Now there’s a blog title that will likely get attention!

(Bear with me . . . there really are a couple of genuine, practical points that I’m going to make.)

The problem is that many of us think that getting ahead financially is a matter of coming into a big inheritance, hitting the lottery, or getting in on some “exclusive” investment opportunity that’s going to make us rich.  In other words, some big one-time event is going to put us over the top, and we’ll be set for life.  Unfortunately, it almost never works out that way.

Now a few of us will get some kind of inheritance from our parents, and that will be helpful.  When my father died, I got most of the money I needed to buy a house.  But while that windfall did help me out quite a bit, it sure didn’t leave me set-for-life rich.

Regarding option two, well, let’s be honest:  no one reading this blog is going to win $1 million or more in the lottery.  Sorry, it just ain’t gonna happen, that’s all there is to it.  I’m going to play center for the Boston Celtics before you hit the winning powerball numbers.

That leaves the last option, getting in on some big investment opportunity, be it a hot stock tip or the guy you know at work who has just invented a new-fangled kahoozy in his garage that’s sure to sweep the nation and is looking for investors.  The chances of this happening are only slightly more probable than winning the lottery.  I’ve made a lot of investments in my time — some have done great, some just OK and a few have been disastrous.  But the point is, none of the above options can be counted on to help you really get ahead financially, that is, get on top of your finances so that you feel really secure.

No, I’m recommending just two sure-fire ways to get ahead:

(1) Watch your spending, that is, don’t spend more than you make, cut unnecessary expenses, pay off credit cards

(2) Save more.  Set aside money every month to put into your 401(k), IRA, or savings account.  Make this “payment” first — treat it like was a regular bill.

Yes, these are dull admonitions  — not even “secret” contrary to the title of this blog.  But nonetheless they’re still true. The simple, obvious fact for most of us is that we just need to watch our expenses, don’t spend more than we make, and save more, and that’s how we will get ahead.  All the fancy investment strategies in the world won’t make any difference if you don’t do these things. (And remember, this is an investment advisor saying this.)

From time to time you hear of some person who seemed to be of very modest means who dies and leaves millions to some charity or school.  “I never had any idea she had all that money,” the neighbors say.  It usually turns out that the person had lived frugally and had been setting aside small amounts for years and years, and over time, the money accumulated into a small fortune.

Most of us don’t have an ambition to leave this kind of legacy, although I could think of worse legacies to leave.  The point is that we would do well to change our thinking, change our perspective, from the idea that a big one-time infusion of money will turn our finances around to instead just do the simple little things, day-by-day, that will make us financially secure in the long run.