In 1956, Warren Buffett was managing around half a million dollars. He was working from a tiny study that could be entered only by passing through his bedroom.
He handled everything personally: typing letters on an IBM typewriter, filing paperwork, doing his own taxes. And now, he’s one of the wealthiest people on the planet.
This got me thinking about what it means to be resourceful. That if being resourceful can put you on the path to riches, why aren’t more people resourceful?
You probably hear people complaining they can’t save money, or they’re not making as much as they’d hoped, or they will never have enough money to retire.
But isn’t being rich about being resourceful? And isn’t being resourceful just a mindset? Here, let me outline it for you.
Person A: “I’ve tried everything.” Person B: “I asked someone to mentor me.”
Person A: “I bought a $US30,000 car.” Person B: “I bought a $US10,000 car.”
Person A: “I’ll charge it to the credit card.” Person B: “I can’t afford it.”
Person A: “I don’t know how to start investing.” Person B: “I borrowed some books from the library.”
Person A: “I don’t have the money.” Person B: “I found the money.”
It’s usually not the lack of resources available, it’s the lack of resourcefulness that stops you from reaching your financial objectives.
And how do I know this? I used to be like Person A, just going with the flow, complaining how it’s impossible to get ahead.
It wasn’t until I started changing my mindset, rewiring my thinking, that I became more resourceful like Person B. It’s how you get rich.
And sure, what worked for me might not work for you, but I can tell you that 99 per cent of advice you hear about getting rich can be compressed into two rules.
Rule 1: Spend what’s left after investing
It’s popular to say, “I want to be rich.”
People tell me that all the time, so I tell them the easiest way to get rich is to spend what’s left after investing.
They tell me that’s impossible, so the advice doesn’t apply to them.
Yes, I know there are exceptions, but what they’re saying is every single thing in their standard of living is more important to them than what they say they want.
The simple solution? Take a percentage of your income, say 5 per cent, and have it automatically invested. You’ll quickly adjust to living on less.
And over time you can increase the amount you invest to 10 per cent, 15 per cent, even more. According to “The Millionaire Next Door,” the average millionaire invests 20 per cent of their income.
This is how normal people become rich. They understand one thing: small and seemingly insignificant sums of money, invested over long periods of time, can make you rich.
It takes a long time to get rich this way, but you’ll feel like a genius when you finish.
Rule 2: Make big purchases small
A big reason people struggle to save 10 per cent or so of their income is they buy houses and cars they can’t afford.
Of course, people hate hearing they can’t afford something. It’s threatening to their ego.
A friend who owns a Toyota Camry once told me they were tired of being surrounded by Range Rovers when dropping the kids at day care.
“I’m a successful lawyer!”
The social pressure got to them, so now they’re financing a $US75,000 SUV, paying $US2000 per month between the loan, insurance, and gas.
Now, they’re saying they can’t afford to save for retirement.
The same goes for a house. Just because a bank will lend you half a million dollars for a house doesn’t mean you need to purchase a half-million-dollar house.
Look, I’m not saying don’t buy the things you want, what I’m saying is that the reason people don’t have bigger bank accounts is because the idea of spending beyond your means is probably as old as money itself.
It’s easy to go with the flow, valuing what society tells you to value. Usually that leads to overspending and not investing for your future.
And if you can counteract these tendencies, it’s relatively simple to get rich. Be resourceful, spend what’s left after investing, and don’t buy things you can’t afford.
Chris Reining retired from corporate America at 37, and is now an investor, student of life, and writer – though not in that order. You can read more at chrisreining.com
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