8 Keys (and 24 Stocks) To Build Wealth Today

9 Ways to Build Wealth in 2011

It turns out that most of the battle is knowing what makes a company strong. And after years of crunching the numbers, Ive figured out the eight most important variables that help predict a companys profit potentialwhat I call my eight Wealth Building Keys. In this special report I not only go over these eight fundamental variables; I also give you eight of my top small- and mid-cap picks that you can buy to profit no matter what the rest of The Elevation Group Wall Street is up to. Ill also point you to two dozen big names on Wall Street that are doing an excellent job in staying fit and trim fundamentally. Without further ado, lets get started Key #1: Sales Growth This is one of the hardest numbers to fake. Sales are the lifeblood of any businesswhether it is selling a service, a gadget, raw materials or anything else under the sun. There are many ways that companies can temporarily find capital, such as selling off assets or making outside investments, but its always bad news if people arent buying what a business is selling. Great companies make sure that sales increase month to month and year to year so they can expand, dominate their industry and deliver big returns to shareholders. Click here to see my top three stocks by sales growth .

"Compare that to investing the same amount for the same time period earning the same return in a no-load, small-cap, value fund with low operating expenses," she says. "Your balance would be $19,128 and you would have paid $408 in operating expenses." The difference: $3,123. Tip for success: Calculate cost and differences with Bankrate's mutual fund fees calculator. 3. No Shortcuts: Year After Year of Consistent Savings Ric Edelman, chairman and CEO of Edelman Financial Services LLC, and author of "The Truth About Money": "The best way to build wealth remains unchanged: Invest as much money as you can (which is usually more than you think you can) into a diversified set of low-cost mutual funds and exchange-traded funds -- and keep doing this for many years, no matter what." 4. Get Rid of High-Interest Card Debt David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies: "For most people, building wealth is not about what to do with excess disposable income," he says, but "how to keep more of the money that they earn." "The best way to do that: Reduce the amount of money spent on interest payments -- especially high-interest payments attached to credit card purchases," Jones says. "If a consumer can work to pay off just one high-interest credit card and not overcharge it again, then the money saved after it is paid off can go to a building-wealth plan. This may not be easy, and it may take time, but it's a realistic goal for just about every consumer." Tip for success: Find a certified credit counselor to help you draft your own personal spending plan for free.

How to Trick Yourself Into Building Wealth

Instead of making 12 monthly decisions to save money every year, make one decision and set up an automatic bank draft each month. Too many people regard all of the cash in their checking accounts as cash on the launching pad for spending. But by using bank drafts, you can build up a surprising sum over time, especially if you increase your monthly contribution periodically. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Little strokes fell great oaks." You can authorize a draft to a savings account or directly to investments, such as mutual funds and brokerage accounts; many of these arrangements allow drafts as low as $50 per month. This enables people who can't afford many shares of stock or even oneto incrementally work toward stock ownership. Whether your incremental payments go into a fund or individual stocks, make sure that commissions and expenses aren't eating too much of your return. Be sure to read the prospectus and annual reports before you invest. This arrangement has the advantage of enabling dollar-cost averaging the practice of regularly investing a set dollar amount in a given stock or fund, rather than regularly buying a set number of shares.