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14 Rigid Rules You MAY Have Made In Life That Prevents You From Building Wealth

I am convinced there is not going to be many people that will become rich in the long run.

When I start writing, I wrote about sharing my experiences with building wealth.

Then I realize the few truths about people and money: Their systems or the lack of systems brings them on a path of ultimate failure with money.

I think some of the things shared here at Investment Moats or my fellow financial bloggers’ blogs are not rocket science.

How to build sustainable wealth, no matter how other people describe it, distills to my wealthy formula. How would you know whether you can become financially secure, how to systematically reach there without thinking about increasing wealth building risk is also straight forward. Learn to do well in your job and when to focus more on increasing your income and when to focus more energy on building wealth.

Together with these principals, by being satisfied and fulfilled, you will live a good life.

One of the main reasons people find it challenging or that they never uncover the “secret to wealth” is because they are held in a prison of rigid rules they made for themselves.

The Prison of Rigid Non-negotiable Rules

A large part of the actions we performed are guided by how we think.

This could be the overarching influence of someone deeply respected over us be it religion or government or a cult leader, follow by who you are and then what are the beliefs and value that you stand for.

For most people, there will be some things that to them, are non-negotiable.

It goes against their being to change that.

And when you ask them to change that it is as if part of their life is cut away from them.

We put a barrier in front of ourselves just like a prison. The immutable rules of wealth and how you build wealth, is the path on the outside of the prison.

What we do is to create more and more bars, to prevent us from stepping on that path to wealth.

Here are some of the non-negotiable rules that you, your spouse, your family member or your friends may have that impede them on their path to build wealth.

1. You must respect my Work Life Balance

You tend to keep a good work life balance. When you started work you have already envisioned this work life balance is something you would stick to.

You leave your work on time.

When your boss asks you to do more work, you give your boss the kind of face as if your work life balance is not respected.

To make it easier for people to task you OT work, you arrange for events that packed most weekdays.

This is your choice.

When promotion or your performance grading is not good and that affects your increment and bonus, don’t come blaming your boss or that the company is not treating you fairly

2. I should not spend time out of work to supplement my competency

upgrade your own competency to get increment and wealth

There is a prevailing idea that if the company needs this competency of mine, they should pay for the training. Why should I spend my own personal time improving these work competencies?

Again, a very clear separation of work time and non-work time, and I think they are missing the big picture.

If you are not good at something and you refuse to put in more effort to get better, you might lose that job, have an eventual poor increment and bonus.

If there is an opportunity to move up, if you have not build that competency to at least let your superiors consider it, how can they put you in that position that comes with more responsibility, but also the increment and recognition.

3. After Work Hours are not Meant for Work or other Work

Most folks subscribe to the idea that there are only your main job and then non-working hours. You do what you must at work and then lived a rich life during non-working hours.

Probably because of what they think are strict employment mandates, they do not take on skills building in other competencies out of work or that if they have a competency, they do not leverage upon them.

I know from my friend that in his circle, teachers teach at school during the day and teachers teach privately during the night and weekends.

The crazy ones bring in $2,000 $800 (update: i was told there is some misinformation on the figures here)additional out of their day job.

10 years doing this at 3% growth is an additional $97,100.

4. I don’t want to ruin a kids life

I kept telling folks that one of my biggest regret was not doing well in school, and that I didn’t develop a good skill teaching others.

Due to that I was never comfortable of teaching kids and this locks away one very lucrative avenue for side cash flow.

Teaching tuition is one of the best per hour job around.

And because of that, to make the same amount to feed myself, I had to work longer hours.

Sometimes, all I need to do is step out, take an opportunity and try. Looking back, at most I would quit if I am really ruining the kids life in 1 or 2 months.

At least I would have learnt whether I was able to do this next time.

5. To avoid trouble at home, I will give in to what my wife wants

I do not want to create marital problems but the facts are just that. Facts.

Many men followed the rule that it is better to let the woman have what they want because if they do not, they will make you remember that decision that made their life miserable.

And that will make you miserable.

So to have a happy home, you give in.

When the spouse is particular bad with money decisions and you let him or her have a free reign you may have a happy home now but eventually the money problems will catch up with your family and then, everyone would just be as miserable.

6. When you get married and have children, there is no way to survive without a car

One of the needs of a family is to bring everyone and sometime extended family around. When children are small you need to rush to fetch them from infant care or child care before 7 pm.

