Twenty-five years ago, I set off on my own with nothing but a folding table and a phone. For years, real success eluded me. I told people I was doing well when I was often on the edge of being broke.
Millions of people face the same plightincluding my beloved brother-in-law, who died tragically before he could fix his money problems. That was MY wake-up call. I knew I needed more money, but I didn't know how to get it. I only turned things around by getting honest with myself, taking responsibility for my situation, and figuring out some practical solutions. Now I'm going to show you how to do the same.
In polite society, we don't like to talk about money. But it's too important to tiptoe around. In these pages, you and I are going to cut the BS and get real. For starters, I'll help you understand . . .
Let's figure out what's right for you. It's going to take grit and guts, but if you follow my road map, you'll start accumulating real wealth, the kind that lets you live the life of your dreams and lasts for generations to come.
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|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Wake-Up Call
Your Money Mind-set Is Broken
It Can All Change in an Instant
When my brother-in-law, John, moved from Little Rock,Arkansas, to Dallas, Texas, with his wife and four children a few years ago, myfamily was thrilled. It allowed us all, my family of five, his family of six,and my mother-in-law—Gigi—to see each other a lot. Our favorite tradition wasEaster Sunday at Gigi’s house. She cooked, the children played football outsidetogether, and Gigi and my beloved wife, Rokki, were able to dote on John. Johnand Rokki are technically half brother and sister, but if you ever mentionedthat, they would both kick your ass. To say that Rokki, her sister Jeanelle,and Gigi were crazy in love with John would be an understatement. They werefiercely protective of him and worshipped the ground he walked on.
You see, life was always a little difficult for John. Hisbirth father never made an impact in his life and his adoptive father wasworthless. Gigi’s first husband, the father of John and his sister, Jeanelle,was nonexistent. After John was born, he was gone. When Gigi remarried, she andher new husband had Rokki. Rokki’s dad left the family when she was eleven andno one heard from him for three full years. After that divorce, Gigi remarriedagain to a “real winner,” who basically showed them the world of drinking,laziness, and negativity. My wife got away from it all at sixteen, when shemoved in with her best friend to finish high school with some structure, butthe impact of an absent father left John without a road map.
John did the best he could without any guidance. Highschool was a challenge, he never considered college, and he went into theworkforce underskilled. But through it all—his mother’s husbands, the lack offather figures, and any authority figures leaving their family—John was alwaysthere for the women in his life. Rokki, Jeanelle, and Gigi considered thatenough to earn 110 percent of their love, and they made sure John knew it everychance they could. In their eyes, he could do no wrong. And once again, if mywife, her sister, or her mom heard you criticize John, they would drop glovesand fight you on the spot. See, John’s financial situation was like chicken andfeathers: At times he was eating chicken, and at other times he was eatingfeathers. It was always an up-and-down situation, fueled by household moves,job changes, and the idea that the “next” job would be the home run.
On Easter Sunday in 2014, when John and his family cameto the door at Gigi’s, we all jumped up and shared hugs. The kids ran outsideand it had all the makings of another great Easter at Gigi’s house. But when Igot to John, he looked exhausted. His skin was pale and, without question, hehad dropped weight.
I hugged him and said, “Wow, John, you have lost someweight!”
“Maybe five pounds,” said John.
More like twenty to twenty-five pounds, I thought.
When dinner was served, I noticed that John hardlytouched his plate. Gigi always made a ton of food because of how much John andI would gulp down, but today he hardly ate a bite. It was odd, but we didn’tcomment much on it. After dinner, John and I hit the couch to watch the game.Within minutes John was asleep. I sat by his side, watching the game quietly.Around fifteen minutes later, John awoke suddenly, almost in a panic. His eyesshot wide open as he grabbed my arm and leaned over to me. He said in awhisper, “I haven’t felt worth a shit in months, but I’m going to the doctor inthe morning to get it checked out.”
