Why I Can’t Stop Investing in Facebook:

I Can’t Stop Investing in Facebook:

Almost a year ago to the day, I published my first book How to Leverage Your Real Estate Business With Facebook. Before I started researching for my book, I was already an avid user of Facebook. I considered myself a late adopter of Facebook, as late as someone could be who was in college during the college-only years of Facebook.

Half-way through writing my book I made my first investment into Facebook. The more I read, and the more I wrote, the more I invested.shut up and take my money

Today it is by far my largest holding. No, it does not pay a dividend. But for someone like myself (early 30’s) who is investing for the next 10-50 years, Facebook has a LOT of benefits. Imagine being able to invest in Google 10 years ago. That is where I see Facebook today. Much like Google, who began as a search engine, Facebook is much more than just a place to stalk your highschool exes.

The Biggest Misconceptions Regarding Facebook:

Facebook is just for teenage girls looking to share photos:
This is the hurdle Facebook faced during its first 3-5 years of INSANE growth. In addition to its incredible user acquisitions, its ability to monetize these users has been even more impressive.

Teenage girls are no longer using Facebook:
What once was considered its biggest problem, critics now maintain the opposite to be true. But hey, critics gonna criticize.

snapchat-women-selfies-user-customers-consumers-marketing

All the young people are using Snapchat now:
Snapchat Snapchat Snapchat. AKA: Tha Facebook Killa. Except that its not. The biggest threat Snapchat poses to Facebook is that its attracting all the young people. When I tell people I am investing in Facebook over the next 10-50 years, their biggest concern is always Snapchat.

Tell me honestly, do you really think Snapchat is going to destroy Facebook and make them obsolete? Myspace is the common reference here, but remember who won that battle. I have mentioned previously why I think Instagram Stories is not a Snapchat killer, but still poses a threat to its growth, so I won’t touch on that here. (Don’t forget who owns Instagram)

What it all comes down to is this: The world is big enough for Facebook AND Snapchat. Much like the world needs Coke, Pepsi AND RC Cola. If you could go back in time to the invention of Soda, which one would you bet on?

If it isn’t clear by now, I feel that Facebook is Coke. Or using the television analysis, I think Facebook is CBS. Snapchat is currently MTV, but they are trying to become NBC. Will they? Maybe. Will it affect CBS value? I don’t think so.

If your argument against Facebook continuing to become a successful company is the existence of Snapchat, then I suppose you shouldn’t invest in any company ever, for fear of a competitor putting them out of business.

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Facebook isn’t cool anymore.
So what? Neither is Microsoft. Neither is Apple. What companies are cool anymore? What companies can stay cool from one generation to another? Is Snapchat going to be cool in 5 years after it monetizes its users, seeks rapid growth, and creates unique partnerships like its recent deal with NBC to stream episodes of The Voice?

The hardest thing for any company to do is monetize its customers without alienating them. Even the people who claim to hate Facebook still check their accounts 3x an hour.


What I love about Facebook:

REAL ESTATE– As someone who cut their investing teeth in the real estate business, I will always have a soft spot for this industry. Today, I believe the most valuable real estate in the world is the home screen on your smartphone.

How many apps do you have on your phone? How many do you actually use? How many do you use daily? How many are there on your home screen?

This is like being one of the first 3 channels on your TV. Can you put a value on this? Ask CBS, NBC and ABC.

Right now, Facebook owns 3 of these channels- err, apps on your home screen. Maybe not yours, but globally, Facebook occupies three of the most used apps: Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram. Facebook messenger is also growing rapidly and soon they will allow money transfers through your account.

Thats like owning three huge blocks of prime real estate in the world’s fastest growing and most valuable city.

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GENIUS– Is it safe to call Mark Zuckerberg a genius yet? Yes, yes it is. In fact, one of the smartest things I think he has done is surround himself with any and all of the other geniuses he can find. Either by hiring them, or acquiring them.

When Facebook buys a company like Instagram or Occulus Rift, he isn’t just buying the company. He is buying the people. These are some of the smartest people in the world.

Then, he gives them unlimited resources and more smart people to interact with. This may not always lead to optimal results, but over time will lead to more positive returns than negative. I am literally willing to bet on this.

SMART GROWTH- Zuckerberg, and Facebook, understand the growth model better than anyone. They wrote the book on it.

Step one– Acquire users through exclusivity (college kids only)

Step two– Age up (grow with that demographic and then acquire older users)

Step three– create so much value for users that when you monetize they are too addicted to change.

Step four– grow grow grow.

Facebook and Instagram are both in step four. Most competitors don’t make it past step one. Some make it to step two and start to get offers from Facebook (as part of their step four). Snapchat is a unicorn currently struggling with step three (after turning down offers from Facebook).

I personally think Snapchat will succeed. I think they will find unique ways to monetize and will occupy a space on your home screen for many years.

But I don’t believe this is a zero sum game affecting Facebook. I would be more worried if I owned a television studio like NBC, ABC, CBS. Sure, they held a monopoly on your attention for several decades. But so did Radio and Newspapers.

In the battle for customers, clients and audiences, the fight between Snapchat and Facebook is all for show.

The real fight is for space on your smart phone home screen. Facebook and Snapchat are already there. While other media conglomerates are slow to realize this shift in your attention, companies like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube (google) and Facebook are solidifying their positions and investing in the next ones: Augmented and Virtual Reality.

Oh, and did I mention that Facebook owns Oculus Rift? Currently the biggest name in this space?

Brief History of Money

Brief History of MoneyHow much do you know about money? Money is a beautiful thing. Mostly because it isn’t even real. Its a belief. Its a faith. It could even be considered a religion.

Since the creation of the idea of money, it has existed through generations and cultures around the world. It has evolved, spread and become ingrained in society… much like some religions.

I love money, and you should too! Money is not the root of all evil. If you think that, then you will never have any. Or if you get money, you won’t have it long.

If you give bad people money, they will be bad people, but with money. If you give good people money, they will be good people, and have money. Money is not bad. Money is freedom.

How is money freedom? Well, what is the price of your free time? How much do you sell your time for? Do you work 40 hours per week? Do you trade 5 days of work for 2 days of freedom?

Is this a good return? How much do you make? In terms of time you are on the losing end: Selling 5 days and getting 2 days in return.

While the amount of money you receive will vary , the simple fact is that the answer is money. You sell your time for money, and you probably don’t even know why.

Because your parents told you to? Society? Our educational system?

Again, don’t get mad at money. I like money, a lot! So I ask again, how much do you know about money?

I present to you, an essay: A Brief History Of Money


 

Introduction:

The history of the development of the human society from the hunter-gatherer societies to the modern worldwide global community, is highly intertwined with development of money.

What is money and what is debt? Moreover, how can paper have so much control over our lives?

Money could be anything from livestock to sacks of grain or sea-shells, precious metals, gyms…etc. that can be considered by the general populace to have value and can be exchanged for goods or services.

Aristotle, in Politics I, argues that money has inherently two natures: a means of exchange and a means to an end.  Although he deliberately ignores explaining the second nature, his work on money is most important since he was one of the first to document the development of money and its rise to power in modern society.

The essence of his analysis lies in the fact that value of money is directly related to the trust and value given to it by the people who exchange them; and that fact has never changed across the centuries.


 

The Barter System:

The hunter gatherer societies of ancient man could be a model of what closely resembles a ‘communist utopia’. Every member of the tribe did the particular task that was assigned to him and the wealth of the tribe was combined and distributed equally (with more going to the chief or best warriors of course.)

It was believed by several historians, philosophers, economists; including Aristotle Adam Smith in his book “Wealth of Nations”, that as the tasks of society became more specialized, a system of bartering was developed. The barter system essentially involved an exchange of goods or services with other goods or services.

The system involved, for example, a grain farmer in need of purchasing fruits. He  exchanges his grains for fruit with the fruit farmer. However, the barter system was fundamentally flawed due to the coincidence of wants.

If, for example, you produce cheese and you need grains, you can only trade with the grain farmer if he wants cheese. Another problem with the barter system is the inability to break the currency fairly. This was particularly a problem for people who traded in livestock. Trading a cow for a kilogram of grains is unfair, but killing the cow to cut into pieces for fair trade might sound reasonable but also devalues the remaining cow. It is from these predicaments that Aristotle and Adam Smith assumed that need of money existed and hence evolved.

The problem with this theory; argues anthropologist David Graeber in his book “Debt the First: 5000 Years”, is that it lies more on personal experience rather than fact. The barter system never died out and today people still use it, even in advanced societies.

Graeber, therefore, claims that ancient societies used to trade on a trust based debt system and gift economies. The system was based on societies that were small enough so everyone knew each other and potential consequences so chances of someone defaulting become low. He argues that in a society like this, if you wan


 

The Rise Of Money:Brief History of Money

The Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent is a region of land stretching from Asia Minor through the Middle East and into Egypt. The Fertile Crescent was host to humanities earliest civilizations. These included the likes of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Sumerians and Phoenicians.

In their early stages, none of these civilizations had a currency in a form we understand today, but they did have a centralized government with taxes and they often traded with each other.

The earliest records of currency usage was traced back to livestock and livestock products like manure, then eventually grains and other plantation were used.

In 4000 BC, the Egyptians are known to have used gold bars as a standard of value. This is important as it set a specific standard when traders went to exchange good. For example, if 100 pounds of manure was worth one gold bar, and 150 pounds of seed was worth one gold bar, then traders could determine that 100 pounds of manure was worth 150 pounds of seed.

Mesopotamia followed the same path and later created the ‘Shekel’, which was a standard set by silver bars.  This same concept was eventually implemented by Great Britain with the British Pound; where 1 pound valued 1 pound mass of silver.

The Mesopotamians, however, were also among the first to use clay tablets as a form of payment and debt collection. Clay tablets were used to keep records of debts between trading interactions.

Lydia

In 600 BC,King Alyattes of Lydia (now part of Northern Turkey) was the first to ever establish a gold minted currency. The coin was minted with a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver known as electrum. The coins were engraved with symbols of animals such as owls and snakes, which denoted the value of the coin and what  it could purchase.

This allowed trade to flourish in the region and was soon adopted by neighboring empires. However, due to its growing wealth,  Lydia drew the ire of the Persians and eventually fell to the Persian Empire.

China

Although they were not the first empire to develop a currency, China’s secluded location meant that most of its developments were of its own innovation.

Around 1100 BC, metal weapons and daggers were miniaturized and being used as currency. Over time, they were rounded, for obvious reasons, and a hole was added in the center so they can be tied together using strings. Eventually, merchants in China started to create ‘debt papers’. Because these ‘debt papers’ were so well documented and supported by the people, these papers eventually became a currency themselves.

As the Chinese organized military grew in numbers and strength, requiring payment through coinage became very inconvenient. The paper currency idea seemed intriguing to the Chinese Government Officials and was eventually instituted.

In 1200 AD, Marco Polo visited China and saw transactions with paper money first hand. Impressed, he was first to bring the idea back to Europe.

Africa

The first currency to develop in Africa was cowry shells and it remained the  dominant source for centuries. In fact, Mozambique was still using cowry shells as currency during the colonial times, even with precious metals and gems available.

Europe

The use of gold coins was transferred from Lydia to the Roman Empire around 500 BC. Before that, metals such as copper and its alloys, particularly bronze and before that obsidian, were being used as currency.

The introduction of gold coins was particularly useful for fueling the colonial desires and conquests of the Roman Empire. Soldiers were now being paid in gold, instead of bronze and plunder.

Since gold is a rare metal, when governments faced shortages they often chose invasion of other nations, or colonizing less developed nations for plunder and to enslave populations to mine for more gold.

