I told this story in my book. Roughly six months before I broke the income barrier I needed to pave the path to quitting my full-time job, I was dead broke. A weekend of buying my kid a few fish and going to Chik Fil a put my account in the negative.
Even though my side hustles were bringing in money, I had bills up the you know what. Don’t care if it’s politically incorrect. For me, as a man, it felt horrible to feel like I couldn’t take care of my family.
Throughout the process of building my career from having to live with my pregnant partner’s parents to having $10,000 months on auto-pilot, I always knew one thing for certain:
I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life being broke.
I’d die first. Literally, I knew in my heart I would die before giving up.
I didn’t want to live out the statistics you often see:
- Only 40 percent of Americans can afford a $1,000 emergency
- The median retirement savings is a mere $62,000 for people ages 60–69
- The average net worth of a 30-year-old is negative
I don’t look down on people for not having money. In many ways, their lot in life isn’t their fault at all.
Society is set up for you to fail. Without question, the game is rigged. Sometimes I think people don’t think I agree with them on that. I do.
You have to escape this fate, make no mistake about it.
Let’s take a look at some of the signs you have a fighting chance to do so.
You Hate Being Broke
“Complaining about your current position in life is worthless. Have a spine and do something about it instead.” — Robert Kiyosaki
Nobody likes being broke.
But in order to do the work it takes to become financially flexible, you have to hate being broke.
The only people who hate being broke but don’t find their way out are the truly destitute. Middle-class people? They just don’t want it bad enough. They don’t hate the stress of living paycheck to paycheck enough to do anything about it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve projected out a future where I didn’t have money and it scared me on a visceral level. Honestly, I was more afraid of being broke than I was inspired to make money.
Why? Because being broke is stressful.
I’d have fights with my partner about money, stress about situations like the story I started the post with, and I just observed people who were struggling to get by and I couldn’t fathom living the rest of my life like that.
You almost have to have a sense that being broke is beneath you, even though, of course, there’s nothing wrong with being broke.
I remember working as a manager at a video store for $10/hr. I’d go get tacos and Taco John’s. The sign on the door said “hiring…$11/hr.” I put in all this work to make less than someone making god damned tacos. Nope. Not me. Not forever.
I used to listen to the book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, on repeat when I had to put on the signs for the featured movies out in the parking lot. Plotting. Patient. One day, I wouldn’t be broke.
Now? I’m not rich, but I’m no longer broke. And it was worth all the work.
Let everyone else be content. You? Get pissed. Use that frustration to your advantage so you don’t quit.
You Understand That a Job Won’t Make You Rich
Earn with your mind, not your time. — Naval Ravikant
Even if you have a job right now (which is the smart thing to do while you build your side hustle), you know that it’s impossible to have real financial flexibility and wealth with a job alone.
You’re putting your energy into something you can scale, something with leverage, something that can provide income for you without your direct work:
- Intellectual property, e.g., books
- A business with employees
- Real estate
- Media and technology, e.g., YouTube as a marketing tool for your product or business
Having a sole source of income will leave you in a perpetual loop of middle class living at best.
See, it’s not just the risk, yes risk, of having a sole source of income that’s the problem, but also the counterproductive culture most wage earners ascribe to:
- Borrow, borrow, and borrow some more
- Keep up with the Jones’s
- Use entertainment to numb yourself enough to go back to work on Monday
It’s a nasty trap.
If you want wealth, flexibility, whatever you call it, you need your money or effort to go to work for you at some point.
But how do you put in the work required to build these asset vehicles?
You Are Willing to Commit Years of Your Life
The thing about wealth pursuits? They’re slow. Super slow.
Not only that, but you make little to no money in the beginning.
I talk about this all the time on my YouTube channel. I should just rename it ‘exponential growth.’
All the great things in life compound:
Warren Buffet didn’t become a billionaire until he was in his 60’s. Those last 30 years or so of compounding took him to insane wealth.
Getting compounding to work is psychologically difficult:
- Letting money just sit in an investment account for decades
- Putting a half-decade into building profitable skills
- Meticulously studying business, marketing, persuasion, and building your network.
