René Nourse, CFP®
By that, I mean: “High-income Earner, Not Rich Yet”. If you are, then congratulations! You’ve got a good running start.
What does it mean to be a HENRY? It’s not really a new term. It was coined in a 2003 Fortune magazine article to describe younger professionals whose incomes were $100,000 and up.
But I have to tell you, I regularly work with (ahem) more mature professionals who are making a lot of money—and the most common complaint I hear is, “I know I make a lot of money, but I don’t know where my money goes.”
As many people have discovered, just making a lot of money isn’t enough. We’ve all heard stories of celebrities and athletes who were making tons of money but later had to file for bankruptcy. How is that possible? Well, they didn’t follow the rule book. Here are some tips to help turn that green into gold.
1. There’s an App for That
No matter how much or how little you make, cash flow is at the heart of any financial journey. If you don’t know where your money is going, you’re bound to keep making the same mistakes. There are tons of money-tracker apps out there—many of which are free—that will not only track your spending but also send you alerts.
2. The Name of the Game is Equity
Building and accumulating wealth requires taking ownership in something. That something could be real estate, owning or investing in a business, stocks, and even retirement accounts. The key takeaway is that once you begin to accumulate wealth in this manner, you’ll have another bucket to access for future income and lifestyle needs.
3. Balance Sheet Bliss
You’ve heard the term “net worth”, right? Well, if you don’t have equity, your balance sheet—which is everything you own minus everything you owe—is going to look pretty abysmal. Start now by filling in those blank spots, and you’ll be surprised to see how your balance sheet will change over time without a lot of effort on your part.
4. Managing Your Debt
Hmmm… Now, here’s another conundrum. Do you make a lot of money but still struggle with paying high levels of debt? Just to be clear, there’s good debt and there’s bad debt. An example of good debt might be student loans, because they really are an investment in your future, or a mortgage loan, because you’re building equity. Bad debt is that fab vacation you took two years ago, which you’re still paying off. Yikes! Again, to be clear, I’m not in the camp that says you always have to be debt-free, but I am against using debt for things that will not add value to the asset side of your balance sheet. Debt, if used properly, can help to accelerate and leverage your plans to achieve wealth.
5. Going from HENRY to HEAR
That’s High-income Earner And Rich. Now that you know that building wealth is a priority, you’d be surprised to discover the number of opportunities right in front of you. For example, if your employer has an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), are you taking advantage of this opportunity to buy your company’s stock at a discount? Real estate has long been a great way to build wealth. Instead of buying a single-family residence, consider buying a duplex or triplex. Not only will you have a place to live, but you’ll also have others helping you pay the mortgage.
The bottom line: As a HENRY, you are in a unique position to redirect your high cash flow into a wealth building mode. It doesn’t necessarily require major changes in your lifestyle, but more of a shift in thinking. Making a lot of money isn’t the answer to building wealth. It’s what you do with it that can rock your world.