With the proper mindset and a willingness to listen to the advice of those who have already made their fortunes, most of us can greatly improve our chances of becoming financially secure. Let’s look at some examples of the latter.
“Financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this” – Dave Ramsey
US businessman and author, Dave Ramsey has an estimated net worth of $55m. Most readers in the UK won’t have heard of him. Nevertheless, the quote above neatly encapsulates the need to avoid spending unnecessarily if you’re to become financially free.
Taking on board Ramsey’s advice doesn’t mean consigning yourself to an ascetic lifestyle or refraining from having any fun whatsoever. It does, however, involve undertaking a sober evaluation of what you can and can’t live without (iPhone X and all). And if your outgoings are larger than your income, you’re doing it wrong. Turn this around and put any remaining cash to better use in the stock market.
“Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas” – Paul Samuelson
It’s tempting to believe that all those who have become financially independent did so by betting big on a single company or asset. Certainly, there will be a few people who have managed to do this, most recently with Bitcoin. What you don’t hear about, however, are the many investors who have taken extraordinarily high risks over the years and lost everything. It’s called survivorship bias — don’t be a victim to it.
Rather than gamble with your hard-earned capital, you’re far better off investing in a basket of quality stocks, reinvesting any dividends and watching your wealth grow. Financial independence is perfectly possible but very rarely does it happen instantly.
“You get recessions, you have stock market declines. If you don’t understand that’s going to happen, then you’re not ready, you won’t do well in the markets” – Peter Lynch
Lynch believes that trying to predict what the market will do over the next year or so is a fruitless endeavour; far better to accept that markets will regularly correct, occasionally crash and eventually recover.
The pursuit of financial independence involves accepting that there will be setbacks along the way and that trying to put a date on when you will be completely secure is probably unrealistic. What’s more important is responding appropriately to market wobbles when they occur.
Which brings us to our final quote…
“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest. We have to be more disciplined than the rest” – Warren Buffett
Being successful in the markets isn’t correlated with intelligence and most of the wealthiest investors don’t possess PhDs. What often separates these people from everyone else is their commitment to what they are doing.
Buffett is, of course, the 87-year-old poster boy of value investing. Perhaps more than any other, this strategy requires patience, conviction and a willingness to zig while others zag. The only way of doing this consistently is to have discipline and buy the stocks everyone else is jettisoning from their portfolios. Being wholeheartedly greedy when others are fearful can be truly life-changing.
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Paul Summers has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.