There’s a saying that there are no guarantees in life, but I’d say that there are some guarantees. You can pretty much guarantee that if you don’t take time to learn how to make money work for you, then you won’t be wealthy. That’s pretty guaranteed. People who are learn about money become smart about money. It’s just that simple.
Learning About Money
I was 26 when I started learning about money. Needless to say, before that, I was pretty clueless following in my parents financial footsteps. Spend more than you make. Don’t save. Don’t invest. Work you whole life and probably die with a relatively low amount of net worth. Thankfully that all changed when I was 26. You see, I got my first W2 form for my fully employed year of work after college. I worked as an engineer for a small family owned manufacturing company. My income that year was $39,000, and when I opened that W2 envelope, I was shocked. I had relatively little to show for that year of work and most of what I had to show for it was debt. A new car. A new computer. Some credit card debt for I don’t know what. That year, I knew something was wrong with my finances and how I handled money. It was time for a change, and change I did.
I spent the next several months going to the bookstore buying financial magazines, and learning about money. At the top of my list was Kiplinger’s investors magazine. That was what began my journey to build my financial knowledge and one day become a millionaire.
One of the first steps in becoming a millionaire is learning about money. How to make it, and how to use it to build wealth. You can’t build wealth unless you know how to make your money work for you. Otherwise, you’ll just go through life making money and spending money. That will never get you ahead.
While there are a ton of ways to put your money to work for you, I started with the stock market. At 26, I put $500 a month into an aggressive growth mutual fund. Back then, I chose Kaufmann funds, but I was a bit green. Today, a better bet would be Vanguard family of funds. While $500 seemed like a lot of money to me as a 26 year old single man, I should have been investing $1,500 a month. The more aggressive you are in making your money work for you, the better off you will be later on in life, and the more wealthy you’ll become. Eventually, you won’t even need to work for money. The income streams you create will work for you.
My second investment strategy was to put money into tech stocks, and I was able to make a bit of money as a young investor. I invested in Intel, Dell, Cyrix, Iomega, Nvidia and a few others. Holding each investment for 3-6 months, I was able to make 30-50% on each investment. Focusing on staying ahead of the new technology releases by the major vendors, I was able to make some money when the tech leaders saw their new products hit the market. It was a good start to changing my financial future.
At that time, I also made the decision to become debt free and live without debt. Being in debt doesn’t make you rich. It makes the banks rich. Avoid debt. Since I had already gotten into some debt, it took me 2 more years to pay off all of my debt. I paid the 5 year loan off on my car in 3 1/2 years. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have paid it off a bit sooner, but I was putting a bit of money into the stock market.
Being older and wiser now in my 40s. There are some things I would have changed along my financial journey, and one of those would have been how much I studied and learned about making money and putting it to work for me. I made the mistake of think I learned everything I needed to know about money when I learned about mutual funds and the stock market when the truth is, there is so much more to know and learn. While simple plans and investments do work, they leave so many more wealth building opportunities on the table.
I believe becoming wealthy is a noble goal. If you use your wealth properly, you should be helping others. The more wealthy you are, the more people you can help, and there are a lot of needy people in the world today. In fact, there are probably a lot of needy people in your neighborhood today. Wouldn’t you like to be able to help them?
Anyway, I encourage you to build your financial knowledge by committing time each month from this day forward to learn about money. Learning about money will help you build a better financial future for yourself, your family and your children for generations to come. By making this one small commitment, you will forever impact people’s lives.
Here are a few foundational books to get you started increasing your financial knowledge, but don’t stop here. Keep going.
God and Money, by John Cortines and Gregory Baumer
I Will Teach You To Be Rich, by Ramit Sethi
Money: What Financial Experts will Never Tell You, by Alan Williams and Peter Jeppson
Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, by T. Harv Eker
The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko
The Richest Man in Babylon, by George Clason
The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey
Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins
Unshakeable by Tony Robbins
If you build your financial knowledge and put it to work, you will build wealth for yourself and your family, and then you will be able to put that wealth to work helping others. It’s good. It’s noble. Do it.