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The Magic 10%

October 31, 2014 by  
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Last week I wrote about the basic and beginning key to great wealth for those of us who start out with nothing, like I did. That key is ‘savings’. A couple days after I posted last week’s blog I saw a great summary on ways to save money in the USA Weekend Publication. Its suggestions included things like buying a used car rather than a new car, always shop for better bargains, set spending goals and budgets, refinance your house at today’s lower interest rates and more. These are things I’ve always preached. It comes down to buying only what you need vs. what you want and mistake for things you need.

It might be easier to put away that savings if you take a look at the huge potential in that 10% you are putting aside. I know it seems simple to put aside 10% but for most people it’s not that easy. In my book The Next Step to Waking Up the Financial Genius Inside You I talk about how to save that 10%. Many years ago when I was making a starvation wage of $600 dollars a month, I was faithfully saving $60 dollars each and every month and then when I got a $40 dollar raise I decided to add the entire raise to the $60 dollars–so I was saving $100 dollars out of $640 or 15.6% of my monthly income. Yes it hurt sometimes because I had to go without things I wanted, but was it ever worth it in the long run.

You would do all of this if you truly wanted to be very wealthy rather than just being like everyone else who lives paycheck to paycheck. But now let me reveal to you a little fact that may entice you, shock you, and motivate you to do the ‘savings thing’.

Back when I wrote the third chapter entitled “Action Two, Saving the Magic 10 Percent” I had a friend who was paying a 10% tithing to his church and when I pointed out to him what he was really giving up he was shocked to the core. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not against charity but the thing is, if you want to be independently wealthy, you must pay yourself first. What I told him was that If you start at age 25 saving 10% of your wage, and assuming you only make $30,000 dollars a year and (get this … you stop saving at age 30) you will have over 7 million dollars when you hit age 70! And believe me, that big 70 comes much faster than you think!

Granted those numbers all depend on you investing your savings with an annual compounded return of 15% but wait before you jump to conclusions and think 15% is unrealistic and can’t be done, because it can. If you work harder and find the right deals you could even push that rate of return up to 20% which would be an astounding 47 million dollars by age 70. Amazing, isn’t it? Next week I will show you exactly how to do that. I’ve gone over this before but its well worth repeating.

Wants are not Needs

October 25, 2014 by  
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Ok, let’s talk about money.

A few days ago I was thumbing through a book I wrote back in 1983, The Courage to be Rich, when, in Chapter 4–The Fallacy of Working for a Living, I found a quote from a guy by the name of Joe Karbo (who, sadly, passed away from a heart attack at the young age of 55). The quote was: “Most people are so busy earning a living they never make any money.” What Joe was saying is that most people are ‘wage slaves’ and never figure out that the key to wealth is really not your earnings or wages. Yes, wages have a part to play but only if you do the right things with a portion of your wages. Your wage doesn’t have to be huge but the key, of course, is saving some of it and setting it aside then letting it build up enough for you to make the right investments.

Of course, the problem with most people is they don’t use enough discipline to control their spending. They think there are things that they just have to have now such as a new dress or car, a fancy night out on the town, an extravagant vacation, etc. I find it very interesting that people choose words like ‘need’ rather than the more accurate word ‘want’ when talking about the things they spend their money on. There is a huge difference between our needs and our wants. Most of the things we think we need are really just things we desire. We all need water, food, shelter, clothing and a certain amount of security to survive and have the chance to thrive. If you take time to think it through, you will be able to see the difference and if you really see the difference, you can then choose to set aside those wants that you previously thought were needs. That will get you the money you’ll need to save up in order to invest and get ahead.

