My First Book: The Millionaire Choice is Here!

The First Copies Have Arrived!

It’s hard to believe that after a little over a year of hard work the first copies of my new book have arrived! It seems very surreal. At times, I wondered if this day would ever come. Sometimes, writing a book feels like a never-ending journey.

I was a bit intimidated when I started writing in late May 2017. Would I actually be able to write a book? How do you go about writing a book? How do you publish a book? Would it turn out well? And the most intimidating question, would people even like it?

Now that I have the book in my hands and readers are starting to give me feedback, I’m pleased that all my questions have now been answered, and I like the results so far!

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Why Did I Write on This Topic?

I first took an interest in personal finance in 1996, my own personal finance. I had blown through a $39,000 income and racked up $16,000 in car and credit card debt after my first full year as a manufacturing engineer. As a math guy, those numbers didn’t add up for me, and my quest to improve my finances began.

Now, 23 years later and after working in the personal finance education industry for sixteen years, I noticed a few things. For starters, people all over our country still don’t know how to handle money correctly. Even with all the David Bachs, Tony Robbins, Dave Ramseys, Suze Ormans, and T Harv Ekers out there, people are still slipping through without a solid financial education. And it’s not just poor people. It’s everyone. People with six-figure incomes. People in poverty. People in all walks of life.

Another thing I noticed is that many people just don’t do math or finance well. Seriously, that may seem like a no-brainer but listen for a minute. Most of the money books out there are filled with “financial terms,” “financial ratios” and “financial calculations.” Financial terms, ratios, and calculations are intimidating to many people. It’s like learning to read a foreign language. It’s hard. I’ve seen this first hand when working with family members who have trouble calculating tips at restaurants. Even simple financial math can be hard. Although I didn’t set out to write my book and exclude financial jargon and formulas, it turned out that way, and I’m glad it did. One of the biggest comments I’ve gotten from my readers so far is, “I get it!”

I did set out to do a few things with this book. One, I wanted to equip people to become millionaires just like I have. Today, about 10% of American households are millionaire households. I believe that number should be much higher. I believe almost anyone can become a millionaire if they make the right choices. Two, I wanted to make it as simple as possible for people to understand how they can become millionaires. This turned into the 10 Keys of the Millionaire. And three, I wanted people to realize that becoming a millionaire is not just about money. It includes things like character, how you manage your time, learning and finding mentors. So many of the financial books today focus only on the money aspect of building wealth. Building wealth is about more than just financial formulas and investments.

So, why did I write a book on this topic? I guess it comes down to three main things: 1) people need a financial education delivered in a way they can understand it and act on it, 2) my career and life experience have been in personal finance, and 3) I felt led to do it.

I hope you’ll check out my new book, The Millionaire Choice at www.themillionairechoice.com. Due for release November 2018, available now for pre-order at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Books A Million.

Signup here for updates, tips, and help on The Millionaire Choice.

Understanding the Global Financial World

I began learning about personal finance when I was twenty-five. That’s where I’ve been focused for the past twenty years. Learning about wealth building within the US economy. Stocks, real estate, precious metals, currency trading, building your income, etc. Recently over the past two years, I’ve been spending some time reading and learning about world politics and global finance. The journey has been very eye opening.

As I’ve spent more and more time talking with people about their money, I’ve come to realize how little people really know about what is going on in the financial world both here at home in the US and in the global financial world. Things that affect the well being and futures of themselves and their families. Things that are already in motion. Are we prepared?

Take for example what is called the “dollar hegemony.” In more common terms, the dollar’s dominance as the world currency by which all other countries do business with each other. The dollar has been the dominant form of exchange for decades. It has propped up the US economy and allowed a majority Americans to enjoy a very prosperous lifestyle. However, did you know that several other countries are positioning to challenge the dollar’s dominance in global finance?

China has been acquiring gold since since at least 2009 in an effort to position the Chinese Yuan as an alternative for global trade and settlements between nations. Russia also has been acquiring gold in a bid to divest off the western banking system and alleviate risk to their economy as a result of US and western sanctions. In late 2017 and 2018, China conducted testing of their oil exchange conducted in gold backed Chinese Yuans. This article by Brookings Institution provides a glimpse into the current state of the Chinese vs. US oil markets.

This is just one example of how global financial developments will affect us as Americans.

The 2008-2009 Financial Crisis

The average American doesn’t understand what really happened during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and how it was different from previous financial crises that the United States has faced.

