Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

15 Must-Follow Rules for Retiring Wealthy

retirementAs someone who has owned 4 businesses before my 30th birthday, family and friends regularly ask me about investing, retirement planning and overall, what are the best ways to have more financial security.

Follow these simple rules and you’ll be well on your way.

Top 15 Rules for Retiring Wealthy:

  1. Always spend at least 10% less than you make. Always have a savings plan and understand that most people who “look” wealthy are just in a bunch of debt. Don’t be that family. Look comfortable and BE wealthy.
  2. Spending, Saving and Giving are all habits. If you spend every dime when you make $2,000/month, you’ll spend all that you have when you make $20k/month. Develop spending, saving and donating habits immediately!
  3. The quickest way to “make” money is to pay off debt starting with the highest interest credit cards and loans first. It’s a guaranteed Return on Investment (ROI).
  4. Never put more on a credit card than you can pay off each month. If you can’t pay it off each month, shred the credit card and pay with cash or debit cards for everything.
  5. Once the high-interest debt is paid off, save up 3-6 months in savings for a rainy day.
  6. Know your budget and don’t break it. How much are your housing costs? gas, grocery bills, Starbucks purchases, gym memberships, car payments, insurance, cell phones, internet, cable TV? Track your purchases every month (Mint.com is a decent way to do this) and make sure they are under budget. Reward yourself with a dinner out or other fun activity for each month the budget is met. Just make sure the reward is also budgeted. 😉
  7. Compound interest is the most amazing invention in the world so invest early and often.
  8. Max out any employer matching 401k’s or IRA’s. It’s like getting a guaranteed 100% ROI.
  9. Never consider your primary home an investment. By the time you pay utilities, taxes, maintenance, interest, and insurance a home is nearly always a loss. However, that’s not the goal of a home anyway.
  10. Short-term investing is extremely hard to do well. Long-term investing is extremely easy to do well.
  11. Learn how to minimize taxes legally. Taxes are your biggest individual expense BY FAR.
  12. Statistically speaking, money managers don’t know jack. Very, very few are accurate over the long-term.
  13. The most expensive thing in life is ignorance. Investing, like everything else, takes some homework and a commitment to learn.
  14. Never buy toys with debt. If you can’t afford to pay cash for motorcycles, quads, dirtbikes, jet-skis, razors, boats, vacations or anything else non-essential, then you can’t afford to have them. In other words, ONLY consider debt to buy a home, business, primary vehicle and some college degrees.
  15. Delayed gratification is the number one predictor of long-term success. It’s more accurate than IQ, EQ, SAT’s, ACT’s or any other tests ever administered. In other words, spending an extra $10k to get a nicer car today can mean having $50k less when you go to retire. Discipline yourself to be an expert at delayed gratification.

Here is one of the best articles I’ve come across for a nearly foolproof plan for a healthy retirement. It lists out exactly where to invest your IRA and 401k dollars each year.

Start with the book that is referenced, If You Can: How Millenials Can Get Rich Slowly, as it is only about 35 pages long, costs less than $6 and is available for Kindle.

Warren Buffet (one of the top 3 richest men in the world for several decades) told us 30 years ago the simple secret to investing and he predicted, quite accurately, that almost no one would listen.

Do you think there are any other investing or money-management rules that are missing?

To your healthy and secure retirement,
Bryan

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Entrepreneur’s Commencement Address – 10 years after graduation

July 17th 2010 is my 10 year high school reunion. Ten years ago I was asked to give a speech at my high school graduation. Recently I’ve read a few blogs by entrepeneurs providing advice to recent graduates…  That got me thinking about what I’ve learned a decade after high school and what I’d say if giventhe opportunity today… And this time I don’t have to deal with the principal censoring me… 🙂

Ten years ago, my speech focused on the powers of the mind and positive thinking. Topics I’ve reviewed in my blog in several instances and, though those lessons are still paramount, my new speech offers a bit more “practicality”. After writing out my suggestions, I noticed I’ve written blogs to explain most points in more detail so follow the links for more clarification.

