Millennial Money Makeover takes readers on a six-step journey to transform their financial life and set them up for lifelong success. From learning how to pay off student loans insanely fast to optimizing a financial ecosystem, Millennial Money Makeover teaches readers how to reclaim their financial future and jump-start the path to the rich life.
Built for readers in their twenties and thirties, this book gives Millennials a proven playbook. Learn new hacks like how using robo-advisors can increase your returns and how leveraging delayed gratification when buying your first home can save you thousands. Whether you are planning a passion budget, figuring out how to finally purchase that big-ticket item, or thinking about taking your first dip into investing, Conor will show you the way.
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A Rich Decision: Make the Choice to Understand Your Money
Decision is the ultimate power.
— Tony Robbins
If you want to find out the meaning of life, go to New York City.
When I was twenty-eight years old, I had a life-changing moment that would alter the trajectory of my life. Some would call it an epiphany, others a financial wake-up call. I call it a financial awakening.
In the fall of 2014, I was living in New York and enjoying every minute. My career was taking off, I was making lifelong friendships, and I was continuously learning. Life was perfect.
New York taught me about life, the minimum viable space for an apartment, the art of navigating crowded subways, how to hail a taxi, and the value of work. With a city that eats up most of a young professional's budget with rent, it also taught me how to survive on a small amount of discretionary income. Allocating my spending was crucial to survival, and as a result, savings was always a second thought, if a thought at all.
But one evening everything came crashing down. For some reason, I decided that I wanted to start saving more — well, really, just save at all. I was getting sick of just getting by every month. Something inside me was saying there was more to life than living paycheck to paycheck. So I sat down at my desk in my fifth-floor walk-up apartment, overlooking Brooklyn, and put together my first real budget.
That is when the clouds parted.
As a newly minted certified public accountant (CPA), I lived in Excel most of my days and nights. Creating financial projections for existing businesses, models for business plans, and slicing through mounds of data were routine projects. But modeling out my own future and thinking about the business of "me" always seemed to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. I decided to change that by sitting down to figure out exactly where I stood.
The result was not pretty. My financial life was in shambles. If I was going to save myself, I knew that I needed to do something quick and drastic. At that moment, I decided to change. I decided to change my relationship with money forever and turn professional with my finances. That is when my money makeover began.
Something tells me you are looking to do the same.
That evening is seared into my mind as one of the most transformational moments of my life. It was a moment of full decision. I was going to stop. I was going to stop living on the edge. I was going to stop unnecessarily spending on clothes, trips, and going out with friends. And I was going to stop living in New York, the city I loved. My financial life was a wreck, and the only way to fix it was with a complete money makeover.
This will happen to you too. Perhaps it already has. There will come a time when you realize you are losing control of your finances and everything isn't quite working out. You will become tired of the routine — fighting through the Sunday Scaries, hating Mondays, living for the weekend, and haphazardly spending money. When you finally become fatigued by it all, you will know it is time for a change.
Perhaps that is why you picked up this book?
I changed my life during my late twenties, but only after I dusted off the haze of the previous years. If I remained entrenched in my old routine, I realized my long-term financial outlook was bleak. If, on the other hand, I wanted the financial freedom that I had always dreamed of, then I was going to have to make major changes in my life. The dormant need to take control of my life was beginning to wake up. It was time for a money makeover.
When we first start our careers, all we know about money is that we do not have enough of it. And far too often, we are naive to the fact that creating a solid financial base in our twenties and thirties will pave the way to lifelong financial success. Our distraction is not without merit. As young professionals, we are perpetually engrossed with the mythology of the success sequence: trying to find the right job, the right spouse, and just generally working things out.
We tend to become overwhelmed with life's expenses, and as a result, we are always stressed about money. The comforting news is that you are not alone. Nearly 70 percent of Millennials report feeling financially stressed. Making the choice today to get your finances in order can alleviate this burdensome stress and increase your happiness.
If you are merely starting to think about paying off your debt, saving, or developing a financial plan, this book will guide you on your way to financial success. This book will help you set up the financial ecosystem to create lasting change. You will finally be on your way to financial freedom.
Sounds great, right? Well, there is one catch. The steps in this book will present the agenda for success. But as it is with most difficult decisions in life, change can only begin with you taking action. Picking up the phone to call your credit card companies, setting up your savings account, opening retirement accounts, and automating your finances will all have to be done on your time and by the work of your own hands.
Let this moment be one that you remember. Realize that this is a unique opportunity. You have the chance for a complete transformation — to escape debt, build up savings, create a career that matters, and live life on your own terms.
Take the time today to consciously decide that you are going to turn professional in your finances. This will be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Commit to leading an exceptional life in which you can buy your dream car and purchase that perfect house.