During previous financial crises such as those faced in the early 1900’s, 1930’s and 1940’s, insolvent banks were allowed to fail. In other words, “unhealthy” banks were allowed to fail, and “healthy” banks survived. While there were some losses to the general public as the financial system rebooted itself, the system repaired itself and continued. Bad debt was dealt with and the system healed.

In the 2008-2009 financial crisis, all banks were bailed out by the Federal Bank and ultimately the American Taxpayer. Losses were mitigated and the overall debt remained. The amount of overall global debt increased with the bailout of the banking and other financial institutions.

According to James Rickards in The Road to Ruin, the additional national and global debt load that was incurred in 2008-2009 has still not been “unwound” in 2016. It is this debt load and still accumulating debt load that will make the next financial crisis even more catastrophic to the US and global financial system.

Little Known Facts of Financial History

I’m a rather young 47 years old. I remember the gas crisis of the 1970’s where my parents waited in line for rationed gasoline, and I remember discovering that someone had siphoned the gasoline out of my parents’ cars during the evening. Now I have experienced and lived through the financial crisis of 2008-2009. However, I’ve never lived through the United States government confiscating personal property as it did during the financial crises of the 1930’s.

On April 5, 1933, less that one month after being sworn in as President of the United States, FDR put into action Executive Order 6102 requiring with limited exceptions that all gold held by U.S. citizens be surrendered to the U.S. Treasury. Oh, and let’s not leave out the fact that any citizen that failed to comply would be met with imprisonment.

So this begs the question, “will the government confiscate assets again during a future financial crises?”

Is Your Interest Piqued?

You may be asking how all this may affect your financial future? I don’t have all the answers, but I’m searching.

The financial elites control the global and national financial systems. It’s all connected through the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and other entities. By looking into the past and learning about the global financial world, you get a glimpse into what the future will hold during any future financial crises. It is much better to be prepared than unprepared during a financial crisis. One of our many mistakes is to believe the illusion that everything will continue in a healthy and stable fashion. History shows us that financial instability is a norm of the financial system, but many of us live our lives as if the “party” will never end.

If you’d like to learn more about the global financial world, check out James Rickards The Death of Money and The Road to Ruin to get you started.

 

 

 

Finally! New Book Cover is Finished!

I never realized how hard it would be to write and finish a book when I started in May 2017, but finally, it’s done! The book copy is done. The cover is done. Now it is prepping for print!

Truly writing a book is the project that never seems to end. It seems like things just keep coming up to do or redo that keep you from finishing the job. Thankfully, I had some good friends and professional support in my editor, Anna Floit of The Peacock Quill, and my publisher, Morgan James Publishing. I can’t imaging trying to write a book on your own without some help!

During my writing, it was fun to hear about the different ways people write books. Some plan books out for years. Some just start writing. Some come up with an outline and then get to work. After writing my first book, I believe there’s not a right or wrong way to write a book. There’s just the way that you do it, and that is one of the things that makes it special. For my book, I crafted an outline using the chapters. After coming up with a list of chapters I wanted to write, I thought about what I wanted to include in each chapter. Some of the original chapters didn’t make the final cut. I’ll probably include them in another book someday.

I was very apprehensive after finishing the first draft in early July 2017. That’s when it was time for phase 2, get feedback from one of my very close friends. I gave him my book in early July 2017. When August arrived, it was time to touch base with him again to see what he thought. The anticipation of what he might say was nerve wracking! Did he like it? Would he think it was bad? What if he told me to throw it in the trash and start over? I vaguely recall the conversation, but one part of our discussion I remember very well. I asked him, “Is it worth writing?” He answered, “Yes. You’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s worth writing.” His reply was all I needed to keep going on my book. Just that little boost of affirmation gave me the energy and confidence I needed to keep moving forward.

It’s been thirteen months since our conversation, and finally the book is done. Soon it will be heading to the printers. It seems so surreal.

The Book Wrap

This particular week I’m very excited because the book’s wrap has been completed. The book wrap includes the front cover, the binding, and the back cover. This is one of the last steps of production before the book is ready for the bookstores. With each completed step, I can feel the reality of my first published book and with it, the hope and excitement of being able to help people with it’s financial teaching.

