Numbers are infinite, so therefore, money is too. I remember, as a former chauffeur driver, I once drove this rich fashion designer around.
He had no filter and would tell me exactly what he thought.
“Look at these peasants! They can’t even afford a good bottle of red wine.”
Driving him around showed me the downsides of a huge ego.
His fashion empire had made him a fortune. He didn’t have to work anymore, but he liked to so he could rub it in people’s faces.
I got to attend a few of his meetings. He always had to get the most out of every deal and make the other person feel poor.
Every year he’d buy a new Porsche.
Not because he needed one but because he had to have the latest and greatest model or he’d feel like some other schmuck was ahead of him.
One evening my hotel employer held a grand opening for their new restaurant. The who’s who of the Australian celebrity circus attended.
Out the front they had a dozen valets to park the celebrity cars. When I wasn’t working, I stood in the foyer with the fashion designer because I didn’t know anyone else.
At about 8:15 PM the mood changed.
People began to whisper. There was a crowd in the foyer. A Bentley the size of a super yacht rolled up.
“It’s a one of a kind. His friend works at Bentley and got him a custom-designed car nobody can ever own. The color scheme is rare. The engine is modified to his tastes, and the carpet is made from the skin of an African cheetah.”
The fashion designer’s face went red with anger. His $500K Porsche looked like a rust bucket in comparison.
To top it off, the Bentley man got out of the car wearing a far superior outfit to my little friend — and he’s supposed to be the fashion designer!
This event ruined the fashion designer’s night. He asked me to drive him home early so he could be alone.
What a miserable life.
Comparison is the chief reason why we feel like we’re doing bad with money even though we’re probably not.
Here are a few more signs you’re doing good financially.
You treat your money like a venture capitalist
A VC doesn’t put all their money into one startup and pray to god they become a billion-dollar unicorn.
A VC places small bets into many startups knowing most will die and a small few will produce amazing returns. Those returns will make up for all the smaller losses.
If you use money to place small bets in life and self-experiment, you’re doing better than most. Few people will act like investors or take any risks in their life.
Money goes into your investments automatically
The average American has $4500 in their savings account.
This is because they pay everyone else first, and themselves last. A sign you’re doing well with money is you don’t rely on willpower to invest it.
Money is automatically taken from your income before it goes anywhere else, and put into your investment portfolio. So this one doesn’t sound pretentious, it’s worth noting it doesn’t have to be a lot.
Even if it’s only a few hundred dollars it’s the automated habit that counts.
What starts small can grow into a compounding habit that looks extraordinary in 5 years.
Warren Buffet’s net worth is perhaps the best example of what small amounts of money can grow into with a solid investing habit.
You don’t think the common 9–5 salary is healthy (even if you have a job)
Being good with money isn’t just about how you spend it. How you earn it is important too.
The common salary requires you to:
- Work at least 5 days a week
- Get 2 days off on the weekend to numb the pain with alcohol
- Live in an inner-city shack close to the office that has a massive mortgage on it
- Retire at 65, 10 years before you die
- Live for 2–4 weeks of holidays a year
I don’t know about you but this sounds like madness to me. And I lived this life for much of my career. A sign you’re going to do even better with money is when you see a salary as a temporary solution.
You may have a job right now but you’re working on a plan to transcend a salary and enter the worlds of passive income, freelancing, contracting, and possible business ownership.
You don’t see learning or coaches as an expense
Self-education is one of the best investments you can make.
Maybe you’re not dropping $1M an hour to have Tony Robbins coach you. But perhaps you bought a $10 Udemy course or have plans to hire a coach via LinkedIn. Or you’re joining a mastermind to get around others who have similar money goals to you.
You don’t do any of this to be smart or brag at dinner parties.
You simply want to learn from people further ahead in the money game than you to save time.
Time saved equals more money made.
You’re not interested in luxury brands
And you don’t desire to look wealthy. You’d rather have a wealthy attitude toward life and be good to others.
You’d rather take the money wasted on luxury and invest it into assets, so you can work less and spend more time with family.
You understand this weird thing about tax
To be good with money you have to understand tax. It warps your reality when you do. Here’s what many people forget:
- You get taxed on any business income
- You get taxed on your personal income
- You pay sales tax on most things you buy
- You pay capital gains tax on what you invest in
- And when you die your family will pay inheritance tax on whatever is left over
That’s a helluva lot of tax, so you better understand how they work, given more than 50% of every dollar you make will end up in the tax man’s hands at some point.
You’re working on a second one of these
Most of us start with one income stream.
Nothing wrong with that. But a sign you’re doing good with money is you see one income as a huge risk. You see it the same way you see a sandcastle built three feet from the ocean — at risk of destruction.
Maybe you haven’t mastered a second income stream, but you’ve at least realized it’s a must and continue to try and find ways to get one.
You don’t use this destroyer of wealth
You either have the money saved up to buy a pair of sneakers, or you don’t buy them until it makes sense. You’re too smart for buy now, pay later marketing gimmicks.
Freedom is your goal, but the never-ending pursuit of money isn’t
Being good with money is nice.
But you don’t spend every waking hour thinking about it. No. You use money to work your way toward freedom and buy back your time. You don’t endlessly pursue money because there are better life games to play.
You have a sneaky side hustle
You happily cheat on your job with a side hustle because you know your bastard employer will happily lay your ass off when times aren’t great.
Your side hustle is where you test ideas, be creative, plan for your future, test new ways to earn a living, and do work that gives you meaning.
You don’t take the small things for granted
Let’s come full circle.
William Dawson once said “The man who can buy anything he covets values nothing that he buys.” That’s what the fashion designer at the start of this article didn’t understand.
Money in and of itself is meaningless. It’s the small things in life that often have zero attachment to money that bring the most joy.
For me, right now, that’s a cheeky smile from my 100 day old daughter. For you, it might be some other small thing.
When you compare yourselves to others it’s never enough. You’ll always feel like crap. So focus on what you have and not what others have.