I can still remember when I first read The Millionaire Next Door. I was new in my career having moved from my small hometown to “the city” (Oklahoma City) to start my adult working life. This was the early 90’s and there was a recession going on. For some reason, there did not seem to be much of a demand for people with a degree in Government from a small college and work experience that consisted of being a janitor at a hospital.
What a surprise!
I had tried to find a job for many months before I finally was offered one by Cellular One as a call center collections agent. The starting pay was $14,000 base with a possible $3,000 bonus which turned out to be the absolute minimum I thought I could survive on.
Flash forward just a couple of years later and I hear about this book that tells stories of how average people with an average income ended up being very wealthy. At the time, the primary learning I took away was that most millionaires did not drive Porsche 911 or wear an Italian suit. They instead drove used cars and shopped at JCPenny.
I wish I could say that it was at that moment that I started maxing out my savings, paying off debt, and living conservatively leading to retiring early at 40. Heck, I was hardly hanging on with a low income, a car loan weighing me down, credit card debt, and ramen noodles as my main food source.
I did buy a suit that year at JCPenny and I did enroll in a 401K for the first time. After that, I think I was done. Nonetheless, that book planted a seed of possibility into my mind that did not leave me.
If with age and failure also come wisdom, I am a really wise fellow. So much so that I want to help you in some ways to not be me and in a lot of ways to be me.
The bad stuff
Mostly this was having let fear get in the way. I have been with my employer for over 20 years which is a pretty rare thing nowadays. Unfortunately, during this time I experienced layoffs almost every year, and during those times I would “buckle down” by reducing my 401K savings thinking I needed to keep the cash up. Each time the outcome was the same. I still had a job.
The good stuff
This fear of job loss forced us into a conservative financial mindset with a low-cost lifestyle and relative to most people a high savings rate. I only wish that we had saved more sooner so we could have had even more benefit from the power of compounding.
My first real step
This started for me during my drives home from work. It just so happened that Dave Ramsey was on air at that time and I quickly became a superfan as I heard story after story from people that had transformed their lives by getting out of debt and by getting their spending lives under control. I was fortunate to have never dug too deep of a hole as I had no credit card debt by this time and instead only had the “normal” car debt and a mortgage. I loved the information so much that we eventually ended up being Finacial Peace facilitators and hosted the class at our house. By this time, we were 100% debt-free with no thoughts of ever having debt again.
The next big thing
I thought we were doing pretty well with having 0 debt, saving 10-15% of our income in a 401K all while paying for the son’s college debt-free.
Then came the wake-up call which is was in the form of the FIRE movement and awareness of the widely accepted 4% rule. I had not considered before that it was possible to retire well before the traditional ages of 62 or 67 and I certainly had never heard before that at retirement you would want to withdraw no more than 4% of your total savings.
So $1,000,000 in retirement savings would mean only $40,000 of pretax income. No way!
Oh, how I wish I had this information 15-20 years ago. Regardless, I have it now and my goal is to pass it onto you at a high level so you can learn and get control of your financial life.
Sorry for the long back story but I wanted you to know where I was coming from before laying down some information to help you join me where I am going with the rest of our conversation.
Are you ready now for the big secret?
The formula for winning with money is really quite simple.
- Avoid debt
- Save at a high rate over a long period of time
- Live below your means
- Grow your income
- Define your money values
- Define your life values
- Surround yourself with like-minded people
Yep, that is it.
Do these things and you will never work for money again. Instead, you will set up a perpetual wealth-building machine that makes money work for you. Sounds great huh?
The sauce to bind all of these things together is education, action, and averages. Go deep to learn many different opinions on how to reach financial independence, do something right now to get started, and increase your life average by surrounding yourself with people that are already where you want to be someday.
For me, I have several resources that have been my go-to these last several years. If I would have had access to this information AND had taken action way back in those early 90’s days I am convinced I would at this point in life be a very wealthy person.
Here is my win with a financial education list and please if you have others that you recommend please add them in the comments.
The Total Money Makeover-Dave Ramsey. Read and do this if you have debt
The Automatic Millionaire-David Bach
Unshakable- Tony Robbins
The Simple Path to Wealth- J L Collins
Think and Grow Rich-Napoleon Hill
The Chris Hogan Show
The Clark Howard Show
The Stacking Benjamins Show
I could add even more but do not want to overwhelm you. Just trust me that if you do nothing but go through these resources and then the next most important step with an action you will win!
Have more that you would add? Leave a comment for others (and me) to know.