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Rules that Guarantee Financial Independence

Written by Dian Herdiana on 7:32 AM

By Bill Lee

If you want to win the lottery, you first must buy a ticket.

This simple rule is no more simple than the rules for guaranteeing that you achieve financial independence; that is, if financial independence is important to you. My dad instilled in me that I should rely on no one -- certainly not the government -- if I wanted to live in my old age as well as I had lived when I was working.

There was a time when many workers in my age group thought that we could depend on Social Security to fund our retirement, but today we all should realize that possibility is unrealistic.

There is one simple rule for guaranteeing your FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE: Start Early. While it is relatively easy to secure your financial future when you start building your next egg while you’re in your twenties, it’s next to impossible if you wait until you’re in your fifties to start, but regardless of your age, begin immediately.

You don’t have to be a financial genius to be financially independent; I am living proof of this fact. But you do have to develop the discipline to follow a few simple rules. I learned these rules from the very best and the very brightest. These rules are FREE. Follow them and your financial future is virtually guaranteed.

1. The secret to financial independence is the understanding of the basic principle of COMPOUNDING OF WEALTH. If you don’t grasp this principle, you will most likely have to win the Powerball Lottery to be independently wealthy.

The main key to financial success is forcing yourself to live on 80% to 90% (10% reserved for giving and 10% for investing) of your take-home income and invest each month the 10% that you didn’t spend.

As an example, the stock market has increased at a compounded rate of approximately 11% per year over the last 100 years. So $1,000 invested in, say, 1963 (my first year in the work force) would have been worth $88,897 by 2006.

Even if I had invested just $500 (10% of my take-home pay in 1963), that investment would have been worth $44,449 in 2006.

Now, think about what you'd be worth if you invested $1,000 every year between your present age and 65 years of age. Wow! Becoming financially independent is really easy when you start early.

Go to for a compounded calculator and do the math yourself.

Could this principle be any clearer?

Is this enough said about the power of compounding of wealth?

Here are some more rules:

2. Minimize your investments in assets that depreciate.

Automobiles, as an example, are essential for most of us, but they are lousy investments. A new car or truck that costs you $25,000 will depreciate approximately $2,500 to $5,000 in the first year of ownership. Those of us who feel the need to drive prestige cars, i.e., a Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, etc., will suffer $5,000 to $10,000 a year ($400 to $800 per month) in depreciation.

If you can live with driving a pre-owned car, you’ll reduce both the investment itself and the portion of your investment that disappears via depreciation each month.

Other examples of depreciable assets are furniture and clothes. No matter how much you pay for these two assets, they will be worth next to nothing after just a few days of use.

3. Maximize your investment in assets that appreciate.

Over the long haul, most investments in real estate, i.e., your home, stocks, bonds, etc., will grow in value. So if you can discipline yourself to maximize your investments in these kinds of investments and minimize your investments in “fluffy” kinds of assets, you’re much more likely to realize financial independence before it’s too late.

4. Do your very best to pay cash and except for a first mortgage on your home, AVOID DEBT. This means paying off your credit cards each month, paying cash for furniture and automobiles, etc., to avoid unnecessary interest expense.

5. Establish a personal spending budget and live within it. There is no better tool for controlling spending and living within your income than developing the discipline to live by a spending budget.

When many people begin their business careers, and begin for the first time to generate some discretionary income, they go a little bit nuts. They spend everything they earn and then some. Perhaps the first sign of trouble is when they begin to generate credit card debt that they don’t have the income to pay off each month. So they begin making the minimum payment, paying exorbitant rates of interest and digging a deeper hole for themselves each month.

The first step is to recognize what is happening, but the second step is to force yourself to plan your spending so that it doesn’t exceed your after-tax income. I believe strongly that a budget should include an expense category for both saving and giving. It has been my personal experience that individuals who can discipline themselves to save and tithe (give 10% of your income to the church or other charities) can manage other aspects of their financial lives equally well.

Make sure you have an emergency fund equal to six months of salary as a contingency in the event you were to lose your job or have an equally major emergency.

Hire a fee-based financial planner to assist you with your investments. I use Ron Blue & Company. Edward Jones is another investment firm that has an office in just about every community, large and small:

THE key to successful investing is a broad-based portfolio. Don’t speculate. Don’t try to time the market. Stay invested even when things look bleak. If you miss those rare days when the market rises 300-to-500 points, your portfolio won’t grow at historical compounded rates. NO ONE can time the stock market.

Make sure that you and your spouse are in agreement on an investment plan and the goals for your plan.

Once you and your fee-based financial advisor agree on a plan, stay the course.

Bill Lee is author of Gross Margin: 26 Factors Affecting Your Bottom Line ($21.95) and 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot ($21.95) Plus $6 S&H for the first book and $1 S&H for each additional book. To order, See Shopping Cart at

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