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Five Wealth-Building Tips Most People Overlook

Written by Neal Frankle on September 19, 2013 in Credit  |   6 comments

Below is a guest post by Neal Frankle, Certified Financial Planner and owner of WealthPilgrim.com. Many people look for wealth in the wrong places. Some mistakenly believe that in order to become financially independent, they have to be early investors in the next Google or…

saving money, budgetBelow is a guest post by Neal Frankle, Certified Financial Planner and owner of WealthPilgrim.com.

Many people look for wealth in the wrong places. Some mistakenly believe that in order to become financially independent, they have to be early investors in the next Google or Apple. Nothing could be more misguided. In fact, by watching your budget and saving money, you can be well on your way to wealth before you know it.

Over the last 25 years, I’ve worked with thousands of wealthy people—and none of them became rich by investing in “the next big thing.”

What I’ve learned from these people (and my own experience) is that there are five wealth-building rules anyone can use to create a financially independent future.

1. Master your budget without wasting time.

If your spending is out of whack, sooner or later you’ll invade your savings and investments, loot them, and turn them into a financial wasteland—no matter how well you invest. To ensure you don’t overspend, it’s important to track your spending.

But when it comes to budget tracking, most people go from one extreme to the other because they think it takes so much time. As a result, they either ignore this process completely or start out as tracking zealots only to give up after a few short months.

I suggested budgeting to some friends of mine, but they weren’t having any of it. According to them, the last thing they needed was another tedious assignment to deal with. I assured them that tracking their spending was really simple and fast and that they could do it in less than five minutes a month by just looking at their bank statements.

Bank statements summarize all of your withdrawals on a monthly basis in one number. And guess what? That’s how much you spend. I asked my friends to simply keep a spreadsheet with a running tally of total withdrawals for each month and to calculate an average. Problem solved.

2. Start now.

You don’t have to be a financial genius in order to start investing, and you don’t have to begin your investing career with a huge wad of cash. Even if you have only $25, get started saving and investing. Don’t be embarrassed by your limited funds or understanding. Build your knowledge slowly, and learn as you go.

3. Destroy your debt.

There are thousands of great posts that can tell you how to get out of debt and stay out of debt. But let me save you some time and summarize for you: Minimize your cost of debt, slash your spending, earn more, and kill your debt.

You don’t need any more information. What you need is massive action. If you want to build wealth, you must pay down credit card debt and student loans. Nobody ever got wealthy by sloshing around in a big debt pit.

I met Lisa 15 years ago. She was 48 years old and had $75,000 in credit card debt. She was disgusted and depressed. I told her she could turn this around, and I encouraged her to cut down on her spending, look for ways to make more money, and get serious about paying down her debt.

Lisa took that advice and turbocharged it. Within six years, she was out of debt and had $75,000 saved. She had to make painful cuts, and it wasn’t easy. In order to get out of debt, she had to take on a second job, but when she retired (last year) she had accumulated $400,000 and was completely debt free. She has a much better future because she was willing to pay the price, roll up her sleeves, and do the work to get out of debt.

4. Build up healthy reserves.

No matter how well you plan, life happens—and it usually has a price tag. Once you get out of debt, make sure you build up a chunky emergency reserve. By doing so, you won’t have to resort to expensive alternatives, such as taking out a loan, when the transmission falls out of your car, the fridge needs to be replaced, or your laptop drinks a cup of coffee it didn’t order.

5. It’s not complicated, but it is hard work.

If you want to build wealth, you are going to have to do the work. You must be willing to do things differently than you are currently. This might seem obvious, but my experience tells me that most people don’t really get it.

Harry is one person who didn’t, and he is someone I’ll never forget. He was a nurse who won a $1 million dollar lawsuit. He quit work at age 37 and increased his spending at the same time, which was a recipe for disaster. I explained to Harry that he needed to start working again and cut his spending—stat.

It took a while, but $500,000 later he woke up. Of course it was great that he got the message, but his life would have been far better had he been willing to do the work sooner.

Building wealth isn’t complicated. It just takes a lot of hard work and persistence. It’s simple, but it’s far from easy.

We live in the “now generation.” Few people are willing to put in the elbow grease and that’s why so few are wealthy. What other tips for wealth building have you found to be particularly helpful?