"I could divide my life into two parts: before turning pro and after. After is better."
— Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro
The concept of living a financially healthy lifestyle is not novel. It is, however, a very hard thing to accomplish in today's society. We live in a world in which we are perpetually inundated with marketing campaigns designed to pull us away from being financially prudent. The competing messages are everywhere: Buy this fancy new purse. Don't you need that new shirt? Do you have the latest iPhone? We are constantly reminded of our inferiority if we do not have the appropriate stuff Ignore those voices and listen to the one in your head (that would be me right now). You do not need excess, and you do not need more. Look around you; you barely use what you already own (more on this in Chapter 3).
A money makeover starts with the realization that you are an incredibly important person. Mastering your money is worth every minute of your time. You need to recognize that only you control your financial destiny.
This book is here to help as a financial tool. As humans, we are hardwired to use the tools around us to construct our environment. Use this tool to better your life. In this book, you have the insights and perspectives of those who have gone before you. They are adamantly showing you the path to success. Live a debt-free life. Invest when everyone else is spending. Create the income to last a lifetime. When you start to get uncomfortable, that is when you know you are beginning to get close. Launch yourself, and your finances, forward.
It is the few who end up on the path to success, but there is always time to change the road you are on.
Turn professional today.
* * *
Millennial Money Makeover Principle of Success: One Rich Decision Wins the Day
Making the decision to turn professional with your money will change the trajectory of your life. Absorbing this principle will increase your appetite for change.
* * *
Building Your Confidence
Stop deferring action to the future. Do I need to pay that bill today? Can I just make the minimum payment? Should I make my student loan payment this month? One reason why people procrastinate when it comes to making hard choices is fear. Fear that they will have to change. Fear that they may be socially excluded from the tribe. Fear that they will be wrong. This fear causes paralysis and fuels the status quo.
Fear is public enemy number one.
"Skill and confidence are an unconquered army."
— George Herbert
The good news is that fear can be beaten. Fear ushers in negative thoughts, which lead to negative actions or inaction. The best way to beat fear is by confidence-building. By replacing your negative thoughts with positive and confidence-building thoughts, the cycle of fear can be broken. Our brains are remarkably powerful, and if you train your brain to harness the power of positive thinking, remarkable changes begin to unfold.
One of the secrets of the rich life is: Confidence is a commodity. Confidence can be developed, mined, and acquired over time. By practicing confidence-building techniques, you can produce confidence to be used at your convenience. This confidence will permeate all aspects of your life, including your career, personal relationships, and money management.
The following list displays fears people face when failing to realize their financial potential. Read the fears and their associated confidence-building responses out loud. You can download a spreadsheet with blank responses at MillennialMoneyMakeover.com
Do you feel that? That is confidence beginning to flow through your veins.
A history of poor financial decisions can lead someone to think they cannot master their finances. You do not lack ability, only knowledge that you will acquire shortly. But fear is a nasty little emotion that feeds on itself. The fear that is developed through constant debt and living a financially poor life is proliferated by a lack of three major aspects to success: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Popularized by Daniel Pink in his bestselling book Drive, these three aspects of success harness the power to gain fulfillment in most of life's endeavors. Attain these three qualities in your financial life, and you will regain control of your future. Let's take a look at each one.
Financial autonomy, or the freedom from external control, gives you the ability to break free from dependence upon your next paycheck. If you decide that you want to quit living what I call the "just in time" paycheck lifestyle, then you need to change your relationship with money. That starts by keeping money around instead of giving it away.
What constitutes financial autonomy? When you have no debts to repay, that is financial autonomy. When you have enough savings to take a year off that is financial autonomy. When your investments produce a secondary income stream, that is financial autonomy. Financial autonomy gives you the freedom to choose what you want to do in life. It liberates you. Maybe you finally want to start traveling or explore a new career. Whatever your reason, autonomy gives you the freedom to make choices. But you have to choose financial autonomy first.
Mastery produces a kind of pride and passion. Lack of mastery, however, makes us nervous and fearful. When it comes to mastering money, most people run in the opposite direction.
There seems to be an infinite number of choices about what to do with your money. Confusion about what to do induces financial paralysis. Amid the cacophony of advice, we have been erroneously conditioned to think we need to know everything about money. The steps and principles in this book will give you all that you need to know.
Mastering your money is a necessary part of your self-education. Luckily, it only requires middle school–level math skills and an appetite for change. During your flight into financial fluency, keep the words of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus in mind: "Only the educated are free."
Developing yourself, and your finances, allows you to pursue your purpose in life. You are called to do something wonderful. For some this means teaching, starting a new business, or founding a charity.
