I’ve decided to extend Wealth Week into Wealth Month — how convenient that we’ve just begun a fresh new month! Coincidentally, November is my birth month, and I definitely feel my financial story looking up! (Overwhelmingly, November is also NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — so I’ve got tons to write these days.)
I’ve taken a few days off from writing because I’ve begun customer service training at Argentina Leyva Portrait Photography (Art of Seduction). This should take place on weekends during the day (Fridays and Saturdays), with the exception of this week as Argentina is shooting a wedding, and Anthony and I are going to Los Angeles for the stock trading seminar by the folks who put on the Millionaire Mind Intensive. Pardon my sudden radio silence, which was mostly due to the sudden influx of work (Art of Seduction and otherwise) . . . holiday season is indeed upon us! Part two of the spirituality/money conflict will be released shortly.
In other news, as tax laws have recently changed, I’ll be forming an LLC; it’ll be an umbrella company that encompasses both my Premier jewelry business, my freelance writing, as well as this customer service position at the studio. As of now, the LLC’s services will include marketing (writing, photography, social media) and customer service. I still have to meet with the CPAs I’m considering for taxes, so stay tuned for more details.
Speaking of taxes, Tony Robbins advises that in order to become financially successful, we must become intimately familiar with the tax system. Granted, it is very difficult to keep up with as a non-accountant, but you could potentially be cheating yourself every year by overpaying in taxes simply because you didn’t understand the rules.
I’m on my way to Los Angeles tomorrow morning, so I’ve got to run for now — wanted to check in so you knew I didn’t disappear. The day before a flight is always unchained chaos, so be very impressed I was able to post this. 😉
Yesterday we talked about the difference between “shoulds” and “musts.” Unfortunately, a lot of us nowadays “should all over ourselves.” How many times do you hear things like this in everyday situations?
I really should start working out more, but I just don’t have time.
I really shouldn’t eat that, but I just can’t turn down a good burger.
I should be saving, but those shoes are SO cute.
I should really get to the meeting on time, but I have so much to do before I leave.
When we “should” over ourselves, it’s often a precursor to our excuse(s) as to why we aren’t doing whatever it is we should be doing.
In contrast, I find that we very rarely see people saying, “I shouldn’t watch one more episode before bed” and turning off the tube as soon as they say it. It’s uncommon to witness a person earnestly saying “I should” or “I should not” and then following through with a congruent action. If you’re one of these people, congratulations, you know what verbal integrity is! (I’m being serious, despite how sarcastic that may have come off. I really respect people who do what they say and say what they do.)
All this said, rather than thinking we “should” save money or invest or use T. Harv Eker’s jar system for money management, changing that should to a must is, well, a must.
But this is where things get hairy. We as a people tend to have some pretty mixed feelings about whether money is a good or a bad thing. When we have conflicting feelings about anything, the results tend to be pretty conflicting, too.
So first . . . I want to dispel the myth that wanting plenty of money is unspiritual. A lot of people associate spirituality with the swearing off of all material goods. To me, this makes zero sense, and I’m going to be a literary nerd here and allude to Shakespeare.
In his play King Lear, one of the quotes that always stood out to me as truth is this one:
O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s . . .
What this means is “humans would be no different from animals if they did not need more than the fundamental necessities of life to be happy” (as explained by SparkNotes — yes yes, I know. I may be out of high school, but I still think it’s a legitimate source of literary analysis).
But isn’t it true? We humans appreciate so many things beyond just feeding ourselves and seeking shelter. We celebrate art, whether it be in film, on canvas, or (thankfully) in the written word. No critter I know has ever reaped as much joy out of a good novel than I have, and I’ve been caught admitting that if I ever had to choose between a bed and a bookshelf, I might have to think about it. (No joke.)
Beyond life’s little pleasures, who draws the line between what’s “enough” and what’s “too much”? Why is the pauper who only has a bed and one blanket more noble than the person with a canopy and four decorative pillows? And isn’t there always worse? For every person who only has X, Y, and Z, there are people who only have X and Y, and perhaps someone with only Z. Who gets to say who’s more spiritual than another simply based on material possessions?