I don’t have the exact number, but five years is my educated guess.
If you tinkered around with some form of business, freelancing, or investing for five years without quitting, something good will happen.
You’re Humble Enough to be a Student of Life
“Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Day by day, and at the end of the day-if you live long enough-like most people, you will get out of life what you deserve.” — Charlie Munger
Ironically, broke people seem to be the most certain of everything. I recently watched an interview with Munger. What stood out most? Every time he wasn’t certain or near certain of an answer, he immediately defaulted to saying “I don’t know.”
Wealthy people are often much more intellectually humble than middle-class people. They have coaches, mentors, advisers, teams. They constantly soak in new information and never think they have everything figured out.
Watch this interview with Diddy and Ray Dalio.
Diddy, who has a net worth in the hundreds of millions, asks Dalio, his mentor, advice with a sincere level of humility. Diddy doesn’t have to listen to anybody and he could blow money until the day he dies, yet he treats knowledge with a level of respect most “content with what they have” types can’t fathom.
The only thing between most people and more money is knowledge.
There’s no grand conspiracy keeping you broke. It’s definitely not the fault of billionaires. If you don’t have money, it’s because you don’t understand money. If you don’t understand money, then learn how to understand it. Simple.
Just this week I’ve started to devour information about:
- Real estate
- Dividend stocks
- Taxes (yes, boring-ass taxes)
- Long and short term debt cycles
- Asset allocation
I’m going to eventually move all of this knowledge into my “circle of competence.”
I don’t know much about any of the above, but I’ll learn. Just like I learned to make money on the internet with no prior experience and become a professional writer with no writing degree.
How? I read hundreds of books, watched thousands of hours of video, and practiced every day for five years.
Back to the point of time commitment. Spending a decade learning this stuff isn’t a problem for me. Why? Because I like to learn and I know that learning compounds.
If you’re willing to learn — books, podcasts, courses, YouTube videos — you can figure all of this out.
“Free education is abundant, all over the Internet. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.” — Naval Ravikant
I don’t understand how people who own smartphones with access to YouTube say they have no access to resources. B.S. YouTube is a goldmine — most people use it wrong.
At some point, you just have to admit you’re being lazy and…stop.
In the information age, there are no excuses.
You’re Good at Math
“Wake up! No one is going to save you. No one is going to take care of your family or your retirement. And no one is going to “make things” work out for you. The only way to do so is to utilize every moment of every day at 10X levels.” — Grant Cardone
If you’re good at math, you just know you need a lot of money. Yes, need.
You need millions of dollars to retire on time and successfully. Add in your kids and their financial future, the ability to have amazing experiences like travel, and the time to enjoy your life without needing to work all the time, and you’ll understand that making money is the only logical option.
Just look around and the way people live. The stress. You need more money than you have right now. More importantly, you need more flexibility and income-earning assets than you have right now.
If you’re young like me (30), don’t waste any more of your time. I can only imagine what it would feel like to be middle-aged or old with no money saved.
With a modest salary of $50,000 over a full work-life of say, 50 years (22–72), you will have made $2,500,000. To make all of that money and end up with little to none of it seems soul-crushingly sad and insane, but it happens. Thinking about it makes me sick.
See, it’s these people who claim to not care about money who care about it the most. They fuck up the math. They keep up with the Joneses their whole lives and level up their lifestyle as their income increases, piling up debt along the way.
Look at the math it takes to be successful and create a plan. Earn more money and keep your living expenses low. That’s the recipe. I’m “greedy,” but I drive a $2,500 car and live in a $1,300 two-bedroom while people who make less than me drive BMWs and have giant homes.
I’ve done the math. I’m fine to appear broke for this decade to be wealthy by the next one.
As Marshawn Lynch, who famously spent none of his NFL contract money and lived only off endorsements, said:
“Take care of yo chicken.”
Let the “content” people stay blind to financial literacy. Wait them out. They’ll see soon enough.
Stay humble, grind, reinvest in yourself.
It’ll all work out.