The book cover process was pretty straightforward for me, and I was very happy that the publisher liked my cover concepts. I’ve heard many horror stories about publishers not really doing a good job on book covers for the authors and the authors not being satisfied with their covers. In my case, I’m very happy. I was able to present a mockup to the publisher and they quickly came back with several covers to review. After several revisions and tweaks, we ended up with a finished cover. The book wrap, binding and back cover, needed to wait until all of the writing was finalized so that we knew the page count of the book. This week, the final version came back, and well, see what you think. Comments welcome!

I present to you the book wrap for The Millionaire Choice, Millionaire or Not. You Can Choose.

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Announcing My First Book: The Millionaire Choice

It’s been just over a year since I start writing my first book. Officially, I began writing Wednesday evening, May 24, 2017 while sitting on my apartment patio overlooking the mountains in Salt Lake City. It was an inspiring view. Perhaps I was a little ambitious since I wanted to have it finished and printed by December 31, 2017. I tend to be a little optimistic and naive at times.

While I planned to write a book at some point in my life, I didn’t plan on doing it now at age 47. However, looking back over the past year, it was the perfect time. I recently left a premier job where I worked for 15 years ending my career at the executive level. I then took a brief 1 year break to buy some real estate and explore some new opportunities. When May 2017 rolled around, the timing just felt right, and our family was in a good financial spot. And with that setting, I began formulating a plan for my book, a book about money and helping people shape their financial future.

Writing the Book

I’ve been a student of personal finance since I was 25. Studying and working in the financial industry for 20 years led me to write a book on personal finance. Not much of a surprise since my expertise is in the personal finance space.

As I continued thinking about the money problems people are facing, I really wanted to come up with a way to turn the personal finance industry upside down. There are a lot of people doing great work, but it still seems like we’re barely scratching the surface in financial literacy and education. About 10% of American households are millionaire households. That means 90% of households have a net worth of less that one million dollars. In simpler terms, there are roughly 110 million American households and about 10 million millionaire households according the the US Census. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Many Americans net worth is far less than one million dollars. In fact, many Americans net worth is less than $100,000. I think that is terribly sad.

After wrestling through various titles, I landed on The Millionaire Choice: Millionaire or Not. You Can Choose. I believe becoming a millionaire is a choice. Whether or not we become millionaires is based on the life and financial choices we make.

As I began writing the evening of Wednesday, May 24, 2017, I felt compelled to write with urgency. During an overnight layover in Denver on my Friday evening flight home to Nashville, I spoke with my wife about the book and the progress I was making. Somewhere during the conversation, the idea of completing the book in 30 days came up. At the time, that seemed like an impossible task considering our work and family circumstances. However, occasionally circumstances change and amazing can things happen.  In June 2017, I penned 60,000 words and completed 90% of the book’s first draft. Yea. I was shocked too!

Now one year later and after several revisions, multiple reviews by friends, family and other professionals, the manuscript for my first book is finished and off to the publisher. I never imagined writing a book was so difficult!

Inside the Book

In The Millionaire Choice, I share my story of growing up in a financially messy home where money struggles were common and a lack of good financial knowledge and habits reigned. At age 25, I began to change.

I was 25 years old when I realized I was headed into a financial disaster if I didn’t change, so I began studying money. After about 90 days, I realized that I could become a millionaire by the time I turned 40…if I made the right financial choices. That was when I made what I call The Millionaire Choice and formed my own personal millionaire plan, my plan to become a millionaire. Hence the purpose and goal of my book, The Millionaire Choice. To inspire and help people become millionaires regardless of their family background or financial circumstances.

The backbone of The Millionaire Choice are the 10 Keys of the Millionaire, the 10 principles that helped me to break my family’s generational cycle of financial mismanagement and become a millionaire by age 40.

For now, it’s available now for pre-order on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books-A-Million and other bookstores. The official store date is November 13, 2018. You can learn more about my upcoming book at themillionairechoice.com.

My Inspiration for Writing The Millionaire Choice

During my time in the financial world, working for two different personal financial education, and talking with people, I learned a few things that both saddened and challenged me.

I realized that there are entire segments and people groups in our country that aren’t receiving the financial training and education they need. Why? The reason is simple. They don’t have money. Businesses can’t make money off of broke people, and so very little effort is being made to help the people who need financial education the most. I don’t have all the answers, but I hope that I can make some small difference to help those in need of financial help and education.

I’m excited to be able to help people get their finances in order. Although our family has been able to break the cycle of financial mismanagement, so many of the people I meet are not there yet. They need guidance, help and encouragement.

