(Hard work is only half the story.Flickr / aisletwentytwo)
In school, we learn that hard work will get us ahead in life. Work hard, earn more, get rich.
But, "that's only half the story," says Ric Edelman, founder and executive chairman of Edelman Financial Services, one of the nation's leading financial advising firms, and author of the new book "The Truth About Your Future: The Money Guide You Need Now, Later, and Much Later."
In fact, Edelman told Business Insider in a recent Facebook Live interview, "If all you do in life is work really hard, you're never going to get wealthy. Because it's not enough that you work hard to make money to set some of it aside."
Edelman says in order to ensure future wealth, you must "equally" work smart.
Specifically, by investing.
It's an age-old concept. Take the game of Monopoly, for example. If you're simply rolling the dice and passing GO to collect your paycheck, only to stockpile that cash, you're going to get crushed by your opponents who are strategizing to buy up properties that will get the most returns.
That's not so far from reality. Ultimately, the greatest financial reward comes from working smart, Edelman said. That is, taking advantage of compound interest by investing so that your money earns money on itself.
"You will never achieve financial success if you put your money into a bank account, or a CD, or a T-bill, or a muni bond, or an annuity product," he says. These types of accounts often offer interest rates below 1%.
Instead, you should be looking at the stock market, Edelman said, which has had a historical average return rate of 10% since the 1920s. "It's really easy to do and you can do this and generate high single-digits, 6, 7, 8, 9% — and that's all it takes to enjoy the benefits of compound growth over many decades. "
Investing doesn't mean you have to risk it all. "You can do this without taking a huge amount of risk, you can do this without a lot of effort, you can do this without a lot of time," he said. "All you need to do is build a diversified mix of investments, using low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or mutual funds, and build a diversified portfolio on a global basis," he said, adding that real estate is another great place to invest.
The bottom line: Continually working harder won't be enough in the long run. But figuring out how to maximize the money you do have will make you rich.