Playing like a Bigshot

Big shot

Have you ever made a bad decision and later wondered why you made it? Have you ever done something that, even though you know it is wrong, you just couldn’t stop yourself?

How we react to daily situations is a combination of our hard wiring (genetics and how we were raised) and the intellect that we use daily to make decisions. Deep down inside of each off us, we feel a certain way about ourselves (ego) and we act according to this self perception and about how we feel perceived by those around us.

When it comes to money, this is a powerful combination. We may know in our brain that we should act in a certain way, but the desire to feel loved, recognized and appreciated often undermines actions that we (know that we) should take.

Last summer I was overseas working with two colleagues. We were in a hotel (company paid) that had a free laundry service. The workers in the laundry were from Pakistan or Bangladesh. By Western standards, they were quite poor. I believe that their monthly salary was about $300 (US). This might not seem like a lot off money but as I talked to some of the them, I learned that it is quite a fortune. The average worker in their country earns about $50 per month with nothing left over for savings or luxuries. Working at this hotel, the worker could send home $50 to pay the family’s bills, take $50 for “spending money” and still save $200 per month. After a year long contract, the worker could return home with $2,500 and start a business. This one year long sacrifice could change that family’s situation forever.

Now add to the mix, about 100 American expat workers. Along comes the first “big shot” who “tips” the laundry guy $3 to wash the laundry that the worker is already paid a salary to wash. The American worker feels justified paying $3 for a tip because, after all, the laundry was “free” (paid by his employer). And then, the next guy thinks, “Oh yeah, he tipped, so I should tip too.” And a year later, when I arrived, EVERY guy was tipping $3 per week to get his “free” laundry done. Now, do the math. This $300 per month Bangladesh worker is now taking in his salary PLUS $3 per guy in tips per laundry load. Multiply this x 100 guys for four weeks per month. The “American do-gooders” were giving this guy, outside of his “normal” pay, an extra $1200 a month. This is a 400% tip on top of his regular salary that is already 600% of his national average!

Later, I refused to tip at all and the Bangladesh worker gave me a dirty look. When we picked up our clothes the next day, everyone else had folded clothes and mine were a half-wet ball in the laundry bag. His job was to wash and and fold. But because I didn’t tip, he REFUSED to do even the basic service that was required of him. We had spoiled this worker so that now he expects a tip. No, he demands a tip. My one colleague Matty tipped him $20 one day. I was livid. I told Matty that he was wasting his money and was “screwing the rest of us” because soon this worker will come to expect $20 each time he does our laundry. Matty’s reply was, “Well, don’t be so tight, you can afford it.”

Think about the logic of that. I can afford it.

That’s what poor people say.

I’m a millionaire and I doubt that Matty will ever be. He will constantly chase credit card bills, struggle to pay his mortgage and will complain that he “can’t get ahead.”

Think about the logic of this:

This Bangladesh worker is already earning 600% of his “normal” wage at home. This is the equivalent of an American worker taking a job overseas and getting $270,000 per year (six times national average of $45,000). Now, imagine if you took a job overseas making $270,000 working in Saudi Arabia. And then, as Saudis came in to get your services, they handed stacks of $100 bills. By the end of each month, your tips amount to a million dollars in cash. Does that seem reasonable to you? Well, that’s what we did with this man. We were giving him, when compared to the wages of his country, about a million dollars per month when compared to US wages and living standards.

Later, we went for a $5 haircut and matty paid $20 ($15 tip).

I debated with Matty and some other colleagues. I explained that we were giving this guy a fortune, and for what? Matty explained that he was “helping” the guy. I said that his regular salary was a small fortune and that his “help” was just a waste of his money. Matty then said something telling and I immediately understood WHY he tipped. He said, “When I give that guy the $20 and his face lights up, it makes me feel good.”

Ah ha. The reason why Matty was tipping was because it made him feel like a big shot. It made him feel rich compared to this lowly Bangladesh worker. I then realized that Matty didn’t care about helping this guy, he was showing off in front of him. I thought about how so many people love to over tip in America and I realized that it has less to do with manners and showing appreciation; it has more to do with showing off one’s success and wealth.

Now. If your net worth is over a million and you earn over $100,000 in passive income, your house and cars are paid, you have enough $ for your children’s college education and your 401(k) is maxed out, then go ahead. Tip away.

