Money Mediocrity: 7 Thoughts about Getting It Together (At a Young Age) For Your Future and Retirement

 

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From my experience, when it comes to young people (ages eighteen to thirty for this example), they typically struggle with viewing aging and money in a healthy manner. From one standpoint, I can kind of understand that. It is intimidating to think about getting older. It is intimidating to think that one day, you are not going to be working anymore, but you will still have bills to pay. For the average person, and I have gone over this previously, it is easy and more comfortable to think short term. We think about right now. I get it, I really do. We think that investing is for old rich people. Are you familiar with what a self-fulfilling prophecy is? Because that might be one of the best examples I have ever come across. Investing is for old rich people, right? Guess what? A huge number of them BECAME rich because they invested when they were YOUNG! Sure, they keep doing it because they understand that it is important to stabilize their financial security, but they (usually) did not just become rich randomly, and then decided to start investing. They became wealthy BECAUSE they invested young.
People are so quick to dismiss things and justify things by making ignorant assumptions like that certain things are just for certain “lucky” people. An example of this off the top of my head is that the other day, I saw a meme about Oprah Winfrey. It was about a headline that said something about How Oprah Stays Stress Free and the comment was “Step 1: Have a billion dollars”. Average people get trapped in this mindset of how lucky she and other successful people are. But this one pissed me off, because Oprah is a rag to riches story. She busted her ass when she was young, and overcame a pretty horrific childhood. She didn’t just freaking snap her fingers and have a billion dollars. That is not how it works, and is in my opinion a truly toxic way of looking at things. But we have this terrible habit of totally downplaying the blood, sweat, and tears that go in to most huge success stories. We jump right to the “must be nice” mindset. You are damn right it must be nice, and they fought, earned, and deserve it, because they did things and took risks that most people are not willing to take.
That got a little off topic, but I still think that needed to be said. Anyways, investing is not just for old rich people. People get rich because they invested. It would be like seeing someone who is in really good shape running down the road, and being like, “gee, must be nice to already be in that good of shape, running is for people in really good shape”. HOW DO YOU THINK THEY GOT IN THE SHAPE THEY ARE IN? Sure, they still run even though they are in shape, because they want to maintain it. It is the same with the idea of investing and rich people. If you work out your entire life, you WILL be in great physical shape. If you invest your whole life, you WILL be in great financial shape.
With all that being said, I’d like to address seven thoughts I have about young people viewing and planning for their future and retirement.

1.  Taking Small Steps Forever

Any step you take towards saving money and investing for your future is a good step. But, I notice a lot of people my age, the ones that are doing anything at all, are usually taking small steps, without showing any signs of ever speeding up. While I applaud the fact that they are doing something, I fear a complacent mindset. When it comes to your ability to make ground through compound interest and mutual funds, a great approach is to get really intense while you are as young as possible. I will go into this in more detail in #6, but it is worth mentioning now. Time is of the essence, and you can have such larger results the earlier you get the ball rolling in this process. Get the small steps down, but continue educating yourself about ways to aim to hit maximum contribution limits in your investment accounts. The maximum amount allowed contributed to a Roth IRA right now is $5,500 a year ($6,500 if you are over 50 years old). This breaks down to $458 a month. The average monthly payment on a new vehicle according to Edmunds.com is $479. Choose your priorities. I would much rather retire a millionaire than drive a new vehicle that may or may not impress people at stop lights that I will never see again, in a vehicle that will lose its value rapidly. But that is just me. I just use that example to show that for a lot of people, they have the money available; they just have their priorities backwards.

2. Use Apps Like Acorns and Stash as Virtual Piggy Banks, Not Retirement Savings Mediums

I love Acorns and Stash. I use both of them. For those who are not aware of them, Acorns basically rounds up your credit and debit card purchases to the nearest dollar, and sends the change into a micro investment account. It is literally a virtual piggy bank. I love the concept. Stash allows you to make contributions to various investment portfolios that suit your interests with as little as $5. Both charge very small fees. These are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. They introduce people to saving and investing. They get people to think about money differently than they previously were. That is a huge step in the right direction. But you must identify these for what they are. In my opinion, these should be used as a piggy bank, with some return on investment. I see people using these and thinking they are set for a comfortable retirement because of it. This could be the case, but I encourage more traditional approaches to investment savings and preparation, and to use these for things like vacations, new tech gadgets, etc. Use these, but do not get comfortable with just them. Keep educating yourself about all of the other retirement accounts available, and use these apps to stay aware of investing and saving. They should be supplemental, not primary.

3. You’ll Need More Than Social Security If You Want To Live Well

I am not going to get into the nitty gritty of the numbers on this one, because I want to try to keep my readers from falling asleep (if you haven’t already). But, what I will say here is that according to my research on the topic of social security benefits in retirement, basically everyone says that no, it will not be enough by itself. There are a few things to think about here. First, you have inflation. Things will cost a little more next year, and a lot more in 10 years. Much more in 40 years, assuming you are 25 and retire at 65 for sake of round numbers. Please realize that social security was a wonderful concept, but is flawed in a lot of ways. It needs to be treated as a supplemental income in retirement, not as your one and only source.

4. If You’re Reading My Blog, You WANT More Than The Average Person

Here is where we go back to our mindsets. In my previous blog post, I spent a lot of time on this topic. In my opinion, success in this world boils down to our mindset. Sure, there are other factors. A quality upbringing helps. Opportunity helps. I will never deny that. However, if your mindset is that since you do not or did not have those things, you are doomed and not one of the lucky ones, congratulations, you just guaranteed yourself that you will never make it out of your rut. If you seriously think every successful person lucked out, struck gold so to speak, and was given their good fortune, then you are deceiving yourself. Yes, these things do happen. People do inherit fortunes. Some people are privileged in different ways. You cannot change that, I cannot change that, and they cannot change that. So shut up about it! This is all about YOU. Not about everyone that has made it. The difference is that they had a different attitude. Don’t believe me? Here are some examples:

• John Paul Dejoira, multibillionaire, founder of Patron Tequila, lived in his car at one point and was a gang member.

