I woke up one morning lying on the floor halfway in the hallway and halfway in my hotel room.
Sucking at life again.
Scared and terrified and suicidal. Stop it. Stop it! Once again, for the billionth time, I had made money and then lost all of it.
And then I stopped.
There’s three skills to money: making it, keeping it, growing it.
I had been decent at making it. Horrible at the other two.
There’s four pre-skills before you make money: physical health, emotional health (staying away from toxic people), creative health (be creative every day), spiritualhealth (learning to surrender what you can’t control).
I was bad at all four. I had to get better.
I know what it’s like to be rich. I know what it’s like to be poor.
First: some basics:
I say these are basics, because just doing the below takes you to even. But then you have to do the items I mention below these to build wealth.
I can tell within a minute if someone is going to end up rich or poor.
Poor people talk about saving money by not buying a Starbucks.
Rich people buy a Starbucks coffee and make an extra $4.
Rich people talk about ideas.
Poor people talk about people.
Rich people talk about skill acquisition.
Poor people gossip.
Rich people think about self-improvement.
Poor people say things like, “relations are hard work”.
Rich people spend years finding the right people who will build them up and who they will build up.
Poor people think “the 4 Hour Work Week” means, “work only 4 hours”.
Rich people think “the 4 Hour Work Week” means “get 40 hours of work done in 4 hours. Then repeat.”
Poor people write comments on YouTube.
Rich people learn by watching videos on YouTube.
(comments on a random YouTube video)
Poor people give up doing the things they love so they have more time to do the things they hate (like work).
Rich people find out how to make the things they love, one of the things they work at.
- THEY DON’T DO EXTRA
When I worked a 9–5 job I noticed one thing: nobody worked.
People would come in around 9 or so. Take a cigarette break at 10. Have meetings throughout the day. Surf the web.
Take a two hour lunch. Start packing around 4pm.
I’m not saying “work hard”. I’m saying work.
Most people do what they can to make it seem like they are working but they aren’t fooling anyone.
Work has results. No results means no work.
Work smart instead of work hard. But still work hard.
ONE WEEKEND, my first year at my fourth job, I stayed the weekend and worked at something I believed would help the company.
That one weekend of extra work changed my entire life. I got promotions, I got oportunities, ultimately I started a business (building websites for corporation) which I sold for millions.
All you have to do is be a little proactive and you’re ahead of 99% of your co-workers.
If your boss says “do X”, then do “X + Y”. Then you get promoted, then you build a network, then you get new opportunities, then you connect the dots and get side hustles that help each other. Then you get rich.
- THEY ALWAYS PAY THEIR DEBTS
If you are struggling to make your bills and feed your family. Stop paying your credit card and mortgage.
People say, “I can’t do that, I’m ethical.”
I’m not saying to stiff your friends Pay your friends back! Be a good person.
But when you take out a loan from a bank you sign a contract. The contract has two parts:
a. Pay it back and then the big, nice bank leaves you along.
b. Don’t pay it back and then the bank goes after you.
That’s the DEAL. You both signed it. It’s not about ethics. It’s about what part of the contract you want to follow. The bank is perfectly happy with either side of the contract.
When you stop paying credit card debt, here’s what happens:
- In 60–90 days the bank starts calling you every day. Don’t pick up.
- After 90 days the bank assumes you aren’t paying and they write the debt to zero.
- they sell your debt to a hedge fund or company that specializes in buying debt.
- for every $100 you owed, they sell it for about $6.
-now this new company calls you every day. Don’t pick up.
-they outsource to local lawyers to collect from you. The lawyers start to take it to small claims court. This takes over a year.
-when you are financially ready, make a deal to pay back $10 for every $100 and work out a payment plan.
-hire an agency to repair your credit score.
That’s it. No ethical issues. And you save money. And you are able to pay for your family during difficult times.
The only downside is that your credit score is temporarily damaged. But there’s solutions this.
When you stop paying mortgage debt,
Your bank calls every day. They begin foreclosure proceedings. Hire a cheap lawyer. It takes 18 months to foreclose.
Again, credit score is damaged but can be fixed OR
People underestimate that living in Airbnbs can be a valid lifestyle choice.
I advise this only in the case when your family is in trouble for any reason (like a Federal Shutdown and you are a federal worker).
Don’t be afraid of bank lenders. They are harmless in the long run and you will have more money.
But, don’t get a credit card anyway and don’t buy a house.
If you owe the IRS, here’s the solution:
The IRS loves it if you are proactive. They have a hard enough time dealing with people who are evading taxes.
If you owe taxes, call them up and work out a payment plan and ask them if it can start when you are no longer going through financial difficulties.
IRS agents hate being mean. They love it when you call them before they call you.
- THEY SAVE MONEY IN A 401K
This is a 401K — give Wall Street a chunk of your money and you don’t see it and you can’t touch it until you are 59 and a half.
Wall Street gets fees and fees and fees. And you may or may not make any money.
Instead, invest cash in skill acquisition or diversify investments.
- THEY BUY A HOUSE
It’s a myth that “rent is a flushing money down the toilet”.
When you buy a house:
a. you put 20% down. That cash is gone FOREVER (or until you sell house, but hen you buy another house and the cash is still gone).
b. you pay a mortgage + taxes + maintenance. I’m sure there are cases where this is less than the rent you can charge. But that’s rare.
So: in one situation you just pay cheap rent and you have the cash in hand that you would’ve given to the seller of the house.
And in the other situation you lose your 20%, you pay more money per month, and may or may not make money on the real estate (plenty of people have anecdotes but the future is always uncertain).
