There are several methods and components for mainstream financial success.
Entrepreneurship is certainly one path to this type of success. Controlling the entirety of a business so that the profits from that business flow to you is a path many people have followed to wealth, but the vast majority of businesses fail within the first few years of existence. It’s risky and it’s incredibly challenging.
Exceptional talent, usually built through a lot of uncompensated or lightly-compensated practice and sometimes mixed in with natural physical or mental gifts, can also earn a person exceptional wealth. Whenever you think of a top athlete in a mainstream professional sport, you’re usually looking at this category. They usually have some physical gifts that they’ve immaculately refined through a ton of work.
Blind luck also plays a role. People win lotteries (though this is a pretty poor strategy). People get windfalls and are included in estates. People find themselves in the right place at the right time. This is a completely unreliable path to financial success, almost completely devoid of planning or effort.
Anyone can try to follow this path to financial success. However, it is far from a guarantee, and the road is littered with people who fail along this path. It also often sacrifices success in the margin along the way.
Often, I’ll break this down into two methods you can use to earn more money. You can either increase your earnings (through a better job, better investments, and so on) or you can decrease your spending (through frugality).
The other day, I was having a discussion with an old friend. He mentioned that I often repeated that statement and he suggested that I was actually just talking about two different kinds of success and that what differentiated the two types of success was how accessible the action was.
He said something that really left me thinking. “Anyone can get rich,” he said, “but the ability of a lot of people to multiply their earnings is extremely limited. Simply saying ‘earn more’ doesn’t mean a whole lot to an awful lot of people. What you’re telling many of your readers is just to ‘spend less.’ That’s a success, of course, but that’s not very clear from your statement.”
In other words, personal finance success boils down to two main avenues.