But, if not. You’re taking money out of your retirement, out of your children’s education, out of your gfamily legacy AND YOU ARE GIVING IT AWAY TO A STRANGER.

Think about it. To stroke your ego and to make you feel “rich,” you’re giving away your family’s legacy.

Some days, I walk around in a t-shirt and flip flop sandals. I still wear my expensive watch, but I dress comfortably. I might be at the mall and I’ll see some young guy with his Rolex, expensive car and I know that he’s up to his eyeballs in debt. I know INSIDE of myself that I’m the big shot. I don’t need to drop a 600% tip on a stranger to feel like a big-shot.

There is a difference between the two and they both revolve around your confidence level. People who are not confident in themselves need the placebo of success that comes from the 30 second “approval” they get from the waiter when they over tip. And in the end, that $3 here and that $15 there add up. If saved and invested, over a decade or two, they can mean the difference of having enough $ to buy that distressed rental property or to snatch up a choice asset in a fire sale. That one asset can turn into an income stream or a sale with a big dividend that can be invested again and again.

People who tip big always seem to be broke and complaining about money. I’m smart with my money and I don’t feel the need to impress anyone. I’ve impressed myself. That is all that is important.

Free credit monitoring?

In an attempt to “fix” the public unhappiness with their credit card fiasco, Target is offering its customers 1 year of free credit reporting. As a target customer I was sent a link to sign up for this free service. I followed the link, set up the account and now I have access to 1 year free Experion credit reporting.

When I looked at the link I was provided I noticed that it didn’t have any customer-specific information. In other words, its a generic link and it looks like anyone can use it.

If you are a Target customer or not, I’m pretty sure that you can use this link to get “free” credit monitoring. Give it a try and if it works for you, leave a comment and let us know!

Good luck!

Free Target Credit Reporting

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Its all about your attitude

Happy grimmace sad

As I think more and more about the road to financial independence, I become more and more convinced that your attitude is the primary factor for success. Unlike the graphic above, whether or not you are happy or sad won’t decide if you will make a million dollars but your attitude towards getting to that goal will be everything.

At my work I’m surrounded by colleagues who make six figure salaries and barely can put together ten thousand dollars for a house down payment. There is NO reason why they can’t be financially successful (savings I mean, not earnings) except for their attitude. They treat money like air, something to be breathed in and out without a thought to saving, investing or planning for the next step in their lives. Opportunities about; the average person probably has about a half dozen opportunities in their life to stake a claim on their fortune. Whether or not you are prepared will mean everything.

I have one old buddy from high school who started real estate investing in the last 6 or 7 years. I even went in on one of his deals and it is paying off nicely. He first bought a 3 room house and then rented it followed by a one bedroom apartment. He paid enough down so that his monthly cash flow was positive on both properties. Later he bought (also with positive cash flows) a 3 unit condo complex and later a 4 unit apartment building (the unit I helped to finance). He has just informed me that he closed on an 18 unit apartment building. Each property has a positive cash flow and I estimate that he is earning somewhere between $6,000-8,000 per month in EXTRA income.

I say extra because he still has his job and his wife still has hers. Because the cost of financing is cheap (rates in the 4% range), he uses the extra $6k each month to finance new properties. After a year, you have an extra $80k – this can be used for a down payment on a new property. I guess that he will hit his million in a decade.

Realize now that he started with NOTHING. He and his wife worked, skimped and saved until they had enough to buy their first rental property. After that, they skimped and saved more. And over time, it is paying off handsomely. I suppose that in a few years he will be so busy managing his properties that he won’t have time to go to work. What a glorious day that will be when he can quit his job and be self employed.

The American Dream.

And so, what set him apart from his friends and colleagues who aren’t growing their net worth like him? It was all his attitude. He made a goal to own 20 properties and started with just one. When his first was bought, he set his sights on the next.

It was all ATTITUDE.

If your attitude isn’t such that your mindset is that you’re ALWAYS looking for your chance to stake a claim to one of your life’s jackpot opportunities then you’ll probably never succeed. Have an attitude check on yourself and ask if you’re motivated and focused on becoming a millionaire. If you are, you can find a way. If you aren’t, someone else will take that opportunity that you pass. They’ll be the “lucky” one who was “at the right place at the right time.”

