For middle-class families such as mine, the past decade has been the worst decade in modern history in terms of building household wealth.
My husband and I are working hard to increase our net worth after watching our house value plummet. During the Great Recession, we had to adjust our budget due to temporary pay cuts.
However, we have a financial plan for re-building our wealth.
After reading Julie Stav's book, "The Money In You! Discover Your Financial Personality and Live the Millionaire's Life," I decided to adopt what she calls the "millionaire personality."
By following her recipe for achieving wealth, I figure we will be able to make up for this past decade of negative stock market returns and negative home equity.
Accentuating the positive
Stav suggests taking the "glass is half full" or optimistic approach to life. Instead of viewing my underwater mortgage as a liability, I consider how it helps us get ahead financially. We pay much less in property taxes now. We are staying put because of the low real estate values, which saves us money on closing and moving costs. Instead of upsizing to a more expensive home, we are learning to be happy with what we have.
Creating a master plan
Winners, according to Stav, map out their futures. My husband and I have financial goals that are both short term, intermediate and long term. Our short term goal is to save up money for a new car purchase. Our intermediate goal is to pay off our home in another 8 years. Our long-term goal is to retire with $1 million.
Making money with investments
Even though I am skeptical that the stock market will recover in the next decade, I do believe that we can become wealthy over time with our investments. I am patient enough to be able to park money in a mutual fund and let it sit for a decade or two. Stav says millionaires have a belief in investing. They invest 15 to 20 percent of their household income. I am committed to the process. We won't need our retirement money for another 25 years or a quarter of a century. I expect stocks will be valued higher by then.
Finding meaningful projects
Stav says the millionaire mindset is one that turns passions and talents into money. The key to becoming wealthy is to make money doing what you love to do. My husband and I both chose professions that bring us more happiness than stress. We feel challenged by our work and supported by our employers.
Although I can't do anything about the lost decade in our economy, I can continue to build our net worth with old-fashioned hard work and savings.
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More from this contributor:Financial Planning Lessons from a Millionaire
- Banking & Budgeting