Skip to Content

The 3 Secrets to Being Rich

Is there a secret to having financial wealth, to being rich? Is the secret to wealth complicated? And most important, is the secret something I can use to make myself rich?

The good news is that there are only two real ways to build financial wealth. Both are easy to apply. There is a third way to become rich that builds wealth fast and creates a much bigger pile. We’ll save the super-charged wealth building secret for last.

If you read social media or the news feeds, you would think having money is some complex,10,000 step process only the lucky and gifted can conquer. It gets people to click, but provides bad advice or worse. I have worked with thousands of people over the past four decades and have seen countless examples of how people build a large net worth and the habits of those who don’t. I boiled all the details into two categories I call offense and defense.

Let’s get started.

A plan and strategy is a sure way to wealth.

Offense

The fastest way to grow financial wealth is on offense. Offense is defined as earning money. A power-offense is the ability to make large sums of money quickly.

Those good on offense have the ability to earn a high salary. Business managers, business owners, and people with unique skills in high demand, think IT, are good examples of high income jobs. Business owners with a comprehensive plan and excellent execution skills are the prime example of a good offense.

The biggest drawback on offense is the lack of control. Not everyone can command a large salary or run a business. Most people prefer a profession where the pay is good and the work satisfying. Unless you have an aptitude for IT or medical, the super-high paying jobs are limited. And even then, the high income can evaporate.

None of this should hold you back from playing offense at the highest level you can. Plumbers, for example, have a pay scale. Within a range, plumbers can make a bit more or less than the average plumber. There is nothing wrong with conducting your affairs in a manner that pushes you to the upper end of the pay scale. Small offensive plays can have a profound effect on your wealth.

It also needs to be said that you may want to seek a promotion within your profession. This is a fast way to get a bump in offensive monies. Our plumber can work to be a journeyman, as an example.

You are not limited to your profession, either. We all start somewhere and entry level jobs is where plenty cut their teeth. Regardless your current employment, training for a new, better paying, occupation pushes your offense further onto the opponent’s side of the field. Caveat: Only pursue a new profession that interests you. If money is your only motivation you will trade money for happiness as you play the Chump’s Game. A Chump’s Game is unsustainable.

There is one more way to play offense, but it takes time.

Plowing those high earning into investments is a must. Failing to follow this advice puts you one accident or layoff away from starting over, or worse.

As you build your investment portfolio, it slowly takes over your offensive playbook. Before long, your investments will throw off more income than your mind or body can earn. It’s a good place to be.

Need an example? There are a small number of stocks your favorite accountant purchased in the decade after graduating high school in 1982. Those stock investments now throw off dividends every year in excess of the original investment!

More evidence? The Dow Jones Industrial Average was was around 800 in June of 1982. Today, as I write (March 18, 2024), the DJIA closed at 39,226. In my adult life (and I’m not even full retirement age!) the DJIA climbed almost 50 times. The S&P 500 went from ~120 to 5208 over the same time period, a climb of over 43 times.

Offense does take a plan and a bit of luck. That is why we will now turn to defense, where the odds are in your favor.

Control what you can. Focus on the important.

Defense

It is easy to think all rich people get that way by earning a lot of money. Not true. Most wealthy people engaged some level of frugality. You can outspend any income. But, if you spend just a bit less than you earn you are on your way to the life of your dreams. Increase the margin between income and spending and you increase the speed of wealth accumulation, plus shorten the time necessary to reach financial independence.

Frugality needs a definition to prevent frugal behavior from spilling into cheap behavior or outright stupidity.

Example: Frugal is biking, walking, or carpooling to work. Cheap is carpooling without ever offering to drive or contributing gas money to the person driving. Outright stupid is driving to work and neglecting to change the oil in your car.

A frugal idea that makes the rounds often is the latte factor. Before long someone points out that $5 a day for coffee isn’t going to make you rich. True. But!!! It’s not the $5 for a cup of coffee that will do you in; it’s the mindset that allows you to do it in the first place. You see, once you start building poor money habits they tend to grow. Before long you are on the hamster wheel running faster and faster, going nowhere fast. Make your own cup of coffee!

The one massive advantage defense has over offense is control. There is a limit to the control you have over your income. Spending, on the other hand, is completely (or at least more so) within your control.