Not to mention, when your financial situation provides you enough to not have to worry, it creates this wonderful situation — one in which you can easily take care of your loved ones, give to the causes you believe in, and create that which you’re most passionate about. (I have more to say about this, but that is reserved for tomorrow.)
I think the problem lies in the bad examples of the wealthy that are out there. People mistakenly believe that the more money you have, the worse a person you must be — but that’s simply not true!
Money only gives you the ability to be more of whatever you already are (this is an MMI principle). There are douchebags and shining stars in every income bracket, and the greedy people who made it to the top have only created the option to be greedy on a larger scale.
That said, do I agree with most of the things the leaders who earn top dollar in corrupt industries do? No! But the reason we need to raise money to match their financial power in order to right their wrongs is because the less money we have, the less options we also have.
Let me repeat that. Money gives you options.
I’m not one to claim that wearing designer clothes or driving sports cars is the best way to spend your millions — not at all. But if you’re honoring yourself and your finances by splitting up your assets into the six categories in the jar system (financial freedom, long-term savings, education, necessities, play, and give), you’ll see that there’s nothing immoral about splurging on things you simply enjoy.
For example, for me, before I got my serious DSLR camera, I always felt like my photos fell short. I had the good eye for decent photographs, but the effect I always wanted was something my simple point-and-shoots couldn’t provide. I even invested in a small camera that was very good, and had far more options in terms of manual settings that exceeded most point-and-shoots, but ultimately, my demand for photos with an aperture setting won out.
So a year ago, I got my first DSLR, and I’ve never been happier taking pictures. Since I feel writing (blogging, for me) comes hand-in-hand with photography, it was an investment in my freelance work as well as an outlet for creative expression. Now that I’m the blogger for Argentina Leyva Portrait Studio, further expanding my photography repertoire may certainly be part of my job description one day.
In short, what may be considered a “luxury” item to one person (e.g., someone who knows nothing about photography) may be a very good investment to another. My boss Argentina certainly looks at her pieces of professional equipment in a different way than I do my own.
I also own a Mac. There is pretty much no one out there who can convince me to not have a Mac, no matter how many people grumble about a supposedly high price tag. To me, my Mac offers me value no other computer does.
Herein lies the rub! Money is simply an expression of value — it is what we trade for services and products that we alone can’t (or won’t) produce ourselves.
Consider the Picasso parable (I don’t remember from where in my studies of wealth I came across this, but I know I’m not imagining it, as I found this article online.
It seems a woman came up to Picasso and asked him to sketch something on a piece of paper.
He sketched it, and gave it back to her saying: “That will cost you $10,000.″
She was astounded. “You took just five minutes to do the sketch,” she said. “Isn’t $10,000 a lot for five minutes work?”
“The sketch may have taken me five minutes, but the learning took me 30 years,” Picasso replied.
The thing is, while every business does mark up its services and/or products, these things have cost the business owner (or whoever created them) countless hours of education, practice, and practical experience to get them where they are. Money is simply an expression of that energy, the efforts put in to create something salable, rather than just an arbitrary figure someone thought up to “rip you off.”
I recently had an experience very similar to this. While I was with my business team down at our Premier Designs headquarters, we visited manufacturing. Seeing all the manpower involved in creating molds, electroplating, and manually setting gemstones into the jewelry gave me such a newfound respect for the end product. To the consumer, this may just be a simple bangle or ring, but it was the result of how many workers putting in how many hours to create? Not to mention the electricity or whatever else it takes to run a huge brick-and-mortar establishment or the cost of materials and semiprecious metals! (Let’s not forget, either, the creativity of the design team or what their educations cost them in time and money.)
