get paid for the job you ultimately want and for a job well done.

Why wouldn’t you get paid for the job that you do?
Sure, that sounds reasonable, right? I mean, come on! Under what scenario would someone not get paid for the job that they are doing? I bet if you asked your friends, though, each one could come up with a list of 5-10 things that they do each week that’s not a core part of their job description or “what they get paid for.”

AJ: I loathe people who say “that isn’t my job.” Keeping your job is your job, right, so how can anything you’re asked to do NOT be your job? Be known as a do-er and what you’re doing now probably won’t be all you’re doing for very long because do-ers get noticed!

KJ: So, how do you transition to a philosophy wherein you work for the job that you want to get paid for? Here are a few ways to re-frame your perspective and expectations.

Understand you’re not where you want to end up
The current job you have is likely to be a lower point (pay or responsibility – they don’t always go hand-in-hand!) than where you will be in 10-15 years. If you’re a driven person, then the career and role you hold today is likely to be but a low man on the totem pole for what you want out of your career.

Prove your worth to the people around you
Volunteer for tasks, projects, or assignments. Don’t just sit idly by and assume that someone is going to hand a better position or increased pay to you on a silver platter when the time is right and you’re perfectly ready. Sometimes you have to take a little risk and step out of your comfort zone when the right opportunity comes along. There’s a lot to be said for someone who takes action and steps up when no one is asking.

Prove your worth to the people outside of your office
Whether it’s directly related to your line of work or through your favorite volunteer organization, try to go the extra mile in showing your value and commitment to the overall team – wherever that may be. Most things these days have little to do with the individual themselves, but more so on the progress of the overall team.

Prove your worth to the people inside your office
If your team members are floundering, then find a way to help motivate them to step up their game. Sometimes just a little notice of encouragement goes a long way to really building the morale of your team, so you can feed off one another’s drive and successes to make your organization better. Keep in mind that the whole of the organization can be greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Be professional
You never know when an opportunity will arise and knock on your door, so being professional in all your encounters will work wonders for the doors of opportunity that will open along the way.

    Do you get paid for what you do?
    Do you work like it’s the job that you want?
    What motivates you to push yourself just a little further to take initiative?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Are you working like the job you want to get paid for? is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

Is your time worth as much as you think?

Time is MoneyKJ: Have you ever sat down to actually figure out what your time is worth? Time is one of the scarcest resources, and it’s one that you can never get back. Knowing the trade-offs of what you are missing out on (often called an “opportunity cost”) can go a long way in understanding how you bring balance to your life and evaluate a purchase (whether significant or not). Let’s start with a simple calculation:

What is your yearly take-home (or family’s take-home)?
This should be relatively easy. For those of you that are salaried, the number is pretty easy to calculate – just add up your income from this last year.

For people with irregular incomes and uncertain bonuses, don’t put a whole lot of weight to those lumpy income payments. Instead, try to take a 6-18 month average (depending on just how variable your income can be) leaving out some of the larger bonuses/commissions/irregular income payments as applicable.

The 2,000 hour rule of thumb
Under both of these methods, simply divide the income number by 2,000 (the approximate number of hours worked by someone who is full-time at 40 hours per week). So, if you made $20,000 last year, your hourly rate is about $10 per hour. If you made $50,000 last year, your hourly equivalent is closer to $25.

Back out taxes
Now it’s time for the not-so-fun part. Take your number from above (sounds nice, doesn’t it?), and subtract out your taxes – boo! If you’re in the 15% tax bracket, then simply take the number from above and multiply by 85%. So, if you made $25/hr then your after-tax would be $21.25. If you’re in the 25% tax bracket, multiply by 75% ($18.75 if we continue our example). Don’t forget the impact of Social Security, Medicare, and state taxes (if that applies!) which could all take another 10%+ off your take-home pay! What you thought was your real take-home pay per hour could be significantly lower.

DIY or hire-it-out
Now that you have a quick rule-of-thumb of what your typical hourly-equivalent rate is, it might help you think about purchases in a different light – or hiring out that project instead of DIY. While I’m all for doing as much as you can yourself, there are definitely times when your time may be better spent hiring out a professional who will (1) have a better idea what to actually do, (2) has experience in doing it error-free (or as near error-free as you can get), and (3) who can do it far more quickly than you could accomplish it.

Even if the project is quite basic, maybe you would spend $400 worth of your time when you could have hired it out for $300. If instead the numbers were flipped, and it would have taken $200 worth of your time, yet you would have had to hire it out for $300 then maybe the hire-it-out option doesn’t make as much sense.

Money you have is different than money you could have
Clearly not all decisions are based on the fact that you could be working and generating income while the person you hired is completing the task. You may need to factor in some non-monetary considerations as well like needing a break – there are only 24 hours in a day!

Particularly if you live in the salaried world where extra work doesn’t quite relate directly to your take-home, the decision might not be quite as easy. It could boil down to whether you could be building your marketable skills for future (unknown) income opportunities – i.e. investing in your human capital – to be able to increase your hourly-equivalent rate in the future. Surely that’s worth something!

Use this to calculate any purchase
If the purchase of [insert product name here] is going to set you back $200, and you’re hourly equivalent after taxes is $20, then it would cost you 10 hours of work to pay for said item. It’s a good way to ask “was my hard-earned time for 10 hours really worth this purchase?” That’s about 25% of your entire week’s work…framed that way, your answer might differ.

This can be an exceptional way to really balance your wants and your needs for that good old budget of yours.

    Have you thought about how many hours it would take you to pay off something?
    Did it sway you into making the purchase or did you realize the purchase wasn’t worth it?

