Money often costs too much.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you imagined reaching your financial goals, did you envision yourself driving a Lamborghini to your gigantic mansion in the Hamptons? If so, you don’t just want to become financially independent, you want to get rich.
That’s right, there’s a big difference between being financially independent and being rich. A million dollars, for example, will get you somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 per year in passive income, according to the conventional 4% rule. That’s plenty enough for financial independence with a very nice middle-class lifestyle, but you’re not going to be rubbing elbows with Diddy in your Manhattan penthouse on a mere million. Felix Dennis would call you “comfortably poor.”
If you’re aiming for the penthouse lifestyle, you’re going to need more. A lot more. Let’s face it, being a millionaire just ain’t what it used to be!
A Million Here, a Million There
Nowadays, you’d have to be sitting on a minimum of five to ten million to be considered rich, and even that won’t really afford you the sort of jet-setting lifestyle you’ve seen on TV — at least, not for long.
To make matters worse, I doubt your vision included being rolled around in a diamond encrusted wheelchair. No, if your goal really is to get rich, you probably want to do it while you’re still young enough to enjoy it properly. Plenty of financial gurus purport to have plans that allow you to retire “rich,” but they tend to follow the traditional 40-year path.
Examine Your Motivations
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get rich per se, but I’d encourage you to reconsider. True wealth and happiness lie in good health and strong relationships. No one lies on their deathbed wishing they’d had a 60-inch rather than a 40-inch plasma TV. Ask the dying what they do regret, and you’ll find that most of it revolves around wishing they’d had more time — time to spend with the people they love, and to pursue their passions.
You don’t need to be rich to reclaim your time. Financial independence is sufficient for that, and is a much more easily attainable goal. In fact, it can practically be guaranteed if you save aggressively enough.
Trying to get rich, however, can have a way of consuming your life. You’re going to have to decide how much you’re willing to sacrifice and stretch your comfort zone to do it.
Furthermore, getting rich while young means getting rich quickly — relatively speaking, at least. Can it be done? Of course. It’s a myth that it’s impossible to get rich quickly. Bill Gates did it. Mark Zuckerberg did it. The trouble is that too many people confuse getting rich quickly with getting rich easily. The only easy ways I know of to get rich are winning the lottery, or inheriting money. All other roads to fast wealth require lots and lots of hard work, sacrifice, perseverance, and a tolerance for taking risks — and none of them offer any guarantees.
The One and Only Book to Read on Getting Rich
If you really have your heart set on getting rich, then there’s a book you’ll want to read. I’ve read dozens of books on personal finance over the years. A fair number of them claim to cover the topic of getting rich, but precisely one has ever done it really well, and that’s the Millionaire Fastlane, by M. J. DeMarco.
I won’t mince words. Mr. DeMarco is not the best writer in the world. That’s actually a good sign, as you want advice from someone who made his money practicing what he preaches rather than selling books. He also comes off as a bit of a douche.
This book, however, is extraordinary. A brief summary of his principal point is this: If you want to make millions, you need to own one of two types of business — one that has a moderate effect on many people, or one that has a significant effect on a few people. (If you can do both, you can make billions).
The book is completely unique, in that instead of being filled with tired platitudes and spurious numbers (like most books on the subject), it provides a huge amount of practical, actionable advice and real-world wisdom about how to start the sort of business that has a chance at building real wealth, and why the overwhelming majority of businesses are doomed to failure. More importantly, his advice is all realistic, and his method is eminently workable for anyone with the dedication, energy, and guts required.
He also mercilessly debunks all the magical thinking, faulty reasoning, and various other crap that you’ll find in 99% of the other books on the subject, pulling no punches as he skewers all the hucksters, charlatans, and fools that crowd the personal finance space.
When I finished reading the book, I immediately started over on page one and read it again. It’s that good.
Go Forth and Prosper
So if you really want to get rich, and are prepared to work your ass off, take risks, and make sacrifices to get there, pick up a copy of the Millionaire Fastlane. Read it. Far more importantly, act on it. You can thank me later. (Just be sure to remember me in your will.)
I won’t write much more on the subject, here. My focus is on the more modest goal of financial independence. Stick around, though, because this blog will most certainly help you stay rich, should you manage to get there.
For the Rest of Us
If your financial vision was a bit more down to earth, stay tuned. Next up: dreams of retirement in general, and early retirement in particular.