Why the pennies you’re saving for later could be better spent now.
Just as you help patients revolutionize their preconceived notions about healthcare, so too should you transform your own ideas about wealth and business growth.
Entrepreneurs—like anyone running a business—must adjust how they think about money. This begins with redefining “living within your means” and how that concept affects your daily decisions. No one shrinks his or her way to wealth. But you can grow your way toward financial prosperity if you think about it differently.
Many people believe that, if they’re frugal enough, they’ll eventually become wealthy. The whole philosophy of Thomas J. Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door is if you avoid spending money over time and live cheaply enough, you can die a millionaire. The problem is that someone else inherits your money and very well might blow it within a few years, especially because they didn’t work hard to earn it. The person who made the money misses out on the enjoyment of life.
Don’t focus on retirement as your motivation for wealth. Focus on today. People only start dreaming about retirement if they don’t enjoy their current life, or if they find their practices too demanding and think that the only road to prosperity is to save, sacrifice, delay, or defer. Being a cheapskate isn’t fun, and it leads to becoming, at best, a miserable millionaire. This attitude won’t help you build memories or a life.
Turn the system on its head
In many ways, “live within your means” is sound advice. It’s good counsel. Don’t spend more than you have. Don’t create so much debt that it drowns you.
But there’s more to living within your means than that.
If you ask a roomful of chiropractors what it means to live within one’s means, most would immediately say: “budget, cut back, and reduce.”
It shouldn’t be that way. Capitalize on more effective and powerful ways to live within your means: Become more efficient with what you have. Think in terms of cash flow. Target areas where you may be wasting money such as
- overpaying taxes, insurances, or investment fees;
- not having the right credit score or loan structure; and
- failing to negotiate better interest rates.
In many cases, 10 percent or more of an individual’s income is inadvertently leaking to financial institutions or the government because he or she doesn’t have adequate financial savvy or information at hand. Or you may be suffering from an unresolved incident that’s still affecting your credit report, because you don’t monitor it closely enough.
To live within your means, don’t spend more then you have. But more importantly: Be efficient and smart by taking home more of what you already make. This can be a game-changer. It’s not about reduction; it’s about production. Ask yourself how you can
- deliver more value,
- serve more people,
- solve more problems,
- hone your skills, and
- become irreplaceable at what you do.
The real investment
When you’re focused on your strengths, you produce more and you can make more, an outcome that subverts the typical personal-finance advice to save and invest. Often, such advice comes with heavy incentives for those who get paid to render the same fiscal guidance to everyone, regardless of whether it’s in an individual’s best interest.
Many financial advisers don’t look at the individual as the asset or teach people to invest in themselves. Worse, they’re telling people that, one day, it’s all going to get better—at retirement—if they just live within their means. Personal finance should also cover improving your budget by making more money.
In the same vein, one of the bigger problems for business owners is letting their accountants make their financial decisions. An accountant’s main interest is in cutting and saving, not producing. He or she may not understand an investment that’s going to pay off. You need to be in control of these decisions.
Invest in yourself, your passions, and your abilities. The wealth transfer will favor those making the biggest difference, and ruin those who only focus on cutting back. Scaling down will, ironically, cost you a small fortune. No one got rich just by saving on taxes. You want increased spendable cash that you can put back into yourself and your business today.
Garret B. Gunderson, a lifelong entrepreneur, is a financial advocate to chiropractors and engages in a vitalistic financial philosophy to assist DCs in creating sustainable wealth. His company, Wealth Factory, helps entrepreneurs navigate personal finances and investing. He wrote the New York Times bestselling book Killing Sacred Cows. Get a signed, hardcover copy at freebookforchiros.com.