What I used to do when I was depriving myself of a lot of extras that I really wanted right then and there was to concentrate on the huge benefits that I would be receiving later on. I would focus on two wonderful words: ‘passive income’. That concept of having income that would come in automatically each month, whether I got out of bed or was vacationing in Europe, would really motivate me to not spend on things that were wants and to keep saving more and more of my wages. And it paid off big time. Now I spend a lot of time traveling the world and doing super fun things without worrying about the money. It comes in every month no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

It’s so funny how often I hear, “Oh Mark, you are so very lucky to have such a great life style.” They probably don’t mean that literally, but I always respond with the same thing, saying, “Believe me, it’s not luck. It was good planning and discipline over a long period of time.”

Friends, pretty much anyone can do what I did. It does take time but it’s so very worth it. If you think you are too old and don’t have enough time to do it at least pass the message on to your kids and grandkids. They will thank you and greatly benefit for many generations to come!

Finding Our Higher Selves

October 17, 2014 by  
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On Monday I was feeling down. I had no energy, my bones were still aching from a loss in the finals of a big tennis tournament, and I had a big headache complete with a loud ringing in my ears (which has gone on for many years, but I usually mentally block it out.) The bottom line … I was absolutely miserable. Then came the phone call. It was my darling wife Kimberly. She was so upset and crying that at first I couldn’t understand what she was saying. When she calmed down she told me that she had just received a suicide note from a dear and sweet lady that she is very close to. This wonderful lady has had some tough times and huge ups and downs lately and now just wanted out of life. She just wanted to “fly away”.

In a great panic we set out in separate cars to try to find her. We both ended up at the lady’s house. We banged on the door, rang the doorbell and finally we were able to enter the house after finding a hidden key but were afraid of what we might find. The house was dark and the power was off. Quickly searching the house with the aid of a cell phone light we found nothing.

After making many calls to friends, her ex-boyfriend called to say he’d spotted her car. My wife rushed to the location and found her a bit confused, very upset, and shaken up but alive. She is ok now and we are working with her and with professional help to show her life is worth living and to ensure  she does not get to that point again.

But now as I look back at that day and how my own day had been going, how down and out I was feeling, and how suddenly within mere minutes that all changed, I see a huge life lesson. It’s a lesson I hope I will not soon forget. The lesson is simply this: when we are in the service of others and as we are trying to help others in need, we can quickly forget about our own problems and troubles and rise to a higher level, to our higher selves. This is the lesson I hope stays with me for life and a lesson I want to share with others and I hope you the reader do the same thing.

Turning a Liability into an Asset

October 10, 2014 by  
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Have you ever been in a room when someone walked in that totally dominated everyone’s attention?  Someone who stood out so much that you could only stop and direct all your attention to that person? That is exactly what you get when Mark Eaton walks into any room. Why would you take immediate notice of him? Well, for one, he’s hard to miss standing 7 foot 4 inches tall! But that’s not all. If you are fortunate enough to hear one of his lectures, he’s even more of a standout as a speaker with a great message.

If you followed basketball a few years ago you know Mark Eaton played for the Utah Jazz, ending up as an all American and breaking the all-time NBA record for the most blocked shots. You might assume he had an easy trip to the top, but that’s very far from the truth.

Recently I was privileged to hear him speak–his wonderful wife Teri talked me into it–and from the lecture he so eloquently delivered to the audience I learned some great lessons and concepts. His spoke primarily about corporate team building but the thing that hit me so very hard was his words about how a person can turn a liability in life into an asset.

You see, for all of his younger life his height was a huge liability–he was teased constantly and called names. Yes he was on his high school basketball team but he sat on the bench virtually the entire season as he watched the little speedster guys rip up and down the court. He actually really hated basketball.

So what did he do? He studied to be an auto mechanic. But thanks to a great mentor he met when he was in his 20’s he was directed, coached and shown how he could turn what he perceived and thought of as a huge liability into a gigantic asset. His mentor showed him what he needed to do to play great basketball and Mark worked hard and long before he got to where his mentor wanted him to be. He went on to set records in the NBA and helped the Utah Jazz move from the very bottom of the league to the top. Now he’s doing it again as an all-star lecturer, speaking from coast to coast.