• Francois Pinault, worth $15 billion, dropped out of high school in 1974 after being bullied for being poor.

• Oprah Winfrey, multibillionaire, was born into poverty, studied hard, got a scholarship to Tennessee State University, and became the first black TV anchor in Tennessee history at age 19.

• Howard Schultz, multibillionaire, former Starbucks CEO and current Starbucks executive, was brought up in low income housing.

• Jan Koum, multibillionaire, CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp, lived on food stamps as a teenager.
(Source sited businessinsider.com 02/20/2014)

The list is MUCH longer than this. I just wanted to give a few small examples. If you seriously shame the successful, and think that the only reason you struggle or have not found success is because you are not one of the chosen lucky ones, you are not only ignorant and taking the easy way out by thinking that way, you are also doing your own potential a massive disservice. Success in this life comes down to pretty basic concepts. Attitude, work ethic, and perseverance are three essentials, and without them, you do not stand a chance.

5. Time Goes Buy Fast, and your 60’s May Catch You Buy Surprise

Do you ever randomly think about how crazy it is that it is 2018 already? I know my parents and grandparents have always warned me about how time flies, and I am starting to believe it. I think that time goes slow when you look at it from a day by day standpoint (and even that is starting to fly), but I think that when we look back over periods of time that we have already lived, in that moment, it seemed like it went by really fast. I keep thinking to myself “2008 seems like just yesterday, and that was 10 years ago”. That really has not been that long of a span of time. If your brain works anything like mine, you sit and think about these types of things, and then think “well, here I am at 24, that is almost half way to 50, and this has gone by pretty fast looking back…wow, life really is pretty short!”. The moral of this point is that just because you are young now, doesn’t mean that you have all the time in the world to prepare yourself financially, and you are literally living in the exact best time to get started. Live every day to the fullest, be thankful for all that you have, but please, do not put off planning for your future, because it could be too late to reap the rewards that are available to you now if you wait much longer.

6. SAVE ABUNDANTLY WHILE YOU ARE YOUNG

I am going to explain in detail why this is such a big deal, so brace yourselves. I have touched on compound interest before, but you are about to get the full dose. Compound interest, in the simplest light, is the interest that you make off of your interest. The more years there are for it to happen, the larger your returns are going to be. Remember how I talked earlier about the whole Roth IRA thing? $5,500 per year ($458 a month)? You can do less than that, but that is the maximum allowed, and I like the “go big or go home” attitude, so we are playing with the maximum for this example. For the example below, I am going to give you the age that a person opens an account. We are going to assume for this example, that the average return rate is 7%, because that is the historical stock market average rate of return (some funds average much higher). You open an account with $1,000, and you contribute $458 a month until age 65. Here is how that looks.

Starting at age 35 years old. Your final balance is $546,250. You only put in $165,000, meaning you earned $381,250 in interest.

Starting at age 30 years old. Your final balance is $798,936. You only put in $192,500, meaning you earned $606,436 in interest.

Starting at age 25 years old. Your final balance is $1,153,341. You only put in $220,000, meaning that you earned $933,341 in interest.

Starting at age 18 years old. Your final balance is $1,901,361. You only put in $258,500, meaning that you earned $1,642,861 in interest.

ARE YOU SEEING THIS? If you are 25 right now, and have a car payment of around $450 dollars, that car payment is literally costing you over a million dollars in the long run. A MILLION DOLLARS. This also applies if you have a $150 car payment, and blow $300 a month on things you do not really need that do not provide your life with any real value, etc. Or, no car payment, but you spend $450 a month on hangovers and regretful decisions (going out, getting drunk, and then going to waffle house or taco bell once a week). I am preaching to myself there, because that is exactly what I used to do.
Keep in mind also that a Roth IRA’s funds grow tax free, since the money going in has already been taxed (it is coming from your take home pay). Your final balance, whatever age bracket you are in, would be TAX FREE. You would not pay a SINGLE DIME on your balance or your distributions. If you were taxed on that much money if it were normal income, you would be kissing 37% away instantly. But you do not have to here. PLEASE, open a Roth IRA NOW. YESTERDAY. ASAP. Every day that goes by is wasted time and money. If you are worried about it being complicated or confusing, I can assure you that if you can navigate a website, pay bills online, or otherwise use the internet and read, you can do it. There are a number of avenues you can go through. Just google “open Roth IRA” and freaking open one. Right now. Or as soon as you possibly can. Vanguard, Fidelity, American Funds, and E-TRADE come to mind right away, but there are a ton of options. Adjust your budget, do without something, and put in as much as you possibly can every month. You will be a millionaire. No joke, no scams, no nonsense. You just have to do it.

PS. Some mutual funds (mutual funds are what are in the Roth IRA account) have averaged as high as 14% over the course of their lifetime. It is risky to assume that they would be able to maintain that, which is why I use the 7% return as the baseline. But, just a fun fact, if you are 25 and contribute to a plan like in the bullet points above, with a 14% average rate of return, you would be sitting on a little over $8,100,000, and you still only put in $258,500 of your own cash. Thought you might find that interesting.

