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Financial Literacy

How to move from middle class to upper class (Part 1)

Here are a few tips to help you elevate to the upper class if you want to leave the middle class.

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Every working professional that I know today wishes that they will one day leave the financial struggles of the middle class. And join the freedom of the upper class. If this is your desire, this article is for you. Not many people are pleased by the status of the middle class.

The middle class is a group of overworked, underpaid, and stressed-out people. They depend on an income that is limited, uncertain, and requires a huge amount of stressful work. The upper-class are financially free, work as they please, and are able to pay their bills without financial stress.

Thus belonging to the upper class has a huge financial advantage. And according to research, only 20% of the population belongs to the upper class. The remaining 80% are either living in financial scarcity or broke. But if you want to achieve more financial success in your life, you must move from the limitations of the middle class to the opportunities of the upper class.

READ: How to cut off impulsive spending as a millennial

The truth is there is nothing stopping you from joining the upper-class today. Members of the upper-class were once members of the middle or lower class. They joined the upper class either through their own effort or through the efforts of their parents. This is why I know that you can make the transition today if you choose to. However, only a few people do this in reality. And the reason for this is simple. There is a huge difference between knowing how to do a thing and doing it in reality.

While a lot of people know what to do to improve their financial lives only a few people actually do it. The reason is that knowing requires knowledge which is easy. And doing requires sacrifice which is hard. Doing what it takes to achieve financial success is the most difficult part of climbing to the top. Thus, the reason why many are not yet successful in their lives is that they lack the discipline to pay the price.

This means that this article will only benefit you if you are willing to do what it takes to achieve your goals. So, if you are ready to do what it takes to achieve success, below are the three things you must do to join the upper class.

First, you must understand the real definition of the upper class and how it is different from the middle class. The upper class is beyond just having money. Second, you must know how people join the upper-class group and why the upper class is wealthier than the middle class. And third, you must know how to join the upper-class group, what your options are and the exact steps to take to get to the top.

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READ: 6 fundamental risks every business owner must not take for granted

So let’s begin with understanding the definition of the upper class and the middle class.

The upper class is a group of people who have achieved three levels of freedom. The first is work freedom. That is they have the flexibility to choose when and how to work. And they work because they want to make a difference and not because they want to make a living. The second is income freedom.

The upper class controls their own financial destiny. They are financially free and fund their lives majorly from passive sources of income. The third is opportunity freedom. The upper class can seize any opportunity as they please. They have the liberty to do an enormous number of different things that can enlarge their income. And this is why they have enormous wealth-building capacities.

Thus, being a member of the upper class is all about work freedom, financial freedom, and the freedom to seize limitless opportunities. Regardless of how much you earn today, you are still middle class if you lack these three levels of freedom.

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READ: How does a bank make N19 billion a month?

The middle class in contrast is a group of people that has three major disadvantages. The first is that they lack work flexibility. People in the middle class have to be physically present to earn income. They have zero work flexibility, can barely take time off work, and are stressed out of their lives. But they work, regardless, because they need to do so to earn a living.

According to a global poll conducted by Gallup, a global research and analytics company, out of the world’s one billion full-time workers, only 15% of people are engaged and happy at work. The remaining 85% of people are unhappy in their jobs. Yet they keep working because they want to earn a living.

The second disadvantage of the middle-class group is that they lack income security. The middle-class live in constant fear of losing their job or income. In instances where their job is secure, they live in the fear of Retirement. They also lack control over their own financial destiny and earn income that is limited in size and advantage. The middle class also majorly fund their life from active income. They are active income rich but passive income poor.

The third disadvantage of the middle-class group is that their source of livelihood depends on a retiring income. The entire middle class are under a 30-year income contract with their employers. This means that their active income earning years is limited to 30 years. In 30 years, they will have to decide what to do with themselves and how to fend for themselves. And the majority of them fail woefully at this.

The reason for this is three-fold. First, they fail to plan for retirement early. Second, they sacrifice their income for others while in active service. And third is that they have skills that function in the career world but fail in the real world. The average middle-class person lacks the capacity to function in the real world. They are not producers or creators of wealth who can take as little as an idea and turn it into mega success.