I’ve learned to never question too hard why something costs what it does. (Exceptions to this include things like selling Dasani water bottles at a tourist attraction for $10.) Sometimes, I’ll ask, “Why does this item carry the price tag it does?” and more often than not, I find out that oh, there’s silver in the threads in the material of this shirt, or hey, it took five years to produce this by hand . . . or whatever the case may be. Jumping to conclusions and just saying, “That’s too expensive” is just a lazy way of saying, “That’s out of my budget for this widget, and I’m choosing to direct my funds elsewhere.”
That said, I do understand that sometimes you don’t feel the need to invest in a gym top with silver embedded in it — and that’s fine. If your needs require a run-of-the-mill, off-the-rack cotton T-shirt, then it is your prerogative to write off the value in that silver-threaded top!
Value is relative to the consumer. For me, I’d rather spend the money on a Mac and everything being a Mac owner entails. I recognize and appreciate the service I get at Apple, and I utilize the crap out of Apple-exclusive programs. Macs hold a lot of value for me. And the beauty of a capitalistic market is that there’s usually something for everybody, and if there isn’t, well, no one’s stopping you from creating it yourself and profiting from it!
Returning to the $10 Dasani water, don’t you think your perspective might change if you were stranded on a desert, desperate for hydration? Heck, you might even throw thousands at that bottle of H2O! Value is relative. If you don’t see value in something, no one’s forcing you to buy it.
Just don’t stick your nose up at someone who’s asking you for more money than you think it’s worth. They’re in business for a reason, and if making money is that reason, you can’t fault ’em for that.
This post has gone on far longer than I anticipated . . . so I’ll have to conclude it tomorrow in part two. I hope some of this gave you food for thought! I leave you tonight with this video of one of my favorite business mentors, Marie Forleo:
As promised, this week is Wealth Week. Like I said in my previous post, I’m not speaking about money as somebody who’s already made her millions and is rolling in it. However, I’d for certain say I’m well on my way to creating my financial freedom.
I’d like to point out an interesting fact: Napoleon Hill, author of the bestselling book, Think & Grow Rich, was not himself a wealthy man when he set out to write the book. Rather, he was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to discover the most important wealth practices by interviewing the biggest names of the time. To this day, Think & Grow Rich is regarded as one of the most influential books on financial success that there is out there, despite the fact that it was written in the 20s.
Anyway, my point is, before you can embark on a long-distance journey with a goal in mind (I’m hesitant to say “destination,” as the journey often is far more important), you have to clearly know what you want. In order to achieve levels of greatness, modeling is in order. What do I mean by modeling?
Most of us require a teacher to show us the correct techniques and encourage us to practice with said techniques — it’s the same with playing piano, learning to write or run. Before you write, you must first read, and before you run, you must walk. The teacher helps lower the learning curve. We model ourselves after the people who have accomplished what it is we want.
Breaking down the steps to mastery is what bridges the gap between where we are now and where we want to be.
So when it comes to money and our money habits, really the only difference between those who have it and those who don’t is the cumulative effect of daily money practices. Money is one of those seemingly taboo subjects that is a natural part of life, which people for whatever reason generally dislike bringing up. (At least, in a healthy way. Bitching about how much stuff costs — i.e., having a scarcity mindset — isn’t healthy money talk.)
But the problem is, though it’s something we avoid in daily conversation, it is something we have to address in daily life.
Unless you are a bazillionaire, don’t you think there’s something that the rich know about money that perhaps you don’t? If it really were just a matter of smarts, why were so many outrageously successful entrepreneurs (e.g., Bill Gates, Steve Jobs) university dropouts?
Why would someone who’s financially in the red take money advice from anyone who hadn’t at least done the work to figure out what will get them to financial freedom? Weirder yet, why would someone who has no solution to their own financial problems feel entitled to offering advice??
Last year, I attended a seminar that changed my life. I dragged Anthony to it, and neither of us regretted it. Not only did it lay bare to us our hidden beliefs about money, but it helped me transform them by the end of the weekend. And beliefs, if you haven’t spent the time to think about them, are exactly what fuels everything we do.
Beliefs lead to our thoughts, which then lead to our actions — which lead to our results.