7. You Have a Mind Set That You Can’t/Won’t Succeed, So It Does Not Matter Anymore

Here we are, last but not least. I seriously think that this is the base problem with most of the fear from young people today. We really are dead set in a thought process of us never being able to succeed, because of blah blah blah. “The baby boomers ruined the economy” “Student loans are out of control” “Things cost more today than they used to” There most likely is some truth and some fallacy with any of these and the many more things that people say to justify their mediocre life. I would like to point out a few things here, though. First of all, you live in the most advanced time that humanity has ever seen, and it is only going to get better. You have an unlimited and infinite medium for creating any level of success that you want to with the internet. Second of all, if it is so hard to make anything out of yourself, why are thousands of other people doing it every day? Are they just ignoring the excuses that you give? Yep, that is exactly what they are doing. While your excuses may be true to a degree, the people making it and getting stuff done and changing the world are ignoring the excuses, and focusing on just flat out getting it done. It all comes down to time allocation.

For every second that average person complains and moans, the hustler puts one second into providing a value that people will pay for. So after average Joe and his friend have spent an hour sitting around complaining how they have a raw deal, the dude that is going to succeed just spent an hour working on learning a new skill, plotting how to change the world, reading or gaining knowledge about something they are passionate, and working on a project that motivates them to get out of bed in the morning. Guess who has a better chance of capturing success? The hustler/not complainer. A thousand times over. I see so many people that have accepted mediocrity for their entire life, and it makes me sad. If someone truly wants that, more power to them. Knock yourself out. But, I fear that there is so much wasted potential out there, because people legitimately do not know that there are other options. They think that living a mundane life with decent pay is the good life, because they think it is the closest they will ever get to the good life. People will say “excuse me, but I am happy right where I am right now”. That really is a great attitude to have, and they are a step ahead of the pessimistic complainer crowd that suck the life out of those they are around.

My entire goal with this article is the following two things. I want to inform you of things you may not already be aware of, and I want to challenge you. I want you to step outside of your comfort zone and look at life from a different perspective than you are used to. We have such an easy time getting into habits and routines. I want to rattle you just enough to at least have you evaluate where you are at. If you love what I have to say, that is awesome. If I piss you off, at least I got you thinking. Either way, I accomplished my goal. If one person got some benefit out of reading what I have to say, I would be a happy man. As always, thank you so much for reading. Please share with your friends if you think they might get something productive out of this.
-Alex

Financial Helplessness: Young People and Negativity about Personal Finance

I need to rant about something. I saw something today that I see about every day, usually multiple times. I keep seeing memes on Facebook about how helpless people feel with their money. Usually, this is people in their early to mid-20’s, like myself. People sharing memes about how their checking account is always negative or has a few cents in it, posts about how they have no handle on their money at all, how their spending is out of control, etc. Basically, memes as a way to blow off the fact that they are spiraling out of control with money, and will never do anything but live paycheck to paycheck. Do you know what I am talking about? The attitude people take of making a joke out of spending your entire paycheck the weekend after payday and struggling getting by for the rest of the pay period. The “Haha, me so broke, me always struggle, me so young, can’t adult today” toxic way of thinking. Grow up! Get a grip on your life! Are you kidding me? It isn’t cute to be totally irresponsible. Is that seriously all you strive to be?

 

Okay, now that I have gotten that off my chest, let us evaluate this. There are a few different reasons I can see for this trend:

 

  1. You legitimately never learned how to budget or how to handle any amount of money, and you just spend it when you have it until it is gone. (I’ve been here)

 

  1. You know how to manage money to some degree, but you have impulsive tendencies, and spend money on the wrong things at the wrong times. (I’ve been here)

 

  1. You do not put any effort or energy into thinking long term, and by long term I mean longer than right now. (I’ve been here)

 

  1. You are slave to one or multiple addictions that cost you financially. (I’ve been here)

 

  1. You try to keep up with your friends who either make more, or are just as irresponsible as you are with their money. (I’ve been here)

 

Before I address these five points, I just want to clarify something. If you’re a single parent, who lives in poverty, and struggles to provide for yourself and your children’s basic necessities, I am not talking about you. First of all, you’re stronger than most people, and you kick ass. Second of all, you aren’t the one joking about what I am talking about. This is not about you. This is for the people that may have a little excess income that is after the bills are paid (or not), and make poor choices with that money. Let me also address the fact, that, as indicated by the parenthesis after my five points, I have been there. I get it. I have been on both sides of this fence. Most of what I am trying to teach is only information I know because I lived it and spent a lot of time reading and researching how to get out of it. I’ll be the first to admit that I do not have a degree in this stuff, and I am not some huge brainiac genius. I am far from that. I just have learned a thing or two, and I have a passion for money and helping others learn what I have learned. With that being said, let’s dig into this thing!

 

1: You legitimately never learned how to budget or how to handle any amount of money, and you just spend it when you have it until it is gone.

 

From my experience, this is usually the focal starting point for poor money management skills. You never learned how to in the first place. That is of no fault of your own! Here’s the kicker, it becomes your fault when you become aware of it, are shown the resources to avoid it, and ignore those things and continue behaving the same way. There is no excuse for that, and I don’t feel bad for you anymore. A few things on this specific topic, generally, when you see someone who sucks with handling money, look at their family and parents. Was a general lack of hope regarding money passed down from generation to generation? Or does it at least go back one generation? I know that in my experience, people who are bad with money typically have parents that are bad with money. Or, their parents do not have much of it. It is usually one or the other, or both. There could be a mindset of “Hey, if the bills are paid, blow the rest and have some fun!” The problem with this outlook is that if you spend your entire adult life blowing all of your excess income, you’ll never be able to retire, because you will be working until you die because you have nothing set back at all. Forget social security, which is not going to cut it. There are so many other ways to build an extremely significant retirement nest egg, with fairly little effort. The only thing you really need is time. Anyways, the main point with this section is that if you suck with money, you probably had no direction of any kind. You have to figure all this money out on your own without much help, which can be a very daunting task. The good news is that there is a borderline unlimited supply of information to help you get this money thing figured out and under control.