Keep in mind that a blog is much different than a speech. A blog can be read, reread, reviewed, and linked to additional information. A speech is heard only once. If given a speech I’d simply focus on 9, 11, and 13 and tell a memorable story to illustrate each…

  1. Develop good habits – We are all creatures of habit. Our eating habits, work-out habits, reading habits, education habits, relationship habits, drinking habits etc. etc. etc. ultimately form who we are. Your habits will control you. If you develop bad habits you will be fighting them for years to come.
  2. Never stop learning – Read. Attend seminars. Ask questions of your grandparents and parents and those better than you. Write and expose your thoughts to criticism. You are what you know. The difference between you and your millionaire neighbor is that he knows something you don’t and he’s taken action to do something you haven’t. Learn what he knows and then do what he does. This lesson is applicable for all professions.
  3. Always spend less than you make – This sounds simple. And it is. So do it. You don’t need ANYTHING that you can’t afford. To that I’ll add, never take out debt to pay for a toy (i.e. motorcycle, atv, jet-ski), vacation, or non-essential. In other words, ONLY take out debt for real estate, your college education, and, if you have to, your primary mode of transportation. Pay cash for everything else.
  4. Save, save, save – Now I’m bordering on preaching but Americans seem to have a serious issues with financial discipline. Get into the regular habit of saving at least 10% of your paycheck. Setup an automatic transfer to savings. When you get a raise, increase the percent you save and keep the same standard of living until you can live for 6 months entirely on your savings. Then invest.
  5. Attend every wedding you’re invited to – In the last few years I’ve attended weddings in Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Michigan, Indiana, New York, and Wisconsin. I’ve spent literally thousands of dollars travelling to these weddings and the only weddings I regret are the ones I missed in Florida and Nevada. If a friend thinks you’re important enough to invite to their wedding, you need to attend.
  6. If you’re not happy, do something else – At 10 years after High School and 5 years after college it amazes me how many of my friends wake up to jobs they hate. Promise yourself, at whatever cost, that will not be you. And if it becomes you, which is almost inevitable at some point, you’ll do everything you can to change it.
  7. Network! – Your #1 goal with attending college should be to network with as many people as possible. That includes classmates, professors, alumni and just about anyone else you bump into. Actively search out and befriend influential people. It will help you get a job, find investors, find great investments, and it’s a lot of fun. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know“, is as true now as it ever has been.
  8. Never lose touch with your friends – In the world of email, IM, texting and Facebook, there’s simply no excuse. Keep in touch with your friends. It makes the journey a lot more fun.
  9. Live today – tomorrow is never guaranteed – At every high school commencement you can stand there and say, in 10 years some of you will no longer be with us. In 10 years, some of your parents, or grandparents, or friends, or family will no longer be with us. You’re not guaranteed a 10 year reunion and your not guaranteed to have the same friends and family to celebrate with. In the words of James Dean – “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
  10. Serve God and others – TODAY! – The World Bank defines poverty as having less than $1.25 per day to spend on living expenses and they estimate more than 1.4 billion people fall below that bar. No matter where you are or what you’re doing there are people less fortunate than you in this world. While you’re at college, while you’re working through your first job and paying down debt, you’re still blessed. Don’t wait to volunteer when you have enough time. Don’t wait to donate to charity when you have more money. Give to others today and you’ll always be the better person for it.
  11. Set goals – And put them in Do x Be = Have context. According to a Yale study from 1953, the 3% of graduates who had written goals had amassed more wealth than the other 97% of classmates years after graduation.
  12. Believe in yourself – Because chances are, at times, you’ll be the only one doing so. Be confident and fearless.
  13. Take a risk – I used to travel a lot for work. Maybe 40,000 to 50,000 air miles per year and another 20,000 miles on the ground. On a flight one night, on my way home from California, it hit me. My whole life and the “success” that people had seen in it was perfectly planned. In 25 years of life, as far as I could tell, I had never taken a single risk. It was a hollow and scary feeling to think that I was limiting myself to only taking on the challenges I knew that I could accomplish. Never give yourself the opportunity to look back and say that to yourself. Learn to fail. As the book, How We Decide, by Jonah Leher points out, our minds are designed to learn more from many failures than from a few successes.
  14. Skip class when you have more educational things to do – In the words of Mark Twain, “Never let school get in the way of your education.” When you’re negotiating for a job, never forget to get as much paid vacation as possible. I always attended class unless I had something going on where I’d learn more. Sometimes that lesson was that it’s more important to go motorcycle riding with my friends than listen to a professor talk about things I could read in the book. 😉 For some reason, that’s a lesson I’ve never forgot.