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Usually, they need a structured environment to thrive. And when thrown into the outer society that is largely unstructured, they struggle to create their own income. This is why they crack financially when they lose their jobs or enter retirement. Succeeding in a job and in the outside world and are two different things.

So how do people join the upper class? The answer is simple.

The path to joining the middle class has already been crafted for us. It is a straight, simple, and attainable path. You simply go to school, get good grades, get a job, and work as hard as you can to reach the top of the ladder. This path has been created to help you add value to products and services in exchange for income. Thus, here, the ability to add value is very important.

The path to joining the upper-class is varied. The route is not straight forward and there are different routes to it. To join the upper class, you must develop your mental ability to create wealth from scratch. That is, upper class people must be able to start with almost nothing and create value that multiplies wealth.

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To join the upper-class, you have to submit yourself to the leadership of another upper-class person. And be willing to enrol in another school that I call “the school of the Hard Knocks of Life.” In this school, you learn from the trenches of real life. And you will fail many times before you become successful. Creating value from scratch and adding value to existing value is thus, not the same thing. And they have two different potentials for creating wealth.

So what then is the main difference between adding value and creating value? Let’s take a look.

Adding Value

To add value, you must develop the ability to improve, increase, refine or upgrade existing products and services. And deliver these products and services in ways that make profits for an organization. Adding value is thus value that emanates from employers leveraging the time and effort of other people. To work on, expand and improve existing products and services. And it is the way many organizations expand their wealth and income. Adding value is built on the foundation of physical energy.

This is why you typically have to go to work and exert physical energy to earn income. People with the ability to add value earn limited amounts of income and this is because they are taking a limited risk. They are improving and expanding and not creating and producing.

A typical example of people with the ability to add value is employees. Employees have a great ability to add and manage value but are poor at creating value. As long as employees remain within the workforce, they are economically productive. But when they are thrown out into the real world, employees struggle to create their own income. This is why most employees fall apart when they lose their job or enter retirement. Thus, the ability to add value may be enough to help you build a successful career. But to succeed in the outside world you need to develop your ability to create value.

Creating Value

Creating value is the ability to convert ideas and opportunities into finished products and services. That is products that solve real problems and produce real income. It is creating income and wealth from scratch. And it is also the ability to develop your mental capacity.

That is your ability to think accurately, multiply natural resources and innovate or invent new ideas. The ability to create is the force that formed all successful businesses. People who have these abilities focus on developing their mental energy and capacity. And because the mental capacity controls physical capacity they earn the most income. One of the best stories that illustrate the ability to create value is the story of the five loaves of bread and two fishes in the bible.

A long time ago Jesus encountered a multitude of people and only had five loaves of bread and two fishes. He prayed on what he had, distributed it, and fed 5,000 people with it.

But how can five loaves of bread and two fishes feed 5000 people you may ask?

I know what you may be thinking. It must be a miracle and a miracle is different from reality. The truth is yes, it was a miracle, but I find that these miracles happen in our world today. Every day someone wakes up with an idea, scrambles their savings, and uses their mental energy to bring that idea to life. A few years down the line the small idea and little beginnings become a multi-billion-naira company. Only the ability to create value can create this kind of miracle for you.

You see while the middle class focuses their energy on earning a regular income. And making modest gains from their savings and investments. The upper class focuses on creating value, multiplying value, and building billion-dollar companies. Because they have a billion-dollar mindset, they can create fortunes almost overnight. Thus, it is the ability of the upper class to use their mental capacity to multiply little resources that stands them out. It is what makes them wealthier than the middle class.

To develop your mental capacity, you must continuously seek knowledge. Most importantly you need to take action and develop skills that are relevant in the real world. You must also submit yourself to mentorship as it is easier to be pulled up by someone in the upper class than attempting to climb there on your own. People with great mental ability are the greatest winners in the game of wealth. Even when they lose all their wealth, they can make it all back again.

So why do only a few people develop their mental capacity to create wealth?

The answer is simple but not easy.

It is harder to develop mental capacity than physical capacity. Raising your mental capacity to the level where it can multiply little resources is not an easy thing to do. It requires discipline, high pain tolerance, and the ability to see failure as part of success. Until the middle-class is willing to embrace pain and failure as part of success. They will not rise to the level of the upper class.