 

2: You know how to manage money to some degree, but you have impulsive tendencies, and spend money on the wrong things at the wrong times.

 

Here is the person that is young, typically single, and makes a decent income for their situation, often resulting in anywhere from $250 to $1,000 extra in discretionary income per month after bills are paid. I am talking about single 20 something year olds with no kids. You can live somewhat large for your situation. You pay all your bills on time every month, maybe even a little early. You have some luxury subscriptions and bills, like a high dollar sports streaming service (NBA/MLB/NHL/NFL Network), you have an unrealistically high car payment that your income can not really justify having, but you think you can afford the car because you can make the payment (you buy a car that costs $28,000, and your income per year is $28,000). You save up to buy other things that your income can not truly justify having, like Gucci loafers and Louis Vuitton wallets and Versace sunglasses. When a $500 wallet is a fourth of your entire income for the month, you CAN NOT AFFORD IT. When it is a fortieth of your monthly income, or even a fourteenth, then you can afford it. I just see so many young people my age buying these ridiculous high dollar designer items to impress their friends who are just as clueless as they are, and for some reason thinks that they are well off because they saved up to buy something that is out of their price range. Think about it. Normal people spend between $10-$50 dollars on a wallet. That is the amount of percentage to your income that an accessory item like a wallet should cost. Do you make ten times the normal income? I’ll give you some help with this. The median household income in America is a little over $51,000. These are the average Joe’s carrying the $10-$50 wallet. Can you justify spending ten times that? If you make $510,000 a year, you could. But you probably don’t and probably can’t, so sit down, be humble, and quit buying overpriced designer stuff until you get up to a level of income that can justify it. Your Gucci fund needs to be spent investing in appreciating assets like mutual funds right now, especially while you are young. You have the potential to reap monstrous returns on your investment. You have more of an advantage the more years you have ahead of you. This leads us into our next topic of discussion.

 

3 You do not put any effort or energy into thinking long term, and by long term I mean longer than right now.

 

Poor people cannot get past the trap of instant gratification. They want it NOW. This is one of the main reasons that credit card debt is such a problem for poor people. When they swipe their credit card, they do not feel any initial pain from the purchase like they would with cash or it coming straight out their bank account, and they have the item NOW. They will worry about the debt later (or never at all), and they have the thing now. That is all that matters. Leave a poor minded person some available credit and some time, and they will be in credit card debt, guaranteed, every time. The main point I am trying to make here is that the poor person is not thinking about the next day, week, month, year, or decade. They are only concerned about right now. What feels good now. What they want now. It is all about NOW. Here is an example of a poor person’s thinking versus a rich person’s thinking.

Person A: “I have $450 extra ‘fun money’ in my income this month. Let’s see. I can fund my pack a day cigarette habit for about $165 of that (cigarettes are around $5.50 a pack here). That brings me down to $285 left. Okay, I am going to need around $5 a day for meals (fast food) because I am not responsible enough to cook meals at home which would cost more like $1.50-$2.00 a meal. So that is $150 on fast food, which brings my budget down to $135 left. That is two or three crazy nights out at the bar! Or one, crazy night out, and enough for plenty of cheap beer and booze at home! Looks like I am set! I may have to barrow $20 towards the end though, I may go overboard at Braums and Little Caesar’s and be a little short for smokes the last few days. Oh, and if I ever find myself having ANY extra money, I will spend it on lottery tickets as a way to guarantee that I will never actually hold on to any extra cash, because my odds of being crushed by a meteor is 64 times more likely than winning the jackpot.”

I have known people who I am pretty sure literally live exactly by a similar budget to this. Here’s the flip side to this coin.

Person B: “I have $1,000 extra ‘fun money’, because I have cut my expenses down and eliminated my $300 a month cable bill, among other unnecessary things. I very rarely eat out, as I grocery shop and cook at home. I have cut my recreational activities (drinking, smoking, etc) either completely out or down to very little. I have taken the time to invest in myself, and have read some books and watched some videos about money. I understand that if I am 25 years old right now, and I start investing $450 a month into a Roth IRA backed by a mutual fund, returning the historically average return rate of 7%, by my 65th birthday, I will have $1,118,482.00 available without needing to pay ANY taxes, because the investments were with after taxed dollars (they were out of my net paycheck, which had already been taxed), and since it is a Roth IRA (IRA means Individual Retirement Account), I am exempt from taxes on withdrawals after age 59 ½. The maximum yearly contribution amount to a Roth IRA is $5,500, so I will stick with my $450 monthly amount. That brings my $1,000 fun money down to $550. I am going to take $250 of that and save it in a savings account every month for rainy days, car repairs, and unexpected emergencies, which gives me $3,000 a year in liquid cash savings (liquid means easily available, like in a savings account, not in stocks). This brings me down to $300 left for the month. Since I am already investing $450 a month and saving $250 a month, I am going to use this last $300 for whatever I want that adds value to my life. I will use it to save for a new computer, use it to buy books to continue educating myself on topics that I am passionate about, or any other way that I see fit. The only thing I will not do is loan “Person A” $20, because he needs to figure out how to prioritize his pleasures in life, and I think retiring a millionaire is more ‘fun’ than booze, cigarettes, fast food and lottery tickets.”

