Wealth Building Rule 1: Find a Financially Compatible SpouseYour biggest obstacle to attaining wealth is often found right at home: It's yourself and your spouse. Too often, people live their lives in a manner that is not conducive to creating real wealth and then get frustrated at "the system" when they only really have themselves to blame.
One of the most important financial decisions you will ever make is marriage (more specifically the person you marry and the timing of your marriage). True, love is not rational, but you're going to have an enormously difficult go in life if the person you expect to be there holding your hand is constantly frustrating your dreams, ambitions, and goals. You want someone in the same boat you are, working towards the same agenda. If you are seeking an early retirement, he or she is there helping bring in extra income or clipping coupons to put more money away to compound. If you want to stay out of debt, he or she isn't shopping behind your back or secretly charging on a credit card you don't even know exists.
This isn't a new lesson. It's been around since antiquity: A house divided against itself cannot stand. A good marriage can radically accelerate your wealth building prospects (in fact, according to the research of bestselling author and academic Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, self-made millionaires are far more likely than the general population to be, and stay, married to the same spouse for life).
Wealth Building Rule 2: Recognize That Debt Is a Habit That Must Be BrokenWith a few notable exceptions, debt is a form of bondage; a disease that enslaves the borrower. A few years ago, there was a high profile story in the news of a young lady attending college who shot herself because she couldn't pay back $2,300 in credit card debt. Although an extreme example, it is a testament to the power money has over peoples' lives. Imagine your life without owing anyone anything; your car, your house, your education, all paid for in full. Like what you see? When you want it badly enough, you will make extinguishing your debt your number one priority.
Does that seem impossible? It shouldn't be. In the United States, most people don't have any significant credit card debt. Likewise, nearly 1 out of every 3 homeowners has no mortgage against their property; they own it lock, stock, and barrel, without a payment in sight. Why does this seem surprising? It's a phenomenon called stealth wealth. Psychologically, when people are handling their affairs responsibly, they don't want friends or family to approach them asking for money or to treat them differently so they are unlikely to discuss their finances in public. For those of us who work in finance, it's shocking to see how surprised most people are when they learn that 1 out of every 25 households in the United States is a millionaire. That's the cold, hard, data-supported fact. Yet, people don't believe it because they have no idea that their great-Aunt Bertha has silently been buying up shares of Procter & Gamble for decades, or their cousin Bob has 40+ years of municipal bonds shoved in a bank safe deposit box.
Wealth Building Rule 3: If You Don't Like Where your Parents Were at Your Age - Do Things DifferentlyThe old cliché that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results," holds just as true today as it did when it was originally written. If you don't like where your parents were at your age, stop what you are doing. During your childhood, they taught you all they knew about money. For many people, these early years established how they feel about their finances today. In order to become financially successful, you must do something different than they did. Otherwise, you will end up exactly as they are.
Wealth Building Rule 4: When you Begin a Job, Look at the Pay of the Highest EmployeeWhether you are looking for employment now or are thinking about it sometime in the near future, one of the most important things for you to do is to look at what the top-dog gets at any company for which you are considering working. This will give you an idea of how high you can expect to climb in terms of earnings and promotion. If the CEO is making $30,000 a year, you have no chance to make six figures. Select a job accordingly.