Money is damn simple to understand.
The problem is the Dave Ramsey gurus of the world focus on what doesn’t matter. Money is counter-intuitive. I never wanted to hear as a young, gullible, workaholic millennial that financially savvy people simply invest their money.
I wanted to believe money had to be complicated and to have any level of wealth was a crime against humanity. That mindset kept me poor. Instead of doing work I enjoyed, I traded my time for money. I stayed back at work until 10 pm so I could look cool for the dictator bosses.
What changed was when my mentor forced me to understand money. Not to get rich, but to be free to do whatever the heck I want. These are the harsh truths about money that you can’t google.
The typical millionaire invests their money, so you can’t see it
If you can see money then it’s fake money. Took me years working in a bank with high net-wealth individuals to learn that. Truly wealthy people have ownership of their time and shut up about it. The poor people that came into my office didn’t have tatty clothes and an unwashed sleeping bag. No.
The poor people had keys to a Bentley and only 10 minutes to see me. They had a PA screaming at them on the phone to get back to the office and be ready for their afternoon of back-to-back meetings. These poor people with lots of money were like adult babies with PAs as mommies.
As soon as you see luxury possessions, you’re not talking to a millionaire. You’re talking to the fake rich who want you to notice what they buy so they can feel better about their broken lives. That’s not a rich life. That’s poverty.
Rich people invest their money in assets like stocks and crypto. You can’t see their money because it’s doing the hard work of compounding so they can have zero meetings in their calendar. Their goal isn’t millions of dollars. Their goal is passive income that pays for their living costs.
Great investors sit around all day reading
Investors make a lot of money. Those who successfully do it full time don’t sit around all day looking at charts and what CNBC says is going to happen in the markets today. They couldn’t give a crap about price movements in stocks or crypto for the next twelve months.
Great investors are long-term. The book “Richer, Wiser, Happier” showed me that the best investors like Warren Buffett don’t do a lot of meetings. They trade looking at prices and falling for hype in for reading. They read annual reports. They read the financials of the companies they’re interested in. They read a company’s new business strategy.
Get rich enough so you can read books for an entire day if you want. Now there’s a life goal you don’t see on Instagram luxury lifestyle pages.
Working hard is the least important thing
10,000 iterations not 10,000 hours — Naval
Entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant tore Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour work hard rule to pieces with this statement. The idea isn’t to work 12-hour hard days at all. That’s the factory worker industrial age.
The idea is to put effort into your work and be open-minded enough to continually iterate so the work gets easier. As the work gets easier your results compound and you can reinvest the returns into a new area.
Doing the same hard work over and over until retirement is the definition of insanity. Work gets easier when you notice the nuances and experiment with them. I do it as a writer all the time with these questions below.
What if Substack is better for my newsletter audience? What if my website could be my main source of income? What if I suck at writing and would be better as a podcaster? What if I’m not an entrepreneur but a glorified amateur writer?
Questions lead to experiments. Experiments allow you to iterate. Iterations lead to superior results, that make you more money, so you can eventually work less.
“Success isn’t an end state. Success is having the freedom to pursue the continual grind you most enjoy.”
Julian Shapiro from Twitter said this quote and it taught me that the idea of financial freedom is messed up. We’re taught to believe there is an end state and we just work hard until we reach it.
You hear phrases like “escape the grind.” I love the grind, though. I like that feeling at the end of the day when I’ve created something I’m proud of and get to relax and reward myself with a movie on the couch.
Without the grind we’re broken.
Ask anybody who has sold their startup for millions of dollars. They’ll tell you without the grind life almost isn’t worth living. I met one entrepreneur who sold out to investors and made a fortune.
After 30 days and all the luxury car dreams he had since a child, he felt empty. He begged the new owners of the company to hire him back. They said no. So he went back out and started a brand new company from scratch to experience the magic of the grind again.
The crucial lesson is to find the grind you love doing. Then do it for the rest of your life no matter how much money it makes you. The grind is actually hard work you’ll look back on and be proud of when you’re at the retirement home on death’s door.
The person who is calmer makes more money
Calmness is a financial superpower. So much of our energy is wasted through anger and anxiety. It destroys our best work. It makes us have crazy people thoughts that write over our creative ideas.
Anxiety makes you go inward when the financial opportunities are outwards.
Pure motivation doesn’t come out of anxiety, according to Naval. Pure motivation comes from calmness that gives you energy to be creative enough to come up with the ideas that generate value (aka money).
“Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end.”
Singer Bob Marley has an unusual way of explaining happiness with this idea. He’s spot on though.
Meet a “possession chaser.” They’re miserable sons of guns. The pile of stuff and the numbers get larger and larger, yet they’re not happy. They continue to set the bar higher with bigger financial goals. There is no way to win the game. Numbers are infinite so the game is infinite. This is another definition of insanity that rots your insides.
For me, numbers don’t drive me. The main thing that makes me happy now is freedom. The rest is bullsh*t.
Make money while you have the energy. Not when you’re old and crusty and can’t enjoy it.
The final harsh truth we’re told is to work hard until retirement. Then we will have free time to spend the money we’ve made and enjoy ourselves.
The idea of conventional retirement is screwed.
When I retire at 65-years-old I will have a lot less energy than now. My body will have aged. My skin will be old and crusty.
I want to enjoy life while I have the highest levels of energy, which is right now. That means I need money to serve me now. That means I have to reject the “get into a lot of debt to buy real estate game” — that takes multiple decades — and live within my means now. It means I need to invest money in stocks and crypto that have decent growth and don’t take a lifetime to provide tangible results.
Frugal living, side hustles, and better investing strategies allow you to live life before the typical retirement age. Energy levels and money should be thought about in the same sentence.