See the difference here? Please understand that I am not talking down to anyone. I WAS “Person A” in the last few years. I am preaching to myself on that one, along with many others who think that way. I am just trying to share what I have learned, and what got me out of that cycle. You have to understand that there is such a better way to live than for the weekend and paycheck to paycheck. For so many people, the ONLY changes that need to happen are the following three things: a reality check, an attitude adjustment, and a spending adjustment. I understand that there are unique situations out there, and that some people have them. You aren’t who I am talking about. I am talking about the 20s something year old that has no kids, is single, and has a somewhat decent job. Figure out what you want out of life, and know that financial freedom is a reality that is just waiting for you to choose it.

4 You are slave to one or multiple addictions that cost you financially.

 Addiction is often associated with drugs and alcohol, and rightfully so. I encourage you to look at your lifestyle and budget to evaluate if you have one or many. If you do, try to identify what you get out of it, and what you have to give for it. For example, I used to be a pack a day smoker. I was giving about $5.50 a day for cigarettes, which costs me $154 a month (most of a utility bill), or $2,007 a year (a new MacBook or a nice vacation). I was spending a ton of money on alcohol, whether it was going out or drinking at home. Easily a few hundred dollars a month here. This caused me to make some major life changes. When you look at the short term financial damage, it doesn’t look AS bad. Still pretty bad, but you trick yourself into seeing it as reasonable. For me, seeing the thousands of dollars I was spending every year on this stuff was enough for me to make drastic change. I identified that I was giving a whole lot of money for these things, and in return, I was getting very short term pleasures, a lot of health issues, both long term and short term, I smelled like an ashtray, and did a lot of things intoxicated that I would love to take back, but never will be able to. I do not think there is any problem with enjoying alcohol appropriately and in moderation. The problem is that most of us do not do this. Or, we do not do it every time, but we think that since we sometimes do, there is no problem. If you cannot control your intake EVERY time, you have a problem. I could not control myself EVERY time, so I knew that I had a problem. Addictions are expensive. Anything from Starbucks every day to smoking to drinking to drugs, it all cripples your ability to be financially secure. My recommendation is to pick one thing you want to work on stopping or cutting back, educate yourself about it via books or the internet, and focus on one thing at a time. Even if it takes you months or even years to kick it, just get the ball rolling in the right direction. Do what you need to do to make changes where changes need to be made. Imagine life with no hangovers (or at least very rarely), not smelling like smoke, tasting things better, smelling easier, and just overall feeling better. You can do it. It will enable you to do things with money that will literally set you up for life. Also, on the topic of health, 75% of the American population is dehydrated. Drink more water! You will save on sugar filled soft drinks, and you will seriously feel so much better.

5 You try to keep up with your friends who either make more, or are just as irresponsible as you are with their money.

Some people make more money than others, and have more disposable income than others. There is nothing you will ever be able to do to change that, other than campaign for Marxism. Until then, some people are going to be better off and have nicer things than others. There are two ways that people look at this. Keep in mind, rich and poor are mindsets here. The poor get pissed off and talk about how it is not fair that the other person has more, and they are easy to get jealous. The rich either are in the boat of having more, or if you have a rich mindset but are not wealthy yet, you still applaud the person for achieving a great level of success, and you look for ways to ACHIEVE IT TOO. I have never understood why people get so mad that others have more. To me, it just proves that it is completely possible to do! It motivates the hell out of me. Seeing wealthy people living lives that most people dream of only causes me to not only dream of it, but develop plans of action to achieve it too. There is no shortage of money out there, just a shortage of people going after it (Grant Cardone quote). With all of that being said, do you find yourself trying to keep up with your friends that suck with money, yet spend all of what they can scrape up on overpriced stuff? Whether it is cars, bags/wallets, sunglasses, jewelry? I covered a lot of this in section 2, but it is worth mentioning again. Because here, it is not you necessarily doing it, but you are chasing your friends who are doing it, resulting in you doing it too. Stop it. Most of your friends with “nice” stuff are either in a lot of debt, or have absolutely no money to spare afterwards. They are fake rich. They try to look like they have money by having designer stuff. I challenge you to study the habits of real life millionaires and even billionaires. Some live flashy, but you would be surprised at how humble a lot of their lives look. The average millionaire is not buying Italian sports cars and suits, and that is the main reason he/she is a millionaire. A large percentage of truly wealthy people (let’s say $1,000,000+ net worth) spend their money on things that make them more money, not things that absorb and cost them their income. Stocks, bonds, CDs (even though their rates suck right now), real estate, and business investments. These are what the rich buy. The poor lease the new Benz, put the Gucci loafers and the Louis Vuitton bag on the credit card, and eat/drink out all the time. The rich buy things that turn in to more money. The rich ONLY spend income off of income producing assets to buy luxury items, if they ever even buy them. The moral of this story is that if you have a friend that is always spending extravagantly, they either do have a lot of disposable income or have gotten to a point where they are able to make good savings and investment choices, and still have some left over. More likely however, they just do not have a clue how to manage any excess income responsibly. The point is, do you, and do not chase or try to compete with your friends that are blowing all their money with nothing to show for it. You know better than that now, and WILL have A LOT to show for it in the end.

THE WHOLE POINT…

Take true and personal responsibility for your situation. No one “did this to you”. You did this to you. You make the decisions on a daily basis that make it impossible to get any sort of ahead with money. Now that you have seen both sides and have some things to think about, you can either continue what you are doing, getting the same results you have been getting, or you can change some things and live like the people you’ve been envying and hating all this time. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS. Quit blaming others for your choices. One last thing, anyone that says “I never want to be rich because money ‘changes’ people” needs to shut up. If that isn’t a cop out, I don’t know what is. What an easy reason to accept mediocrity in your life. Statements like that only serve to make you feel better about your lack of effort. It does not have to be that way. Money can and does change people, but that is because they let it. If you are mindful, you can make the choice to NOT let that happen to you. Always treat others with respect. Money does not make anyone more or less valuable as a person. We are all awesome; some of us just do not know it yet. Thank you so much for reading.

