Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire? I think we can all agree that having access to 7-figure wealth would put us in a great place financially and would resolve many of the issues we currently face in our lives. While most of us dream of the day we have this amount of money in the bank, unfortunately, most of us will only ever be dreamers rather than achievers and the stats are there to back up this harsh truth. In the United States, only 8% of adults are millionaires, and if you ask me the reason more people aren’t millionaires is because they are letting five things get in their way. What are these five things? Let me share them with you now!
Number 1: Your job
Alright, well we may as well start off this list with a controversial impediment to your wealth which is your job. You see, it’s funny that as we are progressing through our teenage years and move through college, we place an extreme amount of importance on getting an education and acquiring a job thereafter. I know for myself personally, besides acing my exams, the thought of whether I would get a job after college was easily one of my greatest worries. I mean, I had debts to pay and more importantly, I didn’t want to be the only one of my friends still jobless when everyone else got offers after graduation.
Fortunately, for the most part, all of us acquire some sort of position after college and if you’re lucky then that job even relates to what you actually studied in school. So, at this point, all should be well in your financial world, right? Not exactly. Yes, having a job helps start that flow of income but will it make you wealthy? Probably not. You see, unfortunately, most people are so wrapped up in their quest to get an education and ultimately a job that they overlook the concept of the 9–5 lifestyle as a whole. More specifically, they overlook the limitations that exist in the majority of jobs but I’m here to enlighten you today so you can understand why your job may be holding you back from achieving all of your wildest financial goals!
Now, just to be clear, I am not bashing people who work 9–5s. I myself work a 9–5 job because let’s face it, money is money and we all need money to live. I’m simply pointing out why your job shouldn’t be the sole means of how you make your money so here are the three reasons why that is.
First, there’s the issue of time. When you work a 9–5 job, you are working in the time for money model and unless you’ve either developed your own time machine or can freeze time, then your income will always be limited by the hours available to you in the day. Next, let’s talk about control. Ask yourself this question, “do you have control over your salary?”. For most people, the answer to this question is no. Unfortunately, when you work as an employee, your control over getting a raise or promotion is limited. For instance, if you have a boss who dislikes you then your chances of getting a raise declines significantly. Alternatively, if the industry in which your company resides goes through tough economic times then your salary can remain stagnant for years.
Finally, if you do get a raise, how much will it actually be? The average raise in the United States is between 3–5%. Even at 5%, you are barely getting ahead of inflation which means that again your ability to generate more income will be limited and as such getting wealthy becomes a near impossible task.
Number 2: Your emotions
While I can’t tell you the last time I cried, I can tell you that every day, I, like you, experience a host of different emotions. I become happy when I see the sun shining bright outside and I become upset when I realize I didn’t thaw out my food for dinner. While feeling emotions like these are just part of being human, they can impede your financial success.
If you ask me, there are three emotions in particular that can be rather damaging to your financial progression and the first of the three is envy. Let me ask you a question, when was the last time you used social media and didn’t compare yourself with someone you saw online? Perhaps you compared your body to some fitness model or compared the house you rent to the mansion you see someone else owning. In the world of social comparison we live in today, whether you realize it or not, it’s normal to feel envious of what other people possess and quite frankly it’s become second nature. However, just because this feeling has become a regularity in our lives doesn’t mean it isn’t impacting our wallets.
If you ask me, there are only so many times you can see people enjoying vacations, cars or other material possessions before you join in the fun. When this happens, it’s a one-way ticket to financial regression but this is just one of the three ways your emotions will stop you from becoming wealthy.
Next, there’s unhappiness. Let’s face it, life can be hard. Tons of people work jobs they hate, are in unfulfilling relationships or are perpetually worried about money given how challenging it is to get ahead these days. All of these factors lead to unhappiness and one of the most commonly used band aids used to momentarily remedy these unwelcome feelings is retail therapy. For most people, the only relief they have from the darkness in their lives is the 30 minutes they spend scouring Amazon for a new purchase that they think will make them happy. Then, once the shopping rush subsides, they are back to being unhappy and their bank accounts are even further depleted than they were before.
The third and final emotion, and perhaps the one that is the most crippling to your financial success is impatience. If you ask me, being patient is the most important trait one must possess if they aim to be rich. This is because amassing significant wealth takes time. Whether it’s through building a business, climbing the corporate ladder or investing in the stock market, big wins take time but sadly in the world of instant gratification we live in, this is a trait that is becoming rather scarce.
Therefore, if you find yourself feeling any of these emotions on a regular basis then first, ask yourself why that is. Then, assess how these emotions have held you back financially in the past and when you do this, avoiding said emotions in the future will be much, much easier!
