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Staff photo by CHRIS BASHAMJim Ward of St. Leonard holds up a copy of his book "Wealth Virtues."
Jim Ward, a defense contractor living in St. Leonard, thinks anyone can become wealthy. His recently published first book, "Wealth Virtues," is a toolkit for anyone hoping to achieve that goal. First, though, readers may just have to redefine "wealth."
Ward spent much of his free time over the past year writing "Wealth Virtues," a step-by-step guide for decreasing debt and increasing wealth based on Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues. The book is full of practical advice, presented in a straightforward manner, as well as classic sayings from Franklin's writings. For both men, the key is not how much one earns; it's how much of what one earns and manages not to spend, so one can save and invest that money for the future.
"Most mid-income people should focus on, What will my life be like at 65? Will it be easy, or at least not encumbered by debt?'" Ward said.
In "Wealth Virtues," Ward combines Franklin's wisdom with the modern-day experience he has gained managing a large defense program management team.
"It gives you an idea of how things are spent, staying under budget, since it's taxpayer money," Ward said of his day job. He also runs Poor Richard Web Press, providing Internet and publishing services to small businesses.
Ward credits his wife, Linda, with encouraging him to focus on their shared financial goals in a way that enables them to enjoy the life they have, raise their three children well and invest for their future.
"Since we have chosen for me to stay home [and raise our children], what do we have to sacrifice for the bigger picture?" Linda Ward asked. "It's about not letting our desires get ahead of us, but using the virtues to make ourselves comfortable."
Ward also seeks advice from successful people he meets — no matter how they define success or how they have achieved it.
Ward encourages his readers to look inward, first, and evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses. Then, through a continuous effort of self-evaluation, education and discipline, the 13 virtues Franklin espoused can take root in life and create a more successful future, rich not only in financial matters but also in relationships, wisdom and impact on the larger society.
Beyond the basic framework of what Ward calls "The Cycle of Positive Wealth," the book also provides financial evaluation tools to help readers get started. Readers who want more extensive advice also can find links to online worksheets, organizations, discussion groups and businesses dedicated to helping individuals grow their own wealth through his website, www.wealthvirtues.com.