You’ve worked hard for what you have. From the time you first entered the school system to your most recent day on the job, you’ve been putting hours of effort into what you’ve built for yourself. You’ve tried to save and do the right things with your money, and you’ve tried to improve yourself along the way.
But you’re not done – not by a long shot. You still have more things to achieve. To build the career you want, save the money you need for a comfortable retirement, and live life as you want to, you need to take the success you’ve had so far and build upon it.
Push in the right direction
Building on your success might mean increasing your earning power by going back to school. Or maybe it means investing your money in a new business and striking out on a new adventure. Or maybe it means working harder than ever to keep climbing the ladder that you’re already on.
Find out which of these things is vital to building on your success. And to do that, you’ll need to know what you want to get out of life. The first step toward achievement is making a plan, and the first step toward a plan is a goal. Imagine yourself in five years, 10 years, and 25 years. What do you want to do? Where do you want to be?
From there, work backwards to create five, ten, or 25-year plans. Maybe you need to go back to school to change your career. Maybe you need to take a sabbatical and write that book. If you’re going to build on your success, you need to make sure that you’re working in the right direction, not building a bridge to nowhere.
Invest wisely and continually
Earning and saving lots of money is great. But unless you’re making millions, you’re probably not going to be able to retire on savings alone (and even if you are making millions, simply pocketing your savings is not going to be the most effective way to maximize your money). What you should be doing is growing your net worth by making your money make more money.
The most effective way to do this is to invest. Start making more use of your tax-advantaged 401(k) or IRA account, and seek a financial advisor’s advice. Money that’s just sitting around is not doing all that it could for your future.
Remember your assets
Money isn’t everything. That’s true in life, but it’s also true in finance. Sure, your personal finances involve a lot of dollars and cents. But they also involve other things, such as your assets.
Assets are things you own that have value. One classic example is real estate; if you own your own home, you should be counting that toward your net worth. And if you don’t own your home, you should consider how much it’s costing you to pay rent to a landlord each month. If you can find enough cash to put down a down payment and can secure a home loan, you could buy a home instead; and, over the years, that could make you more financially secure.
A traditional mortgage isn’t your only option – you may want to bust out an offset calculator to examine the possibility of an offset loan. You also have rent-to-own possibilities and other paths to home ownership.
Plus, homes aren’t your only assets. Make sure you’re keeping track of all of them, from valuable family heirlooms to investment vehicles. Even if you never plan to sell your mom’s antiques, you should have them appraised and insured. Assets have real value, so protect them and keep track of them.
Choose true success
Success is a funny thing. It means different things for different people, and it isn’t always what we think it is. When attorney Howard Fensterman found that he had little left to prove professionally, he expanded his reach by pursuing philanthropic endeavors. Others have found that their volunteering or their activism is at least as rewarding as their career, if not more so.
Follow your passion. You need to be sensible about your future, of course, but don’t let material and professional goals crowd out the passions that are the reason for those very goals. Money is only good for what it can buy or earn you. Professional success can be an end to itself, but it’s also something you seek to achieve financial security and care for your family. Remember what truly matters, and choose the type of success that means the most to you.