Purpose is the deep urge you feel toward your life's work. It means finding your passion and pursuing it relentlessly. But purpose needs room to germinate. Whether your passion is philanthropy, art, writing, or business, financial stability lets you do more of what you love. Financial stability lets you find your purpose.
* * *
Confidence-building is a decision that we make every day. You will have to remind yourself of that continuously because the financial system is designed to decrease your confidence. But there are no recurring fees to be made on the financially intelligent. Understand that there is a lot of useless information about money and finances out there. By aiming to achieve financial autonomy, mastery, and purpose, you can hone your financial acumen. You can learn to surgically remove the useless information and decipher what is important. This process is the key to confidence-building.
The Path of Least Resistance
In recent years, technology has democratized access to information, and the former gatekeepers are slowly fading away. The market for financial advice is now saturated with opinions and overwhemling amounts of information. With the age of information asymmetry officially behind us, no one has stopped to ask if that is a good thing. It turns out, this new onslaught of information overload can actually begin to work against you.
There seems to be an infinite amount of choices about what to do with your money: options, stocks, warrants, investment properties, bonds, high-yield investments, and dividends. The terms and options seem endless. The information overload begins working against you, and you get stuck. There are just too many choices. Instead of making a decision, you simply do nothing, but find yourself yearning for a path to follow. That lack of financial action comes from an internal conundrum called the paradox of choice.
Marc Cuban, billionaire investor and outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has mastered this concept. Cuban has had tremendous success in business, and one of Cuban's core mantras, although initially counterintuitive, is that businesses should offer fewer options to customers, not more. Offering the path of least resistance to customers, which means fewer options, he says, "is a lesson in basic business."
In his 2011 book How to Win at the Sport of Business, Cuban details the debate between two schools of thought in the advertising and television universe in the early 2000s: Is it better to offer unlimited channels or suggestive programing to customers?
Others seem to think that unlimited choice is the holy grail of TV. It's not. The reason it's not is that it's too much work to page through an unlimited number of options. It's too much work to have to think of what it is we might like to watch. We are afraid we might miss something that we really want to watch. ... The smart on-demand providers will present their programming guide more like Amazon.com and Netflix.com, both of which do a great job of "suggestive programming."
This phenomenon of suggestive programming harnesses the power of the paradox of choice or the concept that customers may choose nothing when confronted with too many options. So reducing choice can significantly reduce anxiety for customers. As it turns out, this has a profound effect on how customers feel when they shop. For big business, limiting choices can mean increasing the bottom line. The same is true for you.
Aside from Cuban's business instinct, the paradox of choice is also grounded in social psychology and behavioral economics. Columbia University's Cheena Iyengar and Stanford University's Mark Lepper set out to examine how potential customers would react to varying degrees of choice. To do this, they set up booths outside an upscale grocery store in northern California and tried selling jam.
During the first week of the experiment, the researchers offered prospective customers a display of twenty-four varieties of jams. Then, a week later they set up shop again, but this time they only offered customers six varieties of jams. As you might have guessed, more people stopped by the first booth with the greater number of options than the second booth with fewer options. But when researchers examined the sales data, they found a peculiar occurrence: Only 3 percent of customers made a purchase from the booth containing twenty-four varieties of jam. This contrasted with the 30 percent who bought jam from the booth containing only six varieties of jam. This proved a valuable lesson: Less was more.
With all of the noise in our daily lives — work, Instagram, family — getting people to stop and concentrate on one task is becoming increasingly difficult. In our attention-driven economy, giving people the best options quickly can be the difference between success and failure. That is precisely what you will get throughout this book.
The money makeover is designed to walk you Through exactly what you need to create a healthy financial ecosystem. Think of this program as the path of least resistance, or your suggestive financial programming. Ignore the advice of pundits or talking heads when it comes to finance. They generally offer horrible advice (unless, of course, they are recommending this book).
Money is easy to master, and I am going to show you exactly how to master it. You will be able to slice your way through the noise and finally achieve your financial goals. The path is here for anyone to take.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Millennial Money Makeover"
Copyright © 2019 Conor Richardson.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Millennial's Way 1
Chapter 1 A Rich Decision: Make the Choice to Understand Your Money 13
Chapter 2 Red to Black: How to Pay Off Credit Cards and Student Loans 37
Chapter 3 Passion Budgeting: How It Will Change Your Life for the Better 79
Chapter 4 The Magic of Winning Big: How to Optimize Large-Ticket Purchases 117
Chapter 5 Minting Momentum: Saving, Investing, and Constructing Your Retirement 155
Chapter 6 The Power of Automation: Leveraging Technology to Reach the Rich Life 185
Conclusion: Winning the Long Game 207
Millennial Money Makeover Bonus Material 209