In time, I really would like to find a way to turn the personal financial education industry upside down to help all those who need and want it. It’s not just about a book or making money. It’s about making a difference in the lives of others, transforming families, and changing the world.

 

 

How Just $10,000 Can Turn Kids into Millionaires

As a father of six kids, yes six, it is my responsibility to teach my kids how to manage and multiply their money. Most parents, like mine, taught me how to work, make money and spend it. They did not teach me how to manage or multiply my money. I had to learn how to do that on my own, and thankfully, I did learn.

Now, it is my responsibility to pass on what I’ve learned to my children. Hopefully, since they are learning about money as children and not as a twenty five year old as I did, they will be much more successful with their money. If I do a good job teaching them, they may be able to become millionaires as well, and we can keep building family wealth and our ability to help other people in need.

Lately though, I’ve been thinking a little differently. Sure I can teach my kids how to manage and multiply money. They may even become millionaires, but what if there was a way I could virtually guarantee they would become millionaires. And, I could do it for just $10,000 per kid.

Well, it turns out, that idea isn’t so far fetched. I first got the idea last year while out on a walk in downtown Salt Lake City. I’m sure it was a chilly evening since March is usually cold in Salt Lake. After a bit of work and pondering, the idea started to have legs, and it is continuing to evolve.

Now you may be thinking, $10,000 can’t make someone a millionaire. And, you would be dead wrong. In fact, $10,000 can make someone a multimillionaire, if you start soon enough. The problem is, we all wait too long to get started on our investing. Many Americans wait well into their 30s or 40s to begin investing and saving for retirement. While it’s better late than never, the real opportunity to build wealth needs to start much sooner especially if you are going to turn $10,000 into a $1,000,000.

I know it sounds little like magic or hocus pocus, but it really just boils down to time…and economic and political stability. Let’s indulge ourselves a bit by assuming economic and political stability will exist in the future. Then we just need to concern ourselves with what happens when we invest $10,000.

According to Investopedia, the average growth rate for the S&P 500 dating back to 1928 is 10%. At 10% growth, it takes money about 7.2 years to double your money, which allows us to multiply our money like this over a 70 year period.

  • Initial Investment: $10,000
  • 7 years: $19,487
  • 14 years: $37,975
  • 21 years: $74,002
  • 28 years: $144,210
  • 35 years: $281,024
  • 42 years: $547,637
  • 49 years: $1,067,190
  • 56 years: $2,079,651
  • 63 years: $4,052,651
  • 70 years: $7,897,470

Now, why did I use a 70 year period for this example? The answer is simple. Because if you put $10,000 into an investment fund the year a child is born, allows it to grow in this manner. The number years mirror the child’s age. Are you getting the picture yet? $10,000 in an S&P Index Fund could become $1,067,190 by age 49 based on historical returns.

Now I know that sounds like a long time however, based on statistics, the average population life expectancy worldwide is approximately 70 years. In theory even with economic downturns, $10,000 will turn into $1,000,000 within a person’s lifetime between 49 and 70 years. If everything goes well, $10,000 could even make a person into a multimillionaire. So let’s look at the chart a bit differently based on age.

  • Initial Investment at birth: $10,000
  • Age 7 years: $19,487
  • Age 14 years: $37,975
  • Age 21 years: $74,002
  • Age 28 years: $144,210
  • Age 35 years: $281,024
  • Age 42 years: $547,637
  • Age 49 years: $1,067,190
  • Age 56 years: $2,079,651
  • Age 63 years: $4,052,651
  • Age 70 years: $7,897,470

Time for some questions.

  • “If you could make your kids into multimillionaires, why wouldn’t you?”
  • “How would it change a your child’s thinking if they KNEW they were going to be a millionaire?”
  • “If money were not an issue, what would your children and grandchildren do to help others? How much good could they do?”
  • “If there were more millionaires, with good hearts and values, how would our world change?”

I came from financially challenged family. The idea of being a millionaire was not in my head nor in my vocabulary. The possibility of being a millionaire was a foreign concept to me. At age 25, that all changed, and along with it how I thought about money and myself. The perception of who I would become grew together with the possibilities of what I could accomplish in life.

Now, I have six children. My oldest is headed of to college in the fall. My youngest is six. I look forward to how they will use the principles and the money they will be empowered with to help others in need and to change our world for the better.

