What steps should you be taking right now to build your wealth for next year and all the years to come? Tony Robbins, best known as a motivational speaker and life coach to presidents and top athletes, interviewed some of the world's smartest financial experts for his recent book MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom. He came back with some highly practical advice we should all be following next year and beyond.
1. Don't lose money.
Robbins told GOBankingRates this was the single most important financial tip to follow. He's in good company--it's advice Warren Buffett also gives often. "While so many of us are focused on making money, the most successful investors on the planet are obsessed with not losing it," he explained. That means being very, very smart about financial risk.
2. Look for investments in which rewards far outweigh risks.
Speaking of risk, Robbins said that the best risks to take are those in which the potential returns are much greater than the potential losses. "While there is no such thing as a riskless return, every money master in the world will tell you, without exception, one of the most vital components of your portfolio is to find investments with asymmetric risk and reward," he said.
How asymmetric? Robbins recommends using the 5-to-1 rule, in which every dollar invested can potentially return five. That way, he notes, even if you're wrong four out of five times, you'll still break even.
3. Don't overpay taxes.
Even more than high brokerage fees, a poor tax strategy, or none at all, can eat away at your earnings. "When it comes to our investments, we have been taught to focus on returns," Robbins said. "But it's not what you earn that matters, it's what you keep. And if your portfolio isn't tax efficient, then you may not be keeping as much as you should be." To create a more tax-efficient portfolio, he recommended working with a certified financial planner or chartered financial analyst.
Diversifying your portfolio saves you from exposure to the ups and downs of particular industries. For instance, anyone who's invested heavily in the oil industry is hurting right now.
You don't need to do a lot of complicated buying and balancing yourself to achieve diversity. Instead, consider low-fee index funds (which invest in the items used to make up an index, such as the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average). "With these types of funds, you will have the broadest exposure to the largest numbers of securities for the lowest cost," Robbins said.
5. Watch out for mindless spending.
The fabled $4 latte instead of a $1.50 cup of coffee is only one example of mindless spending--that is, spending too much on things that don't really make your life better. Robbins pointed to eating out as an example. If you spend $40 a week on restaurant meals, consider inviting friends over for a low-cost dinner at home instead. In a year, you'll have saved $2,000. If you invest that $2,000 every year, in 40 years you'll have half a million dollars.
"Spend on things that dramatically enhance your quality of life, and stop mindless spending that doesn't add any value to your life," he advised.
6. Stop sabotaging yourself.
Self-sabotage is the biggest reason people fail to achieve their financial goals, Robbins said. Why do people do that? Because on some level, they believe having lots of money will bring them more unhappiness than happiness. They focus on the negative aspects of becoming wealthy.
To end this cycle, Robbins advised, "you must change your core beliefs about money." To do this, he says, consider the pain not having money has caused you. Write it down, and then write some positive things money can offer. Exercises like these can slowly adjust your thinking and end the self-sabotage.