How to become a millionaire or multi-millionaire or even hecta-millionaire (100 million units) isn’t taught in schools or colleges. In fact, most of society frowns on anyone who talks about getting rich; some even protest against those who have created financial independence.
It’s a funny thing that schools teach you how to read and write, how to do math, how to know history and geography, and how to pass a test—but they never broach the subject of how to get rich. Getting super rich seems to be a topic reserved for fantasies, movies, and drunken what-if games. Most have come to believe that becoming a millionaire is for the lucky sperm club, business owners, gold diggers, lottery winners, athletes, rappers, and inventors. But it’s not true. Millionaires and the super rich come from all walks of life. In fact, just to debunk one of the myths, I’ll tell you that four out of five millionaires today work for someone else.
The reason most people never get rich is that they never even consider it a possibility. They are convinced by those close to them to simply be satisfied with whatever their financial situation is. The other reason is that people fundamentally do not understand money. Very few people know how to get money, even fewer know how to keep it, and almost no one knows how to multiply it. Just look around and you will see signs of this everywhere.
Even in one of the richest countries in the world, America, 76 percent of people live paycheck to paycheck, some 50 percent of Americans have no money for retirement, and 47 percent of Americans don’t have $400 for an emergency. If these statistics were true in a poor country, it would be one thing, but America is considered a wealthy country.
Turn on the television or go online and you will see endless, ridiculous financial advice. Financial pundits suggest saving tricks where your path to wealth is finding the lowest price for a product or putting more air in your tires to save gas. This piece of advice always cracks me up: “If you don’t drink coffee out, you’ll save another $700 a year.” You can save $700 a year for the next fifty years and you won’t be rich, you’ll just be old.
Another pundit preaches all debt is bad, and that by avoiding debt you will somehow be financially free. “Never borrow money under any circumstance,” the previously bankrupt advisor promotes. He overlooks the reality that almost all the super rich have used debt to multiply their wealth.
Flip the channel and you’ll see fancy graphics making a case that you should turn your money over to the boys on Wall Street who, smarter than you, will invest in stocks, bonds, and financial instruments they can’t even explain. Ask your parents for money advice and they will recite their path: get a good job, buy a house, contribute to your 401k, be grateful you have more than most, and pray everything goes right.
I have never wanted to just have “enough,” in fact, truth be known, I have always wanted to be rich. While I do believe in prayer, I don’t expect God to take care of my finances and I certainly don’t want to leave it up to everything “going right.” At a very young age, I noticed how the people who made the decisions and had the power of choice all seemed to be the people with money. I wanted to be one of them. I didn’t want money for the sake of money, but to be able to have the power of choice.
At the age of eight, one of my first experiences with money was walking to the local grocery store. I had a quarter in my pocket to spend at the store. I was excited, giddy, and I felt powerful. I was walking to the store with my brother fondling my quarter when I dropped it in the street and it rolled into a manhole. I got onto my hands and knees, only to discover my arms were too short to retrieve the quarter. I got up wet, dirty, angry, and wanting to cry.
I remember going home and telling my father how I had lost my quarter. My father said to me, “You shouldn’t play with money.” My grandfather later grabbed me and said, “Son, the problem isn’t simply that you lost the quarter; the problem is that it was your only quarter.” Since that loss I have been fascinated with the idea of amassing enough money so no single event or loss would ever cause me to be without.