John Wooden‘s incredible TED Talk from March 2009, speaking on the difference between winning and succeeding. With profound simplicity, Coach John Wooden redefines success and urges us all to pursue the best in ourselves. In this inspiring talk he shares the advice he gave his players at UCLA, quotes poetry and remembers his father’s wisdom.
Backstory. This article stems from a reply on a video by Beau of the Fifth Column sharing his thoughts on Patty Hearst, the homeless, and pitchforks.
In the video he uses an example of Jeff Bezos and what he could accomplish if he used his net worth to directly affect homelessness, and I disagreed with the premise itself because it failed to consider a few things, for example the 300,000 plus employees that would be out of work at just one of his companies.
The conversation turned toward financial intelligence and wealth inequality and I took the time to explain a lot of the things that I learned on my journey to achieve financial freedom (wealth).
I’ve included the video here for you to enjoy, but most importantly, I decided to share some of the financial advice that I learned along the way, and I hope that they will help you as much as they helped me.
Leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought. Which piece of advice was most relevant to you?
Financial Rules I With They Taught Me In School
1. Stop caring where your money comes from. There are many ways to make money, but people tend to limit themselves to making money only from one way.
We hear it all the time, for example, “you want to make money? Get a job“. That is absolutely ridiculous thinking that leads to poverty.
As long as it’s legal and ethical, I don’t care where my money comes from. That was the hardest lesson for me.
2. The wealthy are wealthy because the find two or three ways to make money doing what they’re already doing.
This is a really important one because most people only get 1 paycheck. What if you could make 2 or 3 or more?
For example, I run a music business. I was teaching music privately. That was one paycheck.
Then I wrote a book teaching music theory. I did the work once and it pays over and over again. That’s two paychecks.
Then I started a music blog syndicating news from other sources and I earn money on advertising AND I receive a commission for music sales.
That’s two more paychecks.
I’m in the process of creating different products and services to sell. That’s two or three more paychecks.
I do the work ONCE and I get paid over and over and over. I turned one paycheck into many paychecks, and I didn’t have to take on any large time commitments.
That skill is important because of this next one.
3. The game of wealth boils down to having more assets than liabilities. To simplify this, at the end of the day an asset is anything that puts money in your pocket, and a liability is anything that takes money out of your pocket.
Owning a home is a liability. It continues to cost you money. Maintenance and upkeep, mortgage, taxes…
The value, (financially speaking), is the equity, which isn’t worth anything until you sell your home, (there is an important lesson about this coming up).
Your car is a liability too.
Your home and car are obvious liabilities, but there is also a liability that most people don’t recognize – their jobs! That’s right, your job can become a liability.
Your job is an asset as long as it pays more than the liability.
It costs money to have a job. You have to pay for clothes, (some people pay for uniforms), some have union dues, gotta pay for gas and maintain your ride, transit if you don’t have one, you have withholdings for taxes, etc.
In order to have a job, you need a place to live, and a working telephone, and a way to get there. This by the way is why homeless people can’t just go out and get a job. It takes a lot more than a shower, a haircut and good clothes.
All of the things needed to find and maintain a job are liabilities.
This is why companies will lay off employees. When productivity drops, employees are still costing them money, (maintaining safety standards, retirement and health insurance contributions, and more).
TIP: If you have a job, the BEST way to keep it, or get a raise, is to show your employer that you’re an asset, not a liability.
So, at the end of the day, if you are making MORE money than the liabilities you have, your job is an asset.
If it’s not covering everything, it’s a liability. You still have to pay to keep your job, but it’s no longer covering everything.
The solution most people have is to decrease their lifestyle. They’ll cut back, try to save. Those are SHORT TERM solutions. The long term solution isn’t to decrease your lifestyle, it’s to INCREASE your income.
Getting a second job, putting in more hours… those are also short term solutions because you’re trading time for money, and you only have so much energy and so much hours in the day, and if you fall sick or die?
You have to create more income. This is where #1 and #2 come in. You have to stop caring where the money comes from, only that it’s legal and ethical, and you have to find more ways to make money doing what you’re already doing.
The game of wealth is this. Have more assets than liabilities.
Addressing the previous point where I said there is a lesson coming up, here are three guidelines the wealth use for HOW they spend money.
4. They understand that all money is someone else’s money. The only reason to build wealth is to spend it. It’s not your money. You’re only holding on to it to give to someone else for something of value.
You have to start thinking in terms of, “what will I trade this money for?“. If you’re saving for retirement, the money belongs to the people you’re going to trade it to for what you need – the electric company, healthcare, etc.