 


IOU and Debts:

An IOU, which is the prequel to bank notes, surfaced in times where gold and precious metals used to make coinage was scarce. It was customary then for merchants with safes to store the gold and issue a paper with the value of the gold owed to that person.

Since it was easier to divide the value of paper by issuing new paper than it was to smelt down the gold into smaller denominations, IOUs or ‘debt paper’ rose greatly in popularity.

IOUs became incredibly popular after the foundation of the first official government banks in Ptolemaic Egypt. They were used to make daily payments and most wealthy people kept their savings in the bank. Archeologists have discovered records of these transactions occurring on a daily basis!


Brief History of MoneyDevelopment of Banking:

The fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 9th century gave rise to the Italian City-States that survived. Living on the remnants of their previous glory, the Italian City-States remained an important center for trade in Europe.

The word bank is actually derived from the Italian word “ banca” which means ‘table’, which the money lenders used in order to conduct their business. During this time, Europe, following Christian Doctrine, banned Christians from usury. or the implementation of interest on loans.

However, Jews were exempt from this law, not being Christian and all, and they were the only ones capable of loaning money with interest. They were not viewed upon positively by Christians, but were the only sources of financing since even the most generous of Christians didnt want to lend money to someone with no upside and all down side. Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”, touches on this negative view towards Jews and money lenders.

During this time, several currencies were being used throughout Europe and their value was being calculated based on their gold and silver content. Additionally, this  usually changed based on the current state of the issuing government. Lastly, the Roman Numeral system was being used by many , further complicating most of the calculations required for money conversion and interest calculations.

Liber Abaci

In 1202, Fibonacci, also known as Leonardo of Pisa, published his book “The Liber Abaci”, or “The Book of Calculation”. This offered the first solution to many of the European currency issues. The book was meant to demonstrate the superiority of the Hindu-Arabic numerals, to the conventional Roman numerals. It also included several concepts of interest and debt calculations, money conversions and many other concepts that will be later incorporated in modern banking. This coincided with the return of Marco Polo advocating for the use of paper money.

The Medici

The Medici were a prominent family in the Italian City State of Florence. There were several prominent members, but the most important Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici (c. 1360 – February 20/28, 1429). Giovanni set the foundation for modern banks.

Since usury was still illegal for Christians, and the current money-lender industry  had a business model that was highly prone to customers defaulting on their debt, Giovanni reinvented the business. He proposed that he will run a currency exchange business where a small fee would be paid as a percentage of the total transaction which wouldn’t be considered usury.

He also proposed the use of his vaults as storage for deposits from wealthy kings and the Pope. He could then use these money deposits to finance other money transactions as well as return an interest fee to the depositor for using his.

These ideas revolutionized banking in Europe and subsequently made the family incredibly powerful and prominent. The Medici banking network extended throughout all the city states and was highly reliable.  Eventually, it collapsed due to high risk debts where the debtor defaulted. Nonetheless, the business model remains as ghost within modern business models.


Inflation and The Spanish Empire:

In the mid-15th century, the Spanish colonial empire discovered a literal mountain of silver in Bolivia. Using slaves acquired from the indigenous populations of nearby regions, the Spanish empire was capable of producing 160,000 tons of silver between the 16th and the 18th centuries.

This sudden influx of silver gave the Spanish empire extraordinary wealth and turned their country’s currency into a de facto currency in the world. So much so, that the Spanish- Chinese silk trade greatly enriched China with silver and caused them to reform their entire tax system, requiring their citizens to pay taxes with silver instead of what was historically used: grains and labor.

The lack of economic understanding by the Spanish government and their inability to reform taxes due to the huge influx of silver lead to a great inflation in Europe, and even reaching and impacting the Chinese empire. This inflation, coupled with the expulsion of the Jews and the Moors from Spain, eventually lead to several revolutions in the Spanish Empire and their eventual defeat by Elizabeth I of England.


 

Brief History of MoneyBank Notes and The Gold Standard:

Throughout history, the idea of “paper currency with a standard of value tied to gold” was continuously sought for myriad of reasons. The ease of use, the potential to travel and store wealth, and breaking down barriers of trade are just a few.

Although first used by the Chinese as a an attempt to counter their inflation problems, Bank notes soon became popularized in Europe, with much help from Marco Polo. The first bank note was used in Sweden in 1661 by a commercial bank. Following the Spanish inflation, the effectiveness of this idea grew and several other commercial banks began to adopt the concept of issuing paper currency backed by precious metals, gold or commodities.

This was essentially an advanced form of an IOU where a bank pledges to pay the value of paper to the holder in gold. What made this system more advanced than a mere IOU was that whoever was holding the paper could receive the gold, not just who the debt was issued to. This meant instead of trading gold, you could just trade the paper and any government would back its value.

Several measures had to be set where banks should have enough gold reserve to give gold to all bank note holders in case they want to withdraw their gold. However, due to investments and lending mass induced panic have several times threatened to shut down the system as people lost faith in the paper and attempted to withdraw the gold.

In the 1900s the United States also adopted the gold standard. The value of the dollar was tied to gold, meaning at any time you could trade your dollars in for actual gold.

After World War 1, most of the countries had to abandon the gold standard due to the economic depression. This was the result of owing more money than gold reserves. The United States, instead, devalued its money by slightly decreasing the value of the dollar vs. gold. This meant that it now too more money to by the same amount of gold before the war.

Eventually, the gold standard  in the United States was also dropped during the Vietnam War in the 1970s when President Nixon ordered the Federal Reserve to abandon in order to induce a temporary inflation to support the war costs. The intent was to return to the gold standard following the completion of the war.
(For more on how this one decision changed your money for ever, read: What Would You Do With One Million Dollars?)

Fiat Currencies

Most currencies today are known as fiat money rather than commodity money. Contrary to commodity money which is usually backed by precious metals or goods, fiat money is a worthless object that is widely accepted as payment method. Worthless in the fact that other than trading it for goods and services with the belief of value, there is no other use for the currency. For example, if you couldn’t buy anything with your dollar, what could you do with it? Burn it for 30 seconds of heat possibly?

The value of the money is determined by several factors, but it is for the most part determined by the issuing authority and government that guarantees its value. Fiat currency can lose their value under several conditions such as; the populace refusing to accept it, the issuing agency fails to guarantee the value or the destruction of the government. Historically, the biggest factor remains to be the trust of the people and whether or not they believe in their governments ability to back its value.


 

The US DollarBrief History of Money

The history of the US dollar can be traced back to the 1690s, before the United States was officially established. The first Colony to implement paper money was Massachusetts, which used it for financing military expeditions. Soon, other colonies followed. There were British restrictions imposed on the colonies paper money and in 1775 non-British currency was banned when the American Revolution began.

The Continental Congress then introduced the continental currency which did not last long due to insufficient bank support and rampant counterfeiting. This led to the charting of the first national bank in Philadelphia, The Bank of North America, in order to aid government finances. In 1785, the dollar was to become the currency of United States.

In 1792 the Coinage Act helped organize the monetary system of the states as it introduced gold, silver and copper.  In 1861, the Greenbacks or the green paper note was introduced to finance the civil war. Several techniques such as treasury seal was used to combat counterfeiting.  In 1863, the national banking system was drafted by congress in order to allow the US Treasury to oversee the issuance of National bank notes, which in turn, made it easier for banks to distribute money and purchase US bonds.

The Federal Reserve

In 1913 The Federal Reserve Act was issued which established one central bank and organized a national banking system that could keep up the ever-changing financial needs of the States. The board issued a new Federal Reserve Note in 1914 in the form of a $10 bill.

Confederate Money

During the outbreak of the American Civil War, the confederate government in the south issued the Confederate States of America Dollar. It was one of the first perquisites of fiat money as it wasn’t backed by any assets, only simply the promise to pay those who bear it after the South wins.

The faith in the currency started to diminish as the war tilted in favor of the North. Inflation followed, and by the end of 1863 it was worth 6 gold cents and kept on declining. Now the Confederate dollar, also known as “Greyback” is a prized collectible item with many versions.


Electronic Currency:

Today, economic transactions regularly take place electronically, without the exchange of any physical currency. Digital cash in the form of bits and bytes will most likely continue to be the currency of the future.

The problem with concepts like Bitcoin, however, is that they are truly fiat currencies with absolutely no value behind them ever. There is no government willing to go to war to defend its value, and no way to store it other than electronically. This leaves it open to many security issues.


 

Conclusion:

If you have made it this far, congratulations. I appreciate you. This is important stuff. You should study the history of the things you want, and I want money. You should too.

But remember, money is just an idea. And inflation is a small parasite that is constantly eating bites out of your savings unless you are continuing to grow it.

How do you grow it? Income Producing Assets.

These pay you money every month, and also increase in ‘value’ as inflation grows. If you want to build wealth, this is your path.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it!

Brief History of Money

What is The Cash Flow Lifestyle?

What Exactly is The Cash Flow Lifestyle and Why Is Cash Flow So Important?

As I originally explained in 2011 with What Would You Do With A Million Dollars, the United States went off the gold standard officially in 1973. In short, the US Dollar was no longer backed by gold. Instead, the US dollar was merely ‘worth’ whatever the US Government said it was worth.

When the US and the Allies won WW2, the Bretton Woods conference put the US in a position unseen before in the history of society. The result was that the world, minus the US, was destroyed and needed rebuilding. The US lent all the major countries money forcing all major countries to tie their currencies to the US Dollar, which at the time was backed by actual gold.

Not after 1973. As a result of the Vietnam War, and decades of not having to worry about fiscal policies that made sense, the US was in a position where it needed to create more money that we had. Since money is simply the belief in a system that essentially isn’t ‘real’ anyway, who was going to question us?

Gold Spot Price

Click Here for More Information about The “Nixon Shock”

So why does this matter? Well for you, it means everything you have been taught about money is outdated and wrong. Maybe not everything, but for the sake of arguing lets just start over from the beginning and go from there.

The world we live in now punishes savers and rewards investors. Example? Too Big To Fail rewarded all the greedy wall street crooks and punished you. (Click Here for an INCREDIBLE book on this story.)

The world we live in now rewards people that borrow money. Yes, if you borrowed money to buy 4 houses you couldn’t afford in 2006 you were punished, but that was dumb because you should never buy something you can’t afford. But if you have debt at a fixed interest rate, it gets cheaper over time, just like your savings gets cheaper over time if its not tied up in an income producing asset like stocks or rental real estate.

Mutual Funds are a terrible investment. Most people invest in mutual funds because they have heard of them before and they like the idea of choosing between “aggressive and moderate” instead of putting thought behind where their money goes. But why are they so well known? Could it be because mutual funds spend a lot of money promoting themselves? Where does this money come from? (Click HERE for a GREAT book on this topic written by Tony Robbins.)

The Government raises money by selling bonds, then repays them by printing money. This is the simplest way to understand the current system. No, we won’t ever default to China because we can just print more money and pay them off. Other countries don’t have the luxury as their money is tied to ours, and because oil is also priced in US Dollars.

So what does it all mean?

If you have savings in a bank account, you are losing about 3% of its value every year to inflation. if rapid inflation hits, which is pretty likely given how much money we have been printing since the recession, then your savings will be hit even harder.

If you are investing in a mutual fund and ‘have a guy’ that manages it for you, then you are in the same position as a savings account but with more people charging you fees.

What should you do?

Focus on your cash flow. Focus on more money coming in than going out every month. You don’t have to start the next Facebook or Uber, but you should consider businesses and projects that can generate a few hundred or thousand dollars a month for you.

The greatest tool that every American has for building wealth is access to a primary mortgage as I explain below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyAaB-87loE

(Also, read this when you have time: Investing in Stocks vs. Real Estate)

Your primary mortgage is the best loan that you can get and is secured by an asset. You have to live somewhere and its important that you own your residence. Some residences are better than others when it comes to investing, but we are speaking in generalities for the time being.

