74% of Americans Think They’ll Never Have a High Net Worth. Here Are 5 Ways to Get There

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You might manage to grow more wealth than you’d think.

Key points

  • Your net worth is the sum of your assets minus your debts.
  • There are steps you can take to boost your net worth, keeping in mind that net worth tends to grow over time.

Your net worth is something you might think about from time to time, especially if you’re the type to do your fair share of financial planning. If you’re not familiar with the concept, net worth is simply the sum of your assets minus your debts.

So, say you have $10,000 in a savings account, $20,000 in an IRA, and a $300,000 home you own. That’s $330,000 in assets. However, if you owe $200,000 on your mortgage, that needs to get subtracted, which leaves you with a net worth of $130,000.

Generally speaking, net worth tends to rise as you get older, though it may peak at a certain point in time (say, right before retirement) before gradually shrinking back down. In a recent survey by Personal Capital, 74% of US adults said they’ll never achieve what they consider to be a high net worth. But if you follow these five steps, you might enjoy a different fate.

1. Live below your means

If you consistently spend your entire salary, you won’t give yourself a chance to grow wealth over time. So instead, set up a budget that carves out plenty of room for savings purposes. If, for example, you bring home $4,000 a month after taxes, limiting your spending to $3,500 a month is a good way to work toward a respectable net worth.

2. Keep taking steps to grow your income

The more you earn, the easier it becomes to save. Make an effort to grow your job skills and go after promotions so your income keeps rising over time.

3. Avoid costly debt

The more money you throw away on interest payments, the less you’ll be able to save and invest. Now this isn’t to say you shouldn’t take out a mortgage, because with a home loan, you’re usually looking at a reasonable amount of interest and a chance to build equity in an asset that can gain value. But credit card debt is definitely worth avoiding at all costs.

4. Invest money you aren’t using

Investing your money is a great way to grow it into a larger sum, and while there’s some risk involved, you can mitigate it by diversifying your portfolio and giving yourself a long investment horizon. If you’re looking to invest for retirement purposes, you may want to open an IRA, since you’ll enjoy some tax benefits in that account. Otherwise, you can invest for other milestones and goals in a regular brokerage account.

5. Buy assets that tend to appreciate in value over time

Cell phones and smart TVs may be nice things to have, but they’re not likely to gain value through the years. A home, on the other hand, is likely to appreciate in value, so that’s something worth sinking your money into. Similarly, you may want to look at investing in assets like gold or artwork that could be worth more over time.

No matter how high your net worth is today, there are steps you can take to build on that number. Think about your goals, and then map out a plan to reach your target net worth. It may take many years, but if you stick to your objectives, you might one day be in a position where you can look at that number with pride.

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