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How do I get richer with low income

It may seem like the only way to get ahead is by having a high income. While it can be advantageous to have a high income there are plenty of individuals with high income and no money to speak of i.e., are perpetually in debt.

There are several simple things you can do to improve your chances of building wealth, regardless of your income level.

Focus on the savings side of the equation.

Far more important than having a high income is the difference between your income and your savings rate. As mentioned above a high income is meaningless for building wealth if you spend heavily. And this is common. We naturally have a propensity for increasing our spending as our income increases.

Let’s face it there is many things we can buy. And we want to impress others with our possessions.

We often also underestimate just how powerful saving can be, especially over a long period of time. A bit more saving today can mean a lot more wealth in the future.

Remove others from the equation.

Get away from wanting possessions to impress others. Other people are not as impressed by possessions as you think they are.

Ensure you don't compare yourself to people playing a different game from you. Maxing out their credit cards to buy an expensive wardrobe to fit in (a tangible effect) may be appropriate for a new starter at a high-end law firm but not for a new teacher! Also, the guy bragging about his risky market bets might come from money. There may be little repercussion should he lose it all.

Don’t compare yourself to others. They have their own circumstances, beliefs, background etc. They might also be playing a very different game from you.

Change your mindset and alter the equation.

Ask your yourself do you want to be rich or wealthy? Sounds like a meaningless question, right?

Rich is what you see. The cars, the house, the possessions. Rich people tend to flaunt their money. Showing it in very visible material ways.

Wealthy people on the other hand can be hard to spot. And this ties back to savings. Wealthy people know not buying stuff today gives them mover options in the future. Building and maintaining wealth should be your goal.

Also change your mindset to the long-term. The longer you make your investment horizon (timeframe) the greater your eventual wealth. Time is the most powerful force in investing and you should consider it your greatest asset when planning your wealth journey. Time, when combined with compounding interest and returns, makes small amounts big. It can flatten the bumps along the journey. The reward for allowing time to do it’s thing is a consistent path towards real wealth.  

How long is your horizon? Your 30 (insert whatever age here) so you’ve got 35 years (insert number of year until retirement age 65 here) until you retire and withdraw all your funds right?

No.

You should aim to become a lifetime investor. As long as you are correctly invested in investments that suit your risk profile there is no reason you can’t remain invested well past retirement and simply draw from your investments while still earning returns (which may even outstrip your drawings allowing your investments to continue appreciating into retirement!) 

Don’t forget to include the human component in the equation.

When we think about finances it’s easy to think spreadsheets, numbers and percentages. These are ever present but the human element of creating wealth should not be understated.

Firstly, be kind to yourself. You will stumble, you will make mistakes, and you will have some awful years with atrocious returns (2022 anyone?). Make sure when you look over your finances and your plans that aren’t too hard on yourself. As stated in earlier time is your greatest asset. Looking over the long-term you’ll find that missteps and poor returns are evened out by the great decisions made and the splendid returns earned. The world is volatile place. As I write this inflation is 6.70% and has been consistently high for some time (thanks Covid). You may not always be able to save or invest as much as you’d like. You may even have to withdraw some invested funds to help pay the bills. Be kind to yourself. This isn’t failure but simply part of the ups and downs of the journey.    

Leave yourself margin of error / wiggle room. Investing won’t deliver a consistent return year on year (it just doesn’t work that way), things will cost more than you anticipated, sometimes you won’t be able to save in a period as much as you had hoped, and life will throw you a curveball.

Leaving yourself a margin of error is good practice for dealing with when things go awry. Having wiggle room in your plans, projections or goals will help you be kind to yourself when things don’t fully according to plan. Baking in a certain margin of error, or using conservative estimates for future projections good practice for financial planning.  

Get help with the equation.

I don’t mean a math tutor I mean get a financial adviser. But I’ve got low income I can’t afford a financial adviser. I guarantee you can afford a McKenzie Financial Planning adviser because I designed our pricing to remove on the greatest barriers people have to getting a financial advice: affording it.

You can read more about our pricing on our website (https://www.mckfp.co.nz/what-we-do/). Enough self-promotion.

The reason to get an advisor to help you get richer is they can help with things like investments, savings, budgeting etc. (well obviously).

But more importantly they can help you avoid pitfalls that will send you backwards on your financial journey.

Things like:

  • Poor investments,

  • Poor market confidence (nervousness about market trends or outlook) leading to poor decisions (like exiting the market at a poor time),

  • Poor savings consistency leading to dramatically less wealth long term,

  • Poor commitment to your goals meaning you end up off course or not meeting them,

  • Poor discipline leading to impulsive decisions which will more often than not lead to poor outcomes.

All add up to feeling poor (the opposite of feeling wealthy which is what we’re aiming for).

If you can avoid the above points your future (wealthy) self will thank you.


unrelated writers note: doesn’t the word ‘poor’ look odd when you see it written so many times in quick succession?


The above blog was written by Reid Mckenzie a financial adviser working for Mckenzie Financial Planning (www.mckfp.co.nz).

The above information is general in nature as is not meant to constitute personalised financial advice. Reid recommends seeking personalised financial advice from a registered financial adviser before making financial decisions.