- THEY BUY NEW CARS
If a new car is $30,000 (average price of a car), a three year old car costs about $15,000.
Spread this out over an average of 13 cars in a lifetime (and assume you can sell a six year old car for $10,000) and you’ve saved a ton of money. Enough to send a bunch of kids to college.
(you can buy this used 2011 Rolls Royce Ghost for $96,000. It performs exactly the same as a new Rolls Royce Ghost for $368,000)
- THEY SEND THEIR KIDS TO COLLEGE
Let’s say you have two kids and they both go to college.
College costs are going up each year faster than inflation. If you are not going to send your kid to a community college but a private college, then you might spend up to $250,000 a year on college, books, living expenses.
Let’s say instead of spending that money you could put it invest conservatively and make 5% per year.
For two kids, that’s 3,600,000 in savings.
What about the kid, though?
What about the kid? Who cares?
(Quinnipiac College (what? who?) costs $50,000 a year and their President makes $3,500,000 a year salary).
Many firms (even Google) are no longer looking at college degrees. What they look for is skills.
There are a ton of GREAT online universities (Coursera, Lynda, Khan Academy, Teachable, even the entire MIT course catalog is online) where you can learn skills but without a degree.
College do not teach skills. Learn skills, use them, and in four years you have no debt (or your parents have more money) and you probably have four extra years job experience and experience building skills that are useful in the real work.
- THEY WASTE TIME TO SAVE MONEY
Save time wherever you can. Time is more valuable than money. Don’t cook (unless you love it) because you want to save a few dollars.
Cooking takes two or three hours between cooking and cleaning.
Order in. You’ll spend a little more money but you have more time for either rest and relaxing (unless cooking relaxes you) and more time for skill acquisition which will pay off huge in the future.
1% improvement in a skill per day compounds to 3800% better in a year.
If you start off equal with your competitors and improve 1% a day during the time they are cooking meals or cleaning their house then you will be 37x better in a year.
That means you will make a lot more money. More than 37x more money in many cases.
- THEY DON’T OVERPROMISE AND OVER DELIVER
100% of the time that I write “over promise and over deliver” someone tries to correct me and say, “Don’t you mean ‘ under promise and under deliver?’ “
When you under promise, you are lying.
You aren’t fooling anyone. And most people don’t over deliver after they under promise.
Why not over promise, challenge yourself to create and deliver and get out of your comfort zone, AND THEN deliver even more than you had planned.
Who is going to compete with you then? If you are an employee, you’ll get promoted.
If you are a business, you’ll get clients forever.
I can only say this is true from experience.
My first three jobs I under promised. I was a disappointment in all three jobs.
When I started over delivering, I ended up getting promoted, getting other job offers, starting a business, building a network.
This doesn’t mean I “hustled”. I just simply did what nobody else was willing to do. I surprised the people who expected work from me.
- THEY SOCIALIZE TOO MUCH
You have a big audition or interview the next day. But you promised a friend to show up at her party.
Then another friend is having a problem in his relationship.
Then another friend wants to talk on the phone for an hour.
And you no longer prepared for your job, or read a new book, or built a skill, or prepared for an audition, or wrote another chapter in a book.
Tomorrow, you say.
But tomorrow is another dinner. And after that dinner is another party.
(networking events are the worst waste of time. better to stay at home and read or build skills or just rest).
- THEY THINK THEY ARE SMARTER THAN THEY ARE
Here’s how I lose every dime I ever made until I stopped doing this.
I thought I was smart.
When I first made money after selling a business, I thought to myself, “I must be a genius!”
But I any skill acquisition (and keeping money and growing money are skills), by definition you are weak at first.
You have to learn to be good.
The only way to get better is to stand next to the smartest person in the room. Whether a real or virtual mentor.
Make small mistakes. Learn from them. Study them. Read a lot. Break the skill into micro-skills (investing, sales, negotiating, execution, etc).
I’ve lost money every time I’ve gone lone wolf and thought I was smart enough to do this. Well, I did done that and it didn’t work.
(Ted Kasczynsky was a Harvard professor with a 150 IQ and then went homeless and then became the Unabomber).
And finally, they work work work and then take a vacation two weeks a year.
Take a vacation every day. The brain burns 25% of your calories every day.
If you are “working smart” then your brain is going to need to re-energize every day.
Re-energize around 1–4PM every day. Some days you can’t. But try. You can’’t store up your rest time for just two weeks a year.
And vacations suck anyway.
First off, sand is really another word for “dirt”. It’s like dirt went to an ad agency and said, “What should we call ourselves?” And the ad agency came back with “sand” and wrote a bunch of poetry.
Second, vacations with kids are not vacations. They are simply exercises in keeping tiny, unqualified adults alive.
Take a vacation every day.
And if you travel on vacation make sure you have time to rest, learn, read.
(the basic family vacation looks like a horror story)
I’m not saying I’m the expert on what not to do and what to do when getting rich.
All I know is I’ve been rich, I’ve been poor, I’ve made it back, I’ve lost it, I’ve made it back.
Follow the above exactly, including the skills of money and the pre-skills. And then avoid the mistakes so you can survive the hard times and have more chances of building skills.
Then I bet you will get rich.
The best thing I ever did was saying “no” to networking events. I’ve saved so much time to saying no to things that everyone else felt would be good for me.
10 books to read:
The Evolution of Everything, Mastery, 12 Rules for Life, Tools of the Titans, Man’s Search for Meaning, Grit, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F, Zero to One, Choose Yourself!
(read this every time you feel the urge to go to a networking event).