When it comes to your savings and retirement, stop thinking big pile of money, and instead think of income stream.

How can I make more money next month than I made this month is a question I ask myself every month. Even if its just a few more dollars, every little bit matters.

When I invest in stocks, I look for stocks with dividends.

When I invest in real estate, I look for cash flow rentals.

When I start a new business I ask myself how long do I need to work on this until I can walk away and have it still produce income?

The Problem With Trying To Save A Big Pile Of Money:

  • How big of a pile of money do you need?
  • Is this pile getting bigger while you sleep, or if you are sick, or if you are traveling? Or is it getting smaller because of inflation and people charging you fees?
  • What is your end goal? To retire and start spending money from this pile? What if you out-live your pile (which should be a good thing) or what happens when you get older and your cost of living actually rises so your pile shrinks faster than you thought?
  • Is your solution to turn that big pile of money into income at retirement? Why wait? Why not start now? How much income will your big pile of money produce anyway? What if you found a way to produce that with passive income so that your pile never gets smaller and you could retire sooner? This is The Cash Flow Lifestyle!

The Cash Flow Lifestyle:

  • Focus on your passive income! Passive income is money that comes in every month for work you have already done. This can include:
  • Pay Yourself First! As long as you pay yourself first and invest that money for future you EVERY month, you can then spend what is left over. Budgeting sucks, and study showed that even financial planners don’t budget. Its too hard. Instead, as long as you pay yourself first you are free to spend what is left over. If nothing is left over, then shit, don’t spend anything that money and work harder for next month.
  • Invest in Yourself! We live in the most incredible time right now. All the information you could ever want is available to you for free. Well, mostly free. You still need access to the internet which can cost money as well as a computer or smart phone, but guess what? These can be investments! Don’t be stupid and buy things you can’t afford, but also don’t skimp on things that could help you get better, smarter and eventually wealthier. (Start here: (Cash Flow Resources)
  • Never Stop Educating! It doesn’t matter how old you are, school never ends! If you have a job you need to know everything about that job so you can get better, then more valuable and eventually invaluable! You do not need to go to an actual school to do this, the skills matter more than the degrees. (Read: How Much Is Too Much To Spend On Knowledge?)
  • The Power of Compounding Is Your Salvation! Whether its your personal life where you decide to make better decisions with your health and money, or your financial life where you commit to investing in dividend paying stocks for the next 20 years. (For better life choices and the impact they will have on your life read: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

What’s the point of all this?

The old way doesn’t work anymore. Relatives that lived through the Great Depression urged saving because they know what can happen when times go bad. But that was before 1973 when dollars yesterday were worth the same tomorrow.

Now you need assets. Preferably income producing assets.

If your goal was to save $1,000,000 so you could ‘invest’ it and return 5%, that means $50,000 a year or just over $4000 per month. How long would it take for you to save one million dollars? Assuming nothing went wrong, whats your best case scenario?

By the time its saved, what has inflation done to it? Assuming a best case scenario of 3% a year for X years, how much value is that one million dollars really?

Then assuming all this went as planned, how are you going to turn your million dollars into $50,000 a year? Are you just going to give it to someone and hope for the best? Is he going to charge you? (Yes he is) How much? Will he pay you if he loses your money? (No he isn’t)

If this doesn’t sound that exciting to you then you aren’t alone.

If you are ready for a lifestyle change then you aren’t alone.

You do not need to be an expert to start investing, but you must start investing if you ever want to build wealth.

Do you want to build wealth?

 

Or keep doing what you have been doing and keep getting what you have been getting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNuEkgK0nus


Back When I Was Lucky: Unemployed, In Debt, And Living With My Parents

I look around and I don’t think I have ever met anyone as lucky as me. Yes, I was born in America, so I already won the lottery, but it gets better!

I was born in 1984! Why is this important? Because this meant if I followed societies expectations, I would graduate high school in 2003. And I did!

Stay with me…

Because I graduated high school in 2003, this meant I began college a few months later in the fall of 2003. Despite spending a few quarters (University of California Schools are on the quarter system, not semesters) on academic probation (including a personal letter I had to write to the Dean begging to keep me enrolled), I managed to graduate in 4 years, meaning I entered the workforce in 2007!

Do you remember 2007?

In real estate history, 2007 is not looked upon as a positive year. In fact, most of our economy doesn’t look back on 2007 fondly.

You can trace back the peak of the housing market to between 2005-2006, depending on which part of the country you are looking. Prices kept skyrocketing… until they stopped.

Think of 2007 as Wiley Coyote from The Looney Toons cartoon. Prices are about to collapse, but as long as nobody looks down, everyone can buy themselves a few more seconds of ignorance and stability.

So here we are, it’s 2007 and I enter the workforce! Corporate America here I come! How lucky am I?!

I am hired as an assistant marketing consultant for an environmental consulting firm. Sounds pretty neat right? It wasn’t.

But lucky for me after I returned from a 2-week training program in Indianapolis (I was based in Newport, California) only to discover that the boss who hired me had left the company!

How lucky!

So now I had several bosses! Thats cool right? And no ‘real’ job description any more. Thats sustainable, right?

Here’s the thing. I hated my job. I hated my job more than you have ever hated a job. I don’t need to go into details about how I travelled 25 days a month, worked 60-80 hour weeks for extremely low pay while living in a very expensive city that I barely saw except when I was flying into and out of John Wayne Airport, LAX or Burbank (depending one whichever was cheapest or involved the longest layovers).

It is very possible that the greatest attribute any entrepreneur can have is a complete disdain towards working at a job. I consider myself very lucky to have this attribute.

Did I mention I was a coward?

Maybe coward is too strong of a word, but maybe it isn’t. I absolutely despised working at this job. My friends saw it in me.

I was terrible to be around, and any free time I had was usually filled with a lot of alcohol. It went on like this for WAY longer than any sane person should allow.

I was completely unappreciated and at any time I could have put a stop to it.

(My wife and I are currently watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix, and all I can compare it to is voluntarily getting up every morning and driving to prison for the day, only to do it all over again the next day.)

So why would I do this? We already established that I was a big fat scaredy cat.

Was it fear of the unknown? What would I do for money?

What would my friends think if I was unemployed?

What would my parents think if I quit my first job?

What would my mom think if I no longer had health benefits?

Whatever it was, it was strong enough to keep me doing something I despised for quite a while. But good thing I am lucky!

By the time the recession reached the west coast, my company had seen at least 3 rounds of layoffs before it was my turn.

I have touched on this before, but I was legitimately “Up in the Air”d.

It wasn’t as bad as getting fired over the computer, but it was a 3rd party company doing the dirty work.

So its 2008. Mid-Recession. I am 24 and unemployed, so I moved back in with my parents! How lucky!

All of these things were happening to me, (for me), and I had no control over them. I was too afraid to quit a job I hated, but was eventually fired! How many people get to experience this level of good luck in their lives? I assume not many.

But I did!

2008. Crazy recession going on. Living at home with my parents, back in Scottsdale and out of California where all my friends and “business connections” resided.

All of my biggest ‘fears’ had come to fruition. How lucky!

Do you know how freeing it is to be so afraid of something, and then to experience it?

Its pretty hard to be afraid of hitting rock bottom if it means moving up a level.

Armed with my only attribute of “never wanting another job again”, I decided I would never have another job again. What was the worst that would happen? I’d end up at home with my parents at 25 instead of 24?

So I took a risk. And then another. And then another. Now these were very calculated risks. In fact, they weren’t really even risks.

After studying Robert Kiyosaki for a few years, I was well aware that he made  lot of money in real estate after the savings and loan crisis of 1987. In fact, he did it in Phoenix. Phoenix is where I was, and there was a new crisis. How lucky!

I begged, borrowed, and stole all the money I could find, in order to buy single family homes in Phoenix. People told me I was crazy to be buying houses. Today, they tell me how lucky I am.

I tell them, I know!!!

I was born in America in 1984. The way the American education system is aligned, this meant I graduated from college after 4 years in 2007. There was a global recession underway that I had no control over. It didn’t start earlier, it didn’t start later.

I was fired from a job I was too afraid to quit.

At age 24, unemployed and a complete failure, I moved back in with my parents.

No one is luckier than me!

In the following years; several companies founded, many houses bought, rented and sold, websites developed and books in the pipeline, a loving wife and beautiful family. All because I am nothing but a big scaredy cat. At least I was.

And no one is luckier than me.

 


Stoic Optimism and The Taoist Farmer: Who’s To Say What Is Good Or Bad

There are many variations of the following story, and also many ‘origin stories’. But that doesn’t matter. All that matters is the message.

 

A farmer and his only son are out herding sheep and their only horse breaks off and runs away. 

All the neighbors come over and console the loss to this farmer and his son. The farmer simply responds with “Who’s to say what is good or bad?”

Not more than one month goes by when this horse returns with 2 new wild horses! ‘Oh how lucky you are’, the neighbors exclaim. The farmer simply responds with “Who’s to say what is good or bad?”

The next day while the farmers son is trying to break the wild horse, he falls and breaks his leg. The neighbors again console the farmer for losing the man power his son provides to his farm. Again the farmer responds, “Who’s to say what is good or bad?”

A week goes by and the King’s generals arrive at the small town rounding up every able bodied male to join his army for an upcoming war. The farmer’s son cannot go. 

Who’s to say what is good or bad?

 

Ryan Holiday achieved success at a young age, and has spend the last decade studying Stoicism. Here is a breif Ted Talk of Ryan explaining Stoic Optimism:

 

Success is not an event, its a journey. Along the way there are obstacles and events that may seem like failures. Every failure brings you one step closer to your goals.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
― Thomas A. Edison

 

For more information about Stoic Optimism and the teachings of Marcus Aurelius, I highly recommend Meditations, By Marcus Aurelius. 


So You Want To Be An Investor? Don’t Quit Your Day Job

 

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

I often get asked “Where should I start?” or better yet, “What would you do if you were me?”

 

If I were you? I would get started immediately! But that doesn’t necessarily mean investing in Real Estate. Here’s why:

I cut my teeth in the Real Estate Investing game at the perfect time to be in the Real Estate Investing Game. I knew this at the time because everyone told me how stupid I was for getting into real estate in 2009.

This was a combination of being introduced to the right books at the right time, investing my savings and income made from my first company into Kiyosaki Real Estate courses, and eventually just pulling the trigger on my first property purchase.

I was VERY fortunate. All of these factors had to come into play at the right time for me to succeed. Not to mention I was born in 1984, graduated college in 2007, and then fired from my corporate job in 2008. If I was born a few years earlier and things were different, maybe I would have invested in real estate at the worst time ever.

I know I am lucky, but I also know that I was willing to take the risk when others wouldn’t.

However, risk taking is easy when you are unemployed and living with your parents. It gets harder in your 30’s when you are married with 2 kids. I get this.

This is why I am very cautious when people ask me how they should get started investing in Real Estate. You can do all the homework in the world, but eventually you will have to pull the trigger.

So before you do, make sure you have the following covered:

It Must Cash Flow!

What does this mean? You should know by now, but if not here is a refresher. It should put more money into your pocket every month than it takes out.

If it doesn’t cash flow after mortgage, taxes, insurance, property manager fees and miscellaneous repairs, than it isn’t an investment. Its a liability. Even if its losing just $100 a month, you try and convince yourself its a good thing because  of  appreciation, and taxes and blah blah blah.

The problem with losing money on an investment is
A- It’s dumb to lose money on an investment
B- How many of these “investments” can you afford if its losing money every month?
C- You won’t get rich by losing money.