That should have been that. My brother-in-law, loved byso many, especially his wife and four children, and considered superhuman by mywife, his sister, and his mother, should have simply gone to the doctor onMonday, gotten a shot, and gone back to work on Tuesday. But John wasn’t okay.The doctor he saw on Monday sent him straight to the emergency room. At ageforty-six, and—as we were soon to find out—with no health insurance, no lifeinsurance, and less than $100 in the bank, our beloved John was diagnosed withstage 4 cancer. Our lives, none of them, would ever be the same again.
The Difference Money Can Make
Normal can change in an instant. Firings, regulations,buyouts, mergers, or even a cancer diagnosis can occur without any of it beingyour fault. My brother-in-law had busted his butt for twenty years, had nothingto show for it, and was filled with guilt when he discovered he was dying. Foryears, he’d known that he needed more money to keep his family secure, but nowit was too late.
At this point in my life, I already had the wake-up callthat made me realize I needed more money. My brother-in-law’s stage 4 canceronly convinced me that I could never rest. I didn’t stop when I was doing okaybecause I knew it all could change in a minute—and it did. While this kind oftragedy showed me how a lack of money and preparation can cause havoc, on theother side, I saw the power that having money can make on a difficultsituation. The outpouring of emotional support from the community of Coppell,Texas, was incredible: people provided food, gifts, clothes, and even somecash. But when it came to ultimately helping with the money situation, whetherit was John’s past-due bills or the rent, Rokki and I were able to step in andtake care of it so John’s family could hold things together during hissickness. Being able to write checks without worrying about how it would affectmy family’s future is the greatest gift I have ever been fortunate enough togive.
Finding yourself in a situation like John’s would be devastating,but even less extreme circumstances can cause a major crisis. You want to be inthe spot where you don’t have to worry about what would happen if everything inyour life changed. Right now, you don’t have enough savings, enough wealth, andenough of a plan, and it’s finally time to admit it: you need more money.Acknowledging that is the first step to changing your financial situation, andyour life. If everything goes south tomorrow, you’re screwed. You don’t haveenough money saved, the college account for your children is underfunded, as isyour retirement account, and if just one little blip hits your financialsituation, it’s all going to come tumbling down. Would you be okay ifeverything changed? I doubt it. And it should keep you up at night, just likeit did for me.
I tell you this to make you understand two things. First,understand how quickly your financial situation can change. The vast majorityof things in this world are out of your control. You can’t control how newregulations will affect your business, the strength of new competitors, howreturns on the stock market will pay out, or even what health issues may arise.All of this means you need to focus harder on the one thing you can control:you need to get your money in order.
Second, you need to understand the power that money givesyou. I’m not talking about power for the sake of prestige or notoriety or fame.I’m talking about the power to lift the guilt from a dying man’s shoulders.When I saw that my brother-in-law was scared of dying and leaving his familywith nothing because he hadn’t gotten his finances into shape, my wife and Iwere able to step in because of our financial success and remove the burdenfrom his shoulders so he could focus on his recovery.
Chances are you’ll face a time in your life when a familymember or close friend faces a crisis and needs all the help they can get. Itmay not even be that they need help paying the bills—if you have a sick friend,they may just want you to be by their side. Can you afford to take time offwork to spend time with them? Can you afford to let your friend’s wife borrowyour car to do errands? Can you pay to get their air conditioner or heaterfixed? Good news can cause a crisis, too. Maybe your insanely smart niece gets intoan Ivy League school, but your sister can’t afford the tuition. Aren’t yougoing to want to pitch in? In these kinds of situations, too many people findthemselves unable to offer much of a helping hand, since they are too busystruggling with their own financial worries. When you’re rich, you’ll find thatyou have a lot more freedom and flexibility to drop everything in a crisis soyou can focus on the thing that really matters, without having to worry aboutmissing a paycheck.
False Positive: When You Think You’re Doing Okay—ButReally, You’re Broke
Until my brother-in-law’s diagnosis, I thought he hadbeen doing okay financially. You probably think you’re doing okay, too. Youmight be at the point where you are able to pay the bills and take your significantother out for a nice steak dinner. Hell, you might actually be able to go onnice vacations and drive nice cars. But that is the problem: You are spendingyour future income today at an alarming rate. You are living in what I callFalse Positive.