Number 3: Saving Money
Growing up, if your parents gave you any financial advice at all, it was probably that when you make money, you’d be wise to save it. This is the advice I myself received growing up and let me tell you, this advice has yet to make me rich. You see, most people grow up with this false impression that if you work for a long time and save your money diligently that you will eventually become rich. Let me share with you a quick illustration of why this will never be the case.
Let’s say that you make $100,000 a year which is already an income that most people never achieve. After taxes and expenses, you end up saving $20,000 a year. You save this $20,000 a year for the next 50 years and what do you end up with? $1 million. You’re rich right? Well, first of all, let’s ignore the fact that at this point you’re probably in adult diapers and barely have the capacity to enjoy that money in the first place but let’s say you’re the most vibrant and in-shape 75 year old on Earth. The next question we must ask is, how much will $1 million be worth 50 years from now. If we assume a 2.5% inflation rate, that money won’t even be worth $300,000 and I think it’s fair to say that while that is a lot of money, it definitely doesn’t make you someone you would consider as being rich. Therefore, while stashing money in the bank is far better than recklessly spending it, it is still not the reliable path to wealth that most people believe it is.
Number 4: Your Education
I still vividly remember the day I graduated from my Masters program. Both my parents and I were incredibly happy. They were happy because they could go tell all their friends their son had a masters degree and I was happy because I never had to study again. Boy, was I wrong. In fact, I think that in the last year alone I have gained more education than I did in all my years of college. I did this by taking online courses, reading books and connecting with business savvy mentors.
Unfortunately, this practice of continuous learning is not a practice that most people adopt after college and is one of the most prominent reasons why so many people struggle to get ahead financially. You see, when you strip making money down to its core, it’s all about adding value. Value can be provided through selling products, offering services but for most people it comes in the form of working for their employer. Unfortunately, most people never increase the value they offer and as such limit their own income generating abilities.
What’s even more sad about this situation, is that most people think that just because they’ve been in a job for X number of years that they deserve to make more money but this simply isn’t true. Think about it this way, would you pay more money for an old, obsolete computer just because it’s been on the market longer than say that brand new state of the art Macbook? Chances are you wouldn’t but still people fall into the trap of ceasing to learn after college and this is only to their own financial demise.
Now, speaking of college, the other way your education keeps you from getting wealthy is by the financial constraints it places on you. It’s no surprise that college charges obscene costs to attend and those costs are only going up. As such, students are having to take on more and more debt to get a degree that is becoming less valuable by the day. In fact, as of 2021, the average American student graduating college left with just under $40,000 worth of debt. This is an incredible amount of money to have to repay, especially when you consider the income issue related to your 9–5 job that we already discussed earlier.
Therefore, if you want to give yourself even a fighting chance of becoming wealthy, you need to do two things. First, ensure you are constantly learning to keep your market value high and remain in demand. Second, find the most cost-effective means of gaining said education and when you do these two things in tandem, becoming wealthy will always remain in the realm of possibilities.
Number 5: Investing
Now, I already told you that you shouldn’t be saving your money if you want to be rich, so because of that, the only other logical choice of how to use your money is to invest, right? Well, the answer to that question is, kind of. These days, most people are sold the idea that if you start early and invest diligently that one day you too can join the 7-figure club. While this is certainly true, as I already pointed out, having a million dollars 50 years from now won’t be the same as having $1 million today and while I hate to be grim, who even knows if you’ll be around to enjoy that money five decades from now.
This is why, instead of putting all your eggs in the long-term investing basket, instead, you need to focus on the other “I” of wealth generation which is income. Let’s face it, you’re going to be a lot happier having a ton of money in your younger years than when you’re old and decrepit which means that you need to start focusing on making more now. I know for me, in addition to my 9–5 job, I have been able to quadruple my income by having a side hustle and a few online businesses that I can run simultaneously. It’s only once you have a significant amount of money to work with that investing starts to really pay off.
For instance, if you invested $300 every month for the next 40 years at 7%, you’d end up with $780,000. Now, let’s say that you started to work to increase your income and were instead able to invest $3,000 a month. Within the same parameters of that last example, you’d end up with almost $8 million which I think could afford you a much loftier lifestyle in your golden years. Not to mention, when you’re earning a larger income over this four decade time frame, you’re able to enjoy your greater financial access while you’re young and energetic and as I said earlier, not when you’re old and in adult diapers.
Therefore, is investing important? Absolutely. However, investing should not be your sole wealth driver because as you can see, it takes a sizable income to really see the financial results you and I both know you really want to achieve!