Which brings us to number two:

You Are Going To Use A Property Manager

I don’t care if you only own one rental property, use a property manager. If you don’t, you will never buy number 2. Trust me. I see it countless times.
Or if you end up being the exception to the rule and do purchase a second rental property, you become a full time land lord and your other income producing projects suffer or become non-existent.

You are investing in Real Estate, you are not switching job careers to property management.

Your Best Course of Action is to Purchase a Primary Residence, and then Rent It Out

The best wealth tool that everyone in America has access to is your mortgage on your primary residence.

It’s the best interest rate on any loan you can get, and its secured by real property. And you get access to a couple of these over your lifespan if you are smart about it. So be smart about it.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

If you want to be a writer and you aren’t writing every day then you don’t really want to be a writer.

If you want to be an investor and you aren’t reading on your lunch break, listening to podcasts and audio books during your work commute, and attending seminars on the weekends, then you don’t really want to be an investor.

How will quitting your job make you a better investor? It wont.

So whats the secret to investing? Working your ass off. There is no free time. Time is money. Time is Valuable. Time is a rare asset.

Never in the history of the world has there been so many different ways to make money for anyone at any time in any country.

Before You Invest In Real Estate

Ask yourself why do you want to invest in real estate.

Seriously.

Ok, then read this: “Why Do I want to invest in Real Estate?”

Answer: Because I want passive income and investments.

Then ask: “Why do I want Passive Income and Investments?”

Answer: “So I have the freedom to live the life I choose!”

Lastly: “What Life would I choose if I could?”

Answer: (This is where you come up with your own answer)

Does your 3rd answer line up with question number 1? Then great! You should start investing in Real Estate ASAP!

Does your 3rd answer describe something else that has nothing to do with Real Estate investing?

Well then maybe real estate isn’t for you? I am learning that it isn’t for everyone. But that’s ok, because only 64%-68% of the American adult population historically owns real estate, and that includes the real estate boom of 2006.

Maybe what you really want is to travel the world. There are other ways to generate income that will allow for this. Maybe you can intern at an embassy in a country you want to spend time in? Don’t need to own real estate for that.

For me, real estate made a lot of sense, and still does. But we are also not in the same market we were before. This is why I also diversify into stocks and other small business opportunities.

If you plan on spending more than a couple of years in any one place, I highly recommend buying a home and renting the rooms out. If you have a family and this isn’t conceivable then I recommend buying a home and in a few years moving to another one and keeping your first as a rental.

If you can do this every 3 years imagine the position you will be in after a short decade. The time is going to pass by anyway!

Make these types of decisions as early as possible.

Or don’t. Just keep doing what you are doing and keep getting what you have been getting.

What do you think? Love this? Hate this? Let me know!


Investing in Real Estate Vs. Stocks: Which is Better and Where Do I Start?

Real Estate vs. Stocks: The Final Showdown?

Facebook Question

The problem with answering this question is like asking a person which is better: sports or music? For each individual the answer will vary based on experience, preference and/or internal desires.

Additionally, how broad of a statement this: Which is better: sports or music? Better at what? Better how?

Same goes for Real Estate and Stocks.

Confused yet? Let me explain:

Advantages of Real Estate over Stocks:

Real estate is one of the best, if not the best, ways to build wealth in America. This is due to 2 important factors. Leverage and tax breaks. No other investment option provides these two factors which allows an individual to build wealth faster than any other investment.

But to clarify, these tax breaks and leverage opportunities for the individual only apply to your personal primary residence. Or in other words: your home. However, the term ‘Real Estate’ includes commercial properties, industrial, retail, apartment buildings, in addition to residential real estate. So when someone asks me “Which is better, stocks or real estate?” the first thing I have to do is explain the myriad differences.

  1. Buying your first home
    1. FHA loans 3.5% down payment
    2. 10-20% down payment conventional
    3. Investment properties 20% typically
    4. Mortgage limits, much tougher after 4 mortgages
  2. Buying investment properties vs. trading up your primary residence (2 years)
  3. Power of Leverage
  4. Tax Breaks of Home Ownership (Mortgage Interest Deduction)
  5. 1031 Exchanges.

The same broad confusion goes with stocks.

  1. ETFs
  2. Mutual Funds
  3. Stocks
  4. REITS
  5. MLPS
  6. Index Funds.
  7. Tech Stocks, Retail, Energy, Consumer.
  8. Dividend Stocks vs Growth Stocks.

Advantages of Stocks over Real Estate

To start: you can begin investing in stocks at a much lower cost than real estate. Investing in any type of real estate requires more capital, but with stocks you can open up a brokerage and begin investing with a few hundred dollars.

Stocks are also liquid investments, meaning you can liquify, or sell,  your stock portfolio quickly if you need to. However, this can be both good and bad. In times of panic everyone can liquify. This is why the stock market is more volatile than real estate, meaning it can rise and fall at a much faster rate.

“If the biggest investment you ever make is purchasing your home, then you are doing it wrong.” Your home will be a very large investment indeed, but it cannot be your biggest and/or only investment.

There is no one piece of perfect advice to give, when it comes to starting your investment portfolio, because times change markets, and regions impact results.

For example, the Phoenix Real Estate market is much different than that of New York City. And while I may like certain stocks today that I would adivse others to get into, you may be reading this a year from now and new information may have presented itself to change market conditions and provide better opportunities elsewhere.

This is what makes The Cash Flow Lifestyle such a crucial concept in your path to financial freedom. There are a few guiding principles to live by, thus a lifestyle, but there is no “end all be all” way to live it.

Every major real estate investor I know also has a very large and diversified stock portfolio. Same goes for all the major stock and bond investors I deal with in regards to owning real estate.

There are a few younger stock investors I know that still prefer to rent and stay out of the real estate market, but when I talk to them about why, its usually because they are still waiting on they type of home they want to buy  to become available, and also because their way of life depends on having a large ammount of capital working for them in the market.

Similarly, fix and flip investors I have worked with have so much money tied up in their projects that they have yet to diversify into more liquid investments, like the stock market.

However, keep in mind these are two examples of people still working for their money as opposed to their money working for them. There is money that can be made fixing and flipping houses, but no matter what anyone says, it is very capital and time intensive work. I know.

And for those who argue day-trading is a path to working your own hours and setting your own schedule, this is true if the schedule you want to set for yourself is 8-10 hours a day of studying and researching the markets.

There are easier and better ways to make moey, but society has an obsession with house flippers and day traders. But remember, these are jobs, not passive investment opportunities.

One question I often struggle with is when a  person I have never met asks me what it is I do. This is because I do a lot of different things, mostly looking for market inefficiencies and then capitalizing on them. But this is too much to explain at a cocktail party. The most positive response I ever got were the years I was flipping houses. It was as if I told them I was a cowboy from the wild west.

“Isn’t that dangerous?” They would ask.

“Isn’t that risk?y”

“Do you have your own TV show?”

“Yes, Yes, and no. What I do is too dangerous for TV.”

I am not too proud to admit that there were times I wanted to keep flipping houses just for the mystique that came along with it. Even as margins were dropping and I was working longer hours for less money. But don’t be fooled by the late night infomercials or the scammy-looking Facebook ads.

Even the successful day-traders and home flippers work long hours, spend a lot of time researching, and have a lot of their personal wealth tied up in their investing. Oh, and of all the people I have met who tried day trading and flipping houses, very very few were successful over time. And all of them have at one point or anther lost a lot of money. No successful investor hasn’t.

So which is better: Stocks or Real Estate?

Hopefully I have explained how impossible this is to answer. Remember the analogy of which is better music or sports?

The answer is too subjective.

Athletes listen to music and entertainers sit courtside at sporting events. A good mix of both is best.

Stock investors own homes and a real estate portolio and real estate investors keep liquid assets to fund their businesses.

Finding the right balance is key. But balance is difficult when you are first starting out.

Real Life Advice:

Too many books and blogs out there spend too much time dodging actual advice. Although I spent the last 20 minutes explaining how this question really cannot be answered, let me know explain what I would if I were starting from scratch today:

I am opening a brokerage account (e-trade is what I use) and putting at least 10% of my income into stocks every month. If I am very risk adverse, I am buying Vangaurd Index Fund. If I am more educated and searching for cash flow, I am buying dividend stocks, starting with energy companies followed by REITS. (I am investing in energy companies with a proven track record of growth and dividends. This can include producers, transports and pipelines. I am not investing in new tech like renewables and solar/wind.)

I am also looking to buy my first house, 3 bed 2 bath single family home somewhere close to where I work or maky my living. Depending on the numbers (purchase price, taxes, interest rates, going rents) I am purchasing it as my primary residence to get the best loan and tax breaks out there, and then I am going to rent out the two spare rooms.

After 2-3 years I am going to look for another home and do the same thing. When I move I am going to continue to rent my first home out, but this time all three bedrooms. This only works if the rents are covering all my my expenses, however. So its very important you run all of these numbers and scenarios from day one. It might make more financial sense to put more money down on your purchase, so that your monthly expenses are lower (usually avoiding mortgage insurance premium is your best bet.)

All the while I am putting 10% of my income into the same stocks.

I am going to continue to do this for 10 years. This means after 10 years I should own three houses, and a cash flow producing dividend stream in my stock portfolio. The stock market has most likely risen and fallen 5-25 times during this period.

I didn’t notice though, because I was just focusing on my 10% into stocks every month and looking for my next real estate investment. There are times where I will fund my real estate investments with money or income from my stock portfolio. This is why I have my stock portfolio.

There is no reason that this strategy will not work. If it won’t work in your part of the country then move. If you can’t invest 10% of your income every month then stop spending money on other crap. This strategy does work, but only if you are committed.

This is a 10 year plan that anyone can follow. This was my first ten year plan. It works.

Some mistakes I made along the way that you can avoid, and also advice to adhear to:

Avoid condos. Maybe there is an instance where they make sense, but they will never appreciate as well as single family homes and you are always at the risk of the HOA raising its costs. This cuts into your cash flow deeply and is tough to predict.

Work with people and professionals that have your best interest in mind. Then question why they might have your best interest in mind. Usually only you will have your best interest in mind, which is why you need to invest in yourself.

Never stop educating. If you are in a career, attend every conference, seminar, read every book and watch every youtube clip on your profession. Be the best at it,  most educated and most driven. Become irreplaceable. Become the person people want to follow. Whether you leave companies, careers, it doesn’t matter. You are being paid to learn, so invest a little extra in yourself.

Learn other skills as well. Learn how to write better. Or learn how to make youtube videos. Learn how to understand Facebook or other new technologies. There are hundreds of books on every topic. Read them. Get an amazon kindle unlimited subscription and read ebooks all the time.

Your industry has changed, is changing, and will change much more, in the next 10 years. Be prepared for it. Or better yet, be the reason it changes.

Keep the focus on your why. Sometimes times get tough, stick to the plan. Sometimes times get really easy. Stick to the plan. Sometimes you get so tied up in your sucess and achieving goals you may forrget why you are working so hard in the first place and instread just work hard to get better or to beat your competition. Remember your why.

So Real Estate vs. Stocks, which is better?

They both are.

How could this article be better?Like this? Hate this? Let me know! www.twitter.com/skyler_irvine

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How Much Is Too Much To Spend On Knowledge

How Much Is Too Much To Spend On Knowledge?

How much money would you pay for a book that you knew would help you?

$5?

$50?

$500?

For me, I don’t even look at the price. But it wasn’t always that way. After you spend a few hundred thousand dollars on education, the difference between $5 and $500 doesn’t seem that much any more.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very frugal. I can’t even get myself to buy a bottled water from Starbucks anymore. Not when I can fill my own up from home or get an ice water in a glass for free. I am not cheap, but I am frugal when it comes to unnecessary spending.

