By Vijitha Yapa

Everyone in the world, whether rich or poor, has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – because one doesn’t need to contract the disease to suffer from its effects. A native author, Dr. Anton Sebastian – who wrote ‘A Complete Illustrated History of Sri Lanka’ – was one of the first victims of this dreaded disease in the UK.

He was in retirement but felt it was his duty to help out during the crisis. Unfortunately, he contracted the disease from a patient and succumbed to it.

With a curfew spanning more than three months, Sri Lanka suffered… and many a businessperson suffered too. Shops may have reopened but the usual customers were missing – either because they didn’t have the money or are now content to do less shopping and don’t want to take their families along with them.

One can expect an impact such as this after bomb blasts, riots, floods or earthquakes; but this was a tsunami of a different kind. Several weeks of havoc were unleashed on some 210 countries almost simultaneously, and this pandemic created a tragic scenario that no storyteller could have ever imagined.

Dreams built over years faded and savings vanished. How many were amazed to see Americans driving Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs lining up to get free supplies from ‘food banks’ in the US?

COVID-19 was a leveller of sorts and taught many of us about the impermanence of life.

In this scenario, a book on what millionaires do to create wealth would be of interest. On the inside page, a Tanzanian proverb states: “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” On the back page, the publisher describes the book as a one-step guide to wealth. The publication discusses the habits, techniques and mindsets of self-made millionaires.

These stories are those of people who didn’t inherit their wealth but created it on their own. The author explains in detail a hundred things that millionaires did to reach their current position in life. His previous book – titled ‘100 Things Successful People Do’ – detailed what individuals can do to succeed in life.

Nigel Cumberland is also a cofounder of The Silk Road Partnership, which is a leading global provider of executive coaching and leadership training solutions to some of the world’s premier organisations.

Do earnings increase each year and can people live off their wealth without having to sell any investments is a question the author focusses on. He underlines that when it comes to money, there’s no shortcut and impatience lowers one’s guard.

The disasters surrounding finance companies in Sri Lanka have highlighted how the search for a little more interest than what’s offered by banks has resulted in heartbreaking stories of losses.

Cumberland emphasises that more wealth doesn’t necessarily translate into increased happiness since more money means increased stress. Excess money also results in constant comparisons, which leads to feelings of envy and jealousy.

He asks economists who speak of a ‘hedonic treadmill’ – where many grow bored with what they acquire – why get on that treadmill in the first place?

Balancing risk with opportunity is another factor. If spending money is fun, planning not to spend it isn’t thrilling. Another important aspect to reckon with is the ‘poor me’ feeling; a ruminative tendency to dwell on what one doesn’t have rather than on possible solutions – as explained by the late Dr. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema.

He suggests compiling a list of what one has, as well as the positive attributes and skills one possesses. To get out of a rut, one needs to focus on solutions rather than dwell on problems.

Plugging leaks of money is another important step in heading for riches and he rightly points out that no one is immune to spending cash on things that aren’t important. He suggests double-checking direct debits and autopay instructions, and pre-empting any surprises.

Monitoring expenses daily will help identify what one is signing up or paying for. Most people aren’t aware about much of what they own. He adds that an inventory will be a great help and says that purchases made on impulse buying in the heat of the moment often results in buyers’ remorse.

Stressing that savings are the cornerstone of wealth creation, he suggests that at least 10 percent of one’s wages should be saved monthly. The recent pandemic has left many destitute in the West as they had hardly any savings.

This book makes interesting reading with many tips on how millionaires acquired their wealth. Cumberland emphasises that while one can’t simply copy another’s success story, the most dangerous risk lies in not taking one.