5 Wealth Tips Learned While Flying
As a Business Consultant, I travel all over the Northwest region of the United States supporting my entrepreneurial owners. This last week I was on a quick flight from Seattle to Portland. This was a dual prop plane, where there is no room for “First Class” seating. I sat down in my normal window seat next to a man who looked like he was in his early to mid 50’s. He had a paperback book about World War II and his cell phone sitting on his lap. He was dressed fairly casually in jeans and a jacket. He looked like your average middle class guy. As we started to talk, he revealed that he was an owner of a demolition company that specialized in difficult jobs. For example, his company went out to a remote Pacific Island that was used by the US Government to test chemicals. His company was able to go out without support from any mainland services, i.e. electricity, water, food, etc., and demolish the buildings there in a clean manner for the environment. This means they had to bring everything in with them to do the job, as well as remove all the debris and their encampment when the job was finished. This is a very niche business.
Being a business consultant, I couldn’t help but ask simple questions like, what are your net margins on a typical job? What is the dollar value of an average job for you? How many employees do you have? By asking such questions, I was able to figure out fairly quickly that this man easily had a net worth in the millions of dollars from his business alone.
We continued to talk about a concept called “Mailbox Money”. I’ve never heard this term before, but it was a perfect description of what we call today “Passive Income”. With his earnings from his business, he also started to invest in real estate. He found trusted partners, that think the way he thinks about money, and invested. Now he receives “Mailbox Money” each month.
Having run a business myself for my family, I shared experiences of my $15.00 an hour employees having nicer things than I did. That many of my employees struggled managing their money, and were typically financially illiterate. He jumped in sharing a similar experience with one of his new very young employees. For the first time, the young man was earning massive amounts of money for his skill level (demolition). After only 3 months of employment, the young man showed up at work with a $60,000 truck. The employer engaged in a conversation with the young man about how he could afford such a truck at this point in his life. The young man was so proud to say that he had saved $20,000 from his work and overtime, to put down on the truck. So he only owed $40,000. The owner, who is a millionaire, didn’t own a “nice” car until around his 40’s. The business owner tied to explain to the young man how compound interest works, and how avoiding unnecessary debt in your youth can catapult you to wealth in your future. Unfortunately, the lesson fell on deaf ears. I found this to be the same mentality of my employees.
This business owner, explained how he wanted to go around to high schools giving presentations about how to manage money and how each student could someday be financially independent. I then got excited, and explained how I feel the same way. That is one of the main reasons I started this blog.
When speaking of millionaires in the United State today, Tomas J. Stanley, PHD and William D. Danko, PHD said:
Our youth today have been trained by social media and our culture, that becoming a millionaire means having fame, being a professional athlete or performer. Those are the people who they see day in and day out who play the part of a “millionaire”. However, the most likely story is that the guy who owns a construction business is a millionaire. He reached that level of financial independence from spending less than he earned and investing the rest back into his business, retirement accounts, real estate or other assets.
Another subject I’d like to point out from my chance encounter with this self made millionaire last week, was the book he had on his lap. First of all, he actually had a book on his lap. Many financially independent people read. And secondly, that book was non-fiction. He was learning about history.
In a Huffington Post article about the habits of successful people, updated in December of 2017, it stated:
So I’m going to leave you today with a simple reminder that you can become wealthy. You can become financially independent. Some basic steps to get there, which were reiterated to me by my conversation with this business owner on my flight, are:
Read. Non-fiction books are the best at getting you where you want to go. If you want to learn about how to invest in Real Estate, start reading reputable real estate books. If you want to start a business read about successful businesses. Almost any source of knowledge will help you move closer to your financial goals.
Spend less than you earn. Know where your money goes, and make sure you are spending less than you earn. When an opportunity comes along to purchase an asset, you need to be ready with some basic starting money to make your first investment.
Start your own business. Whether it’s a side hustle, or a full time gig, business owners have a record of building wealth, and keeping it.
Put your money in ASSETS that give you “Mail Box Money”. Once you do save a lump sum of cash, don’t buy a depreciating asset like a vehicle. Over the years, that vehicle will lose value and take money from you for maintenance. Buy a simple vehicle for cash, say $5,000. Then invest the other $15,000 (referring to the young man’s $20,000 saving put down on his $60,000 truck) in a mutual fund or some other asset.
Associate with those that are successful. The business man that I sat next to, had like minded friends who he trusted to invest in large real estate investments together. I’m sure these friends also helped educate and inspire him to continue on his successful financial path. Find a mentor who is successful, and surround yourself with friends who also are willing to sacrifice to become successful. Their energy will spread to you and keep you going when times get hard.
One last tip...it’s worth striking up a conversation with someone on your next flight or bus trip. You never know what you might learn or be inspired to do.