With a bit of work and vision, it’s possible to change the financial outlook of our families, our children, our country and the world. Now what will you do? A great option to start is with a Vanguard S&P Index Fund.

Millionaire or Not. You Can Choose.

Have you ever dreamed about what it would be like to be a millionaire? Well stop dreaming and start doing.

Today 8.5% of American households are millionaires. That’s up from 3.5% in 1996 according to “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. However according to bankrate.com, 76% of people are living paycheck to paycheck and many have virtually nothing in savings. Answer Two Questions: 1) Which group are you in? 2) Which group will you be in 10, 20, or 30 years from today? The millionaire group or the paycheck to paycheck group? If you can’t definitively answer “Yes” to question #2, then it’s time to make a financial change.

With the right knowledge, financial plan, hard work and discipline, you can become a millionaire. Yes. Believe it. You can be financially free. You can be wealthy.

There are two primary views of wealth in America today. 1) I will never be wealthy and 2) wealth is wrong, bad or even evil. Both of these views of wealth are wrong. While some wealthy people are not people any of us would want to be, most wealthy people work extremely hard to build their wealth, and most of them are extremely generous in sharing that wealth. After all, wealthy people can help more people in need than poor people.

In the end, it’s your choice on whether or not you become a millionaire and become wealthy. I’m just here to tell you you can do it, show you how, and inspire you along the way.

 

What’s Your Net Worth?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? What’s your net worth? If you haven’t, then you probably should. Your net worth is a good way to tell if you are winning with your finances or not, and it’s kinda fun to do.

What is “Net Worth”?

Have you ever played organized sports? Baseball? Football? Basketball? Soccer? Something else? No matter what game you’re playing, there’s usually a score involved. That’s how everyone knows who is winning and who is losing. And make no mistake, the goal is to win. However, so many of us don’t have a goal for our finances, and as a consequence, we end up losing the game of money. We don’t know what the score is, and we don’t know what the goal is. It’s sad. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Your net worth is a financial calculation you can and should do annually to keep score on your finances. It takes your current assets (things you own) and subtracts your liabilities to give you your “net worth score”. Your assets are the things you own like cash, investments, cars, homes, boats, jewelry, and if you’re in the southern United States, probably a collection of guns. Your liabilities are your debts and money you owe. Subtracting your liabilities from your assets gives you your balance or net worth. If you are in heavy debt, it is quite possible to have a “negative net worth” meaning your finances are worth less than “0” and so is your net worth. While that sounds absolutely horrible, it’s better to know what the score is than to not know. Otherwise, you won’t know if you’re losing the game and what you need to change to “change the score”.

It’s important to check your net worth. I recommend calculating it and tracking it at least annually. This can help to hold you accountable on how you are handling your finances. It’s way too easy to make a lot of money and end up with very little progress by comparison to your net worth.

Way too many people make huge amounts of money and live the rich lifestyle, but never accumulate any wealth. Why? One of the reasons is they didn’t keep watch on their net worth. It doesn’t mean anything if you make a lot of money, but fail to manage it well. It doesn’t make a difference if you make $500,000 a year of $500,000 a month, if you don’t grow your net worth. I know it sounds crazy, but you can make $500,000 month or more and still have a net worth of $0 if you spend all your money and go into debt.

Knowing your net worth can give you a goal to aim at. Do you want to be a millionaire? Do you want to be a multimillionaire? How do you know how close you are to your goal? How do you know how far you are away from your goal? Knowing your net worth can inspire you to stay on track with your financial goals.

I really like this tool from CalcXML for calculating your net worth to help calculate your net worth.

Growing Your Net Worth

As you track and grow your net worth, it’s important you do the right things with your money. Just stuffing it into a savings account isn’t going to cut it. You need to look for good investments that help you grow your net worth. Rental property investments, mutual funds, well selected stock investments, and even small business opportunities like franchises can all be good ways to increase your net worth outside of the traditional J-O-B.

So many of us get stuck in the single mindset J-O-B. I’ve been fortunate to have awesome employment for over 20 years, but I still wish I had spent more time looking into developing multiple income streams. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve begun developing multiple income streams. Traditional 401k investments have been in my toolbox for 17+ years. I began acquiring rental properties over the last 3 years. I wish I had started sooner. Now I’m looking at small business and other opportunities to grow my net worth.

$0 or Near $0 Net Worth

I have several family members that really don’t get finances and money. If fact, one of them has attended the same financial class 3 times over 15 years. That’s once every 5 years! Want to guess their net worth? -$50,000. Age 42. That’s a very bad situation to be in.

