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Non-Obvious Things That Kill Your Financial Future

by | Jul 3, 2023 | Financial Freedom, Money

I’ve murdered my financial future several times.

Working in finance slowly taught me what the average person gets wrong. When you see the same problems repeatedly, you start to see patterns.

Look out for these things.

Overloading on stress

Stress is how you go broke.

The modern job inside the capitalist machine worships overworking and rise-and-grind culture.

Recent research shows that 77% of people deal with physical manifestations of stress. And about 120,000 people a year die from work-related stress. Yet people let stress quietly kill their future.

Stress makes us frustrated.

It forces us to go inward and narrow our focus. It takes over our thoughts so we don’t have room for creativity (the ultimate money creator).

And it forces us to say things we don’t mean that kill relationships that could lead to more money. Don’t let stress rule your life.

What you can do instead


  • Work less
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Say no to more requests
  • Use the weekends to relax
  • Don’t eat foods that put more stress on the body

Overthinking your way to nowhere

Phil Knight used to teach boring old accounting at Portland State University. One lunchtime he heard a student complain about money.

She couldn’t afford a painting class.

Phil stepped in and offered her $35 to design a logo for his new running shoe startup. When she gave him the logo he had no clue if it was good.

“Maybe it’ll grow on me.”

Phil didn’t have free time to waste on logos and small stuff. A looming deadline was fast approaching that Friday. A factory was making 3000 of the first shoes he’d ever sell, and they needed a logo for the sneakers.

That tick the designer drew became the logo for Nike.

If Phil had wasted time on a logo, we might never have heard of the famous shoe brand. There’s a cool end to this story.

In 1980 Nike listed on the stock exchange. Phil gave the original logo designer 500 shares. Thanks to the magic of stock splits, 500 became 64,000 shares. She never sold them.

Today those shares are worth $7M.

What you can do instead

Stop overthinking. Money comes from execution. If you have a dream then go do it. If you want to start a business then stop procrastinating.

Choosing easy over hard

Most people want to live the easy life.

What they don’t realize is they’ve chosen hard by default. I’ve never met a single rich person in finance who got there via an easy path. As author James Clear says:

The hard way is the fast way.

Things feel hard when we attach that label to them. But when you operate from a place of obsession, passion and meaning — most things in life feel fine. You don’t want easy opportunities because they’re crowded.

Just look at people who get 6-figure college degrees.

They enter one of the most crowded places in the world. They compete with a pool of people just like them, so their salaries are less than they could be.

What you can do instead

Seek out hard.

Find opportunities that are difficult, then apply a 5-year timeline to them to outperform the competition and join the 1% who succeed.

The feeling of struggle followed by financial victory is one of the best feelings in the world.

An expense mindset

I killed my financial future in my 20s because all I could see were expenses.

Education was an expense. Coaching was an expense. Masterminds were an expense. So I never learned. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Then I found this cliche quote:

A rich person digs for gold.

A poor person complains about the price of the shovel.

The expense mindset is closely connected to the employee mindset. It forces us to act from a place of scarcity instead of abundance. It teaches us to see other people as competitors we must beat instead of teammates.

What you can do instead

Remove the ceiling on spending associated with new skills.

Anything that can increase your income in the future is an investment, not an expense you ruthlessly want to eliminate like a power bill.

Not seeing the incentives in every situation

I’ll try not to get political here because I hate politics.

In America and other big nations, incentives drive everything. Those who can influence money policy — like Jerome Powell, Elizabeth Warren, and Janet Yellen, Gary Gensler — act as if they seek to do the right thing.

No one ever looks at their incentives.

First off, they are extremely wealthy already thanks to the power they wield. So if their decisions screw the average person or America, they don’t care. They’ll be fine.

And secondly, they receive pledges from large corporations who seek to influence them. This is perfectly legal by the way.

The problem is incentives drive behavior.

If their backers want a policy that affects people’s savings and investments, they will do what they need to, to make it happen.

This extends beyond finance. Politicians are even worse and suffer from the same financial virus. Unless you learn to see the hidden incentives in everything, you will get brainwashed.

I once saw a comment online that said “Politicians should wear jackets like Nascar drivers that show who pays for their campaigns.”

Wild … but a good idea.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it — Upton Sinclair

What you can do instead

Limit how much news you watch. Try not to get swept up in politics that’ll distract you from what really matters.