What is not unneccessary, however, is my education. I have never shied away from throwing money at it. But more important than throwing money at it, is implementing lessons learned IMMEDIATELY.

I attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a resident of Arizona. This means I paid out of state tuition. We were on the quarter system, but really it was more of a trimester system, with summer school option split in two. Confused? Don’t worry about it.

My main point is that each ‘trimester’ was about $13,000-$15,000 each, times three… times 4 years in college. Yes, that is a lot of dollars. And when you are 18-22 years old, it all feels like monopoly money anyway since its borrowed money with a government guarentee at a low interest rate that didn’t start accumulating until I graduated college anyway. At 18 years old that seemed like 100 years away.

A quick 4 years later and Oh My F*%$&ing God I owe how much?

 

Was College Worth It?

If you ask James Altucher, he will tell you “Don’t Send Your Kids To College.”

His reasoning in a nutshell, college is getting too expensive, and the cost benefit of going to college is completely out of whack. Its hard to disagree as the government has guarenteed student loans, it has made student loans easier to get, which has caused colleges to raise their tuition, which has caused students to pay more because they can easily borrow.

Yes, if this sounds like the recent Housing Bubble you are correct, but thats a whole other story I am happy to discuss with anyone (Twitter: @Skyler_Irvine)

But I have learned that there isn’t one solution for everyone. Its all a case by case basis.

If you want to be  a doctor, you NEED college. A lot of it.

If you want to start a business, business school may help you, but you do not need it.

If you want to be a plumber, you need to get licensed as a plumber, and you do not need 4 years of college to do so.

What is it you want? The biggest problem with our current system is that an 18 year old doesn’t know what they want. I sure didn’t. I knew I wanted to be happy, that was it. I was aware of the fact that many, if not most, adults are unhappy around the 45 year old mark. I didn’t want to be one of these people.

For me, I went to a college that was closer to paradise than it was to ‘career preperation’. But for me, someone who wanted to be happy, I realized what made me happy. Having free time to learn the hobbies and subjects I enjoyed, being close to the beach, and not setting an alarm in the morning. Simple things.

Sure, it didn’t make me a great college student by any means, but boy was I happy. Until my junior year when I realized I was on pace to graduate in 5 years. Remember when I said how much money school was costing me? Short answer: A LOT!

So what did I do? I maxed out units for 2 summer sessions while everyone else I knew was getting drunk on the beach, then I maxed out the next 2 trimesters while again, everyone was getting drunk on the beach (Did I mention I went to college in paradise? And don’t take this tone as condenscending as I spent my first three years getting drunk on the beach.)

Then with only one trimester to go until graduation I had enough units to double major in Global Studies: Sociopolotical and Economic Relations, and History.

I literally did more in that last year in college than I did in my first three. Its somewhat depressing to think back on, but in regards to shaping me as a person I needed all of those 4 years. But did I need to pay so much money for it? Maybe, maybe not. I can admit I was too entitled and proud to go to a community college (WAY CHEAPER) for two years, but in the long run how much of an economic impact would that have had on me? Maybe it would have hurt me in the long run.

My whole life I was told to get good grades in school so I could get into a good college and then get a good job. I did all those things, minus the good grades in college. But guess what, no one ever asked me for my GPA when I was looking for work. I assume there are many positions out there that do, but I never came accross it personally.

Continuing Education

Enter post college, cerca 2007 and I got one of those jobs I had heard so mcuh about my whole life. Decent salary, great benefits, and a travel stipend. That travel stipend ended up being a game changer as I didn’t know it at the time but I would be travelling quite a bit for this job I grew to despise.

The idea of travelling for work sounds exotic, but for the wrong company it sucks. I was at the wrong company for travel. I would recevie about $60 a day from my company any time I was not staying in my own apartment that night. This was in addition to my rental car (paid by company) and hotel (paid by company)

At first I maxed that $60 out every time on steak dinners or cocktails, but eventually I just started being frugal and put that extra money away for future Skyler. When you spend a lot of time on the road staying in crappy hotels, its pretty easy to be frugal.

I would travel for about 2 and a half to 3 weeks per month. That was about an extra $1000/month that I just invested and didn’t think about again. I had a salary and benefits and now an investment account.

Fast forward to peak recession and I am laid off. Have you seen the movie Up in the Air with George Clooney? Yes, that is real. And yes that happend to me. Except it wasn’t George Clooney that did the firing. That would have been weird if it was though.

What Does Working Have to Do With Education?

Great question, and I am glad you asked it!

I spent A LOT of money in college and got a ‘degree’ that was definitely not worth what I paid for it in terms of monetary value. But I learned a LOT about life, myself, relationships, networking, working with team and then working my ass off by myself to achive a goal (graduating on time for example). These were very important life lessons that I maybe could have learned elsewhere, but I will never know for sure.

Then I got a job in the real world. Although I hated it, I learned A LOT! I learned a lot about traveling the country on my own, going through airports, finding rental cars, navigating in strange cities. I learned about building codes, how they vary from city to city, what makes property valuable, how owners of buildings act compared to employees of buildings. I learned a lot to say the least. But this time I was paid for this knowledge.

At the time I thought I was starting a career in business marketing and environmental consulting, but in hindsight it was just more education. Education I was paid for.

Should You Got To College?

This is a tough question to answer because everyone is different. I got a traditional college education in just over 1 year, but it took me 4 years of tuition. I learned a lot about the business world in just 2 years working for a big company. The big company paid me to learn while I paid college to learn.

Since college and that first job, I have started several companies. One company I lost over $100,000 in less than 18 months. Guess how much I learned during that period? Enough to last the rest of my life! In fact, I am now making money today from lessons learned from that company.

After my first company hit it big around 2008-2009 I paid off all of my college debts and then invested in more school. This time I spent over $30,000 to attend Robert Kiyosaki’s Real Estate School. Some consider these a scam, and others have turned this education into a big money making business. I chose the latter.

All in all, I have spent several hundred thousand dollars in education. And I continue to invest today. If someone I trust tells me a book will help me make more money, I will not look at the price of the book. It doesn’t even cross my mind. I easily spend over $500 a month buying books and ebooks on Amazon. I can’t go through a Barnes and Nobel without spending a few hundred bucks.

What Have I Learned By Spending Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars on Education?

Short answer is that I have learned everything I need to know to get to where I am today. And I am happy today. Its all I have ever wanted.

But that doesn’t mean I am going to stop learning. Before its all said and done I will easily eclipse $1 Million in education. How can I justify it?

Because the return on investment in my education is the best return I have ever gotten. Just don’t confuse college with education. College today is a luxury. It is not needed. It can help. But it isn’t a requirement for success, depending on how you define success.

You have access to the internet. You can take classes on youtube. You can download free books, or go to the library. You can go to a 2-year trade school.

College was a good investment for me, and maybe for most people. But it can be a huge weight on someone’s shoulders if they are just trying to buy some time to find themselves.

Find yourself on a trip around the world. Or start a business and try and turn a profit. Seriously, do you know how difficult it is to turn a profit with a new business?

The person that says “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life,” was lying. You will work. Many days. We all have to work. Just know what your end goals are from day one, and work TOWARDS them.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I just want to be happy. To me, that means no debt, freedom to learn the hobbies and skills I choose, not setting an alarm clock in the morning and time to spend with my family and travel. At 30 years old, just 8 short years removed from college, I can say that I am happy.

What makes you happy?

What did you think? Like This? Hate This? Let Me Know!


10 Business Ideas Where You Can Make Your Own Hours

10 Business Ideas Where You Can Make Your Own Hours

As many of you know, I am a big fan of James Altucher and his “Become an Idea Machine” concept. Its fantastic. If you don’t know what it is, here is a quick break down:

Write down 10 ideas every day.

Pretty easy right? Wrong. Can you come up with 10 ideas a day? 3 or 4 maybe, yes. But 10! 10 is hard. By the time you get to 7 you are really sweating, working that brain muscle of yours! Then 8, 9 and FINALLY 10. Wow, time for a nap.

Only you won’t want a nap. You will be energized! That’s why I encourage this for the first thing in the morning. It’s better than a cup of coffee!

I will expand more on the concept of 10 ideas a day later on, but I wanted to address a question that I am often asked, especially recently.

“If I want Passive Income, what’s the best way to start?”
The thing about passive income is that it’s not easy. It’s actually the hardest type of income to get. It takes the most work, and the most brain power. But once it’s generated, its forever. That is why it’s so important to focus on passive income early on.

Earned income, or the income you get from your job by selling your time, is the easiest income to get. Its why the most people have it and why it’s taxed the most.

To generate passive income, you either need capital to purchase income streams with like rental properties or dividend stocks, or you need to create and sell your ideas. Never in the history of the world has it been easier to reach more people. If you can create content, you can reach people with it.

If your idea of living the Cash Flow Lifestyle means choosing your own work hours, then here are 10 ideas for you that I came up with a few weeks ago. Maybe some of them exist, maybe they don’t? Who knows? Can you come up with 10?

10 Business Ideas to make your own hours

– Handyman service, always in demand, no organization
– E-book author
– Realtor
– Organize high end golf trips, test our courses, blog reviews, write off trips
– Travel blogger: how to do X with only Y dollars
– YouTube content creator, target new parents, we buy anything
– House manager in high end neighborhoods: manage supplies and schedule service appointments and let people in or out of house for working families
– If you live in city, have people deliver packages to your apartment for them to pick up after hours. Work from home and charge small fee based on size.
– Distribute a monthly e-newsletter for a very specific high demand topic: brainstorm ten topics. People sign up $4.99 for the year? Month?
– Create Amazon affiliates account and blog product reviews, sell products on site.

1. Handyman Service:
Good Handymen are very hard to come by and are ALWAYS in need. If you have handy abilities, and basic organization, congratulations, you are a rare commodity! Very easy to promote, and very important to take care of your clientele, but before you know it you will be turning down business. You don’t need a website, just start a Facebook and Google Plus Page, make it searchable. Print out 250 business cards from vistaprint and start networking. Extremely low cost to start up.

2. e-Book Author
“The definition of an expert is someone that knows more about a specific topic than you.” What do you know more about than anyone else? What are you more interested about than anyone else? What two topics do you really enjoy that you could combine into a new category? Congratulations, you are halfway to being an e-book author! There are plenty of books on the subject of self-publishing e-books and I can even recommend a few. Write when you want, publish on Amazon, and then write the next one. Learn as you go and improve. Best advice is to also start a blog to develop those writing skills and habits.

3. Realtor
Becoming a Realtor in most states has a very low barrier of entry. That is why there are so many Realtors. But there are not many GREAT Realtors. This is why the top 1% in every state make more than the other 99%. If you want to turn it into a business, you have to work your ass off. There are plenty of great Real Estate and Sales books I can recommend, but just because you can make your own hours doesn’t mean you can live the high life working 4 hours a week.

4. Golf Blogger/Consultant
I don’t know if this even exists, and if it does thats awesome and if it doesn’t even better! Do you like golf? Then turn it into income! Become a golf blogger, travel the country or even the world playing all the best places. Take photos, start an instagram account and blog about everything you see. The courses, the culture. Hell, this is starting to sound pretty good to me.
There are people that organize all sorts of travel trips, so start organizing all inclusive golf trips. Negotiate with the best courses and nearby hotels and restaurants, get discounts and charge for your service. Test out products and blog about that too. There are no limits here.

5. Travel Blogger
Don’t like golf? Then become a travel blogger. Do all of the same things but with no limits to just golf. Teach people how to travel to Bali on $30 a day or you tell me how much it costs since you are the travel blogger. If you don’t have a house or apartment, and you sell all of your stuff, how much money do you really need to travel? Read Vagabonding or 4-Hour Work Week and find out that the answer is not that much!. What is stopping you?

