“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.”
― Napoleon Hill, ‘Think and Grow Rich’.
Many people don’t know Napoleon Hill and many that have seen his book Think and Grow Rich may have decided from the title that it must be nonsense. But this book has been read for more than 80 years now and is still relevant because it talks about human motivation and achievement. Some things about human nature never change. We may change the way we look at each other and the world; values can change over time, but basic human nature doesn’t change.
Can you think of any other book not a religious text like the Talmud, Bible, or Koran that is still selling today and is still relevant? I’m sure there are a few, but they are a very exclusive set.
Napoleon Hill decided to find out what successful people had in common. He interviewed every successful person he could and then wrote about what he discovered in this amazing book that will always be relevant as long as human nature remains constant.
The people he interviewed had one thing in common. They were in control of their money. They knew where it came from, and where it was going.
What I want to do today is to write about how you can control your money rather than just doing what so many of us do: Spend without thinking. ‘A mocha latte would be great right now’, ‘It’s only a few dollars’, ‘I deserve this!’. These are the things we tell ourselves when we want something, and we want to justify the urge to shell out our cash for it.
Unfortunately, without knowing it, this is a recipe for keeping us just on the edge of financial disaster. I’m no different unfortunately, I have lost two careers, the first when I was 48 and earning six figures. The second time at age 61 and earning a great income as an owner-operator over the road truck driver.
I had close to $250,000 saved for retirement the first time I lost my career and saw it all dissipate as I struggled to redefine myself. I still live close to the edge, but now I know the things I can do to pull myself out of that insecurity and become financially independent.
I’ll tell you a secret, it’s not about finding a ‘get rich’ program, winning the lottery, or even getting a college degree. It starts very simply with a few steps that anyone, yes anyone can follow and achieve. It isn’t easy, though it is simple. It’s not quick, yet it can be done.
When I lost my job (the first time), I sent out my resume, hired a job search firm for a few thousand dollars, did searches on the internet and spent a lot of time chasing my next paycheck. I had a few interviews, was even flown to another city by the company for two of them. But I always seemed to come in 2nd (or at least that’s what I was told).
So I decided I would try something different. I decided I would leave the world of jobs, paychecks, and employee benefits to become something else. I read Napoleon Hill, Robert Kiyosaki, Stephen Covey and many others. It seemed to me that achieving financial independence (by that I mean having my bills paid whether I got out of bed in the morning or not) was reachable and doable.
Each of these ‘gurus’ started with pretty much the same concept: control your finances. Of course, that’s an easy statement to make but it’s not such an easy thing to do.
See, I’m the kind of person that doesn’t pay a lot of attention to my financial situation, especially when I was making a comfortable living. I don’t have a balance sheet like Kiyosaki tells us we all should have. I make sure I’ve got money to cover my bills and whatever is left I basically spend it. It seems that for much of us, this is the way we live. I’m not going to give you a bunch of statistics. If you want to know more about that, you got Google. What I want to give you today is just this: you can control your money, or your money can control you. It really is that simple. If you choose to be like I was and not pay attention to where your money is coming from and, more importantly, where it is going you will struggle. I don’t care if you earn $10,000 or $1,000,000 a year. If you don’t pay attention to your money, it will disappear and you will wonder what the heck happened.
By that I mean you can either know where your money is and where it goes, or you can continue to struggle with having money to pay for the things you must have let alone the things you want to have.
Elton John is one of the richest people in the world from his songs and performances. But he sank deep into debt because he didn’t pay attention to his money. In dramatic style, he would go on spending binges and end up losing millions and millions of dollars because of them. He luckily figured it out, and put himself on a budget. A budget I’m sure we would all love to have, but the point is it doesn’t matter how much you earn, what matters is how you control what you do with it.
I had a friend that we all kind of laughed at in our circle. She would bring her own slice of cheese when she went to a fast-food place. I kid you not! She would save the 15 cents for a cheeseburger by buying a regular burger, and then putting her own slice of cheese on it. She would take salt, pepper, ketchup, whatever condiments were handy when going to a restaurant. She never bought these things in a grocery store. She’d use the packets she’d taken from restaurants.
When doing her grocery shopping, she would sit down with the ads for the week from each grocery store, find out what was on sale and plan her meals accordingly. Then she would map out her route on grocery day and sometimes go to 5 different stores to purchase what she needed. I pointed out to her one time she probably spent more on gasoline then she was saving in grocery expenses, but apparently, she had that figured out as well!
Like I said, in our circle of friends she was the butt of a few jokes. We all loved her, but this trait which we considered an idiosyncrasy was just too funny not to laugh about!
