Those two words flashed before my eyes not too long ago.
I have been working for 1.5 years since. Got myself a relatively high paying job + freelanced regularly.
And yet here I was. Overdrawn. 2 weeks to go till my next paycheck. After so many months of reading personal finance, “millionaire mindset” books and scoffing at those with money problems with an air of elitism, here I was worse off than they was.
It was a hard pill to swallow.
Goes to show that knowing how to do something is entirely different than actually doing something.
Something HAD TO CHANGE.
So I went back to the stuff I read, crossing out EVERY piece of advice that was useless or didn’t inspire change.
What I had left was a small set of 10 things I remind myself everyday to get my money set straight.
I’ll admit – Getting your money and personal finance right can be tricky. Especially since it was never taught in school. This post was meant to do just that. In just 15 minutes, you will learn what most people take 15 years to figure out.
(Note: If you already read Rich Dad Poor Dad, click away this ain’t for you. If you haven’t, you are in for a treat.)
Like you, for the longest time in my life, I was left in the dark about money – I was simply told to “SSSAVE money” and that “money doesn’t grow on trees.”
But that was literally my education about how to keep money.
When it comes to making money, I was told to “get good grades, go to a good university, graduate, and get a high paying job.”
I tried to do just that and managed to secure a job that paid above average salary for fresh grads.
I was set… right?
You see, I was drowning in success stories about Elon Musk’s rise to fame and Bill Gates never finished university.
And yet, they were BILLIONAIRES!
The way I calculated – even if I die die work 24 hours a day for 40 years also no way I can get to a BILLION dollars.
Malaysia also has billionaires.
Frustrated and curious to find out more, I headed to the bookshop to get my hands on the best-selling money books.
The cheesier and more cringe-worthy the cover the better.
If you feel stuck or hopeless about your financial situation, wondering if you’ll ever be able to afford a house, anxious about getting your savings wiped out for your wedding reception, then this post is for you.
Here’s the lowdown.
1. Keep first, then spend
Easily, the simplest and most overlooked financial hack of all time.
When people get their income, the first thing they do is spend it. Then save whatever is left.
How to become a millionaire?
To be a top 1%er, you have to save first, then spend.
How much? I recommend 30% if possible. If that’s a bit of a stretch, go for 20%.
10% is honestly WAAAY too low.
A lot of people I know who are very financially savvy save 50% of their salary.
2. Learn to make more money
There was this saying that changed my life:
“There’s a limit to how much you can save, but there’s no limit to how much you can earn.”
If you really think about it, you can only save so much.
Say you make RM3000 a month, if you pinch and scrap as much as you can, you can save RM1500 max.
(That’s better than 99% of people btw)
But if you learn stuff like coding, digital marketing and how to make money online (link), you can easily triple your income with just 50% more work.
And if you are really serious and build an online business – you can make RM10,000 a month passively with minimum upkeep while you consult and build other businesses.
Where you can save – the most is RM3000.
Where you can earn – the most is… I don’t know… RM1,000,000,000?
Imagine if you can make RM30,000 a month and save 50% – RM15,000 a month stashed away – now that’s security.
3. The rich buy assets, the poor buy liabilities
This comes straight from Rich Dad Poor Dad.
An asset is something that brings money to your pocket (makes money for you).
A liability is something that takes money away from your pocket (burns money).
A classic example would be a house.
Most people see their house as their biggest asset.
But the ultra-rich don’t see it as such.
Unless you buy a house and rent it out for a profit, then it’s an asset.
If you buy the house and live in it, it doesn’t make you money, instead it burns money.
Of course, you may argue that you could sell the house and make profit.
But it’s easier said than done.
If you took a 30 year mortgage on a house, often times you pay double the selling price in total!
(If the house cost RM300,000, you end up paying RM600,000 after 30 years including interest) No joke!
This is what Robert Kiyosaki calls the difference between good debt and bad debt.
Investing in a proven franchise is good debt. Although you would be in debt for a few years, ultimately you will make your money back and more.
Buying consumables like restaurant food and consumer electronics on your credit card is bad debt. You will be in debt and in the long run, it won’t make you money.
