Friday, July 24, 2009

The 7 Baby Steps to Wealth (first 1 to 3)

I like to share the 7 Baby Steps to Wealth:

1. Save a mini-emergency fund of $1000.
This money is for the true emergency -- doctor, unplanned car repair, sudden insurance dues, etc -- it is not emergency pizza money or vacation money or shopping money. This money is your buffer against Murphy's Law.

2. Pay off debt. Better yet, do NOT even use credit cards or get into debt as a "smart financial tool".

Debt is the BIGGEST mistake of financial life, even if it's just $100 or $500, especially credit card debt. It becomes addictive and a quick solution to everything. I advise you to pay CASH for everything. How? By saving for things. When you use credit cards, you will overspend because you don't feel the pain of giving out money. Instead of a $10 lunch, you will charge a $25 lunch with a big tip on a credit card. So avoid using credit cards -- instead use CASH or at least, debit cards.

Example: Mozart as you know, was one of the best and famous composers, a child prodigy from age 4. But, did you know he lived a miserable life of constant debt? Why? He was ignorant in the ways of money, and had a habit of trying to impress his peers with his spending. He died at 35. Do NOT follow his example. Intelligence and child prodigy does not mean financial smarts sometimes.

3. Create a 3 to 6 months of expenses savings. This is the full-sized emergency fund to replace Step 1. I realize if you are someone in college, you don't have much expenses regularly. This is the BEST time to start this habit. If you spend on movies and food and clothes, your monthly usage is very low, so create a 3 month spending cushion.

If you are starting your career, begin this lifelong habit. Company firings / layoffs are getting more common. By the time you have a family, this is a MUST-DO. You will have your spouse or your kids depending on you and this 3 to 6 month emergency money to live on.

(AGAIN, this is not your vacation money or shopping money - be sure to save it in a CDs or hard-to-get place.)

So I have share steps 1 to 3. I will add steps 4 to 7 next. Within these 7 steps will be the paths to the other financial tools insurance, investments, etc..

For now, let's keep it simple.

Each step must be completed, before you can graduate to the next step. Do #1, then #2. You cannot do these steps in parallel.

Be well and prosper!

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