Author blurb: Neal Frankle is a CFP ® in Los Angeles and the owner of www.wealthpilgrim.com.

The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice. Very practical.

  2. Pam Bongfeldt says:

    This is a good article to START to inspire people to get in credit shape, but it really has no meat on really how to do it. Of course it’s hard work. Everyone knows that without having to read this article. It’s like going on a diet. Everyone knows it’s hard work, but give me a real path to at least get started.

    I’ve been on a personal journey to get debt free and it is taking longer than I planned. Life does happen and after a couple of job lay-offs, I’m back on point. I treat it more like a game. The budget thing is so simple (and kind of fun). Everyone knows what they spend on stuff each month, you just have to actually WRITE IT DOWN. Make a list. It doesn’t have to be a ‘spreadsheet’.

    List your mortgage/rent, phone bill, water bill, cable t.v., credit cards, newspaper subscription, gym membership, etc., etc. and how much you pay each month for those things. Most of them are a FIXED amount each month, so you know you exactly what you have to pay. On the things that vary each month, put an approximate amount close to what you paid last month and tweak it when it’s needed. At the top of your list, above all the bills, put how much money you bring home on your paycheck for a whole month. Subtract all those pesky bills and the amount at the bottom is how much you have left to save and spend. Easy. Just make sure you SAVE some.

    Here’s a huge hint…pay more than your MINIMUM payment due on your credit cards. Really. MUCH MORE. Figure out how much you spend each month on credit card payments right now. Add at least $100 to that amount if you can, and commit to continuing to pay that amount each and every month until they’re all paid off (even if the card company says you don’t have to pay as much). When you get the first card paid off (the one with the smallest balance), take the money you were paying toward that card each month and add that to the amount you’re paying on the next card. Overall, you’re still paying the same amount each month, you’re just paying more and more over time to an individual card. It will shock you how much interest you’ll save over the life of paying off that card!!

    I didn’t make up this method, but it’s just common sense. I’m set to pay off all my debt on Dec. 2014 using this method. (Well, everything but my house and car.) I am paying an additional $100 to my mortgage principal each month and it’s helping me knock 6 years of payments off and save $20,000+ in interest! I just got a new car, so I’m going to play that by ear, but plan to pay extra toward the principal on that, too.

    If you want other more specific ways to help knock down your debt, there’s plenty of free advise online. Just make sure you go to a reputable source for it. Keep check on your credit report!! It’s cheap (or free) to do and it’s well worth paying for if you need to.

    I’m no expert by any means, but I do know you gotta take control and make a plan! I always tell my daughter, “It’s always good to have a plan”. It’s our mantra. It doesn’t just apply to finances, it applies to everything. When she was younger in school, the first time she came home with a ‘novel’ that she had to read, she was daunted by how big it was. She thought it would take her forever to read it. I helped her out by checking to see how many pages were in the book. I told her to divide that number by 7. Then I told her if you read ‘x’ amount of pages each day, you’ll finish reading it in one week. This gave her a clear path and put it into perspective for her and the look on her face was priceless! Then she said, well if I read ‘x’ amount of pages (an amount more than the original amount), then I could finish it in 5 days! She was empowered from that point on. Breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks will make the big picture not so big anymore.

  3. Jeanne Wimbley says:

    I have NOT sen mY credit Report. I paid $15.95 PLUS $16.95 for credit Report AND Credit Score. HOW do I view them both? NOT interested in “Wealth
    Building” or “Saving” I purchased products because A company is trying to extort moneys on FOUR of my personal Credit cards AND my Checking accounts, causing an unknown amount which caused interest ,but my account holders DID reverse unwarranted charges plus interest charged. All my credit cards have 0% interest charge except one–which is 4.99% interest.
    With unauthorized charges I am obviously concerned about my Credit and wish to also know my most credit score, especially since I did totally Close one account. Help me to see facts regarding MY interests. Thanks

    • EFX Moderator, KB says:


      We would like to help you address your matter. If you could please submit your matter/inquiry, along with your legal name, your city/state, and the email address you used for the Equifax registration, to equifaxsupport@facebook.com. A Customer Support agent will respond to you directly.

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