I have been a financial planner for quite some time now. There are a lot of things that are very easy to understand about planning and there are many other aspects that are incredibly complex. At least when you are starting out, by focusing on the basics and doing them well, you can get a tremendous jump start on your future.
Here are a few of the best tips that I have heard over the years:
1. You will not get rich in the stock market. You will get reasonable rates of return, but that will be over a long time horizon. People get rich in one of four ways: They inherit it, they make it in real estate, they make it by owning a business, or they save a tremendous amount over a long period of time. Do not overestimate the stock-market returns and understand how it works. Develop a reasonable investment strategy, stick to it and over time you will do fine.
2. Save -- no matter what. There is always a reason not to save but successful people do the right thing on a consistent basis. Often the best time to save is when times are at their worst. Looking back on 2008, the greatest returns in your portfolio are from dollars invested during that market downturn.
3. What is your plan B? "Plan A" never works and you need to make sure you have something to fall back on. Most successful people have not had everything go their way all the time. They know that no matter time and preparation that they do, things will never go exactly as planned. Having other alternatives that you can use to make the plan work is the key to being successful.
4. The tortoise always wins! Success is not the result of one great action and it is not a one hit wonder. It is about consistently doing the right things on a regular basis. The individual that gets in early, takes additional training and education, and consistently works to make themselves better in all aspects of their lives (family, friends and business) will beat the person who is more sizzle than substance.
5. Get the smartest people to work with you. My goal is to be the idiot in the room because that means I'm in the right room filled with very bright people. Every major decision I make I run by my advisors and associates first before I do anything.
I just put an offer on a building and prior to that, I ran the numbers by my accountant,
6. I have saved more money by saying "no" than by saying "yes." Not all deals are great ones and anytime something doesn't fit what you are good at, it is better to walk away and live to fight another day. Getting involved with projects that don't fit your core strengths generally is labor intensive, mentally exhaustive, and, more likely than not, you will lose you money.
7. Understand the "reasonable range" for anything. Someone offers to sell you a brand new Porsche Turbo convertible. "Zero to 60 -- in 3.3 seconds. It has a seven-speed power-shifting transmission with 520 horsepower and 524 pounds of torque. The list on it is around $160,000 and I can get you a brand new one for around $80,000 ... what do you say?" If you say "I'm in," then you are going to be ripped off for $80,000! People get themselves in a lot of trouble when they get away from reasonable ranges. Generally, deals that seem to have no risk are the riskiest, and investments with guaranteed large returns generally will guarantee that you lose money. I am not saying that there are not great deals out there, but if it is being proposed to you, really do your homework and due diligence.
I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazingly talented people over the years and they have given me some tremendous opportunities to learn from them. People make things way too complicated. These rules are simple and will make your life a lot easier!