How do you define wealth? The standard definition is wealth is “a large amount of money and possessions.” But consider this definition: wealth is the difference between what you are earning and what you are spending.
Most of us want to be rich because we think it’ll make our financial problems will go away. Sadly, research disagrees. A study by the National Endowment for Financial Education estimates that 70% of people who unexpectedly come into large sums of money end up broke within 7 years.
A 2015 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates about 15 percent of NFL players are bankrupt after being out of the league for about 12 years. A 2009 article in Sports Illustrated revealed that 60% of former NBA players are broke within 5 years of retirement and 78% of NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress within 2 years of retirement.
Why does this happen? The problem is a lack of basic financial skills: If you don’t know how to manage money, it won’t matter how much you have. Your habits are what contribute to financial success or failure.
When people without those skills suddenly come into more money, they often increase their spending correspondingly. They haven’t learned good financial habits nor practice the financial restraint that wealthy people have to hold onto and, most importantly, grow their money. Being rich means you have money. Being wealthy means you know how to keep it.
The good news is that if you earn a living wage, you can change your financial habits and create personal wealth. Cut back on needless spending, and start buying based on needs versus wants — for instance, getting a reliable used car rather than a brand new sports car.
By curbing your spending even just a little, you can begin to develop personal wealth and habits that will continue to serve you as your income increases.