6. Youtube Content Creator
Like I said, there are so many ways to reach people all you have to do is come up with the content. Start a youtube channel, for free! Add content. Target new parents like me, my wife and I will buy anything for our kids. Hell of a market there.

7. House Manager in Upscale Neighborhoods
My wife and I are both working professionals. We don’t have a lot of free time, and the free time we do have we don’t want to waste it on house management. I always thought I would pay for a service that would handle these tasks for me and bill me at the end of the month.

I can order most of my supplies on Amazon so I can avoid going to the store ever, but sometimes I need more. If there was a service that could manage all my household bills, or dry cleaning 2 times a month, making sure landscaper is paid etc. There is an opportunity here.

How much could you charge? Several hundred dollars a month? More? How many homes would you need to sign up before you are making a few thousand dollars a week?

8. Package Receiver
I don’t live in the city, I have a house. When I order something on Amazon it’s delivered to my house, and if no one home it sits in the courtyard. If I lived in an apartment I wouldn’t want it sitting in the hallway.

If people work during the day, have them deliver packages to your place, and hold them for a fee until the person picks it up. Maybe you work from home during the day, or have a roommate that stays up all night, it could work, maybe?

9. Create a Monthly Newsletter
Find a very specific topic that people are interested in. Maybe something new like Tesla’s new home battery. You would be the first to have a newsletter about it. People that are interested in that batter would be interested in your newsletter. Charge a dollar a month, or $30 per month if it’s good. You don’t need to be an expert yet, start it and become the expert.

10. Create Amazon Affiliates Website
Start writing about products you love, or hate, and have links to purchase them on amazon so you get a cut. Create an amazon affiliates account today. It’s easy. I have one because I read and recommend a lot of books. If you can get a big enough and loyal audience, you have a business.

Conclusion:

Here are 10 ideas. They are just ideas. They can become businesses, but they obviously will take a lot of work. All good things take work. The Cash Flow Lifestyle isn’t free, it takes a lot of work. But the work doesn’t have to FEEL like work. It can be fun, it can be adventurous, it can be scary.

Would a professional golf blogger/consultant feel like work? Sometimes I imagine yes that it would. But what a cool title on your business card!

And whatever path you choose, just remember to take some of all the income you make and invest it into your self first. Start that passive income stream and keep investing in it, every month, forever. Whether you acquire rental properties, dividend paying stocks, or new businesses, just keep adding to it.

Can you come up with 10 ideas? Feel free to steal any of these, or combine any 2 or 3 to make a better idea, just let me know about it!

What did you think? Like this? Hate this? Let me know!


Why Tesla Will Succeed

Tesla, as a Company, is Going to Succeed:

When it comes to investing, its always important to buy with your head and not your heart. Develop your system, and invest accordingly. If you want to change your investments, refer back to your system and decide whether or not your system needs to be adjusted, updated or overhauled.

Always refer to your system before making investment decisions. Your system is your brain. You spent a lot of time developing it, so stick to it. When markets go up and when markets go down, stick to it.

As you should be aware of by now, my system involves cash flow. Not just cash flow, but continually growing my cash flow every month, so that next month I make more passive income than I did this month, every month, forever. This is my system. Even if it means buying just one more dividend paying stock this month, I am sticking to that system.

 

Liking a Product VS. Liking a Company

There are times where a new product may come along that you think is just fantastic. Maybe the GoPro was one of these products? Very cool product indeed, and also developed a cult following with raving fans which is very tough to do.

Its ok to buy products you like. But that doesn’t mean you should buy their company’s stock. Especially if it doesn’t follow your system. GoPro makes a great product, but if it wants to be a successful company and make money on your investment, it must overcome A LOT of hurdles.

We want to make investments into companies with as few ‘ifs’ as possible. GoPro going from successful product to a successful company has a lot ‘ifs’ in front of it, and many of those ‘ifs’ are competitors that are much larger than them already.

Tesla Will Succeed

Tesla Will Succeed

Tesla Will Succeed

What Does This Have To Do With Tesla?

Tesla is a car company. A new car company. A new car company in an age where the industry doesn’t allow for new car companies.

There are many ‘ifs’ in front of Tesla for it to succeed as a company.

But heres the catch, I really believe its going to succeed.

Tesla Chart May 7, 2015
Tesla Chart May 7, 2015

Elon Musk, CEO and Founder of Tesla just announced their latest product. A batter for the home. Tesla may not be a car company after all. It may be a battery company. It may be a batter company in an industry that definitely needs more efficient batteries.

What Really Makes Tesla Special?

Elon Musk is out to change the world. This is a very good thing, and your heart will most likely support this. But your brain should tell you that most people are lazy and change is hard. Investing in change can be expensive.

You can like the idea of renewable energy for the earth, but for your investment portfolio it has to make both sense and cents.

So what is it that makes Tesla so special? From day one, Elon Musk has marketed his products as a luxury product, and when you make a luxury product, you can make your own margins. This is not a statement meant to be cynical, its meant to point out Elon Musk’s true genius!

When you create a product for the masses, you must mass produce it as cheaply as possible and cut all possible corners. This sacrifices product integrity, and eventually brand integrity.

Tesla makes a $100,000 car. This gives it plenty of room for error when it comes to profit margins. It also allows for investment and innovation. A $100,000 car model today may be a $30,000 car model ten years from now. And there will be a new $100,000 car model ten years from now that will consist of parts and innovations not even considered today.

Now Tesla makes a $3500 home battery back. This isn’t something you need. Its something you want. People love buying things they want more than things they need. 

There is a lot of potential for a home battery. In fact, the next natural disaster that strikes I bet you will see Tesla delivering charged batteries to the stricken areas that will greatly demonstrate their potential and importance. Mark my words.

Unfortunately, I don’t hold the same views that many have that this will completely change the world. As a storage of power, I assume these are officially the best batteries on the market. But energy demand will not slow down, and the cost and demand for the raw materials needed for solar power are just not inline.

Additionally, the problem with humanity is that the more efficient things get, the more we use, the more we ‘need’.

The more fuel efficient our cars become, the more we drive.

The more battery our iPhones have the more apps we download and photos we take.

The more energy efficient our homes become, the more energy we consume. Smart thermostats? Smart refrigerators? Smart TVs?

The Future for Tesla

So what does the future hold for Tesla? No one knows for sure. If someone says they do, they are lying. But its hard to argue that the future doesn’t seem bright. First, they updated an outdated industry and forced change and reform. Then, they improved on an old product and created an entirely new marketplace that just days ago didn’t even exist.

Does this sound like another company to you?

Why Tesla Will Succeed

Hmmm.

As of today, Tesla does not pay a dividend. It is a growth stock and growth stocks rarely pay dividends. I currently do not own any Tesla stock… but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t reviewing my investing system later today.

 

What did you think? Like this? Hate this? Let me know! 

Do NOT Borrow Money To Purchase A Car: The Next Sub-Prime Collapse is Around The Corner

Do NOT Borrow Money To Purchase A Car:

Have you seen these new cars? I’m talking about anything American made since 2014. They are unbelievable! The computers, the comfort, the luxury. American cars have caught up to if not surpassed their foreign luxury counterparts.

But have you also seen these prices?

F 150 Yukon Jeep Cherokee Tahoe

Unless you have the cash to pay for these, do not buy them! And if you have the cash to pay for these things, invest it!

Don’t Listen to Me

Don’t listen to me of course. I’m a hypocrite.  I just bought a new car. A Jeep Cherokee in fact. But if you read this: “Saving vs. Investing As I See It” you will learn that I buy cars a little differently. You see, in 2010 I wanted a new car. And not just a new car, but a really nice new truck.

But I had a really tough time committing that much money to a depreciating asset. But, I also really wanted it. This is a problem some people have and some people do not. I’m the type of person that wants things. Not all the time, but sometimes.

Some financial ‘experts’ will tell you to get rich you can never go out for a cup of coffee, you must buy used Geo Trackers with high mileage, live below your means your whole life and then die rich.

Geo Tracker Convertible!

My problem with this has always been that I know you can live richly while also being smart about money. I like going out for a cup of coffee, I like new cars and I like living below my means while also raising my means extremely high so I can live an enjoyable life.

So in 2010 I saved up the money I needed to purchase a brand spanking new Ford F-150 Platinum. But then I didn’t buy one. If you read the article mentioned above you will remember I instead bought a house. I put all the money I had saved up as a down payment on a rental property. That rental property at the time yielded about $450 per month after mortgage payments, insurance and property management fees.

That $450 per month became my car payment. So I got my truck, and used an appreciating asset that cash flowed every month to do so.

So what happened over the next 5 years? Well, I bought a few more cars. I, of course, only had one at a time, but life events kept causing me to want a different style of car.

2 years after I bought that rental and then my pick-up truck, I bought a new house for myself. The problem was that the truck didn’t fit inside the garage! Can you believe that? So after a couple weeks of parking on the drive way, in Scottsdale Arizona at 115 degree temperatures, I decided I needed a car that would fit inside the drive way.

So I traded in the truck for a sports car. I had equity in the truck from paying it down, and my new car payment was, you guessed it, less than $450. My appreciating asset once again foot the bill.

A couple years past, and a couple cars later, that appreciating asset has appreciated quite a bit! In fact, the rent has also gone up meaning more monthly money in my pocket.

In a Perfect World

Listen, I get it. In a perfect theoretical scenario I should have bought that used Geo Tracker in 2010, paid cash and reinvested that $450/month into something else. But the thing is, I wanted the truck. So I found a way to get it. Then I wanted a sports car. So I found a way to get it.

Then I got married, had my daughter and have another on the way, so I found a way to get the family SUV I wanted.

And the best thing is, I still have that appreciating asset. It still cash flows, and it still appreciates. I also have several others for other things I have wanted.

The Cash Flow Lifestyle is not about living below your means forever, its about raising your means to live the life you want. Its about discovering creative solutions to life’s issues. Life is not a perfect theoretical scenario where you can just not buy Starbucks for 10 years and end up rich and happy.

If Starbucks makes you happy, find away to generate $5 per day so your Starbucks is paid for, for the rest of your life!

Figure Out What YOU Want

I read all the books, blogs and articles. I listen to the podcasts. I know what other people say and teach. My best advice to you, the reader, is to not listen to me. But also don’t listen to anyone else. Take all of the information and define what is best for YOU.

  • Do you want to never work for someone else again, travel the country on Top Ramen, riding a bicycle, and clipping coupons? Then do it! You could probably start right now. It doesn’t take that much money.
  • Do you want to start a business doing what you love and generating enough passive income to have all of your necessities paid for? Then do it! Determine exactly how much you NEED to survive per month. Cut all unnecessary expenses, and determine exactly how much monthly income you need to earn to survive. I guarantee you it is much lower than you think. Get creative!
  • Do you like things? Enjoy travel? Have a passion for personal growth? Then get creative. Study all the entrepreneurs before you, learn what they did. Copy them when you can, improve on them when you need.

I started buying foreclosed homes in 2009 and everyone told me I was crazy. Those same people now tell me how lucky I was I bought when I did. Lucky? 2 years of sleepless nights, panic attacks, re-writing business plans. Re-running all my numbers. I don’t deny I am lucky, but I do deny that I just lucked into the opportunity.

After borrowing money from everyone and everywhere I could, I reached a point where I couldn’t get traditional financing any more. I had income, but no “job”. I didn’t fit into the box that mortgage lenders needed to check off to give me financing.

So I pivoted. I found Hard Money lenders. Hard Money lenders are like banks, except they need a lot less paperwork and charge a lot more interest. This only made financial sense to me because I was borrowing short term loans to buy distressed properties, rehab them, and then quickly sell. You have probably heard it called Fix and Flip.