Sometimes when I bring up the topic of improving finances, I get this scary response:
“I think I already have a good handle on my money.”
And it’s invariably people whom I personally know have issues with their finances who say this! These are always the individuals who at one time or another have admitted to me that they either couldn’t afford something they wanted/needed, had trouble with overspending, or didn’t have any savings.
The number one thing you must be able to do if you want to change something in your life is to recognize there is a problem. Don’t let your ego fool you into believing everything is perfectly fine as-is, that living paycheck-to-paycheck and answering to someone else for the rest of your life doing something you may not even enjoy is good enough. How many people in your exact situation (or better?) have ended up totally screwed financially because they didn’t get educated on how to improve their situation?
Softening your problems (like saying, “Fast food isn’t so bad for you” when you’re supposedly on a mission to be healthier and lose weight, for example) gives you permission to stay where you are (or get worse). It’s pretty much a silent killer to any dream you may have, and unfortunately, you have to get real.
Don’t be afraid to say, even just to yourself, that you’d love to be able to splurge on that designer purse or on hiring a nanny to take care of the kids as you take a mini vacation over the weekend to recharge — and not have to give anything else up in order to do it.
As a recovering spender-avoider, I know that back when I was the type to just drop over $800 on a purse with the blink of an eye, I was sacrificing future financial security by just buying “things” rather than investing in something that would benefit me in the long run.
And as selfish as it may sound to pay a nanny to watch your children when you go on a weekend getaway, a lot of us forget that taking care of ourselves first allows us to become better parents, better friends, siblings, whatever. It’s the whole airplane practice of putting on your oxygen mask first — if you can’t even breathe, how can you effectively take care of someone else?
The point is, there is nothing wrong with feeding our souls with the occasional splurge or vacation, as long as we’ve already set up systems to ensure we can indeed afford to without it negatively impacting our long-term well being.
The so-easy-you-can-even-teach-your-kids-to-do-it money management system that the Millionaire Mind Intensive taught us is called the jar system. In putting this into practice, I’ve had some amazing aha moments, such as:
By prioritizing each important area of your life, you automatically take care of your future as well as your current needs/wants by divvying everything as soon as money comes in.
Not touching certain money that is yours is just as important as spending it. This sounds obvious to you savers out there, but the whole concept of having an account full of money that I’m only allowed to add to (rather than take away from) was as foreign to me as Greek.
There’s only abundance. If you ever hear me say “I only have $50 right now,” it’s a lie. What I really mean is I’m only budgeted currently to spend $50 on whatever it is in question. Because the money management system teaches you to divvy all your income into separate categories, you never find yourself at your last penny. Perhaps I only have $50 to spend on play, but my financial freedom account holds much, much more. I’m just not allowed to touch it!
So in this Wealth Week series, I will discuss the teachings to T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (incidentally what the MMI is based on) — which I devoured recently. In my lengthy study of wealth creation, I also bring you advice from the likes of Tony Robbins, my friend and “light worker” Valerie Love, success author Brian Tracy, and probably other resources I’ve tapped into in this exploration.
If you’re a local Chicagoan, I highly recommend getting yourself registered for your own attendance at the upcoming Millionaire Mind Intensive Special Edition next month in Schaumburg. It’s three days that will drastically change your life (if you let it — more on that later).
I’ve signed up to volunteer at the event, so I hope to see you there! Next week, Anthony and I will board planes to Los Angeles to attend their stock trading intensive so we can begin investing our FFAs (financial freedom accounts) and diversifying our income. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a wealth empire. Tomorrow, I’ll address the three “wealth wounds” as described by Tony Robbins (whose approach to money mastery aligns very well with everything the MMI teaches, by the way). The guy came from practically nothing (more on his story tomorrow) and now owns an island, so he may have something to teach the rest of us!
Say you’re not necessarily looking to make millions or be financially free. Attending the seminar and/or reading Eker’s book will still teach you the tools you need to safeguard your future from being one of lack or of counting pennies. I’ll discuss the spirituality/money conflict this week, too, but for now, it’s something to think about.