False Positive is believing that you are doing betterthan you actually are. Just because you can purchase something withoutoverdrawing your bank account doesn’t mean you can afford it. The biggest, andmost detrimental, lie you can tell yourself is “I’m okay financially.” Once youstart to believe that you are okay financially, you’ll start to getirresponsible with your money—and that doesn’t just mean spending more than youshould. You’ll also take your hand off the throttle and stop pushing yourselfto increase your earnings.
I see it all the time in my business of equipmentfinancing. My company finances heavy equipment like big rigs and heavy-duty towtrucks. I hear customers tell me all the time, “My trucks are paid for . . .I’m in good shape.” And you know what they do? They don’t charge enough fortheir services; therefore, they don’t have enough cash left over for long-termrepair and maintenance, and they end up falling behind and never catch up. Thelack of pressure because of no payments due or any debt service allows thefinancial grim reaper—complacency—to creep in. While they think they are in aposition of strength, a competitor who is 100 percent on his game suddenlyshows up on their territory and eats their lunch. The same thing can happen toyou in your personal financial journey. If you fall into False Positive andstop pushing for more income, more savings, more stacks and racks of cash, you,too, can get complacent and eventually be caught off guard.
Today is the day you stop living in False Positive. FalsePositive is the single most dangerous deterrent to financial success. It tricksyou into believing that you aren’t broke just because you’re able to make endsmeet. You need to realize that even when you’re paying your bills on time andhave a little extra left over in the bank, the moment you factor in futureexpenses of retirement, child care, and health care, your financial picturestarts to look grim. Most people think that being broke is only for the lowestearners, but many people who earn good money are actually broke, too. Here’s asimple rule of thumb to figure out whether you’re broke: You’re broke if youhave to go to work each day to earn a paycheck to pay your bills this week, andyou don’t have much of a choice about it. Broke is being unable to quit yourdead-end job to free yourself up to look for a better one because you can’tafford to go two to three months without a paycheck. Broke is a terrible placeto live. There’s no freedom and certainly no wiggle room in the event of acrisis. If you haven’t taken a long, hard look at how close you are to beingbroke, you’re not just lying to others about how well you’re doing . . . you’relying to yourself. You will look for any evidence that you are doing betterthan you think: closing a small deal, or getting a 3 percent yearly raise, evengetting a tax refund check (which is really your own money you’ve let Uncle Samhold for a year). But these little bumps don’t create wealth. They are justhelping you live in False Positive, making you think that you’re doing okay.The False Positive test at the end of this chapter will help you determinewhether you’re really doing okay or just fooling yourself.
The Numbers You’re Aiming
for Are Too Low
Part of what keeps many people in False Positive is awarped sense of what counts as good money today.
$100K Ain’t What It Used to Be
When I graduated from college in 1991, in order to beconsidered in the top 1 percent of all earners in America, you needed to earn$100,000 per year. Today, in order to be in the top 1 percent of all earnersyou need to earn $384,000 per year. You can see instantly how $100,000 doesn’tstretch how it used to. Yet so many people still think that $100,000 is a lotof money. And look, if you don’t earn anywhere close to that, then, yes,$100,000 is a lot of money to you. But just because you don’t earn it doesn’tmean it’s good. It’s fine to chase a number, as long as it’s accurate, but,when it comes to money, most of us are still chasing numbers that have longpassed their level of meaningfulness.
Let me show you exactly what I mean by simply comparingthe cost of basic living expenses from 2000 versus 2014. You will quickly seethat it simply takes more money to live.
Table of Contents
Part I The Wake-Up Call
Chapter 1 Your Money Mind-set Is Broken 11
Chapter 2 Fixing Your Money Mind-set 27
Chapter 3 Lifestyle by Design 49
Part II The Road Map
Chapter 4 Step #1: The Litmus Test 67
Chapter 5 Step #2: Get out of Broke and into Accumulation Mode 97
Chapter 6 Step #3: Surround Yourself with Game Facers 137
Chapter 7 Step #4: Skill Up 153
Chapter 8 Step #5: Time for a Raise: How to Get More Money from Your Current Job 173
Chapter 9 Step #6: Create Your Personal ATM 195
Conclsuion Don't Stop Moving the Needle 209