We’re all influenced by the people we associate with and look to for advice. For example, I grew up in a single parent household and my mother was my primary role model when it came to money. She taught me how to work really hard, which I’m eternally grateful for, but she also taught me how to spend it all and then some. You want that $3,000 couch? Then just put it on your credit card. You just got a big raise at work, then clearly you need $1,500 in new clothes so you look the part. Charge it, make payments, and go on to the next series of paychecks and purchases. That was the money formula I learned growing up, and it just doesn’t work.
It didn’t matter to me at the time that the person teaching me about money was clearly losing the game. I followed in those footsteps because it was easier to just do what my mother had been doing than it was to seek out advice from people that had gone on to win with money.
I had an uncle that owned multiple car dealerships. Did I call him for advice? Nope. I had another uncle had an MBA from Harvard, owned several businesses, and had a net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Did I call him to learn the secret of money? Nope. In fact I was so dumb that my centi-millionaire uncle gave me some really good once advice once and I just laughed and shrugged it off. Looking back on it now, I had plenty of resources available to tap into, but I just unconsciously decided to do the easy thing that a lot of other consumer minded folks were doing.
At the time I didn’t understand that money is a tool that funds your life and gives you freedom. So I foolishly allowed everything I earned to slip through my fingers.
Those terrible money habits I developed lead to a decade of my life being lost in the mindless, soulless cycle of: work, spend, broke. That’s ten years I’m never going to get back. That’s hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions of dollars in additional wealth that I could have, but don’t, because I followed a broken formula. But that’s alright, I learned from the experience, so it wasn’t a total loss.
So where am I going with all this? I think we should all be very deliberate and thoughtful about where we seek our financial education from.
Podcasts are motivating and great to listen to while we’re driving, but how do we know it’s not just some broke person puffing up their Peacock feathers online? I’m sure a lot of them are legit, but I can’t drive around town and view their rental properties, patronize their businesses, or go into their office and shake their hand.
An economics professor surely has a lot of knowledge, but if they haven’t personally achieved wealth then what can they really teach me about it? Knowing where the trail is on a map, and having personally hiked it, are two very different things.
We all know somebody that’s obsessed with watching sports and can recite endless streams of facts and statistics. But can they swing a bat and hit a home-run? Can they pick-up a basketball and dunk it? If my goal is to develop my basketball skills then maybe I want to seek out mentors who have played the game at a high level and won, and not rely on the dude on the couch who knows every statistic but can’t even dribble with his off hand.
When I need legal advice for one of my businesses, I contact one of my attorneys. None one of them are employees at a law firm, they are all rich people who own their own law-firms. That’s who I want to get my advice from because they understand money, business, and the law. That’s likely to lead to much better advice than I’ll be able to get from a recently graduated junior attorney at a big law firm who is all about showing off their six figure paycheck by driving an Audi, meanwhile they have a negative net worth.
When I’m considering making an offer on a risky deal, or opening a new business, I call several of my wealthy friends to get their thoughts. I’m not calling my drinking buddies, I’m calling the people who have achieved financial success in life because I know they are going to come up with some feedback and criticisms that I hadn’t considered. This is my network of do’ers, and their friendship and advice are invaluable to me.
As Warren Buffet once said: “Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls-Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.”
So look if you’re currently broke, like I used to be, then you probably want to consider learning about money from a local millionaire, or a wealthy financial blogger like Sam Dogan from Financial Samurai. That guy legitimately retired at 34, so clearly he knows something about money. On the same note, if you’re a millionaire then maybe you want a mentor that’s a multi-millionaire. If you’re a multi-millionaire then you probably ought to be getting tips from a centi-millionaire. You get the idea.
Every single day that we walk down the wrong path or a blind alley is lost time and missed opportunities. We’ve all done it. But maybe it’s time for us all to get focused and serious about improving our lives and futures by learning about how money works from people who don’t just know where the path is, but have hiked it themselves and maybe even broken a leg or two along the way. That is the way to acquire practical knowledge that you can start applying to your life right away.
Money is a tool that funds your life. Start learning how to accumulate it, multiply it, and use it in ways that will better your life and the local community.
This topic is a real passion of mine, so I cover it in greater detail in my Lecture #101: Get Your Money Right.