So now that you know the reason for the disparity in wealth between the middle class and upper class, let’s see how you can join the upper class if you want to leave the middle class. Read my next article.


About the author

Grace Agada is a recognized leading Financial Expert on Nigerian Soil. She is a Renowned Speaker, Author, and Column Contributor in Punch Newspaper, This Day Newspaper, Vanguard newspaper, Business Day Newspaper, Leadership Newspaper, The Tribune Newspaper, and Online Platforms like Nairametrics, Proshare, and Bellanaija. Grace is the author of “The Financial Freedom MBA Program, “The Passive Income Retirement Blueprint” and “The Wealthy Business Blueprint” for Advisors, Consultants, and Coaches who want to get off the roller coaster of irregular income. Grace is on a mission to shrink the middle class and populate the upper class. Her ultimate goal is to create a tribe of professionals that are thriving in any economy. Grace has been featured on BBC Africa. Business Day TV. Inspiration FM. and inside Naijatv. She has consulted for Numerous Top Organizations, Company Directors, Senior Executives, and Top performing Professionals.

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    Financial Literacy

    How to invest for retirement

    Planning for retirement means planning to reduce obligation in the future by investing today.

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    How not to worry about money in retirement

    “If you plan to retire in five years what should you be doing today?” That’s a question I got last week, and talking with the client, a lot came up which I have decided to share.

    First off, What is retirement?

    Nigeria’s public service has an official retirement age of 60 or thirty-five years of unbroken active working service, but in financial planning, retirement is a financial, not a chronological event. Retirement can occur when your passive income can meet your non-discretionary expenses.

    You start to plan for retirement the day you start to earn an income. Your retirement plan will centre on how to generate passive income and reduce expenses. In Financial Planning, Four distinct stages are usually described in a so-called Lifecycle Chart. These are the Accumulation, Consolidation, Spending, and Gifting stages. Chart 1. Financial LifeCycle seeks to segment investing priorities, recommended asset allocation, and risk profile in a chronological timeline as the person gets older. I will take each of these stages and explain how they are linked to your retirement plan.

    READ: How to choose the right Pension Fund Administrator (PFA)

    Chart: Financial Life Cycle

    Early years: Use Your Time and Make Money, (Accumulate)

    The first stage is called the Accumulation stage. Imagine a 22-year-old who has just graduated and is a management trainee. He typically has a low credit score and assets and income are also substantially lower. What he has in abundance is time. So it’s important to deploy his time in the best way to make money. Hence in the accumulate stage, the goal is to generate cash flow either from a job, multiple jobs, working longer hours, saving, cutting unnecessary expenses, etc.

    The key measure in the accumulation stage is the Savings Rate which is essentially how much of income earned or generated has not been spent. On average, the participants in the accumulation stage have fewer dependents and maintenance needs which should theoretically make it easier to save.

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    READ: This thread exposed everything that’s wrong with Nigeria’s VAT

    Mid Years Use Your Money To Buy Assets (Consolidation)

    In the consolidation stage the focus shifts from saving to investing. At this stage, the income earned and credit scores have improved. This is when the talk of buying a home or starting a business takes concrete shape because, at this stage, those dreams can be funded. Hence capacity to take on debt is improved, and debt is used to invest in assets like a home. Remember debt is simply front-loaded consumption, which means we are taking our future income to invest today, intending to repay with future income generated from today investment.

    The key measure in the consolidation stage is the Rate of Return which is essentially how much has been generated from the investments made.

    READ: How to choose the right Pension Fund Administrator (PFA)

    Spending & Gifting Phase; Use Your Assets To Generate Cash Flow and Time (Spending and Gifting)

    Why is it called the spending phase? Because that’s what the individual is doing, spending down accumulated investments. The spending will include buying annuities or perhaps relocating to another city, your dependant’s college needs, etc. At this stage, typically very few are still earning “new” income but are rather spending from the return of prior investments.

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    The key measure in the spending stage is the Withdrawal Rate which is essentially how much of investment can be withdrawn as cash annually to ensure we do not outlive our investments.

