Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I Will Teach You To Be Rich..... Starting With Conscious Spending

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FACT: You cannot become rich wealthy without controlling your spending....consciously. 

I cross out rich because, in my eyes, rich is temporary and is seldom beneficial long term.  Many athletes, celebrities and lottery winners are rich, but if they do not practice conscious spending, then they are not rich for long.

According to a 2010 study by researchers at Vanderbilt University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Pittsburgh, the more money you win in the lottery, the more likely you are to end up bankrupt.  As a matter of fact, according to this study published in The Review of Economics and Statistics, many of them become bankrupt within 5 years of scoring a big win.

The average professional athlete in the United States will make more in one season than most of us earn in our entire lives.  However, according to Wyatt Investment Research, 78% of NFL players, 60% of NBA players and a large percentage of MLB players file bankruptcy within five years of retirement.

Most people's stinking thinking causes them to assume that they are broke because they don't make enough money.  However, according to my research, more money does not fix financial problems.

Of course I'm oversimplifying things a bit.  However, if you read any of the articles or books about the habits of wealthy people with a net worth over a million (especially those who had modest income levels during their working years), you will find that one of the main ways they were able to save and invest their way into millions was to consciously spend on the money they earned, so that a large portion of it could be used to build their wealth.

In chapter 4 of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi focuses on conscious spending.  Although Ramit calls it conscious spending and says that he doesn't use budgets, the bottom line is that he does.....and you need to, as well, if you want to be rich and win with money.  He says that conscious spending is deciding where you want to spend your money up front, instead of spending it on random things here and there.  Deciding what you don't love and are not that important to you, so that you can cut back mercilessly on those things, in order to have money to spend luxuriously on those things that are important to you.

So here are the steps that Ramit suggests to create a Conscious Spending Plan:

Step 1: Create 4 major buckets where your money will go. 

Step 2: List every expense that you can think of that falls under the 'Fixed cost' category and fill in the dollar amounts for each.  A good rule of thumb is that your fixed costs should be 50-60% of your take-home pay. 

Once you've gotten all your expenses filled in, add 15% for unexpected expenditures or items you may have overlooked.  According to Ramit, a flat 15% will cover you for things you haven't figured in and you can get more accurate as time goes on.

Once you've got a fairly accurate number here, subtract it from your take-home pay.  Now you'll know how much you'll have left over to spend in the other categories.  Plus, you'll have an idea of a few targeted expense areas that you can cut down on to give yourself more money to save, invest and do the other things you love (See how this kind of sounds like a budget to me?).

Step 3: A good rule of thumb is to invest 10% of your take-home pay for the long-term.  For the record, long-term investing typically means 401(k), Roth IRA and other retirement-type savings vehicles

Calculate the amount and automate it.

Step 4: Short-term savings could be things like Christmas gifts, a vacation, a wedding or a down payment on a house.  This should be no more than 5-10% of your take home pay.

Calculate the amounts for the various accounts and automate a separate savings account for each.

Step 5: Feel free to spend whatever is left on whatever tickles your fancy!  If you want to use that money to invest more, do it.  If you prioritize travel over early retirement, hit up every country in the world.  Sky is the limit!  You can spend guilt free because all of your obligations are already taken care of. (Word to the wise: Just don't overdraft)

I should mention that if you don't make enough to fit in these to categories, you need to do one of two things:
  1. Find a way to cut back some of your expenses.
  2. Find a way to make more money.
Ramit offers some great ideas in his book on cutting expenses, negotiating higher salaries and freelancing.

Read my previous blogs for more information about Ramit Sethi's, I Will Teach You To Be Rich.  Below is an outline of the topics covered in previous chapters and a link to my blog post about each chapter/topic.

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