True wealth is free time to do whatever you want, and middle-class millionaires have it figured out.
While there are millions of strategies to make 7 figures and not have to beg for money from an employer any longer, stories stick to our brains more.
These short stories contain the wisdom needed for financial freedom.
The famous action hero you know nothing about
Arnold Schwarzenegger is one hell of a character.
Everyone knows him as the Terminator or the Governator. Unless you’ve read his biography, like I have, you probably don’t know how he got rich.
Arnold’s bodybuilding career paid him peanuts.
When he came to America he had little cash to splash. But he got into the real estate business at a young age. He started buying, fixing up, and even flipping apartments and condos.
In no time at all, Arnold made a small fortune from his real estate career. What worked in his favor is real estate prices went sky-high over time, thanks to inflation and money printing.
As inflation went up the value of the properties outweighed the loans he had on them, so he could borrow more and continue to get wealthier. Strategies like this are only known by those who study money.
So the Arnold you know and love is a real estate investor who has side hustles of politics, acting, and pumping weights at Gold’s gym.
The lesson here is once you master money, you can do whatever the hell you want with your life. The freedom to explore is how you can find success in unlikely pursuits the way Arnold did.
But without mastering money life becomes a desperate struggle. So … get a financial education. And never stop learning about money.
The social media app founder most people have forgotten
In the early 2000 social media became a thing.
The first mainstream success was Myspace. I joined the network to promote my DJing and remixes. It was the first place you could promote your songs and have people listen to them.
The addiction to the platform came from who you were friends with. I’d spend hours looking up famous people to see who their MySpace friends were. The first friend you got by default was a guy named Tom.
For a year or so I had no idea who he was. Then one day I found out he created the app. A few years in I was hooked on Myspace. Then suddenly Tom sold the website for $580M and we never heard from him again.
As a young man in his 30s, he left behind tech and decided to become a professional photographer. He traveled all around the world taking photos and sometimes posting them on Instagram.
What’s cool about Tom is he occasionally posts a new photo and then disappears. As of the time of writing he hasn’t posted a photo or update on social media for 271 weeks.
That’s a hell of a streak.
When you read the comments on his posts there seems to be this obsession with him. At 52 years old he still comes across as a 21 year old who’s about to enter the workforce without a clue in the world.
What’s really going on is he figured out financial success is stupid. He’d rather do work he enjoys and not have to let money ever get in the way.
He built a tech company so he could follow his real passion for photography in his 30s.
The lesson here is that’s what money should be: a problem you solve and then try to forget about for the rest of your life. It doesn’t mean you need to make hundreds of millions of dollars.
It just means you need to figure out the basics to become a middle-class millionaire, then focus on what matters.
The weird money hack an NBA legend figured out early on
At the start of 2020 Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash.
It was a weird moment in history — kind of like the calm before a huge storm. I remember feeling strange when it happened because it felt like nothing else was going on in the world.
Then shortly after a bat virus spread like wildfire and changed history forever. As I dug into Kobe’s past I found an interesting story.
Kobe says at the start of his career he watched the other NBA players and noticed a pattern. Once they made enough money to reach financial stability their passion, obsessiveness, and work ethic disappeared.
It made Kobe feel as though success in basketball was as easy as taking a Happy Meal off a hungry child.
The success of Michael Jordan became obvious to Kobe after that. Once comfort and stability take over the results go down fast.
I’ve seen the same in the corporate world. It’s not that hard to succeed and outperform once you know the drug of comfort will ruin most around you.
Middle-class millionaires have an unfair advantage financially because they embrace change and flow states as if it’s mandatory.
The financial planner you’ve never heard of
I thought I’d finish with a powerful story from an unfamous person.
Mark McGrath is a financial planner exclusively for doctors. He posted a story online that felt impossible to write. And deleted it many times before finally hitting publish.
Spoiler: this story doesn’t have a happy ending but it does have a powerful money lesson.
His dad grew up in Quebec. In the 1970s he opened a tile store. By day he was an entrepreneur and by night he was a father to Mark.
The man was tight with money and didn’t believe in wasting it. He did well in business and invested the family’s money wisely.
The truth was Mark’s father didn’t give a crap about tiles or the idea of a business. He just wanted to make a stack of cash and retire on the beach.
Every breath he took at work was focused on this goal.
When he wasn’t at work he loved his hobbies of karate, swimming, and golf. He loved to drink beer and eat a steak too. If his weight got way out of hand he could quickly change his diet and look great again.
Books about living a long time and the diets of Okinawa people were his secret fantasy. Mark and his brother had a great childhood. Their dad told them they weren’t rich but were comfortable.
Mark’s dad eventually split from his mother.
One day out of nowhere his dad tells him he sold his business and retired. The goal was to double down on his hobbies and have fun.
To celebrate the retirement he took a holiday to Asia. A month after the trip was over his dad went to work for the guys he sold the tile business to.
It had nothing to do with money.
His dad was just bored, lonely, and needed some work friends. The back-to-work life didn’t last long. Even the full days of golf didn’t excite him. Then, after 40 years, he gave up his favorite thing: steak.
Mark realized his dad might be broken.
Shortly after his dad called him from a psychiatric ward. He had checked himself in. But then told Mark it was a mistake.
He was surrounded by crazy people when he knew he wasn’t crazy. The doctors did what they do best and loaded him up with a cocktail of anti-depressants.
Eventually he checked out and went home. He was due to show up to a family dinner with Mark and didn’t arrive. He never did that.
The family panicked and realized something was wrong.
They called the police and officers arrived shortly after. Halfway through their investigation one officer got a report of a car accident on his radio.
The car was the same one his dad borrowed off his generous ex-wife. They drove to the hospital as fast as they could.
He was alive, though no one knew what state he was in.
Apparently they used the jaws of life to cut his father out of the car and save his life. Everyone praised the lord.
Something felt off to Mark.
The intersection where the car went off the road is the same one his father drove through daily for 20 years. He wouldn’t stuff up such an easy drive.
To do further research, Mark called his dad’s best friend. He gets told that before the accident his dad’s friend got a call. He mentions something about stashing his wallet and ID cards in some random park.
Mark assumes maybe his dad did this because he wanted to crash the car, die, and then not be identified straight away.
The strange thing is he crashed the car with his seatbelt on.
So he didn’t die.
Fear took over and Mark’s dad became obsessed with the idea he’d go to jail for the car accident that killed nobody. Weeks later Mark’s dad has a fight with his mother and says he’s going to stay at a motel.
That’s the last time Mark ever speaks to his dad.
One foggy Thursday night Mark gets a call from the police. They tell him his dad is dead.
His dad rented a car and drove it into the middle of a Vancouver bridge. He bizarrely put the hazard lights on and then jumped off the bridge. Two cyclists witnessed the whole ordeal and called the cops.
Mark thinks that his dad’s identity was tied to his business and line of work. When the business got sold he accidentally lost everything.
He had no purpose or meaning in life anymore.
After he reached the big goal of making lots of money and retiring, there was nothing else. It only took 18 months from retirement for him to slowly destroy himself.
Now Mark is without a father.
You may brush this story off and say “ahhhh that’ll never be me.” But remember this man had amazing hobbies, loving family, and lots of friends. It wasn’t enough.
The financial lesson here is simple…
Stop worshipping retirement as if it’s a god. You don’t want to retire to become a middle-class millionaire. No.
You want to retire from work you hate so you can do work you love as young as possible. That’s what we can learn from this tragic story.
Work isn’t the enemy. A lack of purpose is.