To improve your net worth over the long run, you've either got to make more money, or spend less.
Of the two, spending less is probably simpler, especially after you've identified those items which cost a lot but don't add to your life. So here's a few tips to help you save money.
I'm not going to tell you to squeeze the last drop out of your toothpaste, nor to avoid taking showers to save money. But there are a few things that might help you cut spending in almost any situation.
First, think about becoming a do-it-yourselfer. You can save a lot of money by doing simpler, recurring things like changing your car's oil.
Second, compare prices when you shop. Even though comparison shopping at the store may only save you a dime on each item, it only takes a few seconds and it's a good investment of time.
Finally, you might want to get rid of some of the stuff that you own. For some people, I begin to wonder if they own their assets, or if their assets own them.
When you consider the initial cost of buying something and then throw in the insurance, taxes, and maintenance costs of owning things like big houses, boats or expensive cars, you have to wonder if it's worth it.
I remember when I was a little kid, a friend of mine was in a family that seemed to have everything. My friend's father was a repairman and his mother worked at a hair salon. These aren't bad jobs, but I doubt if they were pulling down huge salaries.
Despite this, they had all this great stuff!
They had a speed boat, motorcycles, new cars, a big recreational vehicle and a big house with a great finished basement complete with a wet bar. They even had cable TV and HBO, and this was back in the 1970s when these were real oddities. I was pretty envious!
In the meantime the parents of most of my other friends seemed to be busy saying, "NO," to their kids and otherwise scrimping, saving, clipping coupons, and puttering around in old automobiles.
But now, twenty years later, things seem a little different. The family that seemed to have everything couldn't afford to send their kids to college, and the parents eventually got a divorce. The last time I saw the father he was living with his new girlfriend in a small apartment. He didn't seem to be as happy or as lively as I remember he was.
Meanwhile, things had changed for my other friends' parents. They had managed to put their kids through college, and most of them had retired fairly early.
They still didn't have many flashy things, but they all seemed pretty happy and healthy. In fact, it seemed like some of the biggest troubles they were experiencing was deciding which continent they should visit this year or which golf course they should play at.
Maybe there's a lesson here. Instead of working like a dog to buy a lot of toys which you think will bring you happiness, maybe you should just save money for later and spend some time with your spouse and kids.
Anyway, it's something to think about.