Image courtesy of hin255 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Is your time worth as much as you think? is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

Maximizing your major purchases

Labor Day Shows Holiday American and Patriotism
AJ: If ever there was a year of saving, this has been the year of spending on larger purchases and home improvements for us. Despite my best efforts we’ve spent a lot of money on major purchases for our house, so needless to say, I’ve been putting off replacing our washer and dryer despite their major flaws. A few weeks ago I finally declared my hatred for these builder-grade monsters and started researching our options. I’ve been so busy at work that I completely missed Labor Day’s approach, so last week when someone mentioned the Monday holiday I knew my washer and dryer problems were about to be solved!

As we look at major purchases I always say that I don’t want to purchase the same item within the next 10 years. Spending $400 now and $400 in 5 years on middle of the road appliances is not better than spending $800 on appliances that come with a 10 year warranty. Earlier this year we ponied up big bucks for a Miele vacuum and it hurt at the time but that thing has made my cleaning life so much easier, and I know it’s built to last so for me it’s worth every penny to purchase for quality and lifetime value than price.

Last year we purchased an entirely new kitchen of appliances on Labor Day and saved big with sales and rebates. This year’s options were almost as good, but keep in mind that buying in bulk costs more but often results in bigger rebates and better negotiation leverage. Appliances might as well be cars at local places, they’re all commission-based sales people and you hold all the cards, so negotiate hard and don’t be afraid to ask for the price you want.

So this year after I realized Labor Day was coming I spent more than a week researching and shopping, so I knew what I wanted and I knew what everyone’s regular prices were. All I needed to know was what they’d offer once the holiday weekend hit. Honestly, this took more effort than I expected. One local retailer had a $50 rebate that I couldn’t hunt down from Home Depot, Lowe’s or Best Buy even after calling each company’s customer service team and LG’s but when you add Cardpool.com to the mix, our local guy just couldn’t beat the total price and I had to forego the $50 rebate and go with our friends in orange.

If we had purchased the washer and dryer two weeks before Labor Day, each would have been $899. The week before Labor Day, both went to a special price of $678.60 for a total of $440.80 off, almost 25% savings. THEN we saved another 10% by purchasing electronic gift cards through Cardpool.com (still, our favorite site for most every major (and many non-major) purchase! Since you can use gift cards on the entire purchase, you’re technically saving 10% off your grand total which means you’re paying less in tax, too. On top of all of that, I signed up for Home Depot mobile alerts and got a $5 off $50 so it breaks down like so:

Had I walked into Home Depot at the beginning of August my purchase would have looked like this:

    - washer and dryer: $1,798
    - sales tax: $148.34
    - grand total: $1,946.34

Doing it my way (the ONLY way, unless you hate saving money) on Labor Day:

    - washer and dryer: $1,357.20
    - sales tax: $111.97
    - grand total: $1,469.17
    - purchased $1470 worth of Home Depot gift cards from Cardpool for $1,323

Total savings by doing it my way: $623.34 – wabam! Irrefutable proof that doing your research pays off in a big way.

    Will you be making any large purchases this Labor Day?
    What are your cost savings secrets?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Maximizing your major purchases is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

Is it more stressful to not have an emergency fund or to spend one you already have?

Locked Piggy BankKJ: If you don’t have an emergency fund, the answer to you may seem simple, but once you’ve built up that emergency fund, then when it comes time to actually dipping into it for an emergency – yes, that’s right, an emergency – you may find that your answer to the question isn’t so simple!

Before we go any further, if you don’t have an emergency fund (or don’t have an adequate one yet), then read our prior post on why you need an emergency fund, so you can get on track sooner rather than later. That’s priority numero uno.

If you do have an emergency fund – go ahead and pat yourself on the back whether you’ve made it all the way to build it up or you’re still working on it! – then the chances are you have been faced with this question before. A tree falls on your house, your car breaks down on the side of the road, or you have a sudden medical complication that has your head running in a tailspin as you try and calculate all the numbers and expenses that are coming your way.

Spending your hard-earned savings can be stressful
It can be quite difficult to psychologically part with any of the money you’ve built up. You spent your hard earned time building it up, so when it comes time to deal with the actual emergency itself, you may find yourself cutting your expenses further for the month rather than wanting to dip into your savings. I mean, if you can still make it work and not really cause your budget to be completely turned upside down, then why not? The sense of accomplishment of making it work within your month is quite rewarding to know that you were able to take the challenge head-on.

Once you spend it, you have to work to build it back up
An obvious issue, but part of the reason why it can be so difficult to spend that hard-earned cash. Hopefully if you’ve been good about your emergency fund, once it’s built up, you just redirect the savings to additional retirement savings or to other longer-term investment savings. So, if you have to build back up the emergency fund again, then you may just need to revisit your priorities on whether other savings amounts will need to be adjusted.

It’s always a moving target
Hopefully over your career you are increasing your income as you build up your skill-set in making yourself marketable to employers. If you simultaneously increase your expenses while your income soars, then you’ll find that your emergency fund needs will soar to new heights as well! All the more reason to just keep your expenses low and to ratchet up your savings, not your lifestyle.

You get accustomed to your new normal
You get used to watching your emergency fund as a nice little addition to your net worth. Whether that’s $5k, $10k, or $20k+, parting with any portion of it means your net worth takes a hit. And who likes to see their net worth decline? You get used to seeing it build over time that you hate to have a period of time where it dips some. Sometimes though it can be the push you need to try and find creative ways to make money the weird way like we did this last month. I mean, everyone needs a little inspiration here and there to innovate, don’t we?

    Have you had to dip into your emergency fund before?
    Did you have to fully-fund the expense from the account or did you cover some of it from your budget?
    Was it difficult to build up the emergency fund again?

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Is it more stressful to not have an emergency fund or to spend one you already have? is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.