Building solid, long-term wealth takes time
As a baby boomer generation member, I can recall feeling an incredible sense of pressure as a young person in the 1960s. There were so many of us with whom to compete. Unlike now, there were more looking for work than there were positions.
I thought I had to rush right through college and graduate school and get after it! Not many were taking any time off, whether to find themselves or just to gain experience. Notable author Dave Ramsey was one who hit the ground running hard during college and afterward, building a real estate portfolio worth over $4 million by age 26. The rest of his life has been spent in teaching Biblical financial principles based upon his bankruptcy in 1988 two years later.
What are some of those principles? Proverbs 13:11 (English Standard Version) says, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Ecclesiastes 11:2 counsels, “Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what disaster may happen on earth.” Another truth that I learned the hard way personally is, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender” – Proverbs 22:7. 1 Timothy 6:9 warns those who desire to be rich.
These principles should make a difference in how we work, save and invest. Is it wrong to become rich? No. The primary questions that make the difference deal with the how, the why and the consequences of wealth. Right now, it is easy to see the meteoric rise in stock prices of certain tech giants and begin to believe that the trend will last forever. It will not.
While the S&P 500 is dominated by those few and consequently has performed amazingly, many of the smaller companies, internationals and other investments have provided mediocre if not poor results for investors in the past several years. Therefore, if one practices proper diversification, he has generally not enjoyed the highest possible growth of money.
By the time more and more people jump on the train, the trend will be closer to its end. This usually happens after a climax rise in the indexes. More people begin to borrow money on margin to invest.
In 1986, Congress passed a revision of real estate tax law that was supposed to raise some billions of federal government revenue. Instead, the result was the killing of the savings-and-loan industry, bankruptcies like that of Dave Ramsey, and folks like you and me paying over $500 billion in federal spending to make the whole mess go away.
The key to long-term success with your finances is to learn to be content with what you have, be careful with the financial commitments and investments you make, and to do so with the longer term in mind. Whatever else, do not try to get rich quickly. There are all sorts of reasons why investments fail or your plans do not succeed. The tortoise always wins the race with the hare in the end. We just do not know when or why in the end. Now in my late 60s, I know that all good things develop properly in good time.
Ron Finke is president of Stewardship Capital in Independence. He is a registered investment adviser. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.