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Updated: April 15, 2024 5 Things

5 Things I know about ... Still overlooked money basics

Despite the volume of financial information, the importance of going back to basics cannot be understated.

A woman with dark hair wearing a white shirt smiles at the camera.
Emily M. Sricharoenchaikit is principal of Zen Wealth Advisors in Marlborough.

5) Every dollar earned is worth celebrating. How any person earns income is deserving of dignity and self-worth. There are jobs that pay little and jobs that pay a lot, yet any job done well warrants a sense of pride. Rank-and-file employees who work hard and are proactive about finances can retire just as well as the owner who pays their wages.

4) Habits are ingrained. Building wealth and living off wealth require a shift in mindset, which does not happen overnight. It often takes some coaching and guidance for someone who has been an excellent saver to suddenly start spending in retirement. Understanding how to automate income, how it will be taxed, and whether it is enough are the most frequent questions I encounter.

3) Risk is in the eye of the beholder. Risk can be measured in a bevy of ways, however; the real measure is subjective. The most effective way to measure risk is to understand how a client perceives loss. Once that threshold is determined, you can build a sticky portfolio to persist over time.

2) Real wealth is rarely what you see. The biggest house and latest car model are not prime indicators of long-term financial well-being. The wealthiest people I meet live modest lifestyles and use each dollar to pay down debt or put toward an appreciable asset, like real estate, the stock market, or a business. They wear normal clothes, drive modest cars, and are usually straight shooters. They know what they need to live a fulfilling life and focus their time around high-quality people and constantly learning new things.

1) Markets change, but timeless truths remain. The market outlook for 2024 is focused on when the Federal Reserve will lower rates, and next year it will be something different. It has never been so easy to participate in the market, with the advent of fintech and countless apps allowing you to invest with a swipe on the phone. Yet, the ways in which to build long-term wealth have remained unchanged: invest early and often, and live within your means. It’s not easy, but it’s simple and requires patience.

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