ALL money is someone else’s money. We have to lose the idea that it’s “my” money.
Jeff Bezos for example, has a huge net worth. But that’s not his money. That’s his employee’s money, and the power company’s money, and his investors’ money, and his affiliates’ money, and everyone else that he spends money on. That is their money. It’s not his.
Divorce from the idea that we own money. We don’t. Money is just a tool that we hold on to for someone else.
5. This is the big one – Money only has value when it’s used.
You got a million dollars in the bank? You don’t have anything of value until you spend it. Until then, it’s just ones and zeros on a screen, numbers in a register, or numbers printed on a piece of paper.
It will do nothing for you until you use it. And if you just let it sit there, it devalues over time, so you end up with less money than you started with.
You have to put money to work. If you don’t use it, you will lose it.
Like your home. Equity does you no good until you use it. If your home is a liability, one of the best ways to turn it into an asset, is to rent or lease it out.
You’ll learn this about the wealthy. They rent where they live, and own what they rent.
Did you know, that for the same cost as a traditional home, you could get a commercial building?
A lot of real estate investors start out, not buy buying a home, but buying a small apartment complex for roughly the same amount of money. They will live in one of the units and rent out the others.
They still got their mortgage payments, except now they have tenants, and they’re making more money than the payments on the building and if it’s done correctly, they essentially live in their own building rent free.
Each rented apartment is a stream of income, and they continue to work their jobs. So if instead of a house you get a duplex, live in one, and rent out the other.
I’m not saying go out and do that. I’m using that as an example. There’s a whole LOT to learn about real estate investing that you should learn.
Okay, I lied. I’m sorry. You’re not getting 5 rules. You’re getting 6.
6. Outside of necessities, don’t spend money unless there is a tax benefit, makes you money, or has the potential to make money.
That third one is a book when you break it down. Bottom line, you have to become money smart, and apply the strategies that opens the door to new opportunities.
In other words, before you spend money on something, ask yourself, “is this a liability or an asset? Can it become an asset?“.
When you think in terms of assets and liabilities, and only spend money when it benefits you, (a tax benefit, makes you more money, or has the potential to make money), you’ll find that you have a lot more resources than you think you do.
As a BONUS, I’ll share with you something that literally changed my life.
It’s a financial lesson that I received on a Monday night call with someone who I watched make over a million dollars over the course of 8 months to a year, from scratch. It’s always stuck with me.
He said, “Your bank account doesn’t reflect who you are, but who you are being and your thoughts about money“.
Wealth is a mindset and money game that anyone can play, and quite frankly, should play.
On the topic of money, there is a book I highly recommend. It’s called Money Master The Game by Tony Robbins. It was instrumental in helping me transition from working a job to running my own business at home, and is continuing to help me as I work toward building wealth.
(7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom)
My journey to financial freedom was a long one. I didn’t know anything about money, but I knew I needed to do something differently because what I did wasn’t working.
Before I give you my review on the book, and why I highly recommend it, you need to understand where I started my journey years ago.
I was working construction at the time, making $9.00 an hour and driving almost two hours one way to get to work, where I had to pay for parking.
I pulled in to the lot that day, tired as always, and reached into my pocket only to realize that my last $20 bucks was gone. I put too much in gas and didn’t have enough.
I was already sick of the job but that day broke me.
I sat there in my van, crying and trying to figure out just what the heck I was going to do. I was dabbling in work at home stuff but didn’t take it seriously, but I was learning financial principles.
All of the stuff I was learning was going through my head and I think it was the first time I understood my situation for what it was.
I was in my late twenties, working construction, driving my mom’s van, and even though I was working and contributing, I was still at home with my parents. I didn’t have two pennies to rub together.
What kind of man was I going to make? How was I ever going to have a family of my own some day? A million thoughts were running through my head and none of them were good.
After a while somethign clicked in my head. I was still upset, but my mind became focused.
I breathed deep and said, “I can’t do this shit anymore” and left. I was so stressed that day, I passed my exit three times on the way home.
It was the saddest and best day of my life, and more than a decade later, I’ve done what a lot of people only talk about, being able to make money from home.
That road was NOT easy for me, and I promise I’ll share some of those stories another time, but during the hardest times, like after the economy crash, I had to learn how to make money, and make it fast.
I had to become money smart. I had to learn how money worked and get rid of the mindsets that kept me where I was.
I learned about MONEY Master The Game watching to a Tony Robbins video on YouTube of all places. I don’t remember how exactly it was presented to me, but I am glad that I bought it.
