I’m sure you’ve heard or even repeated the expression “You can’t get rich working for someone else.” I’ve said it but I’ve grown to realize it’s not true. I’m not talking about high level executives with huge salaries, stock options and bonuses that make them a millionaire each year. I’m talking about a normal person with a good, but not extraordinary, job.
The secret (I hate that word because it’s not a secret, it’s common sense) is to save, often aggressively, work, really hard, and invest, wisely. A couple of weeks after writing this I saw a bit of news about a school teacher who left behind an estate worth $10 million when she died. Along with her twin brother they lived by these three “secrets” and it paid off.
Wealth is about opportunity but being in the right place at the right time isn’t opportunity, what you’re able to do when you’re in the right place at the right time is. If you meet an inventor with a great new product who needs investors, you’re at the right place at the right time but if you don’t have the money to invest it doesn’t matter. That’s why aggressive savings is so important. I’m not talking about normal savings like the advice you’ll read in magazines, I’m talking about serious savings. My wife and I have saved, on average, nearly 25% of our gross income each year. It would have been higher if not for item number three on my list, investments (which some will view as savings but read on to discover why I don’t).
Read here about a woman, Leah Manderson, who maxed out her Roth IRA (that’s $5,000) while earning only $28,000. That’s a 17.87% savings rate. Can you say you’ve saved that much? If not then you aren’t saving aggressively.
A job is a means to an end. We have to work to survive (unless you want to grow a long beard, live in a shack, and kill your own dinner). A job is also a means to security when we’re too old or tired to work.
While I would highly recommend doing something you love, you should also maximize your earning potential by advancing through the ranks and negotiating well. Hard work means being the go-to person, the lynchpin as Seth Godin puts it.
It has been my ability to increase my income and my aggressive savings that allows me to move on to each What Next opportunity.
You can invest in yourself by working hard and you can invest your money by contributing to your retirement (401k, IRA, etc.) but that’s not the kind of investments I’m talking about.
I’m talking about investments that require active participation like rental real estate, it’s an investment I’ve used throughout my life (I’ve seen a lot of people use it as an investment very badly). It’s also an investment that requires sacrifice. I can’t have a fancy and expensive house for myself if I’m also buying homes for rentals.
I have also had side projects (some would call them businesses but I don’t think many of them rose to that level). What they did do is provide some extra income to invest in other ways. It also allowed me to learn a lot about myself and business in general.
Now than that I’m older, more established and secure, I’ve invested in actual businesses, opening a franchise massage spa. The key with all of it is that my job, the thing people say won’t make you rich, made all my investments possible. I call it corporate sponsorship. None of these investments can be considered savings since there’s no guarantee that I’ll get a return or how big that return will be. Once I sell an investment, then fine, the proceeds will move over to the savings category.
You can get rich working for someone else if you’re smart about it and are willing to do more than repeat the lie that you can’t get rich working for someone else.