I enjoy studying the lives of successful people so that I can glean lessons from their lives and implement into my own. Successful people are not necessarily people with the most money, but rather people who have time to do what they want to do, when they want to do it, coupled with the flexibility to avoid doing things they find displeasing. In today’s Friday Minute I want to focus on lessons from three millionaires:
Avoid Debt Millionaire Derek Sivers sold his company, CD Baby for $22 million in 2008. But even when he paid the bills as a professional musician and circus clown, he avoided debt. He says:
“I’ve always been very debt-averse. I don’t like being in debt at all, even on the small level. I never bought anything with a credit card unless I had that much money in the bank. The credit card was just a convenience. I never went into negative debt on a credit card, even as a teenager because I just hated that feeling. They say that there are two ways to be rich: one is getting more money, and the other one is lowering your expectations, lowering your needs.”
Derek says that when he was in his 20s he lived off of $12,000 in savings for a few years. Then he got a job with the circus making about $12,000 a year, and he felt rich.
Derek also gave the proceeds from selling CD Baby to a charitable trust for music education, and he continues to live a frugal lifestyle.
Be Value Conscious Todd Tresidder, financial coach and founder of Financial Mentor, made most of his money through smart investments. He got the seed money to make those investments by saving almost 70% of his income. This is what Todd said about saving money:
“I think…it comes back to values. You just have to not have an interest in buying lots of stuff…I was a single, young man, not too far out of college and my mom would get on me. She’d say, ‘Todd, you’re making all this money, why don’t you go buy yourself a Corvette? Go get yourself a flashy car.’ But I lived in Lake Tahoe. I’m an outdoor recreation buff…I’d play volleyball down on the beach; mountain bike in the hills. I run.”
By holding on to what he valued (time spent outdoors), Todd avoided expenses like a big monthly payment on a car he didn’t need (or want).
Do What Works For You Matthew Tuttle, owner of Tuttle Wealth Management, a financial management company, had a lot of great information gleaned from working with clients (and their money). Matthew offered the following advice:
“I’m not a big fan of budgets. I’m not a big fan of trying to impose that discipline on someone who just can’t do it. I also find a lot of times spouses vehemently disagree when it comes to budgeting. What I am much more a fan of is, save as much as you can and if you’re saving as much as you can, as long as you’re not going into debt, then I don’t necessarily care where you’re spending your money.
So if I go to someone who is not saving anything and say, ‘I need you to start putting away 20% of your income every year,’ it’s not going to happen. It’s like the idea of boiling a frog. You dump a frog in boiling water it’s going to jump out. So I like to start slow. ‘This month let’s put away 1%.’ Then next month we’re going to bump it up to 2%. Then we’re going to bump it up to 3%, and we’re going to slowly get you used to living on less and less and less and get to a point where you’re saving as much as you possibly can.”
The theme is clear. Spend less than you earn. The millionaires I read about look for ways to increase the earnings and decrease the valueless spending.