Luck is when preparation meets with opportunity.

Good luck!

The use of copyrighted material in this website is protected by the Fair Use Clause of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows for the sharing of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary, criticism and education.  All shared material will be attributed to its owner and a link provided when available.  All other comment on this site may be reproduced with the author’s consent.  Please source any references or quotes of this website to: http://www.my1stmillion.net

Charity

photo from Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

A few years ago my sister told me that she and her husband had saved an extra $1,500 from their tips that month – both worked in the food service industry.  I was excited for them.  They have always lived paycheck to paycheck and I thought that they finally had a way to “turn the corner” and begin a savings account that might lead to a down payment on a home.  What she told me next both shocked and disgusted me.

My sister told me that they gave $500 to their church and the remaining $1,000 was divided into five dollar bills.  My sister and her husband then went and handed out the $5 bills to homeless people as they “witnessed” to them about Jesus and Christianity.

Whether or not you are religious – try to put that aside for now.  And I can understand supporting your church in the form of monthly tithes (donations).  But to give away your entire savings for the month, when you don’t even have a cash “emergency fund” in the bank is, in my opinion, not only foolish but also reckless.

If you do not have a savings account of at least 3 years net wages AND a fully funded 401(k) and/or IRA plan, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS DONATING TO CHARITY!

I have a favorite charity.  It is called the Samuel charity.  My investment account is my charity.  And every month, every available dollar that I can find goes in to be invested to generate even more wealth.  I have over a million dollars in the bank and I still don’t give a nickle to charity.

And neither should you!

Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Bono should be donating to charity.  Some rich folks give a couple of million and we applaud them.  In reality, most give only a small fraction of their net worth.  Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are actually making sizable contributions to charity and for that I applaud them.  But leave it to them.  If you haven’t earned your million yet, leave the charity giving to the rich folks.

Sound greedy?

It is.  But  you have to be greedy if you want to be a millionaire.  Money doesn’t grow on trees.  You have to fight and scrape for every dollar and donations to charity are hazardous to your financial future and well being.

Does it sound rough?  Yes it does.  But I’ll say it again.  Quit donating your hard earned money to charity!

If an aircraft is suddenly depressurized, what is the first bit of instructions that they give you?  Put on your own mask first before helping others.  If you haven’t funded your retirement account and you don’t have an adequate emergency cash account, why are you putting a financial oxygen mask on others while you suffocate?

I read an article in Bloomberg this week that stated that millions are starving in India as donated food is pilfered by corrupt officials.  Most of this aid comes from donations from western countries and the distribution is so bad that upwards of 10% of the food rots before it can be delivered and what remains is stolen by corrupt state officials and sold for handsome profits.  Have a look at the article:

Poor in India Starve as Politicians Steal $14.5 Billion of Food

I see a story like it every week.  Last week I saw a story about a woman who claimed cancer to get her wedding paid for – she made the whole story up.  A large amount of every charity dollar donated goes to pay some bureaucrat or administrator.  Some day, when I feel “comfortable” in my financial position I suppose that I shall engage in direct charity.  Find a local family down on their luck and help them out, save their house, pay their water bill, fix their car.

What if you lose your job?  What if a loved one is injured and there are huge medical bills?  The charity money that you gave away could have been used to save your own family.  Charity begins at home and you should think of yourself and your family the next time you’re feeling generous with the excess of your paycheck.

And while I’m on the subject of America - YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS DONATING TO OVERSEAS CHARITIES!  More than 1/3rd of each dollar spent by the American Government this year is borrowed money.  Yes, we’re borrowing money to give to charities (ie foreign governments).  Israel has a high standard of living and less debt than us but we borrowed 1/3rd of the US $4 billion in aid that we gave them this year.  And if you are reading this, you probably have debt of your own.  Home mortgage, car payment, credit cards, etc.  If you send ANY money to charity and you have ANY bills, this means that you borrowed that $ to pay the charity.  If you haven’t paid your house off, your car off, & your credit cards, you’re using borrowed money to fund your charity donations.

We allow our politicians to spend out money on charity countries because we’ve all been sold that it is the noble thing to do.  Perhaps if more Americans were concerned for their own wealth and financial well being, they would insist that Congress do the same with their tax dollars.