Due to this, many of my peers find that this rule exists.

There is no way to survive in Singapore without a car. The transport system in this country is atrocious. They always break down.

I have to have my own reliability, to be able to go where I want, when I want.

This is a rigid rule, and if you stand by that, you have to pay for it. My friends at BigFatPurse shows that this could come up to an expense of $2,400/mth.

7. I do not want to move in with your parents

This is one rigid decision that really put  a lot of bars to your path to wealth.

When a guy marries a girl, it is very rare that a couple want to stay with their parents. It is even more rare for the female spouse to be comfortable living with the parents.

Due to the tension, the couple have no choice but to move out.

It is ok when the couple is in a good financial position. When they are not, every cent counts. Paying more in expenses to parents might be more effective then the cost of getting a new place.

The ability to be able to live with the parents or siblings might provide the opportunity to rent out your flat, which could offset mortgage and some basic lifestyle expenses.

If the couple is rigid and picky on this, then this option is closed off to you.

8. Life Sucks so we must go for a Holiday every year

When you cannot find happiness in your daily life, and depend on an escape to another world for satisfaction and joy, this annual recurring routine is a must.

When you do not go, your spouse, yourself or both would feel miserable.

If you earn $70,000 and your spouse as well, you can go for a decent one, but if you cannot afford to go for one, yet make this a frequent affair, this will burn a hole in your ability to repay debt or build wealth.

9. When I buy Insurance, it has to come with cash values

I was sold the concept that insurance is a form of saving. When your insurance do not have cash values eventually, it is a waste of money.

And I think there are a group of people that still think that way.

This could be considered misguided rather than non-negotiable decision, but it is a form of rigid decision that stems from not having the best of knowledge or being badly influence by this warped world we live in.

You can obtained good adequate protection with term life insurance at a smaller cash flow outlay then with a protection insurance with cash values.

The wealth impact?

Imagine the assured passes away and the dependents only get $100,000 in death coverage because that is the amount of insurance premium that he could afford to cover. The same amount in term could have covered him for $500,000 at the time he most needed that level of coverage.

The wealth of the family suffered in this instance.

10. Your money must always be invested to generate returns

This decision deals with the active management decisions we make when we manage a portfolio of stocks.

Because we are bought over by the magical concept of compounding, we should always put our capital to work by “buying things”

There are times when its hard to find things that are well priced and if you force yourself to get invested, you might get your capital impaired.

Geoff Gannon wrote a good piece that you can afford to hold cash here.

11. Your investment must provide a dividend

I am guilty of this as well.

There are wealth builders that won’t buy some investments that doesn’t distribute dividends because that means no “passive income”

This rigid belief scuttles you from buying some companies that have good growth and good cash flow yet distributes little dividends.

What is important is that as an investor, you are able to tell that the cash flow in the business is genuine, put to good use, and generate a good return on investment.

You can create the “passive income” later when you liquidate the company at full value, when it gain 300%, then move it to a better paying dividend stock to distribute a larger amount of money.

It is important to be fundamentally sound when making investment decision but also flexible in decision making.

12. Eating Out and Not Cooking

This decision may look very familiar considering how many of you guys and gals have a family while working. Before you jump the gun, yes I am aware that time is never a luxury.

However, there are folks that do not cook for the reasons that it will make their house a mess, make the house smelly and oily and it will be a chore to clean up.

Due to this every meals are eaten out and when you are tight on money there are not much ways to really save on meal cost.

If you have a family of 4, when time is available on the weekends, cooking allows you to control part of the survival expenses, allows you to eat food that is within your control so that you can focus on wellness.

This would cut down on your medical costs as well.


The following are reader contributed and if you can think of more, I will feature it here

13. I will not do this kind of job because __________

My reader Jieren blogs here provides me with this contribution.

There are certain stigma to certain nature of jobs that you will refrain from doing. Something very close to Jieren is the concept of shift work.

When people hear that this work requires doing shifts, they might immediately cringe and discard as a viable option.

From his experience the job could pay significantly better with similar benefits, and that will aid in your wealth building.

14. I have to send my child to a private university

This contribution comes from the wise Andrea Kennedy at Wiser Wealth.

In USA, there are state university and private university. The private university are look upon as more prestigious as well as providing a better job prospect upon graduation.

The tuition fee however is night and day.

Here is Andrea:

I can pretty much tell you first hand that a hard working student does well in this world regardless of what college he goes to!