-Alex

 

Be Hungry For Success: 9 Things To Think About

Let me first start out by reminding everyone of the potential that the internet really has for you. Right now, there are approximately 3.58 billion users worldwide. 3,580,000,000. That is roughly 47% of the global population.  How’s that for an audience? Okay, maybe that is a stretch. Let’s move down one level. There are around 2.2 billion Facebook users. How’s that for an audience? Do you think you could sell something to them, or provide some form of desirable service that would add value to their lives?  To the average mind, who cares? Those are interesting statistics at best. This attitude is what separates the average complacent Joe or Jessica or whatever other name you want to use. They are comfortable at their 9-5 job, making a mediocre income, living a mediocre life. They use social media every day, they buy things they need, and they buy things they don’t need.
Now I am sure you are wondering, “Alex, why should I care?”. Here’s why you should care, or at least why I care. You have the ability with the internet to create value, and promote your created value, for free. To an audience of 3.58 billion people. Or at least at no additional cost than you are already spending to be reading this in the first place.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of ways that you can do this more easily by investing money in marketing efforts, and that is a good idea. But, you don’t have to. Not in the beginning of the process, at least. We do not need to get into that aspect yet. Here are 9 things that you should think about if you are interested in thinking bigger than average people when it comes to making money and improving your life.

1.    Every New Concept Or Idea Sounds Dumb Or Scary At First.

I don’t know about you guys, but any time a new big thing (or small thing that turns into a big thing) comes out, people’s first reaction is to either be intimidated by it, or dismiss it as unnecessary, because up until that point, it wasn’t necessary, because it did not exist yet. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Snapchat. Amazon. Uber. iPod. Bluetooth. CDs. Planes. Cars. Solar power. Space travel. I could go on. Basically, any game changer applies to this. Someone, somewhere dreamed bigger, and made something happen, and now we couldn’t live without it. Average people will think “geez, that’s cool and all, but I am not one of those people who could come up with something huge and meaningful”. Then you have the people who think big. The people who, instead, think “How can I create the next thing? Where is there a need, and how can it be addressed?”. These are the people that change the game.

2.    Making Money Is Just A Simple Transfer Of Value.

Think about it. When you order a new salt lamp from Amazon, and you pay for it, you traded your money (perceived as value) for a Himalayan salt lamp (perceived as value). You got value (a glowing orange rock), and they got money (value). Salt lamp was the first thing that came to my mind for whatever reason, but this applies with anything you could ever buy or pay for. What does it take to be on the other side of that equation? What does it take to be the one trading the thing for the money? I always thought that I could never come up with anything that had not already been thought of. I also thought that it would be impossible to create value for others that they would be willing to buy. But think about it for a minute. When there is something of value or that you need, do you hesitate to spend money on it? No. If you were on the other end of the table, and had something that people want or need, they would not hesitate to buy it. One of the biggest steps in this process is you realizing that if you have something of value, people will buy it! Create something that people want, and they will pull their wallets out. This CAN be done.

3.    There Are Approximately $215 Trillion Dollars Owned By People Worldwide.

How much of that would you need to live a life where you did not need to worry about money, and could live and travel like you have always dreamed? Is it a million dollars? If it is a million dollars (just as a round number), here is what that looks like compared to the $215 Trillion in the world. A million dollars is exactly 0.00000000465% of that number, small by comparison. The reason that a million dollars sounds so farfetched to you is that you are too busy thinking about the small numbers in your life, and not outside of the box. You legitimately do not think there is any way for you to EVER see a million dollars, and I know people who would never think they would see a lot less than that. This is just a simple difference in mindset. While some people are spending all their time thinking about how unfair it is that they hate their pathetic job and how much they hate being broke, someone else is out there thinking about how to design the next Hubble Telescope, or how if they made $1 off of four ten thousandths of one percent of the number of Facebook users, they would have a million dollars. Flip your viewpoint around, and look at money and life from the top down, not from the bottom up.

4.    Constantly Be Thinking Of Ways To Create Value.

Once you start grasping the reality that it is actually possible for you to see amounts of money that you never thought possible, you are ready for the next step. This step is completely free, and just takes your mind. While you are relaxing, driving, sitting at work, or doing whatever you do, start thinking about things that would be of valuable to others. Start this by thinking of what already is of value to people. What are some things that you think have changed the way we live our lives? Apple comes to mind for me, because I would be lost without my iPhone. What are most smartphones full of (other than bad memes)? Apps. all kinds of apps. Have you ever seen how many apps are available on the App Store? I’ll help you out, it is about 2,200,000. Did you know that some of these apps are created by people sitting on a computer or smartphone just like you? Did you know that they are made by uneducated people? This is just one example of a zillion opportunities to create something of value to other people. You do not have to be some hand chosen second coming of Christ to be able to achieve things. You are probably thinking thinking, “Alex, that sounds cool and all, but how on Earth am I supposed to be able to figure out how to program an app?”. I will answer that below in section 5.