Then the TV shows returned and the Hedge Funds showed up and put people like me out of business, so I pivoted again. I love Real Estate and I love helping people get rich. Helping people buy and sell real estate in my opinion is the best way to help people get rich.

So I partnered with a very experienced Realtor in Phoenix and co-founded The Myriad Real Estate Group a couple years ago.

My Fork In The Road

When I was laid off in 2008, in debt and ended up moving in back in with my parents, I became very depressed. I felt that I had hit rock bottom, failed everyone and at everything, I did the whole “good grades” thing, “get into a good college” thing, “get a good job with benefits” thing and then the whole “get laid off during the recession” thing.

I did all the things I thought I was supposed to do. All the things I was taught to do. All the things I was told my whole life to do. And I ended up depressed, with college debt and lost.

So I decided to double down and reinvest in myself. I really didn’t have anything more to lose. My parents were great and didn’t mind me living at home so I knew if I lost everything I would end up exactly where I already was. Put things in perspective.

I decided that if I could just generate a little passive income, I could move out of my parents house and just live cheaply. I was only a couple years out of college and knew all about living cheaply.

In 2008 I wrote down exactly what I wanted. To own my own house, buy my dream truck and have a dog. Just over 2 years later I had my truck, my own house and my dog.

And then it happened

Too make a long story long, what happened to me is what happened to the entrepreneur after he sells his company or the athlete that retires too soon. I wanted more. I didn’t work this hard to ride into the sunset at 25 years old. Although I had all the passive income I needed to live comfortably for as long as I wanted, I still wanted more.

Additionally, I felt I owed it not only to myself but to others. I was not the only one laid off during the recession. I was not the only Millennial sick of being the scape goat in the news, called lazy and looked down on for moving back in with my parents.

The reason it is so important that you write down exactly what you want is so you realize when you get it. 

At 25 I achieved what I wanted at 23.

At 30, I realized I had achieved what I wanted at 25.

As Tim Ferriss says, “There is less competition for the bigger goals.”

As Kanye West says, “Reach for the stars so if you fall you land on a cloud…”

Be You

We are all different and we all want different things. The philosophy of this blog and upcoming book (Coming soon! Sign up on my mailing list on top right of this page for early release!), is to help you get what you want. Learn from my experiences, both good and bad. Step outside of your comfort zone. Improve your financial well being; but also your physical and mental states.

Become a better you.

But most importantly, figure out exactly what you want.

I know a teacher  who works 9 months a year, saves and invests every month, and then travels the world every summer to exotic locations. I would call him rich.

I have another friend who owns two homes in California, one rental and one he lives in with an ocean view, married, works from home and has a dog at 30. I would call him rich.

What is rich to you? Its closer than you think.

What Does This Have To Do With Borrowing Money To Buy A Car?

I’m glad you asked! To make a long story longer, you need to start thinking differently. Steve Jobs told you to.

The old way of doing things is stupid. They told you to get good grades, go to college, get a job and keep it until you are 65. If that makes you happy then you probably aren’t reading this blog.

I have built a lot of my wealth in real estate, and I was able to do so because the market created an opportunity for me. This opportunity is very reminiscent of what is happening in the auto-market. Except this time I do not see an opportunity anywhere.

  • Remember all those sub-prime borrowers that were buying homes? They are buying cars now.
  • Remember all those new types of mortgages that were created to help people buy homes they couldn’t afford? Those are now 7-year auto loans.
  • Remember what happened when more people had more money? Home prices sky-rocketed. See current auto prices.

But with homes, they historically go up in value due to appreciation, inflation and location. With cars, they depreciate the second they drive off the lot. This means most buyers of new cars are literally underwater the second they get home.

Are they going to keep making payments if times get tough? Maybe they will, I don’t know. But when access to capital gets really easy, things get bubbly. And in a low interest environment, investors get greedy searching for yield. When they search for yield, they go into riskier investments… ie Subprime Borrowers.

And everyone makes money, until they don’t.

So What Does This Mean For You?

It means if you are in the market for a new car, look at a used one. If you have enough cash to buy one out right, consider alternative investments. Who knows, maybe you can find something that will buy your next few cars.

Or, if you are patient you might be able to get one of these very nice 2015 models for a lot less then today’s value.

Whatever you do, don’t just do what you think you are supposed to. You aren’t supposed to do anything. You aren’t supposed to go to college. You aren’t supposed to buy a home with a 30 year mortgage and you aren’t supposed to borrower money for 2 cars to put in your garage.

You’re supposed to be happy.

What makes you happy?

Maybe its a brand new car. And if it is, then by all means, borrow money to buy one.

 

Questions or comments? Find me on Twitter @Skyler_Irvine

 

What is Amazon Kindle Unlimited: And Why You Need To Sign Up Today

What is Amazon Kindle Unlimited: And Why You Need To Sign Up Today

You may or may not have heard but Amazon just released another service. Yes they released a streaming music service recently, but thats not what I am talking about.

I am talking about Kindle Unlimited. I randomly discovered it while searching for books on my iPad and I can’t begin to tell you how much I love it.

So what is Kindle Unlimited?

$9.99 per month, for unlimited Kindle books. But like any great marketing concept, unlimited does have some limits.

Kindle Unlimited Limits

For example, you can only have 10 books downloaded at a time. Once you reach this limit, it asks you to remove one from your Kindle before downloading again.

Note: If you buy a book, you can absolutely keep it, this is just ones that are being ‘rented’.

Another catch? Not every book is included. But a LOT are included. And almost every e-book I have tried is included.

There are a few ways to search for what available, but the best is from the Kindle App on your device. I use an iPad so you will have to let me know if its not as easy on other devices. You can always check out the website as well.

Why You Need Kindle Unlimited:

Because you are hopefully reading at least 2 books a week, 8 a month, and 96 a year. But, even if you aren’t like me, just a couple books a month and it pays for itself.

And once you go down the rabbit hole, hopefully it motivates you to keep reading, or to try books you normally wouldn’t buy due to the price. This is the best part of the entire concept.

Broaden your horizon. Learn up on topics you may be interested in, but have never delved into completely.

Or don’t. I don’t care. Do what you want.

But you can bet your ass I’ll be reading at least 2 books a week, and now I only have to pay $9.99 a month to do so.

 

CLICK HERE to learn more about Kindle Unlimited. Or don’t.

 


How To Get Rich and Skinny in 30 Days!!! (But Not Really)

How To Get Rich and Skinny in 30 Days!!! (But Not Really)

If you want to lose weight you need to exercise more and eat less. Its really that simple. You can argue all you want about carbs, gluten free, vegan, whatever, but it really comes down to exercising more and eating less.

 

But people like complexity. People like to know more. People like to learn something from somewhere so that they can tell someone who hasn’t heard about it yet and say “You haven’t heard about…….????”

 

If you want to get rich you need to save more and spend less. Its really that simple. You can argue all you want about derivatives, option trading, IPO’s, whatever, but it really comes down to saving more and spending less.

 

But people like complexity… You can see where I am going I’m sure….

 

So why isn’t everyone rich and skinny?

We all know what we should be doing. Why don’t we do it?

 

Well, one reason is that we all don’t really know this. Or rather we do, but we convince ourselves it isn’t true. We argue about carbs and gluten free and then convince ourselves its too complex and difficult, and since we will never lose weight we should argue about how a “A Vegan Diet Really Isn’t Good For You” or “Running Is So Bad For Your Knees”, over a cheeseburger, large fries and a “diet” coke.

 

Same thing happens with your money. You are bombarded with the jargon, get rich quick schemes, “Don’t Miss Out on This Hot Stock!” articles, and of course my favorite: “Sign up now and I will teach you the Secret that Wall Street Doesn’t Want You to Know” seminars.

 

But really, just save more and spend less, every day, forever.

 

But forever is a long time.

 

30 Days

So why not just do it for 30 days?

 

Don’t budget. Budgeting sucks. Even financial experts that charge you money for their advice don’t keep budgets.

 

Just go one month. 30 days. Don’t do anything drastic, just spend a little less and save a little more.

 

Maybe cook dinner instead of going out? Or if you go out, just drink water instead of soda or alcohol. Or if you are at Starbucks, ask for a large cup of ice water instead of a bottle of water.

 

There are a lot of things you could do throughout the day. For 30 days.

 

Just spend a little less, and save a little more.

 

What? Does it sound too easy? Not complex enough? Well, if you want to invest in the complex stuff we can talk about that. But if you want to invest, you need to have some money. So spend a little less, and save a little more.

 

One Choice At A Time

By enforcing one small but positive habit that is easily manageable, you will start to notice the following:

1. Its not that hard.
2. What if I had started sooner, where would I be?
3. Your good habit muscle will get stronger, and you will expand it into other parts of your life.

 

Maybe spending a little less and saving a little more means going out to dinner less often. So instead you start to cook. Maybe you research some recipes and find you like cooking. Maybe you drink less alcohol and start to wake up earlier and feel more refreshed. Or maybe you go 30 days and end up fatter and in more debt.

 

Who knows? Its only 30 days.

 

Anyone can do 30 days.

 

Can you do 30 days?

 

You Don’t Need To Be An Expert To Get Started, Just Get Started

So don’t make a budget. Don’t worry about forever. Just worry about the next 30 days, one day at a time. Every time you are presented with a choice, remember your goal today is to spend a little less and save a little more. Remember, every single decision should have this goal in mind.

 

Just choose the option that allows you to spend just a little less. How little? Depends on how rich you want to be someday, or how soon you want to be rich.

 

Don’t worry about what you are going to do with the money either. Just spend less of it and save more of it.

 

For 30 days.

 

Anyone can do 30 days.

 

Starting today.

 

 

The End of The 6 Year Bull Market? And Which Stocks To Keep An Eye On

Don’t look now, but we are in the midst of a 6 year bull market. What does that mean? Stocks have been rising for 6 years straight. Have you noticed? Has anyone noticed? Does the economy feel strong?

On the ground floor, the short answer is no, the economy does not feel strong. But maybe thats because we forget how weak it was just 6 short years ago.

In the heart of the recession (they say when your neighbors lose their jobs its a recession, but when you lose your job its a depression) the US Government did what governments always do, and that is print money and then print more money. In this case they introduced QE 1, QE 2 and then QE Infinity.

Long story short, during the real estate debt bubble, big banks were leveraged to the hilt (borrowed over $30 dollars for every $1 they had). This led to inflated prices because money was easy to borrow and everyone wanted to buy the same things. More money + Low Supply = High Demand, or high prices (ALWAYS followed by increase in supply for people chasing more dollars).

We all remember what happened. We thought the economy would improve forever, until it didn’t, and then we thought the economy would never recover, and then it did.

Now we are here.

The question you need to ask yourself, has all the printing of money fixed the problem, delayed another problem, or created a new problem. Basic economics teaches us about supply and demand. When there is low supply, this creates a high demand. When there is high demand, suppliers rush to create more supply. Its in human nature, or in economic terms, when rational agents act in their best interest, booms and busts are inevitable.

If you follow Warren Buffett, you are familiar with his mid-west charm, and ability to make complicated matters seem simple. 2 important phrases come to mind.

1. “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”

2. “Rule #1, never lose money. Rule #2, see Rule #1.”

So who is being greedy right now? Well, do you think Uber is worth $41 Billion? Is Snapchat worth $15 Billion? An Pinterest worth $15 Billion?

Maybe they are? But maybe they aren’t. And here is why: Investors are back to valuing companies on user eyeballs and future revenue. This never ends well.

Who else is being greedy? Ask Mark Cuban about the inevitable collapse of the college education system. 