If I could sum these 14 points up in a single sentence it would be simply, figure out a way to do what you love with the people you love and everything else will take care of itself.

Lucky for you, my speech is much shorter than it was 10 years ago. These are a few of the important lessons I’ve learned. God-willing, in another 10 years, I’ll be able to review my thoughts again.

To your life-success, Bryan

The FIRST 3 steps to becoming wealthy

My reason for writing this is because I’m asked by lots of people all the time how can they make money like me. Compared to the rest of the world, if you live in the USA, have a place to live, more than a few changes of clothes, and fresh food every day you’re rich. However, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about being able to have the things that you want, take the vacations you desire, and live in the homes you dream of.

The first 3 steps to becoming wealthy are:

  1. ALWAYS spend less than you make.
  2. Understand the difference between where you are and where you want to be is EDUCATION.
  3. Put your goals into the Do x Be = Have context.

If you cannot do any one of these three things, then you will either never become wealthy or your only chance of acheiving great wealth is inheritance or the lottery. For the latter, you will most likely squander whatever you’re given anyway, since you don’t know how to spend less than you make no matter how much you make. 😉

1. Always spend less than you make. Time and time again you hear people, couples, children, etc. say if they only made another $5,000 per year or got that raise they needed everything would be fine. All the bills would be paid and they’d be out of debt in a jiffy. So what happens when they get the raise? They buy a new house, a new car, a new flat screen, etc. because they need those things and now they can afford it. Do NOT fall into that trap. If you cannot survive for the next 3-6 months with little or no income, then you have a problem. If your goal is to be wealthy, your FIRST step in that direction should be to have enough money in savings or other liquid assets to survive for 3-6 months with little or no income! If you cannot manage your own finances well, you will never be able to manage 2 or 3 or 100 times that much money for a business. Conversely, if you understand how to manage your own cashflow, translating that to business is a cinch.

Before buying my first business I had about 5 months where I only worked part time. At that time I owned 2 sports cars, a beautiful house with a 3-car garage, 1 motorcycle and the normal stuff you’d expect from a bachelor. 🙂  At the end of the 5 months I was down to 1 sports car (that I refinanced to lower my monthly payments), no motorcycle, and a whole lot fewer motorcycle and car parts then before. I needed to turn those possessions into liquid assets to pay my bills. The lawyer bills alone from the business purchase were more than I made on the sale of my car and motorcycle together! If an opportunity presented itself, would you be able to come up with the necessary cash to make the investment? Even if it’s as simple as buying and reselling a vehicle because it’s such a great deal.

2. Understand the difference between where you are and where you want to be is EDUCATION. Rich people know something that you don’t. What is it? Maybe it’s how to buy, build, and sell a business. Maybe it’s how to invest in real estate. Maybe it’s how to master the stock market. Maybe it’s negotiating skills, or public speaking talents, or simply how to find the best deals. The reason they have more money than you is because they know more than you about generating wealth. So how do you bridge that gap and learn what they know (and much more)???  Start with The Best 6 Books to Teach you how to Generate Wealth and then spend some time on my recommended reading selections. If you want the quickest (though still incomplete) lessons to get you up to speed, read my blogs. It will be worth the time and the price is right. 😉

3. Put your goals into the Do x Be = Have context. Obviously you need to read my blog on the topic to understand the full scope of this algorithm. However, a quick summary is simply this: know what you need to Do to become who you need to Be to get what you want to Have. In other words don’t just set goals, set the correct goals!