5.    Be Aware Of How Much Free Educational Material Is Available On The Internet.

One word. YouTube. Do you realize that you can learn how to do literally anything in existence on YouTube for free? Or at least be able to educate yourself on any subject and get a better understanding of how anything works? And I am not talking about calculous, unless you’re just into that. I am talking about how to make an app. Ways to generate income by creating a website and driving traffic to it with Facebook or other social media platforms, and monetize your site with affiliate advertising from Amazon, or a bunch of other retail sites. You can literally do this ON YOUR COUCH IN YOUR UNDERWEAR. With the right self education and some hard work and discipline, people literally earn four, five, even six figures A MONTH by doing this stuff. There are tons of examples of this out there. I dare you to look into it. It is called creating a pipeline. You have a website, you produce valuable content that people are interested in looking at or reading, and you use affiliate links from whatever company you want to sell things (Amazon, Best Buy, Guitar Center, etc).

6. Avoid The Poor Mentality.

Attitude is the main thing that separates the rich from the poor. This does not mean that you have to actually be wealthy to have be rich in this sense. Rich and poor are mindsets here. Just like in section 3 when I talk about how a lot of people mope about their life. That is a poor mentality. Poor mentality is negative. Poor mentality is thinking about the little picture. Poor mentality is being pissed off at people who have it better than them. Poor mentality is a lot of people. People who gossip. People who view complaining about anything and everything as a suitable topic for conversation. People who need to abuse substances and achieve artificial highs to feel any satisfaction from life. People who buy things impulsively because it is not very expensive now, but fail to look at how much they spend in a week, month, or year on that thing (gas station snacks, fast food, cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets, etc). Poor mentality people eat every meal out. They rarely grocery shop and actually prepare meals at home. They are absolute slobs. They take no pride in their surroundings being clean. They procrastinate. We all know people like this. It could even be you. If this is you, or you want to avoid getting caught in this mental trap, I have some good news. There is a flip side to this coin!

7. Adopt The Rich Mentality.

Okay, so we have covered the way of thinking that you should avoid at all costs. The poor mindset. Here is the alternative. The Rich Mindset. People with the rich mindset are the people who applaud and praise the success of others around them, instead of getting jealous. They are the people who live a life of fulfillment in the small things, but still think about the big picture. They have control of their life, because they choose to. Their home is always in good shape, because they feel better when their environment is clean and clear. They do not feel the need to use alcohol or drugs in excess, because they know how to find fulfillment in a way that involves connection with others, not from intoxication. Natural releases of endorphins. They work out, not just to stay in shape, but because they understand how much it impacts how they feel, and how exercising has been proven to release endorphins, and people that do it regularly are normally happier and more successful. When rich people are faced with a task, they do not procrastinate. They do it NOW. What a wonderful and helpful concept that is. I encourage you to try it. Whenever you realize you need to do something, whether it is the dishes, taking out the trash, or something work related, DO IT NOW. RIGHT NOW. Just do it! Get it done. Knock it out immediately. If you’re lazy, this can feel unnatural. Just give it a shot. I have a tendency to procrastinate, too. I can tell you that just freaking getting up and getting something done WILL give you a sense of accomplishment, even if it is a small one. Get the ball rolling, get in the zone, and get stuff done. Do some research on the daily habits of really successful people. I can tell you three things that you will find with almost all of them. They get up early (at least two hours before they have to report to work, but often even earlier), they read a lot to continuously educate themselves, and they work out multiple times a week. Why not try to do the things that the rich do? I guarantee you that you will feel more satisfaction than you do right now if you replicate the routines of successful people. Emulate those who you want to live like, and you’re one step closer to actually living like them.

8. Read.

When I say read, I am not limiting it to literally reading books. However, I strongly encourage you to do a lot of that, because most successful people like CEOs and other high power people read on average 60 non fiction books a year. What I am talking about is any form of education. Like I have said before, I do not mean Algebra or History. I am talking about learning ways to freaking do something with your life that you actually like. Learn things. Watch YouTube videos. Watch interviews of Billionaires. Watch videos of hard workers (Kobe Bryant comes to mind, one of the hardest workers ever). There are two main keys here. First of all, learn what successful people are doing, and do that. I am talking about adopting their daily habits. Do the things they do. Second, learn every day. Whether it is about something you find interesting, how to start a blog, how to make a website, how to be an affiliate of Amazon, how to drive people to your website, how to drop ship on Ebay, or how personal finance and the stock market work. Learn something every day that makes your life look better than it did yesterday. There is a nearly infinite amount of material on YouTube that can get you into ass kicking pumped up mode. Get there. Get to reading/watching. Get motivated.

9. Understand That… (In No Particular Order):

a. There’s a better way.
b. There’s no shame in admitting that you want to change.
c. There are a huge number of FREE ways to learn how to trade value with others for money.
d. This is not some voodoo magic formula. This is literally just changing the way you think, and learning.
e. If you are not happy with where you are, change it, and you have no excuse not to, because you have just learned how to.
f. If your version of making yourself feel better is trying to destroy other’s positivity, you should be back handed in the face, hard.
g. DO IT NOW.
h. Everyone started somewhere.
i. It is going to be okay.
j. Most people that find financial success and happiness just think differently than most people.
k. Sweat for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week, or more.
l. Take responsibility for your actions in all situations.
m. Switch eating out for healthful home cooked meals.
n. No one has ever gotten wealthy because of their credit card rewards points.
o. Reading is cool.
p. Einstein called compound interest “The 8th Wonder Of The World”.
q. Start saving and investing as soon and young as possible, meaning NOW.
r. Treat savings like a bill, and pay yourself off the top.
s. You do not need to pay for a gym membership if you do not want to, just work up a sweat somewhere.
t. Get enough sleep.
u. Quit watching so much TV.
v. Quit spending so much money on stupid stuff.
w. Talk less, listen more.
x. Being always right is never going to happen, so quit trying, and realize that you do not know everything.
y. Take 10 minutes every day, doesn’t matter when, and meditate. You do not need to be on a mountain top or in a dojo. Just sit or lay somewhere comfortable, close your eyes, and breathe in and out deeply in 4 second intervals. This seriously works wonders.
z. Be kind to others. Smile back, hold the door, and quit being so absorbed with yourself. The world does not revolve around you.

