The Discipline Hurdle

April 24, 2015 by  
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If you truly want to be wealthy then it’s virtually a must for us average humans to do it through wise investing. But you might say, “Hey, what about the person who doesn’t have any money to invest, even in the smallest property?”  So the question becomes, how can you begin without a dime to your name?  Well, you build a nest egg. Of course, that begs the question, how do you get that beginning nest egg to start your investment program?

Most of us know that the traditional way to build a nest egg is through savings.  For many people that’s a big fat “ouch!” When you take a close look at the average American family, you see that the rate of savings has been in a steady downtrend the last few years.  When someone is asked why they don’t have any savings they usually respond with something like “I can’t afford to put any money aside. I barely break even. By the end of the month, nothing is left over.”

The people that say this are usually the same ones that, even after they get a raise, nothing changes. They are forever stuck at breaking even at the end of the month or, worse, going into debt.

So what’s the real problem here?  In a word it’s usually discipline, or more accurately, the lack of discipline.  When you are saying to yourself, “I just had to buy that new coat (or dress, suit, latest and greatest cell phone, computer, new car, etc.)”, or “We’ve been scrimping so long we deserve to treat ourselves to a very nice night out on the town or a vacation,” you are also saying that you’ll never be wealthy and are likely to be a ‘wage slave’ your entire life.

In order to be able to start an investment program, you must be tough on yourself and fully realize there is a huge difference in what you ‘need’ verses what you ‘want’. Once you have arrived at the point of understanding that, then you may well be on your way to great riches and maybe even wealth beyond your wildest dreams. That is what happened to me.  Unfortunately I can’t remember who or what book taught me the big difference between need and want, but once I learned that lesson and applied the needed discipline, I was able to save thousands of dollars in one year and that launched my investment program.

Of course, once you’ve built up that “nest egg” you must be wise and put it to work with great care.  When I began my investments, I was in a big hurry so I used a lot of OPM (Other People’s Money) as well as sweat equity which propelled my return on investment by leaps and bounds. I’ll talk more about just what worked for me in next week’s blog but in the meantime, consider the fact that your biggest hurdle to the wealth and financial security you are craving is one less vacation a year, one less shopping spree a month, one less night eating out each week and one less fancy coffee each day. When you think about it, that really isn’t too much to ask of yourself. Not for the chance to make a fortune.

Big Money in Cosmetic Fixes

August 8, 2014 by  
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As discussed last week, you can turn a 10% gain into a 100% gain using your sweat equity on the right real estate asset. Grabbing up run=down properties worked miracles for me, eventually adding millions of dollars to my net worth. You can do the same thing. But, you ask, exactly how do I direct my efforts? What do I fix up to make the property worth more? The simple short answer is paint, carpet, cleaning and basic accessories such as attractive plants and pictures on the walls and a nice green lawn and shrubbery in the yard. This is because you would be buying property that doesn’t needs more than a face lift but which you can buy cheap simply because it looks bad.

Now if you are like me and not particularly good as a handyman then you’ll probably want to use what I call OPE–other people’s efforts. I hired high school kids for just a few bucks an hour. I found from experience that paying people hourly, if you can keep an eye on them, is far less expensive than getting bids on the work needed. I should also say that most fortunes are made through the use of OPM (other people’s money) as we mentioned in earlier posts. So OPM combined with OPE is your formula for great wealth with this approach.

I should also add that I am not very good with any kind of design or decoration decisions, inside or outside. So what did I do about that? Basically two things–I picked other people’s brains as well as copying success, both without cheating. Picking people’s brains is pretty easy since people like to talk about themselves and what they do for a living. I would simply take designers, architects and other professionals to lunch and pick their brains for the cost of a meal.

Copying success is not that hard either, it’s mainly a matter of paying attention to what works then doing the same thing. I will never forget the beat up little house that I bought that was in desperate need of a major design update on the front of this very sad structure. I was trying hard to figure out exactly what to do with the face of this house when the obvious solution suddenly hit me. The basic house structure and layout was almost identical to the house next door–even though you really had to look hard to notice that with my house being such a disaster. The house next door was absolutely beautiful and a delight to look at. It looked like “the little cottage in the woods” that we read about and picture when we were kids.

So what I did was essentially take the lazy man’s option and I had my people do an exact copy of that nice house in every detail– the exact same color of paint, the exact same window coverings and shutters and all the cutesy stuff around the yard and on the lawn. Bottom line, the house looked fantastic and I sold it in short order. There is one postscript to the story–the neighbor was irrate! So much so that he repainted and redesigned the front of his house as he didn’t want to live next door to an identical twin! I didn’t really blame him but it was a bit of compliment to him too. Not sure he saw that.

One big thing to keep in mind as you are using your own sweat equity or using OPE to do this fix up work, keep yourself totally motivated and firmly place in your head that this “grunt work” can and will turn a potential 10% gain into 100% gain. With those kinds of numbers and with enough time, it will turn thousands of dollars into millions!