What I’m saying isn’t politically correct, but it is correct.  Giving money away when you don’t have enough for yourself is insane.  America is broke and we give away more.  Hard times are coming.  In ten years, you may wish you had given less to charity and saved some for your own family.

Think about it.  Be wise with your money.  Be tight with your money.

The path to riches isn’t easy.  You have to change your way of thinking.

Good luck!

The use of copyrighted material in this website is protected by the Fair Use Clause of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows for the sharing of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary, criticism and education.  All shared material will be attributed to its owner and a link provided when available.  All other comment on this site may be reproduced with the author’s consent.  Please source any references or quotes of this website to: http://www.my1stmillion.net

Saving

What do you think is the path to riches?  Most people believe that you have to win the lottery, inherit the money or have a super high-paid job like a CEO or celebrity. While having a high paying job makes getting to the million dollar mark easier, it isn’t the only factor.  It isn’t even a necessary factor.

If you earn $40,000 per year, working from age 25 to 65, you will earn $1.2 million dollars in your lifetime.  About two decades ago I was told by a financial planner, “It’s not what you earn.  It’s what you keep.”

Think about that for a minute.  There are plenty of lawyers and dentists who are broke.  They earn $143,000 annually and spend $142,000.  What is left over usually is used to maintain credit card bills and rich living.  If anyone with an income spends less than they earn (after taxes and expenses), they will be able to save money.  Save money and you’ll have it available to invest.  You will have it available when “once in a lifetime” opportunities come up.

Most Americans don’t have 3 months salary in the bank.  You should have a few years worth of salary in the bank.

If you’re thinking of buying a house and the bank approves you for a $250,000 loan.  Buy a $150,000 house instead.

Your car running good?  How about a detail instead of a new car payment.

Instead of going out to the movies and blowing $100 on a family of 4, how about rent some movies and cook some microwave popcorn.

Live within your means!

This is one characteristic that you will find with all self-made millionaires.  THEY LIVE WITHIN THEIR MEANS.

Being frugal makes it easier to live within your means.  But if you are serious about becoming wealthy, you have to change your mindset to a state where saving and accumulating money becomes normal.  You’ll never get rich spending what you take in.  You have to spend much less than you take in and then save and invest.

Becoming a millionaire isn’t easy!  If it was, everyone would be rich.  But if you are serious about becoming a millionaire, you have to start by saving.

More on this topic as this blog evolves.  But if you’ve decided to start on the path to millionaire status, begin to start saving your money.  Track your progress and find ways that you can save more.

The use of copyrighted material in this website is protected by the Fair Use Clause of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows for the sharing of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary, criticism and education.  All shared material will be attributed to its owner and a link provided when available.  All other comment on this site may be reproduced with the author’s consent.  Please source any references or quotes of this website to: http://www.my1stmillion.net

On being frugal

There are several disciplines that must be mastered in order to become wealthy.  Aside from inheriting money or winning the lottery, these steps are crucial and failure to master them most assuredly makes wealth growth nearly impossible.  In order to grow your wealth you must increase your income, manage and grow your investments, manage your expenses, and manage or eliminate your debt.  We’ll talk about income, investments and debt at a later time but for now, let us focus on managing expenses.  There is no more direct way to managing expenses than to just be plain frugal.

I get grief from my friends all the time about being a “tightwad,” being “cheap,” and they even nicknamed me “Jew.”  Now before I get a rash of hate-mail for being anti-semetic, let me just say that I take the Jew nickname as a compliment.  Let’s face it, per capita, Jews are the most wealthy people on the planet.  Why is this?  It is because they respect money and they teach that respect to their children.  All of my Jewish friends have told me the stories of being scolded by their parents for leaving $.35 cents in change on their dresser drawer at the end of the day.  “Respect that money, that isn’t how I raised you, put that money away.”  Quite to the contrary, most Gentile families criticize you if you don’t spend outside of your means, calling you cheap.

Well, lets just look at the results.  Being frugal with your $ = long term wealth creation as demonstrated by, not only Jewish families but also many in the Asian community, Armenians and even the American Scottish.  It may not seem like much, $.35, but added each day, over 10 years, when invested wisely, those pennies add up to dollars and then to thousands of dollars.