And maybe you are thinking, “so what, that doesn’t affect me.” But lets say worst case we are in another tech bubble, fueled by 8 years of low interest rates. These investors aren’t paying cash when they are investing in these companies at high valuations, they are borrowing it from somewhere.

If these investors lose money on bad investments, credit will tighten up, and margin calls will be made to collect on bad debts. Most of these margin calls will force investors to sell their stock in companies that aren’t struggling, usually in high volume.

This causes strong and healthy companies to have their stock prices fall, or as Mr. Buffett would say, “Mr. Market is on sale today.”

When this happens you will be ready. Now get ready!

Take a look around and keep track of stocks you want to buy. What would you buy if it were on sale?

Here is one I particularly have an eye on:

Disney:

If you have a child, or know someone who does, you have probably heard about this thing called Frozen. Well, it has made Disney a lot of money, so of course Frozen 2 is right around the corner. But this is just a fraction of why Disney is a great company to own.

Espn, owned by Disney, was one of the first to realize how important live content is. In the world of Twitter, no one records a sports game to watch later. While millenials keep ‘cord-cutting’, the one thing holding many back is live sports, or ESPN. Even with the high costs of securing the rights, advertising during sporting events keeps rising.

Additionally, as more and more people start cutting the cable cord, content is king. And more than ever. Netflix is a great company, and has a huge head start. But what makes me nervous about Netflix is all the competition it still faces, and how one wrong move can set them back a few years. So far they have made all the right moves, but with Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, I really cannot predict what the future of content delivery will look like.

What I can predict is that how ever the content is delivered, CONTENT IS KING. And no one has access to more content over the next decade than Disney!

In addition to pumping out remakes of fairy tales, new cartoon movies and sequals, Disney essentially owns not only every comic book movie (Iron Man, Avengers etc) but Freaking Star Wars!


This movie doesn’t even need to be good to make a gazillion dollars (my estimate). First they will be in the theaters, then on movie channels, then maybe Netflix, Hulu or HBO. Who knows? So instead of betting on who may win the highly competitive content delivery game, just bet on good content for the time being.

At this writing, Disney trades around $105 with a P/E Ratio of 23. Historical averages of healthy companies are around 16. Traders have a saying “Buy at 10, sell at 20” which refers to a companies PE Ratio (Price to Earnings).

Depending on your time horizon, Disney is still a tough company to not want to buy even at a PE of 23. But if we see a correction and Disney falls… well you know what I would do.

Also on my ‘Watch List’ should stocks go on Sale:

Nike and Under Armour: Both of these are in essentially the same markets, so if one does well they both will. There is an increase of health awareness and fitness throughout the US and everyone knows the first thing you need to do before you go back to the gym is buy all new clothes.

Additionally, both are heavily involved with basketball and the NBA in general. Under Armour was especially smart for jumping into this sphere and locking up the likes of Steph Curry. Basketball is currently the most global sport we have (obviously soccer is number one, but that isn’t an American sport first.)

As the NBA enters new markets, Nike and Under Armour do as well. Domestic growth can remain consistent, but their growth overseas could be exponential. They are, much like Disney, very well run companies will great CEOs. This is important and always something to consider.

Thing sports: the teams that have a culture of winning and continue to win all have great ownerships. Teams that continue to struggle and have a culture of losing… well look at the ownership.

The Energy Sector:

Which ever company succeeds, and which ever country grows, and whether you drive more or less the world is going to need more energy, all the time, every year. Don’t fight it. And right now the energy sector as a whole is on sale!

Oil, Natural Gas and Nuclear. Learn to love it.

Conclusion:

I am not a ‘trader’, I am merely an investor. I do my best to be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy. From 2008-2010 I bought as many single family homes as I could. I have purchased Apple every time there was pullback, and then just recently sold a portion when it touched $129. If it drops I will buy more.

I am currently buying US Energy companies, pipelines, and oil and gas producers. I buy more every single week. I do this because I have a list of companies I want to own before I have the money to buy them. Then when I have the money, I already know what I am buying. When I reach the limit, I cross that company off and go on to the next one.

I also own both Nike and Disney, and if stocks go on sale I will buy more.

 

 

 

Wealth Triangle

What is The Wealth Triangle?

There are only 24 hours in every day, for every person rich or poor. The definition of ‘wealth‘ varies from person to person because everyone chooses to spend their time in different ways.

Some people would like to travel the world if they could, while some would simply like to stay home with their families… if they could.

But there is only so much time in the day. And most people must sell some of that time to someone else in order to pay for life’s necessities and also luxuries of their choice.

This brings us to the Wealth Triangle.

Wealth Triangle

Wealth is merely a triangle with 3 important pillars: Time + Knowledge + Money = Wealth

Once you have achieved two of these pillars, you can use the two you have to obtain the third. When you have all three, you are wealthy.

Time + Knowledge= Money

Lets say you are fresh out of college and have no money. But you are young meaning you have a lot of time left. Use this time to increase your knowledge. Read BOOKS about money, finance and investing. Attend seminars and lectures. Find something you are passionate about and get a job in that industry. Use the money you make to buy assets that produce income and grow over time. By using the time you have, spend your days increasing your knowledge and the money will come. Time + Knowledge + Money = Wealth

Knowledge + Money= Time

Lets say you do not have as much time, but you have years of experience in an industry and hopefully savings. You should still be reading books, attending seminars and continuing your financial education. With this wealth of knowledge and money, you can now purchase time. By knowing how money really works, and how to put it to work for you so that you do not have to work, you now have the time you need to do as you please.

Time + Money= Knowledge

Who has time and money but no knowledge? Think lottery winners, or those who have recently received a large inheritance. Many people do not know how money works, or even how to keep money. Most lottery winners end up not only broke within 7 years, but also in more debt than they started in. This is not a coincidence. We are only taught how to consume, not how to invest. (See What Would You Do With A Million Dollars?)

The First Step Is Getting Started:

While everyone loves money (especially me!) the most important of these pillars is time and Knowledge. There is only so much time in the day, month years and in our lives. You can diet and exercise to try and buy more time… but that seems hard.

With knowledge, anything is possible. Knowing the right people, the right terminology, the right time, the right investment, the right price and you can achieve wealth. But like dieting and exercising it seems hard.

True Wealth is achievable by anyone. You must first define what it means to you and get started. Its much better than selling the most precious asset that you have, time. Besides, you are running out of it.

 


What If I Buy A House And The Market Goes Down?

You can admit it. This is a fear of yours. This is most people’s fear. When purchasing a home, this is often the largest investment you may make in your life. What if it turns out to be a bad investment?

Let’s take a look at a friend of mine who purchased his home late in 2006 in Phoenix. In fact, he and his wife were in a bidding war and purchased the home for well above asking price. I mean, why not, housing prices never go down.

If you ask him he will tell you, “I LITERALLY bought at the very top of the market.” A few weeks after closing a couple ‘for sale’ signs started popping up in his neighborhood. And the strange thing was that they remained there.

For Sale

Soon after, his wife and he realized they were stuck. They had their dream house but unfortunately their neighbors continued to sell and get foreclosed on and their home’s ‘value’ plummeted. They felt poor.

But they continued to pay their mortgage. Every month. Year after year.

Fast forward today. I recently spoke with him and he let me know that his house recently appraised for their original purchase price. Almost 7 years later their home is again ‘worth’ what they paid for it.

Some people might say this is a waste, after 7 years they are back to square one. But lets look at the numbers.

Lets imagine their mortgage payment was $1,500 per month. Early on in your mortgage term you are mostly paying interest and not a lot of principle. But you are also receiving tax benefits in doing so.

After 7 years they have paid $126,000 towards their mortgage while receiving a tax benefit on the interest paid. They were able to live in their dream home, and from day one they planned on living in it for at least 10 years.

If they would have let their home be foreclosed on they would have been forced to rent. At $1,500/month rent they would have paid their landlord $126,000 and received no tax benefit and have no ownership to anything.

Empty Pockets

 

CONCLUSION

So what’t the point of all if this?

My friend purchased his home at the very top of the market in 2006. Then his worst fear occurred. The market dropped. Not only did it drop, it collapsed. However, he was able to afford his payments and continued to make them. He still lives in his dream home and he has paid down is mortgage while values have creeped back up because over time real estate will go up in value.

In fact, they are now considering purchasing a new home and renting the current one out. (But thats another story)

You shouldn’t look at your investments from a day to day standpoint. You must keep your eyes looking forward. If you need a place to live it is better to own than to rent if you want to build wealth. Its as simple as that. Housing will always have booms and busts, but over time will increase your wealth better than almost any other investment.

Even if you buy at the worst possible time, if your time horizon is long enough it will pay off. And because you have to live somewhere, why not pay your mortgage instead of your landlord’s?

-Skyler Irvine, PLLC
Myriad Real Estate Group

 

Why The Answer to Your Retirement Isn’t Money, It’s INCOME

 

Whether you are 20 or you are 50, your retirement may feel like its really far away… but the truth is that its not.

Reason #1: If you have more income coming in then expenses going out, you can retire any time you want.

 

Reason #2: Anything can happen at any time, and these things usually cost a lot of money.

 

So to make this less boring, lets replace the word retirement with “EMPIRE“. Doesn’t that sound neat? How much money are you saving every month to put towards your EMPIRE?

 

Yes, much better.

 

So what is an Empire? Imagine its a large bucket. How large? Thats up to you. The bucket grows as it is filled. But often there are holes in the bucket that are used to pay for expenses and silly liabilities.

 

The old way to think about retirement was to fill the bucket up until 65, then retire and start draining the bucket until one day you finally kick the bucket.

 

Problem #1: What if your bucket is empty before you kick it?

 

Problem #2: Re-read Problem #1 because that should scare the crap out of you!

 

What most retirees don’t realize is that your expenses actually INCREASE as you age. Even with Medicaid/Medicare/Insurance the cost of living goes up as you age.

 

“I remember when going to the movies cost a nickel!” – Your Grandparents

 

Don’t forget about inflation! Every day the government is making your dollars worth less and less. The best way to understand this is that it once actually did cost only a nickel to see a movie!

 

But the government keeps printing money, making the money you have saved less and less valuable. So not only are your expenses going up, but the value of the money that you still have is going down.

 

“Da da da da da da da da da” – Empire Music from Star Wars

 

Good thing you aren’t “saving for retirement” but instead are “building your empire”.

 

Empire Building is simple:

 

-Education: Take control of your finances. Cut stupid expenses and spend every free moment thinking about how you can increase your income.

 

-Decision Making: Do your own research so you can make your own decisions. Do not leave this aspect of your life up to someone else, especially someone that earns a commission. This is your EMPIRE for you to rule and no one else.

 

-Discipline: No excuses. Find Your “Why” and stick to it!

 

Retirement vs. EMPIRE Building

 

Remember the bucket? Of course you do.

 

With retirement, you spend your life trying to fill your bucket until you are 65. There are many holes in this bucket but hopefully you are adding more water to this bucket than is draining. Then one day you stop filling your bucket (retirement) and you hope you have enough water left over to last you until you die.

 

With EMPIRE Building, you spend your entire life creating new streams of water (income!) that continually pour into this bucket. Even if they are small streams today, they are important. You minimize the holes in your bucket and as your bucket starts to fill up, it grows.

 

Your bucket gets larger and larger over the years as more and more streams are added to it.

 

One day you will realize that you have more streams than holes. Many more in fact. And since these are automatic (you don’t need to do anything to maintain these streams) you can choose whether or not you want to keep adding new streams. (The Cash Flow Lifestyle!)

 

You decide how big you want your Empire to be. While it is important to always live below your means, its up to you to continually raise your means.

 

Or, you can just save for ‘retirement’.