    READ: How interest rates impact your wallet

    Retirement is All About Passive Income

    Passive income, which is the income we are making from investing from the accumulation and consolidation stage is now sufficient to generate income and reduce expenses to meet our expenses in the spending/gifting stage.

    To give an example, assume we took a mortgage to buy a house in the Consolidation Stage, in the Spending stage, we pay no rent, thus we save cash, which reduces our Non-Discretionary Expenses. In essence, retirement is planning to eliminate your future expenses to the point where you need less income when you retire.

    What Should You Invest In Before Retirement Or In Retirement?

    Our objective is simple, Income. In retirement, we invest solely to make income to meet our spending needs, Risk profile is also very low because there are fewer recovery options if your investments sink.

    The retirement portfolio is an income-generating portfolio that will be overweight in fixed income products. First, determine what the risk-free rate is. In Nigeria, we can take the yield on a ten-year FGN bond as a guide, this means we can have a target of 10% as our huddle rate for the long term. Thus I will recommend an 80/20 portfolio with 80% going to Fixed Income consisting of long term bonds, REITs, and other top-grade commercial paper.

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    However what happens if we lock in our funds for 10 years at 10% and rates jump to 20%, meaning a loss to our portfolio.  To avoid this risk we can create a bond ladder, where we break down the bulk sum and duration of our total bond investment outlay. Let us assume we have N10m in cash to invest, instead of one single lot investment of N10m, we split into 5 equal investments of N2m and place for 6, 7, 8, 9, and ten-year maturities. This means by the 5th year the first N2m will mature, if rates are higher, reinvest, if rates have fallen then reevaluate.

    READ: 10 Side gigs to venture into while working a full-time job

    What about Equities

    Yes, equities also pay a dividend. In buying equities, we must ensure we are only buying stocks that pay a dividend above our huddle rate of 10% which is the 10-year FGN bond rate. Which Nigerian stock meet that huddle rate?

    • Lasaco
    • Zenith
    • GT bank
    • United cap

    In closing, let us summarize. Retirement is not chronological age. The event occurs when our passive income pays our bills. Planning for retirement means planning to reduce obligation in the future by investing today. Investing in retirement is income-based with a huddle.

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    Financial Literacy

    Steps to take to bag international scholarships

    Here are the steps you should take if interested in pursuing international scholarships.

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    United Kingdom opens window of job opportunities for international students

    Studying abroad gives you exposure among many other things, and that is precisely why many Nigerians have been looking for ways to study abroad. However, not everybody is privileged with the resources to study overseas and this is where the international scholarship option comes in.

    If you are interested in studying abroad and don’t have enough funds, you should consider applying for international scholarships. This article lists the steps you can take to bag international scholarships but before delving into that, here are some types of scholarships available to you as an international student:

    • Location-based scholarships
    • Course or program-based scholarships
    • Sports-related scholarships
    • Research-based scholarships
    • University-funded scholarships
    • Organization-funded scholarships
    • Government-funded scholarships

    Having discovered the types of international scholarships available to you, here are the steps you should take to bag any of these international scholarships.

    Research: Research is vital if you don’t want to miss out on good opportunities or make mistakes during your application. Research scholarship opportunities available in your prospective college or location and be on the lookout for hidden scholarships.

    Check your eligibility: Having done thorough research and discovered the available scholarship opportunities, check to see if you are eligible for them. Many international scholarships have their criteria and requirement, so you should confirm that you are the right fit first.

    Get the required documents: After confirming your eligibility, you should get the necessary documents. If the scholarship requires you to write an exam, prepare for the exam, write a good statement of purpose and prepare all other documents.

    Start your admission process: Some international scholarships require that you start your admission process and probably get the admission before starting your scholarship application.

    Contact past scholarship winners: You might want to contact the previous scholarship winners to know what they did right and how you can learn from them.

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    Apply for the available scholarships: The last step is to apply to every available scholarship.

    The best way to get funds for your undergraduate, postgraduate, or PhD pursuits abroad is by applying for international scholarships. If you do thorough research, you can find fully funded scholarships that won’t require you to pay any amount. One of the essential steps to getting an international scholarship as a Nigerian is staying abreast of current information and this will require you to network with others.

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