Of course, there are things you should spend on or risk the “driving the car without changing the oil” consequences. Important medical treatments are a priority. An even higher priority is your health so you don’t need so many medical treatments.

Yes, you need a roof over your head. However, the type of roof varies widely. Housing is a serious issue in many geographic areas.I never said it was easy. But it has to be done. Housing takes a big bite of the household budget so serious planning is required.

Depending where you live, a vehicle might be a necessity. Buy only what you can afford. Vehicle loans are toxic to wealth creation so avoid like the plague.

Nutritious food is a must to stay healthy. If possible, you can grow some of your own food.

In most situations, the basics in life are not what kills you financially. It is the latte factor mindset. Dining out is more expensive so do so sparingly until you are uber-rich. Impulse purchases, status symbols, and wasting assets put serious hurt on your wealth creation efforts. Avoid them. Want to impress someone? Impress yourself with a large investment portfolio.

Most people in the top 1% are people you would not expect. They look normal. They don’t drive expensive cars or wear designer clothes. They actually look boring in some ways. Wealth does that to a person. The lower stress associated with no debt and high level of liquid net worth eliminates most forms of anxiety. So much stress is related to money issues and is self-inflicted. This stress is unnecessary. You might even improve your health by living within your means.

Defensive behavior turns into offense eventually. Frugal habits serve you a lifetime and are one of the greatest gifts you can teach your children. Wanting less is the secret to true wealth.

As unspent money accumulates, your investments begin throwing off an income stream of their own, just like it does for those playing power-offense. Before long the income stream exceeds the income from labor. A very nice place to be. The best part? When one is frugal it is easier to reach the threshold where passive income exceeds earned income. And the passive income keeps right on growing.

Don’t know where to start your frugal journey? Here are 31 frugal ideas to help you take control of your life. You can build from this solid base.

A good defense is a good offense.

The Best of Both Worlds: The Third Secret to Getting Rich

There is a rare beast that plays both offense and defense really well. These people knock it out of the ballpark by such a margin that they end up in the top one-tenth of one percent.

You might think someone like Elon Musk would be one of these people. He isn’t. Musk plays such aggressive offense he either blows away the charts or burns in flames. It takes a certain personality to live that way.

Warren Buffett might be the poster child for massive offense and power defense. Buffett’s frugality is legend. With a $100 billion net worth he still uses coupons when available for a purchase he planned on making anyway. He drives a used car and lives a simple life. No wonder he is so wealthy.

You don’t need to be one of the 10 richest people on the planet when playing both sides of the ball. A mere 8-figure net worth is still serious money. You would be surprised who in your community has these kinds of financial resources. Some of these people played excellent offense and probably did so as a business owner. Why a business owner? Because a business owner can get large amounts of cash to invest from the periodic large business transaction; plus there is a natural, built-in frugal requirement for business owners. The business owner needs working capital so the successful in business practice some level of frugality.

You don’t need insane offense and defense either. If your goal is to move from zero to sixty, the fastest way is to keep your foot on the gas for offense and another foot on the brake when it comes to spending. This dual activity has a powerful magnifying effect and is available to anyone, from all income levels and levels of current wealth. Plowing those excess funds into passive investments make offense easier every day.

It is easier today than at any time in history to build serious financial wealth. And wealth today buys stuff that matters! Modern medicine can keep us healthy and for longer in most cases, if you can afford the cost. We can travel the world via a variety of modes for a modest amount of money. Those riches walk quite a distance these days.

Think about money in terms of offense and defense. Build a plan and work the plan hard. I can’t tell you what career you should pursue. That is up to you. What I can do is encourage you to grow in your chosen profession.

The same applies to defensive behaviors. There are many ways to frugal. I have a love for books and always have. My budget has a line item for books. You will have a thing or two that is so important you don’t want to give it up. Just make sure you keep wants to a minimum.

Life is better with fewer wants. Less disappointment that way. Less stress, too. Best of all, you get to know the real you, perhaps for the very first time.

Now do me a favor. Get rich!

Donald

Thursday 21st of March 2024

"Life is better with fewer wants."

That is such a true statement but lived by so few people. This year I set a goal of living on $40k or less as a means to prove I could stop working if I wished. I have simplified my life a great deal and it has been quite nice. I feel very little stress and any stress I have is stress of my choosing.

Mary

Wednesday 20th of March 2024

There's a LOT to be said about being able to sleep at night.