“Without any formal personal finance instruction in our high school or college curricula, many college seniors who graduate in the red will continue to make common financial mistakes that only exacerbate their debt burdens.”
~ Alex von Tobel
I am a millennial. I belong to Generation Y — a generation of financially incompetent people. This may sound like a harsh overgeneralization but if you are an average millennial, the following statements may resonate with you.
No one taught you about money.
You weren’t educated in basic financial literacy. Most of your life you had no idea how to manage your money, invest it, or use it as a tool to build wealth. Everything you know about money is a result of life experience and self-education.
You live in a world of perpetual expansion.
Cost of rent, valuation of real estate, tuition fees for education — prices for absolutely every product or service are going up. Opportunities require real skills which in turn require constant re-education. The workflow gets faster, the competition gets fiercer. Wages simply don’t keep up with the pace.
The system is designed to keep you financially stagnant.
9 to 5 jobs exist to keep you in the illusion of busyness so that you didn’t have time to think about alternative ways of living. Never-ending bombardment by ads makes you covet the next big thing that this time round will truly and undoubtedly become your long-awaited salvation from that chronic feeling of emptiness. You continue living paycheck to paycheck because you never trained your brain for delayed gratification. You are working harder, doing more, running faster, and maybe even making more money, yet it still feels like you are running in one place. Welcome to the wheel.
This book won’t teach you how to get rich, there are plenty of books that do just that. My intention is only to scratch the surface and hopefully add some puzzle pieces to the big picture you construct. The following are a few meditations on personal financial intelligence.
Bad mindsets and practices.
#1. Living beyond your means.
Mistake #1 — spending more than you earn. It is the most common and the most maleficent to your financial stability habit. Getting repetitive loans from friends, signing up for lasting installment plans, negligent usage of credit cards — these practices put many in the state of continuous indebtedness.
Freedom is not letting yourself have anything you want. It is having fewer wants.
Prioritizing immediate desires subverts long-term financial goals. Spending money on material things that are not a matter of urgency is a financially poor choice. Eradicate redundancies from your life. Small seemingly harmless expenses can seriously undermine your financial health. The devil is in the details.
#3. Scarcity mindset.
“Money is the root of all evil”, “Money doesn’t grow on the trees”, “Do you think we print this money in the night?” — these are just several of many destructive programs that were unintentionally imprinted on my mind by my parents. Are you able to detect similar broken beliefs that were imposed on you externally? Failing to clean up this kind of mental garbage leads to disastrous results. Programmed for scarcity, people develop a constant feeling of financial incompetence falling, as a result, into unhealthy frugality. Some want to be frugal but end up being cheap.
Self-program yourself for abundance. This world has everything you need and more. You can get access to the Universe’s cornucopia if you give yourself internal permission that it is possible and make wealth your focal point. Take full responsibility for recoding your financial programs.
#4. Ignoring budgeting.
If you don’t track your money, you don’t control it.
The age of bulky ledgers is long gone. Modern budgeting tools are free, seamless, and reliable. Not taking advantage of digital tools is unwise. Monitor all your transactions using a personal finance application to see where your money goes. Alternatively, old good Excel will do the job.
Eradicating old, damaging habits is time-consuming and tedious work. Exercise good mindsets, put in the effort to become financially literate. Implement habits that will ensure a slow but steady shift in your money management skills.
“Personal finance is only 20% head knowledge. It’s 80% good behavior.”
~ Dave Ramsey.
#1. Abundance mindset.
We live in an abundant world. This is not a positive affirmation, it is a fact. People of Earth have never lived in such a bountiful world that is being so thoroughly engineered and so precisely tuned to cater to the needs of capricious humanity. Thanks to technological progress we can experience an unprecedented level of comfort, safety, and material security. The world has ample money for the one who is willing to take, however, willing to take implies that one must first develop a will of a taker. Prosperity requires hard work.
#2. Income is a function of effort.
Everyone wants more money. “How much more?” — that is the question. $500 more? $5000 more? $50,000 more? You’ve got to have an exact number as this number reflects the amount of work you will have to invest to realize such a raise.
Let me draw an analogy between money-making and bodybuilding. Professional bodybuilders are respected for their aesthetic looks, self-discipline, and the successful lifestyle they are able to build based on their physicality but how many ordinary people want to become professional bodybuilders? Not many. People understand: muscles come at a price. An extraordinary physique requires coping with extraordinary amounts of pain. Arnold Schwarzenegger spent 5 to 6 hours in the gym every single day — that’s what it takes to be a seven-time Mr. Olympia.