This book features advice from some of the greatest financial minds today, and Tony Robbins lays the information out in a way that’s easy to follow and apply.
It is a cache of financial wisdom, and is must read for anyone who’s looking for a way to gain financial freedom. If ever there were a “money bible”, this is it.
As of late, I’ve been involved in some interesting financial debates, and from the progressive point of view, billionaires have become a dirty word, something evil to be banished.
I wanted to address the topic of money, but before I do, take the time to watch the video below. My response, as I would have responded to them is below it.
The ideas they have are actually really wrong, and while I understand the progressive point of view, but the pitch isn’t exactly objective.
Let me show you something cool.
According to financial experts, (quoting from the Wiki page):
“Essentially, the wealthy possess greater financial opportunities that allow their money to make more money. Earnings from the stock market or mutual funds are reinvested to produce a larger return. Over time, the sum that is invested becomes progressively more substantial. Those who are not wealthy, however, do not have the resources to enhance their opportunities and improve their economic position. Rather, “after debt payments, poor families are constrained to spend the remaining income on items that will not produce wealth and will depreciate over time.”
What gives the wealthy those opportunities is a results of differences in income.
Again quoting, “Economic inequality is a result of difference in income. Factors that contribute to this gap in wages are things such as level of education, labor market demand and supply, gender differences, growth in technology, and personal abilities. The quality and level of education that a person has often corresponds to their skill level, which is justified by their income”
When we actually dig into all of the causes, there are productivity and compensation gaps, market factors (including globalization, education, incentives, etc.), and tax and transfer policies.
There are other factors on top of that too like the decline of unions, immigration, corporatism, and so on, but what we know for sure that impacts wealth inequality are the ones that I first quoted.
Actually being wealthy isn’t a cause of poverty.
To give you a perspective of that statistics, there are about 3.5 million homeless people in the US. That is about 0.5% of the population – and don’t hold your breath yet.
While there are some states experiencing a rise in homeless rates, overall, it’s been decreasing since 2007. 2017 was the first year the numbers ticked up in a while. Source.
Here’s something else that is interesting. There are 14.5 million millionaires in the US. That’s about 12% of the US households.
And according to the census bureau, about 12.3% of US households live in poverty.
So the number of households between millionaires and poverty is about the same, or relatively close).
And, there are 540 billionaires in the US.
So to recap:
1. billionaire isn’t a dirty word, since being wealthy in and of itself isn’t the cause of poverty. Lack of opportunities are.
2. Homelessness is actually decreasing not increasing.
The solution progressives are looking for isn’t to take away the money billionaires have and give it to everyone else. That’s literally theft.
The solution is to correct the bad policies and faults in the system that create wealth inequality.
And I say that because while taxation has an effect on budgeting, just taking away the money from billionaires will have a devastating effect on the economy.
For example, if we take away Jeff Bezos’ money, the 300,000 plus families that rely on a paycheck from Amazon will be unemployed and lose their health insurance. Because he wouldn’t be able to keep the company afloat.
Not only that, but the money he invests in companies that change our lives every day will be gone.
Also, he’s a philanthropist that funds companies that research and develop life extending treatments. That will be gone too.
To give you an idea of how much value Bezos puts into the economy, without him, Amazon wouldn’t be the only company that disappears.
Without Bezos there wouldn’t be Amazon, Alexa, Juno, Audible, Twitch, Zappos, Whole Foods and HomeTown Grocer, Twitter, Business Insider, StackOverflow, IMDB, LivingSocial, Twilio…
Oh yeah, there probably wouldn’t be a Google either, because Bezos helped invest to get them off the ground.
Just him operating his businesses pours millions every year into the economy.
How much does he spend buying resources to run the company? Office supplies, furniture, building maintenance, utilities.
There are a few hundred thousand people working because they buy cars. That private plane he has, they didn’t built it themselves. There’s a manufacturer out there with employees getting paid to build those, and maintain them.
There are thousands of families in the energy sector that has to drill, process and distill the fuel.
There are shipping companies that have to move the stuff they buy from point A to point B.
He has a multi-million dollar home and estate. He didn’t built it himself. A lot of people went to work, and a lot of people still work to keep it up.
That’s the thing about being wealthy. They put a lot of money directly into the US economy just to maintain everything they have.
And the elephant in the room?
We take their money away – what happens after the money is gone?
They can’t maintain everything they built so there is significantly less money they will be making. It’ll run out in a couple years.