The thing is though, she always had the things she needed. This friend had a part time business. She didn’t make a lot of money, certainly a lot less than I did. Yet she owned her own home (it wasn’t a mansion, but it was nice and in a good neighborhood). She was a single mom with one kid surviving on a part time income with no benefits and yet she was able to purchase a home. Her car was never fancy, but it was always a late model vehicle in good condition. She never drove a clunker on the verge of breaking down.
And here’s the kicker… She managed to save over $150,000. On a part time income. With no health care or other benefits. While raising a kid by herself on that part time income.
So, with very little income this friend of mine:
Let me explain. We all have things we spend money on because it’s only a few dollars. A subscription to something that runs $5 a month. A cup of coffee on your way to work $4 a day. Hitting the vending machine every day for $2. It’s only a little money, right? A couple bucks here, $5 there. It’s not going to break me.
How many times have you subscribed to something that you used maybe once or twice and then kept? One day you just happen to go over your credit card statement and find this monthly charge for something you’ve forgotten about. I know I have more times than I’d like to admit!
Believe me, I know.
I would spend $5 a day on Starbucks when I was making great money. What good is money if you don’t spend it on the things you want right? A steak dinner once a week or so because “I deserve it”. Paying $15 to see a movie I could wait and watch on Prime or Netflix in a few weeks. Of course, there’s another $15 to $20 for the popcorn and drink. When I was keeping my bills paid, my credit cards paid off every month, and putting a little savings into my bank I just didn’t think about spending $20 here, $40 there. It was nothing right?
To add to this habit, we are constantly hit with ads enticing us to buy, buy, buy. How many times have you seen an ad telling you that you were going to save tons of money by spending it on a particular product? Think about that. Sure, if you were going to buy it anyway, say paper towels or salt and pepper. But how often is the product being advertised something we don't really need? Spending money is not saving money no matter how sizzling the ad is. But I digress...
Here’s the control/accumulation factor: $5 a day = $150 a month. What could you do with $150 if you just made a pot of coffee at home and skipped the line at Starbucks? How about $1,800 a year? That’s just for coffee. I was spending the price of a book editing every year on fancy coffee. How many subscriptions did I find? I had $100 a month in subscribed services that I hardly used! Most of them I had to look up just to see what they were for! $1,200 a year. Now I'm up to $3,000 a year and I've just barely begun looking.
Does that make sense? I could go on with my subscriptions and impulse buys but you get the point. Do you think you could find enough money going out of your hard earned paycheck every month that you could hang on to, put in savings, and use it for your dream? Is it worth taking a look? Pull your bank statement, credit card statements out and take a hard look. Pull up the calculator on your phone and start adding up the expenditures you could do without, the ones you wouldn't really miss. See how much they add up to and how long it would take until they added up to the price of putting your dream into motion.
I’m writing this for other writers. People who want to be serious about selling their stories or expertise in the form of books. I’m writing this to help you reach that goal. Anyone who wants to achieve a dream of theirs can use it however.
If you are serious about becoming a writer, and earning money from your craft, you will need to have a budget. If you are serious and committed, you can do this. It’s not a climb up Mount Everest or doing brain surgery. It can be discouraging; it can also be satisfying. Breaking old habits and developing new ones takes a serious act of will but it can be done if you want it bad enough.
“Whether You Think You Can…Or Whether You Think You Can’t…You’re Right!” – Henry Ford
Very simply put, it’s all starts with what you believe can happen. You can change. I have, and while it’s not been easy and I can't tell you I never fall back into old habits, it has definitely been worth the effort.
I know there is a lot written about the power of belief and it seems kind of out there, other worldly, not "Real World". But I will tell you that every successful person in life started out at the beginning the same way; they believed it was going to happen. It took a lot of stubbornness and simple down to earth hard work a lot of times, but the very root of it all is what you choose to believe.
If you have doubts about that, you need to work on them. Belief has to come first before the rest can happen. We’ve been taught that this is some sort of voodoo nonsense. We’ve been taught that you can’t wish something to come true and have it really appear. We aren’t in a fairy tale, this is real life!
The fact is though, that if you believe, then you have a chance to make it happen, no matter what it is. If you think that’s stupid or ‘pie in the sky’ nonsense then there is zero chance you will make anything happen.
It’s really up to you!
But like I stated above, it starts with the belief that you can and will do it. You can achieve your dream goal. You have to do two things to start:
I won’t put you on an emailing list or try to sell you something. I’m interested in being successful and helping other people do the same. I want to know what you think.
But if you are looking to market your book, (I mean I do need to earn a living) you can write me here: MJ Albert Books
I am doing this to build a list of people of like minds. People who want to go for their dreams and are open to ways of doing that.
I have one more post to do about budgeting. A sort of nuts and bolts thing that I was taught a long time ago. It involves developing new habits and often when we do that we make progress, we slip and either get discouraged or keep going.
I hope you keep going with me!
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