Now, I’m not talking about being “cheap,” wherein you sacrifice quality to save money.  I’m talking about getting good bargains, buying things on sale, spending within your financial situation and not overspending on silly things like tipping at restaurants.  My brother is notorious for tipping the wait-staff 25% for every meal.  He is an owner of a large corporation that does millions in business and I’d be surprised if he has $1,000 in the bank.  He also spends lavishly going out to dinner and to bars, on expensive cars and on gifts for his children.  I’m all for buying a nice Rolex watch or a Mercedes sedan, but only if you can afford it.  If you don’t already have a million bucks in the bank, if you have to borrow to afford it, guess what, you can’t afford it!

There is no way you will ever grow a million dollars if you are extravagantly spending money on things like this…

There is a lot of social pressure to “not act cheap” so much that people feel obliged to tip 20% or more at restaurants.  Didn’t tipping used to be 10%?  Then it went to 15% and now people are tipping 20-25% or more!  On a hundred dollar bill (not uncommon for a diner for two), you’re looking at an additional $25 for the tip!  Multiply that times twice a week and at the end of the year you’ve spent an extra thousand dollars!  Put that thousand dollars in a stock mutual fund and after ten years, you could have as much as $20,000!  Every time I tip 10% and sometimes 15% and I get that “look,” I just smile and think about that $20k in my bank account.

If you want to become wealthy, you have to be strong enough to ignore social convention and do what is right for you!  

Sometimes thinking of yourself first instead of other people (the waiter) is the difference between financial mediocrity and serious wealth generation.  Suppose you do cut back on tips and you do save $20k in the next decade.  You later hear that a house is up for sale because of some financial problems and you are able to step in and buy it at a discount.  Later, you sell the home and make an additional $50k profit.  This is how and why rich people get rich and stay rich – they have the financial means to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.  I bet deals pass you all the time and you don’t have the $ to take advantage of them.

Cut back on your extravagant spending now to have $ available for those “once in a lifetime” bargains that occur more often than you realize.

I have a colleague here at work, young, maybe in his 20′s.  He has a six-figure salary and he has no idea how to manage his money.  Last year he bought a Cadillac Escalade for $70k and put on $15k worth of rims and then bought two Breitling watches and a Rolex for an additional $25k.  Despite his six-figure salary, he is close to bankruptcy now.  Heaven forbid he should ever get laid off from work, he surely will be in bankruptcy court.  Meanwhile, banks are almost giving houses away to anyone with a serious down payment.  With the money that he spent on these luxury items, he could have easily bought four houses in the Texas area netting two thousand dollars a month in rent.

I made a deal with myself – when my account hit $750,000, I would buy an Omega watch to reward myself.  I told myself that when I hit a million, I’d buy a Rolex.  The photo at the top of this post is the watch that I’m going to buy.  But why haven’t I bought it yet?  Because I haven’t found the right deal.  Why do I want to spend $8-12k on a watch when I can find someone who spent outside of their paycheck, ran into financial trouble and now they’re selling theirs at a discount.  I’ve seen watches like this sell for as low as $3,800.  I’ll be patient and get a good deal.

When you go to buy ANYTHING, shop for the best price.  Most people say, “Oh, its not worth the trouble.”  Isn’t it?  If you save $50 here, $100 there, over time, those bits add up (just like the Jewish kid’s $.35 cents) and eventually, you’ll see a once in a lifetime deal and you’ll have the means to capitalize on it.

In my case, I worked and saved hard and when the 2008 stock market crash happened, I had a few hundred thousand in the bank.  I loaded up on stocks and in 2009/2010 I realized about $400,000 in stock gains.  If I hadn’t been frugal, hadn’t saved that money, I would have missed out on the best stock-buying opportunity of our generation.

When someone looks “down” at you for leaving a moderate tip, turn it around on them and tell them that to do otherwise is foolish and fiscally irresponsible.

Your bank account will thank you in the long run!

The use of copyrighted material in this website is protected by the Fair Use Clause of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows for the sharing of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary, criticism and education.  All shared material will be attributed to its owner and a link provided when available.  All other comment on this site may be reproduced with the author’s consent.  Please source any references or quotes of this website to: http://www.my1stmillion.net