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Commentary: 3 traits financially successful people possess

Self-improvement always seems to be a popular topic. Just walk through any bookstore and you'll see scores of books to help you lose weight, books about improving your interpersonal relationships and, yes, books to help better yourself financially.

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings.
Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings.

Self-improvement always seems to be a popular topic. Just walk through any bookstore and you'll see scores of books to help you lose weight, books about improving your interpersonal relationships and, yes, books to help better yourself financially.

Striving to improve your financial situation is a great thing to do. Often, that task is accomplished by trying to emulate things that financially successful people tend to do in their lives. In our experience, the folks that are mostly likely to have their financial houses in order usually have the following three characteristics.

They Set Goals

Goal setting is an excellent activity to engage in because it gives the act of saving and investing a purpose. The key is to make sure these goals are based on your core values. Values-based goal setting helps you avoid being swayed by short-term volatility in the markets that could cause you to make greedy or fearful decisions that rarely end up working out for you in the long run.

The goals you set should also be realistic. Setting goals that you aren't able to reach can lead you to become discouraged. This sense of discouragement can make you hesitant to set goals in the future in order to avoid any sense of failure. Instead, having goals that are achievable will give you a strong sense of accomplishment as you work toward, and eventually reach, your goals.

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They Pay Themselves First

Just about all of us know that we need to save and invest on a regular basis. In our experience, however, the mindset we see in many people is that they opt to instead wait until the end of the month to save and invest the surplus from their monthly income. There's just one small flaw with this strategy: There's usually nothing left at the end of the month!

We have a tendency to spend our entire monthly income. Yet if we pay ourselves first and have a portion of our wages immediately moved into a savings or retirement account, the temptation to spend the money that's earmarked for saving and investing largely disappears, thereby keeping you on track as you work towards your financial goals.

They Only Have Efficient Debt

We don't think all debt is something that's inherently bad, which is why we often differentiate it by sorting it into one of two categories: efficient and inefficient debt. Efficient debt may be debt that has a very low interest rate, may be amortized over a long period of time or may provide tax benefits. The traditional example of efficient debt is a mortgage, but student loans or business loans may also be categorized as efficient debt. Inefficient debt, on the other hand, that carries a large interest rate and provides no real financial benefits should be paid off quickly and, in many circumstances, should be avoided entirely if at all possible.

The best thing about these three traits is that they are applicable to just about everybody, regardless of income. Our hope is you will find value from implementing these three traits into your financial plan and, hopefully, leave you in a stronger financial position going forward.

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb are financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of "Your Money" on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings. Email Bruce and Peg at yourmoney@wealthenhancement.com . Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Wealth Enhancement Group and Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services are separate entities from LPL Financial.

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