According to Warren Buffet, one of the world’s wealthiest men there are only two things that count when it comes to understanding wealth. Rule number one is, never lose money, and then rule number two is, never forget rule number one. It really is one idea, a big idea that is supposed to be the difference between financial success and failure.

I’m going to break this big chunk of an idea into smaller bite-sized pieces that you can nibble on until you can trace your line to success in your finances:

1. Think Big and picture something inspirational and beyond your current capacity. It should be an idea that motivates you to exert yourself and not one that lulls you into mediocrity. If you set your expectations high and are up for any challenge along the way; you are on the track that will change your financial position for the better. Now although it might help to visualize the dream or identify people whose success you want to emulate. It will be infinitely more productive to choose a big problem that needs solving and focus your energies on creating big enough solutions. Which brings us to the second idea.

I’m going to break this big chunk of an idea into smaller bite-sized pieces that you can nibble on until you can trace your line to success in your finances:

1. Think Big and picture something inspirational and beyond your current capacity. It should be an idea that motivates you to exert yourself and not one that lulls you into mediocrity. If you set your expectations high and are up for any challenge along the way; you are on the track that will change your financial position for the better. Now although it might help to visualize the dream or identify people whose success you want to emulate. It will be infinitely more productive to choose a big problem that needs solving and focus your energies on creating big enough solutions. Which brings us to the second idea.

2. Make a plan. Once your big idea is in place you will need a detailed plan on how to get it done. Keep in mind that massive results are much easier to achieve gradually than rapidly. Big goals require time and a consistent strategy. As Desmond Tutu famously said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

Your financial plan should be a complete picture of your current finances, your financial goals and any strategies you’ve set to achieve those goals. Good financial planning should include details about your cash flow, savings, debt, investments, insurance and any other elements of your financial life. But there is more to this in idea number three.

3. Adjust your plan. Your financial plan should be flexible. It should track your progress, and should be adapted as your life evolves, particularly after milestone events like getting a new job, marriage or having children. Be sure to set goals that reflect whatever changes have happened. 

Your financial plan should be a complete picture of your current finances, your financial goals and any strategies you’ve set to achieve those goals. Good financial planning should include details about your cash flow, savings, debt, investments, insurance and any other elements of your financial life. But there is more to this in idea number three.

3. Adjust your plan. Your financial plan should be flexible. It should track your progress, and should be adapted as your life evolves, particularly after milestone events like getting a new job, marriage or having children. Be sure to set goals that reflect whatever changes have happened. 

These goals must always be SMART- specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. A bad goal would be, I want to be rich, while a SMART objective would be: I want to invest 10% of my income into a low-cost diversified index fund until I am 60 years old.

4.  Automate your finances: Once your financial plan is laid out with your expense and investment commitments in place, the easiest way to stay on top of things is by making the payment process automatic — meaning that you have money from your paycheck or checking account sent to pay your bills or to your investment accounts every month, before you even see it.

5. Spend even less to save more and make bigger investments. One way to do so would be to tweak the 50/30/20 rule to 50/20/30. This budget rule has been adapted by many people in managing their finances. The basic rule is to divide up net income: with 50% catering to one’s needs, 30% on wants, and then 20% goes into savings. The savings would first be committed to creating an emergency fund, then deal with any debt obligations and then eventually probably put toward investment. So, changing this idea to: 50/20/30 would mean that you have less money for the things you want now, but will save more, thus, clear your debt faster and begin investing sooner. 

One of the behaviours that most separates the rich [especially the self-made rich] from others is the emphasis on saving money. Though financial planners may recommend saving and investing 10% or 15% of your income on a regular basis, those aspiring to wealth save 30%, 40% and even 50% or more of their income.

6. Save to Invest. This is probably one of the most important distinctions that qualifies wealthy people. Their money is always being put to work to create more and more. Try and do this as responsibly as you can educating yourself about your best options. For example, if you decide to invest in the capital market; consider the buy and hold strategy.

An investor who uses a buy-and-hold strategy actively selects investments but has no concern for short-term price movements and technical indicators reasoning that a quality product will always appreciate the value of the company, especially in the long run. This is a tried and tested smart way to invest. Warren Buffet has largely built his wealth with this strategy. Buy and hold is a passive investment strategy in which an investor buys stocks, or other types of securities and holds them for a long period regardless of fluctuations in the market.

7. Learn to negotiate: Never miss the opportunity to get the best offer on something especially when you are negotiating for a long-term commitment. Whether it is for a salary, bank fees or a large item purchase like a car or house or even insurance. Taking the time to make or accept the fairest offer can save you a lot of money in the long run.

8. Develop a new skill: carve out a small chunk of time every day to learn a new skill that will increase your value in the job market. Wealthy people share one important trait: they are dedicated to self-improvement. Reading a book about an unfamiliar topic, taking a class or joining a local networking group are great ways to develop a new skill, and keep up with the newest technology in your industry. In fact, learning a new skill could help you land a job that pays better or another one, to diversify your income stream.

9. Build relationships with successful people. Your community matters. It can even affect your net worth. In most cases, your net worth mirrors the level of your closest friends. We become like the people we associate with. It affects how we think, spend our time and money, it decides your priorities, informs your sense of worth and inevitably how much you are worth.

If you don’t know any highly motivated people in your network, branch out and be proactive about making better connections.

These changes, though small, require a single-minded focus on the goal of financial health. Commitment to doing even a few of these things could be what separates you from the financial success you aspire to.

If you don’t know any highly motivated people in your network, branch out and be proactive about making better connections.

These changes, though small, require a single-minded focus on the goal of financial health. Commitment to doing even a few of these things could be what separates you from the financial success you aspire to.

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