After 10 years of work experience, what college matters much less than what you have actually done with those ten years!

A study that I read not too long ago does point to that the salaries of private university is higher, but over time they do not show a clear distinct advantage over the long run.

The solution: Be more flexible and accepting to alternate ideas

The fix for a simple rational problem is to have less rules that hold you back in building wealth.

This will entail making some hard choices as a family, as a couple or on your own.

Money is the cancer that eats us away when we avoid and run away from making these decisions.

The facts are as it is.

If there are some tips on the ability to accept other ideas it is:

  • learn the valuable skill of influence, negotiation
  • build up knowledge. Without knowledge how would you know your way of thinking is wrong and there are better ways out there

Non-negotiable Rules can be very helpful

Why do I think other rigid decisions are acceptable?

If the decisions are made that are fundamentally sound, making it rigid ensures you always prioritize good things first. When you focus on the good and less resources on the unsound, your family and yourself will turn out generally better.

A good example is paying yourself first.

You can choose to spend your money any how you want then to save. Having this non-negotiable decision means I make it by hook or by crook to pay myself first before the money flows to others.

And I do not give myself the flexibility not to do that.

This could be very simply done by setting an automatic bank transfer.

This is fundamentally sound because, if you consistently put your money away, your wealth will build up.

Rigid things can work both ways and in this case, this is a good to have.

Take Stock: How many Non-Negotiable Rules that impede wealth do you have?

I wonder how many of these non-negotiable decisions were made by yourself, your spouse or the people around you.

Did having these rigid non-negotiable decisions had an adverse impact on their ability to build wealth?

My philosophy in life is to have non-negotiable decisions. But only when they make a lot of sense, after you have verified with sound mentors. For the rest, each non-negotiable is going to make me more unhappy.

I don’t want to be too unhappy.

I don’t think you want that either.

If you manage to have a large amount of non-negotiable decisions, but are not willing to try doing things differently, most people cannot help you.

Only you can change your destiny.

Be an ostrich, hide your head in the ground and pretend that you did not see this list at Investment Moats. It will make your life better convincing yourself that the best person to make these good decisions is you.

Do you have some non-negotiable decisions that prevent your friends and relatives from building wealth? I would love to hear about them. Share with us!



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Nicholas Dutko

Monday 25th of January 2016

There are many avenues people can take to become "wealthy". I myself started my own business and busted my butt for a few years to really see my hard work pay off. I still go out to eat with my wife, I still buy things that I want, I own my own house, etc.. Not only do I live a comfortable life I also have delegated my work so I only work 3-5 hours per day MAX. I absolutely love my life. To me, wealth is not only money, but enjoying life. I do agree with many of your rules, but not all of them because I violate some of them for sure. The key for me was to find my passion. That ended up being business. I love business and growing a business and seeing my ideas and creation come to life. After putting in the work I am able to sit back and enjoy my life much more than many others. If you are looking to be wealthy in life, find what your passionate in. Live your dream and just be happy.


Sunday 24th of January 2016


I obeyed 1 rule u listed. I stayed with my in-laws.

2000 is not impossible, as I know of people who did that. Go agency and also private...

But I dun really have much respect for them. They do the bare minimum in their work


Sunday 24th of January 2016

Hi Kyith,

I believed most will run foul with a few of those rules.

I usually let my wife has her way, but I think we are communicating better now in terms Of expenses and holidays

As for teachers earning $2000 or more for tuition, seriously, I dun think they are doing their work properly In school. To get that amount assuming you do a good rate of $60/hr means your are allocating about 8 hours a week to tuition.

Something have to give. In this case, I guess the quality of her/ his pupils learning.

I accept and agree about your first few points about work. So I worked during most nights and also on weekend, and I couldn't prepare my lessons to the best I could hope for.

If u tell someone can have 8 hrs less every week and provide top notch teaching in class... I am Not convinced

These are people who left at the dot of the bell to give tuition


Sunday 24th of January 2016

hi silly investor,

thanks for going meta into this. i am not a well verse person in the tuition scene, but i can only cite the example of someone who have just started teaching. i wonder how she copes. i think u have to be realistic if you are not delivering exceptional quality, making up with tuition is not so bad.

what are you looking for: recognition and a career status or plain old money?

thanks for sharing your spousal experience as well. i got a feeling your relationship with your spouse is the sort that are trying to bridge the "we can't understand why you look at money this way gap". any good lessons for those of us who are still getting to grips with this?

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