After hearing his story, I couldn’t help but think of a very dear high school friend, Richard Harvey, who played with me on our basketball team in the faraway country of Turkey. About 12 years ago I got a phone call from Rich telling me his son Kyle who was just 14 years old had bone cancer. Wow, what a shocker.

Kyle had a very tough battle. He fought it with all he had and eventually defeated cancer. However, the cancer had left its mark, stunting Kyle’s growth. Today, at age 26, he’s just barely over 5 feet tall and he looks like a little kid. Big time liability, right? For most people it would be and it was for Kyle for a while as well. But Kyle eventually turned that perceived liability into a huge asset.

He made a move from the mid-west to Los Angeles and got a job as an intern at Paramount Studios. But that only lasted a short time. He floundered around the city, trying to find an affordable place to live and another job. He finally caught a break, auditioning at a comedy club with jokes about his short body and very young looks. They loved him and he’s gone on to do very well there. He even got big kudo’s and congratulations from big time comic and actor Sinbad. He bravely turned what had seemed to be a liability into a huge asset.

And that, my friends, is really the long and short of it all. I think we should all take a look at ourselves and those around us who we may be able to help and see if we can take what we think is a weakness or liability and come up with a way that we might be able to turn it into a big asset.

Live and Leave a Legacy

October 3, 2014 by  
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The great Arthur Ashe left a wonderful legacy, not so much as you might think from his champion tennis days but more for his amazing kindness, sharing and selfless giving and his gentle warm personality that moved people to accept that every human being is equal. Believe me, back in his early tennis days, black people were not thought of or treated anywhere near equal. In fact, in some areas it was against the law for a white person to play tennis with a black person.

When you read about Arthur Ashe or watch the documentary on his life, you keep seeing these same words over and over to describe him–thoughtful, kind hearted , great role model, warm, gentle, friendly, fair minded and so very concerned about other people. He made a huge difference in the world and is a great example and role model for the rest of us. But you know what? Anyone of us can do similar things if we set our mind to it.  That, believe it or not, brings me to the subject of money.  Arthur Ashe used tennis and the fame he received from that as a lever to do good in the world.  The same thing can be done with money!

Money is neither good nor bad.  I know many people think that money is “the root of all evil” and they claim that this is what the Bible says, but this is not what the bible actually says. It says “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.”  The real key, of course, is what you do with that money.  If you let money become your god or the end goal in and of itself rather than a means to the end you might well be in big trouble.  I’ve seen this happen many times. Someone will make tons of money and then spend and lavish it all on themselves with high end toys, jewelry, food, drink and drugs and then you see that love of money really does become the root of evil that arises in these people’s lives.

If you want to help humanity for many years to come, way past your own lifetime, then you need to devise a plan that does exactly that.  I’m not saying that you have to have huge amounts of money to leave a great legacy fro mankind but it sure helps. I don’t know about you but working hard to make a lot of money–especially past the point of making enough to just live on–is much easier, seems like less work and is more rewarding when I know that the extra cash and net worth can, and will, be directed to others in need. And not just for the here and now but long after I have checked out of this life. Call it extra motivation, extra energy or whatever you want to call it. It’s real and it can help keep you going.  That ‘legacy’ can also spill over into the future for many, many years after you are gone and may even get bigger as time rolls on.

Try to pretend that this is the only world there will ever be–as in there is no after or next life.  If that were the case–and it might be–and you still really want to live forever, then maybe the only way to do it is through what you do for other people.  First your kids and grandkids, then maybe your friends and associates but why not go way beyond that and try to help total strangers and anyone on the planet that you can reach, especially those that are in desperate need.  If you can motivate them to make their lives and their kids’ lives and their kids’ kids’ lives a little better, encouraging them to pass it on or ‘pay if forward’ forever into eternity, then I think you may see that you are living forever. Just one person has the potential to make the world a better place for numerous other people and that is one terrific legacy that you can leave as well as live.