As a quick example of this, to purchase my business I needed 2 assets:

  1. The cash (including the vehicles to sell to generate the cash) to pay the lawyers and support myself.
  2. The knowledge to convince someone else to lend me the rest.

Moreover, I knew becoming a business owner was putting me on the right track to become who I needed to Be to obtain what I wanted to Have. Which is ultimately why I buy, build, and sell businesses.

To your success in generating wealth, Bryan

The 3 pieces to becoming successful at ANYTHING… (seriously)

I know, that sounds ridiculous… But take a few minutes, learn the basic concepts, and if you haven’t heard this before, you’ll be amazed at the clarity this can bring to almost anything you do in life. I find myself teaching this lesson to more of my friends and family than probably anything else I’ve EVER learned so LEARN IT!

Here’s the basic formula:

Do x Be = Have

Now I originally learned this formula through Brad Sugar’s Entrepreneur Masters Class however I’m pretty sure he got it from someone else… If you know who originally came up with this, let me know.

The unique thing about this formula is you have to start on the right and work left – the opposite of how you normally read – to make it work.

Have

Make a list of what you want to Have in life, at your job, at school, in your mate, etc. etc. etc.

How much money? What kind of house(s)? Any boats or nice cars? Family? What will your job be like? How often will you vacation and where? You get the idea. WRITE DOWN what you want to Have in your life.

Writing this down is essential. A few years back I recall reading about a survey that was conducted on Harvard business graduates at their 20 year anniversary. They asked the graduates, who had written down their goals when they graduated from school – 3% had written goals and 97% did not. They then found out that the 3% who had specific written goals had amassed more wealth than the other 97% combined. And it wasn’t like those 97% were slackers. They were all Harvard graduates so they had to have at least a little talent. Honestly I read so much I can’t recall where I learned this story, so if you know, please let me know. 🙂

Be

Now, look around you and determine who has what you want to Have. What kind of job do they have? Do they have their own business? Do they have a college degree? What kind of degree? How many hours per week do they work? What do they attribute to their success?

Now you have to figure out who you have to Be to get what you want to Have. In other words, if you love children and want to be a teacher, but your list also includes a summer home in the Outer Banks, can Being a teacher allow you to Have that house? If there are any other teachers who have vacation homes down there, learn what else they had to Become (besides a teacher) to afford it.

This is the most often overlooked step. Everyone knows what they want to Have and think they know what they have to Do to get there. But they never figure out who they have to Be. Without Being the person who can Have what you want, NO amount of Doing will get you there. More than likely, you’ll just be Doing the wrong things.

If you have no idea who you have to Be to become a millionaire, check out The Millionaire Mindby Thomas Stanley. It’s a book based on lengthy surveys filled out by over 1300 millionaires. If you want to learn what kind of people Become millionaires, this is the book for you.

Do

The last piece to our equation is figuring out what you have to Do to be who you need to Be.

Where do you need to go to school? (if at all) Who do you need to associate with? Where do you need to live? When do you need to start planning or saving?

What do you need to Do, to become who you need to Be, to get what you want to Have.

Keep in mind that if you make a list of want you want to Have in a spouse, you better figure out who you need to Be so that when you meet that person you’ve already done what you need to Do to hit it off with them. Think about it. That makes sense, right? You better be a perfect person yourself if your list describes the perfect person. hahaha

In my life, this became very clear to me almost immediately after learning it. I went to a top 10 engineering school and became a mechanical engineer because I love cars, motorcycles, and engineering in general. However, I also want an island. A nice little private island with a place to land a plane and helicopter. Maybe a 9 hole golf course and a nice comfortable villa to relax in. After looking around at all the engineers I knew, it became very apparent that Being an engineer was not going to get me what I wanted to Have. Being a successful business man will, however. Not only will it allow me to engineer new designs for automotive and motorcycle applications at my leisure, it will also allow me the possibility of an island. Something being an engineer alone could never do.

Are you doing what you need to Do, to become who you need to Be, to enjoy what you want to Have?

To your success, Bryan