The lovely thing about money is that it really doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care what color or race you are, what class you are, what your parents did, or even who you think you are. Each and every day starts with a clean slate so that no matter what you did yesterday, today begins anew, and you have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else to take as much as you want. The only thing that can hold you back is yourself and your own money myths
Of the wealth of the world, each has as much as he takes. What else could make sense? There is no way money can know who is handling it, what his qualifications are, what ambitions he has, or what class he belongs to. Money has no ears, eyes, or senses. It is inert, inanimate, impassive. It hasn’t a clue. It is there to be used and spent, saved and invested, fought over, seduced with, and worked for. It has no discriminatory apparatus, so it can’t judge whether you are “worthy” or not.
I have watched a lot of extremely wealthy people, and the one thing they all have in common is that they have nothing in common — apart from all being Rules Players, of course. The wealthy are a diverse band of people — the least likely can be loaded. They vary from the genteel to the uncouth, the savvy to the plain stupid, the deserving to the undeserving. But each and every one of them has stepped up and said, “Yes please, I want some of that.” And the poor are the ones saying, “No thank you. Not for me. I am not worthy. I am not deserving enough. I couldn’t. I mustn’t. I shouldn’t.”
So, what, to you, is wealth? This is one you have to sit down and work out in advance if you are going to get wealthy. My observation is that wealthy people invariably have worked this one out. They know exactly what, to them, wealth means.
I have a wealthy and extremely generous friend who says that he knew long ago when he was starting out in business that he would consider he had made enough when he wasn’t living off the money he had amassed (which we will call his capital). Nor would he be living off the interest on his capital. No, he would consider himself wealthy when he was living on the interest on the interest on his capital. Sounds good to me.
Now, this friend knows how much his interest on the interest is making him, pretty much by the hour. Thus, if we all go out for a meal in the evening, he knows (a) how much the meal has cost and (b) how much he has made while eating the meal. He says that as long as (b) is more than (a), he is happy.
This is setting the definition of wealth pretty high, you might think. Maybe you wouldn’t want to set it this high. And that’s fine, of course. Then again, maybe you’d want to put some kind of figure on it. In the old days, everyone wanted to be a millionaire. That was an easy one to judge if you’d gotten there or not. Today, there are a lot of people who have houses worth more than that, and they wouldn’t consider themselves wealthy at all and yet haven
By defining what you mean by wealth, you now have a destination. Setting your objectives is establishing a timetable to reach that destination. It’s quite simple. If you know you are going to drive to a certain place, it makes sense to know
- What time you are leaving home
- What time you expect to arrive
- What route you are going to take
- What you will be doing when you get there
Getting rich is the same. You will want to know in advance what rich means to you, how you intend to get there, how long you expect it to take, and what you are going to be able to do or want to do with your money when you get it.
So, having defined what wealth means to you, can you now see the importance of setting your objective? Think about how you intend to get rich and how long it is going to take you, and then set your objective. It might be simple: “I am going to be a millionaire by my fortieth birthday, and I shall make my money by running my own property development company.”
We all have to handle money. We all have bank accounts and credit cards and loans and overdrafts and mortgages. We all deal with the paraphernalia of money every day of our lives. We all need/want more. So what’s the problem?
It’s all about what goes on in our heads. Like you, I handle money, spend money, and save money. And I want to do so more efficiently, more happily.
So before I could write this for you, I had to undergo a rigorous investigation of my own motives, myths, and inherent stuff. And I came to accept that money is neither good nor bad, neither friend nor foe. It is not the evil we have come to believe. Without it, life disintegrates. Money is the oil that smooths life for all of us.
Repeat after me: Money is fine. Money is great. Money is necessary. Money is okay. Money is my friend, not my enemy. Repeat this under your breath, of course, or your family and friends will think you’ve gone nuts. Learn not to fight money or be embarrassed about having it when you do.
Finally, having money, working toward getting wealthy, doesn’t mean you have to change your politics at all. You can be left-wing — radical even — if you want. One of the richest men in Britain is a Labor minister (Lord Sainsbury). Having money won’t detract from that at all. Having money won’t lessen your spiritual virtues or your karmic harmonics or affect your future incarnations. I promise. What you do with it might, but money is inherently your friend, not foe.
There is no greater truth than this — money makes money. It likes clustering together. It breeds quietly and quickly like rabbits. It prefers to hang out in big groups. Money makes money. The rich get richer; the poor get poorer. That’s life. Yes, it is sad. But it does seem to be a fact. Now, we can work hard ourselves and do something about it, or we can sit around moaning and become part of the problem. The choice, as always, is entirely ours.
If you do want to do something about it, it makes sense to earn a tidy sum and use your money wisely to help the less fortunate. Or, do whatever with it you choose.
When you have some money, you’ll be astonished at how quickly it can grow. I recommend you understand and learn the concept of compound interest as quickly as possible.