If you owe a ton of money on your house, it can take a huge chunk out of your net worth. Let’s say you have a $300,000 home, but you also owe $250,000. Your net worth is essentially $50,000. But wait, that’s not all. You owe $25,000 on a $30,000 car. You have $40,000 in student loans.

So now we have ($300,000 home + $30,000 car) minus ($250,000 house debt, $25,000 car debt, $40,000 student loan debt) for a net worth of $15,000. On the surface, this person could feel pretty good about their finances. They are living in a nice house, driving a nice car, and the student loan debts are under control. In reality, they’re very poor.

This is the reality for the average American.

Unless you have a number like net worth to keep score, it’s easy to think too broadly as “I’m poor”, “I’m doing okay”, or “I’m rich.” You can have a net worth of $30,000 or -$70,000, both are poor. It’s easy for someone who can pay all their monthly bills to think they are doing okay, but if their net worth is low, they’re really not doing okay. And some people even think they are rich because have a huge income and some nice toys, but their net worth could be $250,000. They’re not rich.

Net Worth Mindset

Developing a net worth mindset can help you keep your finances on track and headed in the right direction. It’s a simple way give you goal to help you cut out the waste. If you know you are shooting for a goal to become a millionaire that’s a net worth score of $1,000,000. It’s a lot easier to make good decisions with your finances. A good financial decision is one that gets your closer to your goal. A bad financial decision is one that keeps you from your goal.

Last night, our family went out to eat. I have 6 children. It’s expensive to eat out. It cost me $80 to eat cheeseburgers from Five Guys. On the way to Five Guys, my wife and I discussed that we can feed our family at home for $25. Eating at Five Guys did not help me build my net worth, but it sure was tasty.

Net Worth Target

I’m a believer that every American can become a millionaire, so your absolute minimum net worth goal is $1,000,000. I was a millionaire at age 40. Many people do it sooner than I did. I’ve met many people who become millionaires in their 20s and 30s.

As you get smarter and more confident in building your finances, your number should be higher. Since becoming a millionaire at 40, I now have aspirations of reaching the $10,000,000 mark and beyond.

Without being too scientific or getting caught up in the retirement planning game, set your net worth target between $1,000,000 and $10,000,000 to start. Sure some super aggressive types will want to set their goal higher. That’s okay, but the average everyday American can achieve a net worth target between $1,000,000 and $10,000,000 if they get serious about their finances now.

Make wise decisions with your money. Build your net worth. Build your wealth. Help others.

 

Learn About Money. Be Wealthy.

There’s a saying that there are no guarantees in life, but I’d say that there are some guarantees. You can pretty much guarantee that if you don’t take time to learn how to make money work for you, then you won’t be wealthy. That’s pretty guaranteed. People who are learn about money become smart about money. It’s just that simple.

Learning About Money

I was 26 when I started learning about money. Needless to say, before that, I was pretty clueless following in my parents financial footsteps. Spend more than you make. Don’t save. Don’t invest. Work you whole life and probably die with a relatively low amount of net worth. Thankfully that all changed when I was 26. You see, I got my first W2 form for my fully employed year of work after college. I worked as an engineer for a small family owned manufacturing company. My income that year was $39,000, and when I opened that W2 envelope, I was shocked. I had relatively little to show for that year of work and most of what I had to show for it was debt. A new car. A new computer. Some credit card debt for I don’t know what. That year, I knew something was wrong with my finances and how I handled money. It was time for a change, and change I did.

I spent the next several months going to the bookstore buying financial magazines, and learning about money. At the top of my list was Kiplinger’s investors magazine. That was what began my journey to build my financial knowledge and one day become a millionaire.

One of the first steps in becoming a millionaire is learning about money. How to make it, and how to use it to build wealth. You can’t build wealth unless you know how to make your money work for you. Otherwise, you’ll just go through life making money and spending money. That will never get you ahead.

While there are a ton of ways to put your money to work for you, I started with the stock market. At 26, I put $500 a month into an aggressive growth mutual fund. Back then, I chose Kaufmann funds, but I was a bit green. Today, a better bet would be Vanguard family of funds. While $500 seemed like a lot of money to me as a 26 year old single man, I should have been investing $1,500 a month. The more aggressive you are in making your money work for you, the better off you will be later on in life, and the more wealthy you’ll become. Eventually, you won’t even need to work for money. The income streams you create will work for you.