The problems that cause wealth inequality will still be there.
And you know who will benefit? The people with the skills and education to capitalize on making more money, and make more money.
Everyone else will still be in the same boat.
As someone who was working as a farm hand and living in a plywood shack for a time, and is working his butt off to become one of the wealthy, let me share three rules about how the wealthy spend their money.
1. All money is someone else’s money.
2. Money has no value unless it’s traded for something else.
3. The only time the wealthy spend money, outside of necessities is when it falls into 3 categories.
- There is a tax benefit
- It makes them more money
- It has the potential to make them more money
That’s the only time they spend money.
If you don’t understand how money works, it doesn’t matter how much money you take from the wealthy. The problems that cause inequality will never be solved.
And yes, I hear you. “They’re hogging all the wealth!“
That’s also factually wrong.
They employ people by the hundreds of thousands. They are they investing in other businesses, and they are funding charities and research. That’s not counting the amount of money that goes directly into the economy to maintain their lavish lifestyles.
They aren’t hogging it.
The mindset that wealth can somehow run out, is wrong as well. That’s thee lack of financial education rearing it’s head.
Do you know how our government works?
The US Treasury decides when to print money, but the Federal Reserve controls the supply, and it uses a balance of credit and interests rates to moderate supply and demand, backed by reserve requirements.
You know what determines the value of the dollar? Supply and demand. There is no direct mechanism for establishing the value of the U.S. dollar, which means the whole thing only works because people believe it has value.
The Federal Reserve can, at any time increase their balance sheets and increase the amount of money available to be borrowed by increasing their reserve requirement.
That means the amount of money made available has no set limit.
When things tend to get out of hand, banks intercede to stabilize it. That’s how the whole thing works.
There is no limit on how much money there is or can be as long as people believe it has value. What they use as collateral? Gold, silver and precious metals.
Take gold for example, we aren’t running out of gold anytime soon.
Right now, as collateral backing for our currency, the US has 8,000 Tonnes of gold.
It is estimated that there is about $35 BILLION tons of gold on dry land, which means in all of human history, we’ve mined roughly 0.00047% of the world’s surface gold.
AND as long as there are stars in the sky, there will always be gold for as long as the universe exists.
And that’s just gold. We’re not talking about the other things we use as collateral backing for our currency.
Money can literally never run out. As I said, it’s just an idea. If the dollar disappeared today, it would be replaced by something else that we assign value to and trade in that.
I get this was a ridiculously long post.
I took the time to write it because the focus on billionaires *is* the distraction, and a pointless one at that.
As long as the US constitution exists, nobody can tell anyone how much, where, when or how to spend their money. It’s just not going to happen.
What we need to focus on is Congress. They make the laws. They are the ones that will have to change it.
Hopefully those of you who really care about wealth inequality will learn from the post about how money works.
CREDIT: Super Yacht Concept image by Digital Trends feature.
Dan Kennedy wrote the foreword for this book and I have to agree with his assessment that DOTCOM Secrets is a lot more than what the title suggests.
It says “the underground playbook for growing your company online“, but the truth is that this book is arguably the single most important book that I’ve ever read.
Up until I read this book, I didn’t have a business.
I had my websites, I had products, I had services, and I was marketing them, but I didn’t have a business. I was a strategy chaser, which means that I was always going from one strategy to another trying to keep the money coming in.
I didn’t have an actual structure to anything I did. I didn’t have a system in place that could walk people who visited my websites or responded to my marketing through a process that got them to buy, upgrade, or renew products and services.
I had to do a lot of that on the phone or through email.
Also, I spent a lot of time on the wrong people. If you’ve ever run a business then you know what I mean. People who always complain, they’re negative, they want all of your time, but they never follow through on their commitments.
They sucked the energy out of me and the made being in business for myself stressful and it became like a job that I hated, which is why I started working from home to get away from in the first place.
DOTCOM Secrets helped me to transform my websites into a robust, thriving business. It helped me to find the right people as well; where to find them and how to attract them.
Applying what I learned made the sales process easy, to the point where I don’t have to chase people all the time, or constantly chase down new business.
What I learned saved me a lot of time, money and frustration… and it works. The information is dead on point and proven in business. It’s not fly by night strategies that I used to chase.
Probably the best part is that I’m not stressed out anymore, and I actually look forward to running my businesses.
If you have a business, or if you’re thinking about starting one, I *highly* recommend reading this book. It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re in or thinking about getting into, I say this is mandatory reading.
At the time of writing, this book is currently free. Do take advantage of it and get your copy.