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Short and Sweet Summary: You don’t have to pay a financial adviser to learn the easiest method to achieve wealth. When you conquer this one simple concept you’re well on your way.
I’m going to let you in on the biggest, best-kept secret to achieving wealth. A simple, no-brainer path to financial abundance. You don’t need a financial adviser to help you with this one. Or a million dollar portfolio. It’s so simple a monkey could do this.
Don’t spend more than you earn.
End of story.
Wow. I just solved our country’s financial crisis without reforming taxes or cutting essential program spending.
Grief Spending Doesn’t Make the Pain Go Away
How many times have you justified that expensive new purse or fancy watch as a way of coping with your grief? Grief spending is a thing. The temptation to spend ourselves into oblivion to compensate for the excruciating pain is REAL.
I also hear lots of people say they don’t want their kids to “go without.” They want to give their kids more than they had as a kid. It’s even harder sometimes for us widows who want to make it up to our kids for the debilitating loss of a parent. We sometimes want to just buy our kids stuff to make the pain go away. But, buying stuff doesn’t take the pain away. No single, sure-fire “fix” for grief exists. We can’t get in debt up to our eyeballs to try to make ourselves or our kids feel better. It just doesn’t work.
According to NerdWallet, “today, the average household with credit card debt has balances totaling $16,748, and the average household with any kind of debt owes $134,643, including mortgages.”
That is a crap-load of debt. No one can achieve wealth on any spectrum with crushing credit card debt.
Seriously, folks, this ain’t rocket science. You shouldn’t spend money you don’t have. Just because you have a credit card, it doesn’t mean you should finance crap you can’t afford and get into a debt spiral of grief spending. I’m not against credit cards. I use credit cards. But, I pay my balance off in full each month. Even though I use credit cards to pay for things, I think of my spending in terms of cash. If I can’t afford to pay cash for something, I can’t afford it. And neither can you.
You and your kids will be fine without the “stuff.”
Determine Wants Vs. Needs to Achieve Wealth
My kids have food, clothing, and shelter so they are clearly not going “without” anything. Of course, they think they are put upon and abused because they don’t get the latest gadgets, toys, basketball shoes and designer label clothes. Which is why we commonly discuss wants vs. needs. We need things like food, clothing, and shelter. Those are non-negotiables. I have to pay for those.
Wants are another matter altogether.
For example, I wanted a new bike this spring but I didn’t actually need one. My 23-year-old bike still worked even though the brakes squeaked. But I really, really wanted a better, newer, upgraded bike.
So what did I do?
I sold some shit on Craigslist. Because Craigslist buyers will seriously buy anything. Man, I can’t believe some of the stuff people buy! I inventoried things we no longer use in our basement and garage (framed mirrors, keyboard, portable grill), slapped some posts on Craigslist and sold $500 worth of junk to buy my new Electra Townie.
Yippee! I didn’t finance it. Or pay exorbitant credit card interest rates. I paid cash. Well, I put it on my credit card for the points, but paid off my credit card balance with cash. You know what I mean.
When the boys were younger I wanted a new dining room set because we had a glass-top table and it was impossible to keep the glass clean with grubby little fingers touching it every day. And it was wrought-iron. I stubbed my toes on that sucker more times than I could count. Ouch.
I didn’t need a new dining set but I wanted one. So, what did I do?
I sold some shit at a community garage sale. Baby and kids’ stuff is a hot commodity.
I went back to the community garage sale year after year until I saved enough to buy the dining room set I coveted from the Ballard Designs catalog. It only took me four years, but I didn’t feel one ounce of guilt for buying an expensive dining set because I didn’t dive into the family funds at all.
I even sold the old wrought-iron, glass-top dining set on Craigslist!
Learning by Example
Kids learn by example. They will develop their fiscal responsibility by watching you and your spending. Teach them good habits by not spending more than you earn. Don’t allow your grief or their grief or anyone else’s grief to trick you into spending habits that leave you in financial trouble.
Whenever my son decides he wants a new fishing rod, reel or lure he has to figure out how he’s going to earn the money to buy those things. Between birthday and Christmas money or his spring umpire earnings, he manages to work it out. If he needs a new pair of shoes he knows I’ll pay for those unless the shoes cost more than the price limit I set for shoes. In which case he either asks to do more chores for money or digs into his fishing fund to make up the difference.
He used to willingly spend his money on shoe upgrades, but I think he’s learned over the years that his money could be put to better use somewhere else. Spending the extra money on shoes he outgrows in a matter of months is not really a good return on his investment. He had to learn that lesson on his own, though. Using his own money. Not mine.
Our house is a no-grief-spending zone.
Widow Wrap Up
Achieving wealth is as simple as making more than you spend and investing or saving the difference.
You don’t have to pay for this advice or spend hours scouring financial literacy websites for more information. It’s simple math. You shouldn’t spend what you don’t have. Credit card debt is crushing the American household. Credit card interest rates alone can add over $1300 per year to average balances. That’s a pretty steep price to pay just for the convenience of using a credit card. Ouch.
Managing spending is the best method to achieve wealth. It forces you to learn the value of a dollar. And it’s an awesome lesson you can teach your kids about their own financial independence.
Are you grief spending or saving? Please share in the comments!