Unless you know the…
4. The three self-talk distinctions between the poor, the rich and the ultra-rich
This I learned from Dan Lok. Check him out, he’s awesome.
He developed further on the Robert Kiyosaki concept.
You walk across a shop and see the iPhone X.
It’s super sexy, desirable and beautiful.
A poor person would say: I can’t afford it.
A rich person would say: How can I afford it.
(Instead of chickening out, you use your brain to figure out a way to buy it.)
An ultra-rich person would say: How can I make it make me money?
So how would you make an iPhone X make you money?
My first reaction would be to use it as my go-to camera to film myself doing YouTube videos or create courses.
I can also use it to build my Instagram following and ultimately become an influencer.
I can use it to post on LinkedIn regularly and build my professional following.
Or I can use it to blog and make money from my writing.
The possibilities are endless.
Remember the subtle difference between being a rich person and ultra-rich person.
And also remember the Warren Buffet saying of…
5. If you can’t make money in your sleep, you will work till the day you die
This is the golden quote all the passive income gurus plaster all over their promotional material.
Here’s how you can achieve this:
1) Own businesses
The most cost-effective way would be to start an online information business.
Bloggers, influencers, motivational speakers, and trainers make their money this way.
If you build the business systems correctly, you can go to sleep and wake up to sales invoices in your inbox.
A great course I recommend you check out is From Zero to Launch from GrowthLab.
2) High return investments
Investing in the stock market, index funds, mutual funds, forex, etc are all ways to make money in your sleep.
Instead of using your time (active income), you use technology and your money to make money for you (passive income).
But having passive income alone is not enough, you must learn how to…
6. Have multiple streams of income
I recently spoke to a colleague of mine when she said she was looking for a stable man.
I stopped her and asked “What’s your definition of a stable man?”
She replied “A guy who has a stable job.”
I asked further “Like a high paying job?”
She replied “Not exactly, more like a person who more or less has his career set and will be in that company for a while.”
I couldn’t help but disagree.
After having experienced what it’s like to have mutiple streams of income, my definition of stability is now “a person with multiple streams of income.”
The logic here is:
If you have a single job that pays you RM10,000, you may be all set. But no one is immuned to a layoff or company restructuring.
Compared to a person having three jobs that pays her RM4,000 each totalling RM12,000, that person is far more stable. If one job falters, she still has two that pays the bills while she hunts for a replacement.
It’s the same strategy with investing in different industries.
If one industry is in dire economic terms, the rest of your portfolio won’t be as effective.
Now, with all this info, where should you begin?
The blueprint I’m following is…
7. Dan Lok’s Wealth Triangle
I’ve seen many money maps pushed by gurus but I’ve found this to be the most effective and realistic.
The idea is simple. It involves 3 points.
1) High income skills ($100,000 and above/year) –>
On the path to becoming rich, you must first be skillful. High-income skillful.
For example, I’m currently doing content marketing and SEO, while developing my skill in copywriting.
The next thing would either be graphic design or web development.
When you possess the types of skills that command high prices in the marketplace, you gain a strong sense of financial confidence.
The feeling that even if you lose your day job, you are always sure you can make money.
The goal is to get to 5 figures a month with your skills.
Yes, you are still trading hours for dollars, but it’s high dollars.
Next you build…
2) Scalable businesses –>
From your expertise, you would probably know by know how the industry you are in works.
You can then build a scalable business around it. The keyword here is scalable.
If you run a consultancy or solo freelance shop, it’s the same as High income skills.
Learn how to build business systems that can run on their own or require minimum maintenance.
Online information businesses work this well and that’s why it has become the go-to path for digital nomads and lifestyle entrepreneurs.
Whether you wish to build a scalable business or not, the next step must be executed not matter what and it is your…
3) High return investments
Most of the billionaires in the world made their money through building scalable businesses and investing in other businesses.
Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferriss both made their fortunes being early-stage investors in startups like Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Alibaba, etc.
Other means of high return investments would be trading in the stock market, index funds, etc.
There you have it – the basics on what you need to know about getting started in your personal finance journey. Start saving those dollars, polish up those skills and start investing.