FREE NEWSLETTER

Get Rich Slow

Logan Murray

THE FINANCIAL WORLD generates a lot of noise. As a financial planner, I see that every day. Being in my 20s, it’s fun to learn about new alternative investments or imagine getting rich quick thanks to one stock or following the advice of one social media post.

But I know that’s all it is—fun. Instead of imagining my way to wealth, I take control of my finances by creating rules to live by. Rules are driven by values. I know my financial rules may change as my life progresses, but I suspect my values will stay the same. Here are three of my money values, and the current rules I’m following in an effort to adhere to them.

1. Focus on one thing at a time.

Building on this principle, my big focus right now is investing in myself. I’ve spent a lot of time and money educating myself on financial planning, while also striving to gain work experience.

Social media and the financial news have glamorized side hustles, passive income and multiple income streams. But creating passive income takes time and an investment of money. Meanwhile, side hustles can mean spreading yourself too thin and focusing on too many different skills. The phrase that comes to mind is “jack of all trades, master of none.”

I’m focusing on becoming a master first. The biggest asset for a young professional like me is the ability to earn active income. I’m focusing my time and attention on creating one large income stream—that delivered by my fulltime work.

2. Control what you can.

I can’t control what happens to the stock market. Stocks are glamorized and often depicted as the primary path to wealth. I disagree, especially for those of us who are at the beginning of our savings journey.

My first rule is to prioritize my financial foundation. To me, that means having a stable income and an emergency fund. With those two buffers in place, I shouldn’t have to tap my longer-term investments during rough markets—and my finances won’t live or die based on uncontrollable stock market performance.

Our Free Newsletter

Second, I focus on how much I’m saving, which is more important for me today than my investment performance. At some point, I expect the pendulum to swing, and my investments will make more than the amount I’m able to save each year. Until then, the amount I’m contributing each month to my portfolio will have a bigger impact on my financial foundation.

I’m humble enough to know I can’t beat the market or control my investment performance. I don’t pick individual stocks, thereby saving time and avoiding hassles. Instead, I invest in a few exchange-traded index funds that give me exposure to the broad stock market.

3. Personal finance isn’t all math.

A key benefit of building a strong foundation is that it relieves much financial stress. Amid market downturns and economic turmoil, it feels good knowing I have cash that I can fall back on. That peace of mind is worth far more than the market returns I’m giving up by keeping a chunk of my money in cash investments.

I also make financial flexibility a priority. Investment projections show I’d be better served by putting all my savings into retirement accounts, such as a Roth IRA or 401(k). But at my age, I couldn’t touch most of that money for another 30-plus years.

I’d much rather give up today’s tax benefits to have easier access to my money if, say, I want to start another business or buy a house. Who I am today probably won’t be the same as who I’ll be in the future, and I want the ability to adjust my finances accordingly.

Finally, I don’t believe in getting rich quick. That’s a strategy based on hope and it’s doomed to fail. There is an abundance of financial “opportunities” competing for my attention and insisting I’ll be left behind if I don’t get in right now. But I’m not biting. I’ll continue to follow my rules, learn a little bit more each day and trust in the process of getting rich slowly.

Logan Murray is a solo financial advisor. His company Pocket Project offers subscription-based financial planning services to young professionals. For more financial insights, read Logan’s blog, connect with him on LinkedIn and check out his earlier articles.

Do you enjoy HumbleDollar? Please support our work with a donation. Want to receive daily email alerts about new articles? Click here. How about getting our newsletter? Sign up now.

Browse Articles

Subscribe
Notify of
12 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
tshort
tshort
11 days ago

Nice post, Logan. On the one hand I can understand your rationale for avoiding maxing out your 401k. OTOH, I found myself wondering whether:
a) you have access to a ROTH 401k?
b) you have calculated the value of the employer match that usually is part of 401k plans, and then calculated the RoR for those funds (i.e., your contributions plus your employer’s match plus the value of the increased amount of your contribution due to deferred tax) versus what the RoR would be if instead it was invested in an taxable account over your working career?

Doing the math doesn’t eliminate the fact that 401k plans do tie up your money. But it does make visible to you how much you’re sacrificing in the name of liquidity, thereby giving you the basis to make a more informed business decision.

Last edited 11 days ago by tshort
jay5914
jay5914
11 days ago

Enjoyed the article Logan. Many very good points that I agree with. I understand your desire for maintaining flexibility, but don’t wait to long to take advantage of the long term benefits of retirement accounts, especially Roth. It never has to be all or none. Good luck with your business.

Ormode
Ormode
13 days ago

If you are still young, and have the right temperament, you can go for it. Put all you money into your business, and try to build something. If your business takes off, you will be much wealthier than if you put that money into passive investments like the stock market. If you fail, you can always go back to work and slow accumulation.
Don’t look at me, I’m nearly 70 and keep my personal fortune in passive investments. But young people have all sorts of opportunities.

Brent Wilson
Brent Wilson
13 days ago

I understand favoring taxable investments to 401(k) investments if you really value financial flexibility that much.

But why would you also avoid a ROTH IRA? You can withdraw the contributions without any tax implications, maintaining the flexibility you value while also gaining the advantage of tax-free growth

Logan Murray
Logan Murray
13 days ago
Reply to  Brent Wilson

Thanks for you thoughts, Brent. I agree – I wasn’t suggesting to avoid retirement accounts altogether. I do utilize Roth and love the flexibility that comes with it.

Thanks for reading!

Jo Bo
Jo Bo
13 days ago

Logan, your wisdom belies your years. As a financial advisor, I hope that you impart some of that knowledge to your clients.

Your second money value resonates with me. At your age, I disregarded collective wisdom (although unlike you I maxed out contributions to retirement accounts) by not investing in stocks. Back then, the market seemed too risky a foundation for my nest egg. I saved steadily and benefited from declining interest rates for fixed income. After a decade, I slowly introduced equities into my portfolio and could still sleep soundly.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray
13 days ago
Reply to  Jo Bo

Thank you, Jo. I can’t say I’m super stoked about the markets today, but it doesn’t cause me to falter on my long-term strategy. Thanks for your thoughts.

steveark
steveark
13 days ago

Listen to B Carr. I maxed every retirement account every single year I worked. But I also invested in taxable brokerage accounts every year and a big emergency fund and paid extra on our house loan. My 401k, only one slice of my assets, alone made me a millionaire long before conventional retirement age.

Cammer Michael
Cammer Michael
11 days ago
Reply to  steveark

It is great you were able to do this, but many people simply don’t have enough income to do this.

Many employers don’t offer employment plans and many people don’t have enough income to set aside some themselves.

Like you, I maxed out the accounts and it did great for me, but I could not have done it without help from family. A starting salary of $25.5k as full time university faculty in 1992 was simply not enough money to cover living expenses and contribute fully to retirement accounts.

Last edited 11 days ago by Cammer Michael
Logan Murray
Logan Murray
13 days ago
Reply to  steveark

I appreciate your thoughts. I agree that if I had the cash flow to do it all, I would. My choice is often to prioritize flexibility, but that is not to say I would fully ignore retirement.

B Carr
B Carr
13 days ago

As one who has tread the path, the only exception I’d take to what you’ve said is with respect to your retirement accounts. Max them out now if you can, every year. Your older self will thank you.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray
13 days ago
Reply to  B Carr

I appreciate your advice; thanks for reading!

Free Newsletter

SHARE