Wealth building started young: a key to doing meaningful work.
Greetings from Washington, D.C. where we are suffering through winter’s last gasp, with lots of bluster and daytime temperatures in the low thirties.
So, how about that Climate Change?
Well, federal and state tax filings are not due for another five weeks. But, in order for our CPA to get our returns done on time, we had to complete our tax preparations by this week. And, thank goodness, we finished right on schedule.
Tax prep is terribly procrastinated by the vast majority of people in the American workforce. So too is wealth building, for most of us spend too much — often well beyond our means — and we save too little of our hard-earned income.
I was raised by a father who loved to spend lavishly on himself — fancy cars, expensive clothes, you name it. He was a good and noble man, but he didn’t teach me anything about building my own wealth, because he didn’t practice it. My knowledge of financial literacy in general — and wealth building in particular — didn’t start in earnest until I was into my thirties. But the good news is, we are now in fairly good shape for retirement.
Many Americans, and most Millennials and Plurals (aka Gen Zers) are terrified by the word wealth, because they believe that they will never build enough of it to live and retire well. Others object to the term, because they perceive the whole idea of wealth and wealth building to be an elitist concept that benefits only the top-one-percent.
So, this week, two things happened that drove home the point that wealth building is indeed an important aspect of finding and doing meaningful work — work that, all too often. is high on altruism and not-so-high on take-home pay:
First, my wife visited our local FiveBelow store to buy some sweets. As she approached the counter to pay for her purchase, she jokingly said to the cashier, “Hey, I am doing my part to raise your FiveBelow stock price.” The cashier, a woman in her early-twenties, seemed confused by my wife’s comment. To clarify, my wife added, “we happen to own FiveBelow stock and the value of it has doubled since we bought it. The cashier seemed deflated by that news, because it never dawned on her to invest a portion of her take-home pay in the company or in anything else. But my wife assured her, “do your best to just set aside $100 a month — or whatever you can afford to do — to make your wealth grow by investing in a good stock or, an S&P 500 index fund, the latter which happens to be what famed investor Warren Buffett tells all young wealth-builders to choose.
Second, my wife and I opened a Roth IRA account for our now 17-year-old daughter. It never dawned on us that we could open an account for her so young, but the law allows it and our CPA encouraged it. Our daughter could only invest an amount not exceeding her gross pay from last year’s job at an overnight summer camp, but she did it. When, in the ensuring years, she contributes to it, and also sets aside $100 each month for investment in equities, she will have built a formidable portfolio of investments — some of which she can use for retirement and some of which she can use to supplement her income to do the meaningful work of her dreams.
We believe that wealth building should be a major component of your meaningful work strategy. It doesn’t mean that you will get rich, although there is no shame in that. What wealth building does provide is the means to do the work of your dreams, regardless of its earning potential.
During the upcoming season of The Tightrope with Dan Smolen podcast, we will delve into the idea of wealth building, so that you can empower yourself to meaningful work.
Wealth building should be available to all of us — left, right, and center — and — money-motivated to altruistic. And, it’s never too late to get started.
When wealth building is started young, our best days lie ahead.
DAN SMOLEN is executive producer and host of the podcast, The Tightrope with Dan Smolen. Listen and subscribe to us by keywording “The Tightrope with Dan Smolen” on Apple Podcasts. Also, please rate us and offer suggestions for future guests and topics.
Photo credit: Millennial Savers, iStock Photo.