My second investment strategy was to put money into tech stocks, and I was able to make a bit of money as a young investor. I invested in Intel, Dell, Cyrix, Iomega, Nvidia and a few others. Holding each investment for 3-6 months, I was able to make 30-50% on each investment. Focusing on staying ahead of the new technology releases by the major vendors, I was able to make some money when the tech leaders saw their new products hit the market. It was a good start to changing my financial future.

At that time, I also made the decision to become debt free and live without debt. Being in debt doesn’t make you rich. It makes the banks rich. Avoid debt. Since I had already gotten into some debt, it took me 2 more years to pay off all of my debt. I paid the 5 year loan off on my car in 3 1/2 years. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have paid it off a bit sooner, but I was putting a bit of money into the stock market.

Being older and wiser now in my 40s. There are some things I would have changed along my financial journey, and one of those would have been how much I studied and learned about making money and putting it to work for me. I made the mistake of think I learned everything I needed to know about money when I learned about mutual funds and the stock market when the truth is, there is so much more to know and learn. While simple plans and investments do work, they leave so many more wealth building opportunities on the table.

I believe becoming wealthy is a noble goal. If you use your wealth properly, you should be helping others. The more wealthy you are, the more people you can help, and there are a lot of needy people in the world today. In fact, there are probably a lot of needy people in your neighborhood today. Wouldn’t you like to be able to help them?

Anyway, I encourage you to build your financial knowledge by committing time each month from this day forward to learn about money. Learning about money will help you build a better financial future for yourself, your family and your children for generations to come. By making this one small commitment, you will forever impact people’s lives.

Here are a few foundational books to get you started increasing your financial knowledge, but don’t stop here. Keep going.

If you build your financial knowledge and put it to work, you will build wealth for yourself and your family, and then you will be able to put that wealth to work helping others. It’s good. It’s noble. Do it.

Get Out of Debt. Live Free.

Well, I was thinking today about the fact that I spent 15 years from March 2001 to May 2016 working for Dave Ramsey, the debt free king, but I’ve never written anything about money or debt on my blog. What a shame! Now I’m working for Steve Down, who has a very similar story to Dave’s. After leaving Dave’s, I thought I was done with the personal finance world, but God had other plans. In early December 2016, all that changed. Now I find myself working to build a new personal finance company to help people say goodbye to debt and re-imagine wealth. Why “re-imagine wealth”? Let me tell you. For most Americans wealth is something they will never have and for other Americans wealth is evil. I’m here to tell you that both of those concepts of wealth are lies. It is my belief that you and everyone else can be wealthy. What is wealth? Wealth is having enough money to meet all of your needs and wants while leaving enough left over to help others. The path to wealth starts with good money habits, and one of those money habits is living without debt. Here is where my story began.

So you want to know how to get out of debt? You’ve come to the right place. Personal debt destroys your ability to build wealth. It’s just that simple. I was 25 when the lightbulb first came on for me. I was fresh out of college and enjoyed what I considered a good paycheck. I worked as an engineer for a local manufacturing company making more money than I had ever made before. I had risen through the compensation ranks of my high school minimum wage jobs to an amazing $13/hr manufacturing engineer. My rent was cheap…very cheap, and life was good. I had a nice reliable car, my green four door Saturn SL2 sedan. I had a 75Mhz Micron computer, a real powerhouse for the time. My other belongings included a 27” Sony TV, a Harman Kardon stereo system, a bed that I made out of wood from Home Depot, and a desk my father built for me. Life was good, or so I thought.

It was tax time, and for the first time in my life, I actually had enough money to be taxed. Along with millions of other hard working Americans, I received my annual W2. I cut open the envelope, pulled out the W2, and then stared in amazement. I was shocked not at the taxes I’d paid, but at the amount of money I had made. $39,000 give or take a little. $39,000…wow. That’s like 10x more than I’d ever made in my life annually. Where did it all go?

I looked around my apartment. I had a paid for TV. I had a financed computer. I had a paid for stereo with some kickin’ speakers. Suddenly, that bed I built and was so proud of didn’t look as good. In the driveway was my financed car with a $315/mo payment. That was my wake-up call. That was the day I realized debt steals your ability to build wealth, and I changing the way I felt, thought and acted about money. I had to discover how to get out of debt.

