I had a childhood friend who was enthralled with money.
While most of our circle was debating baseball stats, he was more concerned with earning money. Most of us never thought far enough ahead to guess that he would become successful, but he did.
Looking back on things it should have been obvious, but as kids, we simply didn’t think in those terms.
After high school, as most of our friends were working in menial jobs or in college, he was making significant money in the tech industry.
As he moved up the ladder, his spending kept pace. He was surrounded by other high earners, and it seemed very few of them valued frugality.
As our group of friends has aged and moved into real careers, few of our incomes have caught up to our high-income friend. He has worked hard and is well deserving of his income.
One thing has changed though.
While many or our group will never match his income level, most of us have moved past him from a net worth perspective.
We used to tease our friend about how much money he made; now we tease him about how much he likes to spend.
There is a major fallacy in the financial world that most people believe.
This fallacy is the idea that that high income means wealth. Most people see high-income earners and make the assumption they are also wealthy.
People who have high incomes tend to run in circles of people who also make money. These rings tend to compete with one another in material possessions.
This is not a recipe for building wealth.
Not all high-income earners mismanage their income, but many do.
The big paycheck tends to lull people into a sense of security. Most Americans, in general, have a paycheck mentality, those who build wealth think in terms of building sources of recurring revenue.
I remember one time having lunch with my high-income friend. He asked a question about the incomes of those who seek financial advice.
The question revealed that he assumed only high-earning corporate types could afford or needed financial help.
I spent a long time explaining that most of my clients never made six figures. They are simple people who lived below their means.
These types of individuals can usually save hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, in preparation for retirement.
I recommended my friend read the book “The Millionaire Next Door.”
This book addresses many myths surrounding wealth. It displays very well that most people who like to put their wealth on display don’t have much wealth.
I earned permission from my high-earning friend to write this column by winning a bet. A few friends and I will share some laughs about this column, but this is a topic about which I feel strongly.
If you don’t spend less than you make, you are in trouble.