Maybe you were born rich, I wasn’t. Maybe you were taught about money, not me. People say it’s rude to talk about money, I used to believe that but today I generally disagree. Maybe that very belief is why so many people are in debt?
Growing up my family didn’t talk about money and I certainly didn’t learn about it in high school. Being the first to attend college in my family I found myself filling out FAFSA forms for Niagara University on my own. As if student loans aren’t bad enough, at college I applied for credit cards so I could get the free Mallo Cups outside the bookstore.
I never had a credit card before attending college. Talk about capitalism. About a month ago I saw Warren Buffet give a speech to a group of graduating high school students. Right before he got into the meat of his speech he paused and said, “I’m going to give you some advice unrelated to today’s speech, never use credit.” He went on to say, “Don’t get me wrong, I own credit card companies, you simply want to be on my side of the deal, not the other.” Then he proceeded. Wow, how I wish I was in that audience at 18!
Lesson here is debt is not a tool to get chocolate and marshmallows; it is a method to make banks wealthy, not you! I paid interest on that card for years after the 5-minute sugar high wore off.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t long before I was behind the eight ball. Luckily I landed a teaching job upon graduation from college with a starting salary $33,850 in August of 2001. Toss in a few cars loans and a mortgage on the house and things only got worse. Was this the American dream?
A survey of 1,000 consumers by LendingTree found that most people have no strategy to manage their debt. Remember though, it’s rude to talk about money so I guess that makes sense.
Another survey by LendingTree shows that 74% of Americans envision themselves debt-free, excluding mortgages, at some point in their lives, but only half said they have a plan for how to get there. Again, it’s rude to talk about money.
I had to laugh at that one… the survey was about being debt-free, but somehow the biggest debt most people take on, mortgages, doesn’t count or can be excluded in the conversation?! Scratches head… what does LendingTree do again?
Without getting religious the good book clearly states, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” but… there’s the rat race to consider i.e. buying things we don’t need with money we don’t have in order to impress people we don’t like. Peer pressure (Joneses) is an amazing thing indeed!
(Freedom from the Joneses)
Anyway, after a few years of teaching it didn’t take me long to realize the game was rigged and the odds were stacked against me. I tip-toed through the tulips with friends trying to figure out how they dealt with all this but as you can imagine, most of them weren’t open to discussing financial matters or my unorthodox ways offended them.
So I turned to books. In particular books about people who bucked the trend and came out on top. Heck, if I was to pay off a few hundred thousand in debt on a relatively small salary I’d need some darn good advice.
Just 3 short years ago my net worth was -$250,000 and I was living paycheck to paycheck. But I was living the American dream, right?! Masters degree, teaching career, house, 2 cars, vacations each summer thanks to Visa. What else is there?
Now let me say this… when I started this reading list below I had no intention of leaving public schools to be an entrepreneur, but as I digested each book I started to understand money more and more. That understanding gave me the confidence and financial literacy not only to get out of debt, but to change careers so I could do it quicker and get rich.
(A present from my wife just before leaving public schools.)
These are the books I read in roughly this order to go from a financial dummy to a debt free wealthy entrepreneur. I read them over and over, took notes and even listened to them on my iPod while I jogged. The power inside them combined with my ambition changed my life forever.
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
- Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton
- The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko
- Napoleon Hill’s A Year of Growing Rich by Napoleon Hill
- SUN TZU Art of War translated by Ralph D. Sawyer
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- Fearless by Max Lucado
- Dare To Dream by John C. Maxwell
Today I’m a multi-millionaire entrepreneur.
The road I took to get here was unconventional.
They say knowledge is power and I couldn’t agree more. I never understood the value of books until I needed answers and had nobody with experience to talk to. The books above opened doors for me you can’t imagine and I can only hope they open doors for you too.
For years my wife and I worked hard to get the best credit score so we could get the lowest rates. Like a cat chasing its tail round and round and round we went. Today my wife and I have a horrible credit score, it’s 0. I’m sorry… last I checked our credit scores read N/A, we’re not even worthy of a 0! Are we ashamed? Nope! It’s intentional and that my friends is what I call financial literacy.
Keep in mind…
The FICO score is an “I Love Debt” score. According to the FICO website, your FICO score is determined by:
- 35% Debt Payment History
- 30% Debt Levels
- 15% Length of Debt
- 10% New Debt
- 10% Type of Debt
So if you quit borrowing money like my wife and I have, you will lose your FICO score. It’s not a score that says you are winning with money or that you have a million dollars; it mathematically says you LOVE DEBT!
I sure wish it wasn’t rude to talk about money, maybe if it wasn’t someone would have introduced me to these books sooner. Again, I speak from personal experience because we were buried alive in debt when we read all this but fought our way out one step at a time. You can too! So don’t be afraid to talk about money, who knows… the next Jason Bond might be on your Twitter list looking for answers with nobody to talk to, just like me.