Get-rich-quick schemes a blind man can see

The desire to make money is deep in every human.

We all secretly want to get rich so we can relax and buy whatever we want without looking at the price tag. Anyone who denies this is a liar.

This motivation causes us to be vulnerable to get-rich-quick schemes. You know the ones.

“Make $50,000 in 30 days.”

“Retire by the time you’re 21.”

“Invest in real estate and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

The trick is not to get lured into these bear traps. Money comes from the same old boring opportunities everyone ignores:

  • Owning real assets
  • Owning a cash-flowing business
  • Creating digital assets that make passive income

It doesn’t come from a random idea or following trends. Old is good. Old works. Old is proven.

What you can do instead

Follow my grandma’s classic advice: “If it sounds too good to be true, Timothy, it probably is.”

No online skills

If your salary isn’t going up each year or you’ve been out of work for a while, it’s a sign.

Something has got to change. And the best thing to change is your skills.

What you can do instead

Consider learning one of these skills through online education:

  • Copywriting
  • Digital writing
  • Marketing
  • Automation
  • Freelancing
  • Coding
  • AI

Friends who want you to stay at their level

I had a childhood friend who kept me down.

At 16 we were blood brothers. At 26 he was a boat anchor. He weighed me down. He stopped me from growing.

All he wanted to do was drink and party. I thought the white charlie powder found in nightclubs was okay. “Everyone does it. Come on man.”

When I went on a self-improvement journey and tried to defeat mental illness, he tried to stop me. I couldn’t figure out why. Then it hit me…

He wants me to stay the same so he can feel good.

I eventually cut him and others off. It hurt like hell but it had to be done if I ever wanted to marry a woman and have a young son (surprise, I got a daughter instead!).

What you can do instead

Notice who holds you back.

Stay clear of people who worship alcohol and play the lottery. It’s okay to have goals and *not* want to waste your life watching football and eating fried food that makes your belly expand.

Emotional decisions

Emotion is motion in life.

This can be a good thing. But emotion can murder you, too. When we make decisions while high on emotion we often act in a delusional way.

The day after I lost most of my savings to theft, I was lifeless. I tried to make decisions. Then I realized, “Hold up Timbo, you’re hurting man.”

So I stopped myself. I delayed the decisions until later.

One of them was marriage. One was the decision to have a kid. Luckily I waited or life could have been much different. I may have decided to walk away from everything and become a bum.

A close second cousin to emotional decisions is rushed ones.

When we make fast decisions we often overlook the nuance. I did this recently when I hired a landscaper. I paid him slow payments as he completed the job. Toward the end he asked for final payment and I gave it to him without thinking.

That split-second decision has cost me dearly. He never came back to finish the job and now he’s been paid in full. The downside for him is he won’t get more work from me or my neighbors, so in a way, he’s the dumb-dumb.

What you can do instead

Do your research first before a big decision. Don’t let FOMO or fake deadlines delude you.

Then once you have the right information, make a swift decision and back yourself. Oh, and expect a few decisions to go bad. It’s how the world works. You can’t predict every risk but you can minimize them.

A ‘significant other’ who spends money faster than Elon Musk on an ego trip

Who you fall in love with or marry makes a big difference to your bank account. When I was single and looking for love, I paid attention to how my dates thought about money.

The ones who rolled up with Versace handbags and could use my debit card to buy $200 of wine in 30 mins, didn’t get a callback.

What you can do instead

Don’t let love blind you.

If a significant other is bad with money, they will bring you down. You’ll go from financially free to enslavement — where money has to be on the brain every day and love takes a backseat.

Money makes love and life easier. It matters.

The magical money of cryptocurrency

Wait, what?

Yep. Just before I wrapped up my last job and quit, the cryptocurrency market was raging high. 16 year old boys were buying Shrek-green Lambos.

One guy I worked with did what I did and got involved. Except I bought Bitcoin and Ethereum and he bought Terra Luna.

He didn’t just buy a little either. He got a lot. And he didn’t buy anything else. Terra Luna collapsed and he lost everything.

The problem is 99% of people who get into crypto accidentally end up buying sh*tcoins. They’re chasing trends or gurus rather than following their careful research.

What you can do instead

99.99% of crypto will go to zero.

Research ethereum and bitcoin. Both have been around for a long time and people and businesses use them. They’re the only real winners.

That’s the final way you don’t kill your financial future.

This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial, tax or legal advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

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