That’s the first step to getting out of debt. You have to have that wake-up moment where you realize that debt isn’t helping you. It’s hurting you. It’s hurting your ability to find financial security. It’s blocking your opportunity to become financially free. It’s destroying your ability to become wealthy, and it’s preventing you from helping others. Personal debt is not your friend and that’s why it’s important to know how to get out of debt.

Knowing how to get out of debt isn’t the hard part. The hard part about getting out of debt is the doing.

When I had my wake-up moment at 25, I set out on a mission to be a millionaire by age 40, and the first step in my plan was to get out of debt…fast. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet to getting out of debt. You didn’t get into debt overnight and you’re not going to get out of it overnight either. Getting out of debt requires a plan and hard work.

How to Get Out of Debt

  1. Create a Debt Checklist. Unfortunately, many people just pay their bills as they come in and don’t keep track of all their debts or where they stand on their balances. This is a disaster for your finances and not to mention a disaster for your health and life. The first step to getting out of debt is to make a list of all your debts including interest rates and payments. Make sure you include any student loans, your mortgage if you have one, and even debts you owe your grandma.
  2. Organize your debts. Create Your Debt Waterfall. Now that you have your list of debts, it’s important to organize them into a payoff schedule. At Financially Fit, we call this the Debt Waterfall. Your Debt Waterfall is the order of your debts that allows you to accelerate your payoff speed with each debt you pay off. Once you pay off your debt, you use the money you were using to pay it off and use it to accelerate the payoff of your next debt.There’s a lot of discussion on how to organize your debts to pay them off quickly, but the truth is, just stay focused and pay them off. If you get distracted or discouraged, you lose. Stay focused and you’ll eventually become debt free.
    (1) Highest Interest Rate to Lowest Interest Rate: In many cases, paying the highest interest rate off first can get you out of debt the fastest and save you the most money. However,
    it can also be one of the hardest ways to stay motivated to execute. If you don’t finish, you don’t get out of debt.
    (2) Calculate the Priority Quotient: The priority quotient is a special method developed by Financially Fit. The priority quotient uses your minimum monthly payments to help order your debts into the fastest payoff method. The debt with the lowest Priority Quotient is the debt you payoff next. The debt with the lowest number of months to pay it off is your highest priority debt. Attack it first, then move on to the debt with the next lowest number of months to pay off. To calculate your Priority Quotient use this formula:
    (Balance / Minimum Monthly Payment = How many months to pay off that debt)
    (3) Lowest Balance to Highest Balance. Ordering your debts and attacking them with the lowest to highest balance can offer you the highest satisfaction giving you little wins along your debt payoff journey. By using this method, you can help keep yourself motivated along the way until you reach the finish line. Many times by attacking the lowest balance first, you can get your first debt paid off in 2-3 months, then use the money you’ve freed up to attack the next debt.
  3. Assess your cash flow. How much excess cash do you have each month? Use it to accelerate your debt payoff plan. We call this building your Focus Fund. A Focus Fund is cash that you are using to focus on accomplishing a financial goal. In this case, you are using your Focus Fund for paying off your debts. It’s important to build your Focus Fund to a sufficient level to attack your debts and pay them off as quickly as possible. If your debt payoff drags on for too long, it’s possible for you to get discouraged and quit only to return to your old lifestyle. Keep your Focus Fund attacking your debts, and you’ll make it through.
  4. Pay Off Your Debts. Once you have your list in order and your cash flow plan, you can begin your debt waterfall. The debt waterfall is what Financially Fit calls your payoff plan. As you pay off each debt, you take the cash you’ve freed up by paying that debt off and attack the next debt. As you pay off more and more debts, you’re Focus Fund grows larger and larger until you have all of your debts paid off.
  5. Never go back into personal debt. Personal debt is a trap that will rob you of your ability to build wealth. Sadly, many people who finally become debt free return to debt believing they are more mature now and can handle it. Once you become debt free, the trick is to put your money to work for you. That’s how you can become financially free where you no longer
    work for money because your money now works for you.In most cases, your consumer debt can be paid off in two years or less. For those who are even more aggressive, you can become debt free including your mortgage in 5 years or less. yes, that’s right, 5 years or less including your mortgage! Now that you’ve learned the principles of how to get out of debt, it’s important that you tell others how to get out of debt.

I’ve personally been free of consumer debt since January 2002, and a little later we paid off our mortgage. I can honestly say the grass is greener when you’re debt free.