If you spend all you get, this Rule will never work for you; it’ll never get your money working for you. You have to set aside money for breeding purposes. If you ran a rabbit farm and killed and ate all your rabbits, you wouldn’t have any left to keep going. Forget the rabbit farm — you’re going to start a money farm. Your money will breed. You can then reinvest some and spend some — but you can’t spend it all, or you’ll have no more rabbits. Look, this stuff isn’t rocket science, but it is amazing how many people simply don’t get it. But you do now. You have been given the best tips I can give you:
- Put some money aside for breeding purposes.
- Cream a little off for spending.
- Reinvest the bulk to build up a good and healthy stock.
- Keep it to yourself.
I like Google’s mission statement — Don’t be evil. It’s probably an anagram of something, but I still like it. If you have to lie, cheat, steal, defraud, lose sleep, hide, dodge the law in any way, break the rules, or generally behave badly to make your money, then don’t do it. It isn’t worth it.
If earning money or being wealthy stops being fun — and by being bad, it really will stop being fun — then there’s no point doing it. If you don’t enjoy the challenge of earning money in a decent way, it’s best to go and do something different.
I knew a major criminal once. He told me it was no fun being “crooked” because, in fact, he had to be a lot more law-abiding than the rest of us. He couldn’t risk getting pulled over by the police for speeding or any minor motoring offence; no late-night parties in case the police got called out; no flashy car to draw attention to himself; and no lavish lifestyle in case it put him in the spotlight.
But there is more to living a clean life than being able to speed or have parties. Living a life where you make your money from being good lets you sleep nights. You get to look your kids in the eye — and yourself in the mirror — with the added bonus of a feel-good factor. No amount of money can buy that.
If you have to resort to being wicked, it means you’ve failed; you’ve lost the plot. It means you haven’t been able to do it properly. It means you’re scraping the barrel. It means you haven’t been able to think of a proper idea. It means you’ve been lazy, desperate, noncreative, and boring.
There are lots of things that will make us miserable — losing a partner, being made redundant, getting sick. And loads more. There are quite a few related to money and gaining or spending.
- Too little money can make you miserable.
- Too much money can make you miserable.
- Too much stuff can make you miserable.
- Not having enough can make you miserable.
I think what we have to grasp pretty well from Day 1 is that money and happiness are not necessarily the same thing. Money doesn’t buy happiness. This is a common mistake people make. It isn’t going to be one you make. You can be poor and happy. You can be rich and happy. You can also be either poor or rich
If you are looking to wealth to make you happy, you’ll be disappointed. If you are looking to money to make you more powerful/younger/sexier/more vital/more interesting/better looking/whatever, you’re going to be disappointed. Sorry, but money doesn’t do any of that. In your head, it might. In other people’s heads, it might. But it doesn’t in reality. You can be all those things with money; it is true. It isn’t money that does it. The switch is thrown in your head first. Money is a placebo, not a cure.
I once asked my delightful father-in-law to explain that thing about wine to me. You know, can a bottle that costs $200 in a top restaurant really be twenty times as good as a bottle that you can get for $10 at the local shop?
His answer was interesting. He said that you aren’t paying for the wine alone. What you are paying for is the ambience, the service, the location (we’re talking Le Cirque or at least Four Seasons here), the wine waiter’s expertise, the good company, the fine tablecloths, the privacy and discretion, the style and class, the tradition, the food and the trust, the humidity and storage, the tone and the surroundings, the fellow dining guests, and the great conversation.
The wine is almost an irrelevance, and that’s the point. We think we know the price of something. But the value can spread out far beyond all of that.
Remember, too, that something is worth only what others are willing to pay for it. A catalog may say the value of a painting is $1,000, but that’s only true if somebody is willing to pay that amount for it. An important lesson to learn. The price of something can be far less than its actual value, either to you or to somebody else. Or a lot more.
If I wanted to tuck you under my wing and make you wealthy, the first thing I would need to know is, “Do you have what it takes to be wealthy? Are you determined enough? Will you work hard enough? Will you stick to it? Do you have backbone? Stamina? Guts? Relentless focus?” You see, if you don’t, the chances are you won’t succeed. I’m not trying to put you off. I am trying to make you see that making money is a skill that can be taught — if people are ready and willing to learn and apply themselves diligently.
If you decided you wanted to win Wimbledon, you would have needed to start playing tennis when you were about 5 and have been winning junior championships by the time you were 14. It’s the same with money. You can’t expect an overweight, middle-aged person to suddenly be in the tennis finals.
When I was a young struggling student, I once sold a valuable book so I could eat. I made a direct choice between owning something that was going to increase in value, and thus potentially make me wealthy, and having a meal. You see what I mean? I, in essence, chose — at that time anyway — to be poor rather than wealthy. I saw the same book recently in a bookshop and, believe me, I made a bad call that day.
What I have noticed is that the wealthy — when they are starting out anyway — have enormous drive and are prepared to make enormous sacrifices. They manage themselves and forego instant rewards for bigger payback in the longer term. Self-control and delayed gratification are useful arts to learn.