Let’s take another example: Elon Musk — the real Iron Man. His superhuman productivity made him the owner of some of the greatest companies in human history: PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City. But if you think about it, his companies own him just as much as he owns them. With all his money he is deprived of basic man’s needs, for instance, building a relationship. He is so busy, he simply doesn’t have time for that. Pulling out insane 120 hours work weeks made Elon Musk adept at the costliest of all sacrifices — the sacrifice of time.
Estimate and aim for an exact income that would cover your needs without breaking you. The truth is that after reaching a certain salary level, which is noticed to be around $7,000 per month, money stops being the most important factor in defining the sense of happiness. Other things come into play: an atmosphere in the workplace, relationships with co-workers, a scale of a personal impact, a sense of a mission.
#3. Money is Energy.
A metaphysical but not any less sensible way of thinking about money is thinking of it as energy. The energy of money follows certain rules:
- Money follows the Law of Attraction: money makes more money; rich people get richer.
- Money empowers its owner. The energy of wealth flows into other aspects of life, for example, health, confidence, self-esteem.
- Money must flow. If money doesn’t move it loses its creative potential. Money energy dies out in stagnation.
- In order to prosper you need to place yourself in the money flow. Place yourselves in the environments where people move money, think money, talk money. Some knowledge you will absorb naturally, some sources of income will reveal themselves in serendipitous ways.
#1. Find a mentor.
Find a way to enter a team of someone who already closed the financial goals you’ve set for yourself. You will be progressing ten times as fast as someone who learns on his own.
#2. Pay yourself first.
Dollar saved = dollar earned. Set a savings goal for a year. Put a certain percentage from each paycheck into your savings account. This account must be untouchable.
#3. Divide the rest into 3 pools.
- Absolute necessities (rent, food, utilities, tuition, etc.) Pay these first.
- Secondary expenses (gifts for friends, debts, phone, etc.) Filter this list thoroughly before paying. These expenses hold you back the most from your financial goals.
- “Things that would be nice to have one day”. You know what these things are. If you really need them, wait for a good time to buy them. Sometimes this time never comes.
#4. Become a minimalist.
Minimalism helps many people to get out of debt and poverty. There are few things that significantly affect the quality of our life, the rest is just clutter. You can make some cash by selling stuff that doesn’t add up value to your life.
#5. Manage your cards.
The more cards you have the more you spend. Having a lot of cards is distracting, it may create an illusion that you have more means at your disposal than you actually have. Some systems require you to build up your credit history, you will have to learn how to handle a credit card which can be a dangerous tool in unskilful hands. Used carelessly, it may drag you into financial merry-go-round except you won’t be so merry.
#6. Set your Daily Income Goal (DIG).
Unless you are ready to “abandon Babylon” you’ve got to learn how to make a living in the matrix. Brian Tracy, a public speaker, and self-development guru shares his research: average financially unsuccessful people concentrate on their salary per month and per year whereas rich financially accomplished people direct their attention on how much money they make in exchange for one hour of their time. By all means, both setting your monthly and yearly goals and seeking ways to increase your hourly wage are important, but what I find to be the best practice is setting a DIG. A paradigm of DIG narrows down your focus to immediate action: “What can I do today to make said amount of money?” Make meeting the DIG your #1 priority. Credit for the concept of DIG to Dan Lok “F.U. Money.”
#7. Create Automated Income Vehicles (AIV).
Another term from Dan Lok’s “F.U. Money”. AIV is a system you put in place that generates income for you without your direct involvement. For example, selling a product, running a business that can be automated, leasing a property, micro-crediting. Educate yourself on how to create robust controllable AIVs as it is the fastest way to financial freedom.
After growing a sufficient nest egg start creating investment seeds: real estate, stock options, bonds. There is no blueprint for successful investments, this is something you have figure out by yourself.
- “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
- “The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime” by M.J. Demarco
- “Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook” by Tony Robbins
- “EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches” by Dave Ramsey
- “The Four Hours Workweek” by Timothy Ferris
- “F. U. Money” by Dan Lok
- “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill
- “Money Success & You: Harness Your Mind to Achieve Prosperity” by John Kehoe
- “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Samuel Clason
Good luck in your money game. Remember that it is still just a game. Engage but don’t lose yourself. Don’t let chasing money sway you from things of true importance. Your life purpose must always lie above the material.
“The goal isn’t more money. The goal is living life on your terms.”
~ Chris Brogan
Thank you for reading my book “Meditations of the Millennial”.
If you want to support me on my mission, please, share this book with someone you love. Maybe they will find what they seek on its pages.