Thank you so much for reading.

-Alex

Frugal Living: Savor What You Already Have

One of the most powerful tools that I have found to truly lower my spending and increase my rate of saving is to set myself up with entertainment avenues that do not require much reoccurring expense. Examples of this would be investing in things that can provide you with entertainment to keep you content at home, without needing to go out. Going out almost always equates to expensive, and that hinders us from achieving our goals, like saving a ton of cash or paying down our debts.

For me, this is things like video games, a quality computer, a couple musical instruments, Netflix, good headphones for music, a deck of playing cards, etc. Once you have acquired a few items like this (it can obviously vary from person to person), you can cut out a large chunk of unnecessary entertainment money from your budget. I am currently in a situation where for about $0-$10 a month depending on various subscription prices like Xbox Live or Netflix, I can stay completely entertained every evening for basically no cost. It costs me nothing to play my guitar. It costs me nothing to write. It costs me a very small amount to play video games, to watch Netflix, and to listen to music.

I kid you not, and I am embarrassed to admit this, I had a phase where I went to the bar EVERY evening after work. Usually for at least a few hours. Not only was I drinking too much, but I was spending an astronomical amount of money on the jukebox! I added it up one time, and in July of 2015, I spend around $350 on the jukebox. I know how crazy that sounds, but it is true. Average a little over $10 an evening, almost every evening for a month, and that is where you end up. That is not including beer, food, gas to get there and back, that is JUST on the jukebox. That is INSANITY. I cut that out real quick, but it still serves as a reminder to me how out of control entertainment spending can get.

Once you get to a place where you streamline your bills and expenses, and you reduce your discretionary spending, you can start finding literally hundreds of extra dollars a month to save, invest, or do something productive with. I challenge you to try to take whatever amount of money you spend on entertainment per month, and cut it in half. Stash the other half in the bank, and only spend half. Or, spend half on something that you will get reoccurring value out of. Something like a game, an instrument, or something that is not an overpriced meal or alcohol. Something that will be there the next day. You will be AMAZED. Get to the point where you have invested in a few ways to stay entertained at home for either no expense or a very small expense.

I’d be willing to bet that most people could easily find a couple hundred dollars a month that they blow on stupid stuff that does not last. Instead of going out Friday night and spending way too much at the bar, invite a few friends over, B.Y.O.B., and play some cards and listen to music. Your wallet and bank account will thank you. Find contentment in small things. Savor memories and friendships. Live below your means.

-Alex

Depression, Anxiety, and Chester Bennington

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, you have unquestionably heard about the suicide of Linkin Park’s singer Chester Bennington. As someone who personally suffers from anxiety and depression, I feel these tragedies very strongly. I want to dedicate this post not to building wealth and lifestyle, but to depression, anxiety, and the suicide of Chester.

First of all, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder in March of 2016. I had noticed signs of anxiety since childhood. The depression came much later in life. Both for no apparent reason. I grew up in a great and loving family. I have never had any real problems. I have had it quite easy in a lot of ways, and I feel very thankful or blessed or whatever you want to call it. The biggest misconception of struggling with these mental illnesses is that people think that “you don’t have anything to be anxious or depressed about”. While you may not have anything going on in your life that would logically trigger these events, the feelings are no less real to you. Telling someone with anxiety or depression to “just cheer up” or “just quit worrying” is like telling the grass to just not be green or the sky to just not be blue. It does not work like that.

I am feeling pretty good as of late, this blog has given me something to be energized about. I have never truly had anything like this that was mine. It excites me and has no doubt helped me a lot as of late. But, I must be honest. In the last year and a half, suicide has crossed my mind before. It is not something that I like to talk about, and I am not looking for any sympathy. It is just a scary reality.

On the subject of Chester, we have a classic example of a celebrity who has a great family, makes a lot of money, and has fame, who still ends up taking their own life. What this tells us is that no amount of traditional “happiness” or “riches” can fix your own mind when you struggle with demons like this. Linkin Park’s recent song “Heavy” really hits home to me. Please check it out on YouTube or wherever you listen to your music. It is basically a cry for help, and anyone that struggles with the things that I do can relate to. Seriously, go give it a listen.

The other thing that inspired this personal post is an interview from a few months ago with Chester. I just viewed it minutes before firing up my laptop to write this. I’ll put the youtube link at the end of the post. It is an extremely recent interview with Chester. He does an amazing job letting you into the mind of someone who is going through a lot in their head. Demons that a lot of people could never understand. He talks about being around people helped him a lot with his issues, but the scary times were when he was alone with his mind and thoughts. I COMPLETELY understand that. He also says “this inner Chester wants to take me down”. Unfortunately and tragically, the inner Chester won the war.

I want to finish the post by saying the following, and I know to a lot of people it might sound cliche or whatever, but I really don’t care. If you have or are struggling with anxiety or depression or any other mental illness, get in touch with me. I will even give you personal contact information if you want to talk. You are so incredibly valuable, and even if you don’t believe it, the world would never be the same without you. In my opinion, anyone who talks down to anyone who has harmed themselves, or even just struggles with these illnesses, are some of the lowest forms of humanity. They are true classless bottom feeders. They don’t get it. But a lot of people do, including myself. Seriously, get a hold of me. I understand. Rest in Paradise, Chester. I am so sorry you felt the way you did. To everyone else, stay strong. You’ve got this.

-Alex

P.S.

Here is the link to the interview I was talking about. Go check it out, for real. It is extremely insightful.