I'll cut to the chase...
Financial Independence is simply making enough passive income to cover your basic bills without depending on income from a job or business that requires investing any of your own time.
Financial Freedom is having enough passive income to do pretty much anything you want to do.
The formula to achieve either of these is pretty simple...
You must focus on only 3 pillars of finance: Credit, Cash Flow, and Assets.
You take your credit and cash flow to acquire as many assets as will provide you the passive income you need to achieve the financial independence or freedom you seek.
My mentor said to me, "Your philosophy is the most important thing to correct on your journey to success."
So allow me to refine your philosophy on these 3 pillars of finance:
"What consumerism really is, at its worst is getting people to buy things that don't actually improve their lives." - Jeff Bezos.
The common trap many of us fall into is using credit to buy stuff that either makes us "look rich". Most people don't even realize you can use credit to build wealth or, at the very least, financial independence.
I don’t believe everyone wants to pursue wealth and riches, but I do believe everyone should pursue financial independence. Again, what is financial independence? It’s simply the ability to pay for your basic bills and necessities from the passive income from your assets.
According to Monster, approximately 41 million baby boomers are STILL working, my guess is that it’s not by choice. Rarely do we see a person in their golden years working at Walmart because they love the company, they are doing it out of necessity. That’s simply because they don’t have enough money coming from their investments and assets for them to retire comfortably and with dignity.
People look at finances incorrectly. I say cash is trash because it is constantly losing value especially as the Federal Reserve prints it like it’s going out of style especially during the pandemic in 2020. Money must be looked at as individual soldiers and servants that you can send off to multiply and create steady streams of cash flow for you.
Credit is considered to be the gateway to wealth. Credit is one of the most powerful tools that ANYONE from age 18 and up has the ability to leverage to create streams of cash flow. This means even if you are dead broke banks will extend credit to you for little more than your signature. You can then use OPM (other peoples’ money) to multiply and make some of your own.
Unfortunately, people are manipulated by corporations through advertising to get them to use credit and buy things that only lessen the power of their borrowed soldiers and servants. Instead of multiplying them, they dwindle into nothing, and in many cases they actually go into negative because of the interest they have to pay.
Not all debt is bad, in fact, it’s pretty simple to determine whether you have good debt or bad debt. If you have a loan or credit card balance for something that is costing you money and/or losing value it is bad debt. If you have a loan or credit card balance on something that is making you a profit and/or increasing in value then chances are you have good debt.
For example, a car loan is typically bad debt. Your car is costing you gas, insurance, maintenance, and is losing value quickly. A mortgage is an example of good debt because you are buying an asset that will likely increase in value.
In fact, real estate has created more millionaires and creates wealth more consistently than any other asset class because of the many benefits it provides: Cash Flow, Appreciation, Depreciation, Leverage, Loan Pay Down, Forced Equity, Inflation, etc.
Credit is like a chainsaw. If you are ignorant and play with a chainsaw it can saw off your limbs and leave you in bad shape. But if you’re educated you can chop down some trees and build a beautiful home with it.
Stop allowing corporations and marketers to manipulate you into making THEM rich. Build your credit and start using it the correct way.
The biggest issue when it comes to cash flow is that people lack direction, they don't know where to go or what to do. When people don't know what to do, they do nothing.
In all my years of experience in the finance industry, I’ve spent most of my time reading people's credit reports, pay stubs, w2’s, tax returns, bank statements, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and virtually every aspect of the most intimate details of their finances. Overtime, I’ve noticed a couple of things. People generally have little to no clue as to what they’re doing with their finances but for the most part, they all seem to want to improve their financial situation.
The number one thing people try to do to increase their cash flow is budget and save. Don’t get me wrong this is something everyone MUST do. In fact, I believe everyone should audit their finances like a big corporation would. However, there’s a limit to budgeting and saving.
Let’s just say you magically get rid of all your debt and the only outgoing expenses you had were your minimum basic bills for necessities. You can’t cut anything else out of your finances unless you plan not to eat or put a roof over your head. So, if your only strategy to increase cash flow is to save or cut out expenses, you’re out of luck.
Remember, the 80/20 rule states that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your actions. So it stands to reason that you should continue to focus on finding the 20% of things that make the most difference in your finances. Continually finding the things that will give you the greatest return on your efforts.
I believe that in finance, cash flow is one of those things. And the focus with cash flow should be on MAKING more money because unlike budgeting and saving, there is virtually no limit to how high you can go. I’m not talking about getting a raise at your job. That has a huge cap because not only will your employer only be willing to pay you a certain amount, but you’re capped at how many hours you can work. Also, we tend to spend what we make so I’ve rarely seen that make a huge impact on people’s finances.
My mentor taught me, “Work full time on your job and part time on your fortune. Because soon you’ll be able to work full time on your fortune.” What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t take very much money to completely change a person’s lifestyle.
An extra thousand a month part time can radically change someone’s life. An extra thousand a month can get them out of debt. An extra thousand a month can give them some power to invest and significantly increase their cash flow. An extra thousand a month can give them the ability to taste the power of compounding their money. An extra thousand a month can give them the down payment they need for their dream home or to begin investing in real estate.
It’s not complicated, to make an extra thousand a month you simply have to find something to sell on the side. Sales has virtually no cap because you can use the internet to start making sales very quickly from the comfort of your home. The best part is that anyone can do this with little to no out of pocket expenses and there is virtually no limit to who you can reach and sell to.
However there are 2 major problems in this approach.
First off, we as a society have developed a lazy and entitled mentality. So this causes people to either not want to do anything about it, complain, and hope the government solves their problems... Or they try to look for a shortcut like the lottery or some other “easier” or “faster” opportunity. This inevitably has them fall for these scammers and schemes that promise you, “the easiest way, the fastest way” to get rich.
Secondly, for those of us who do want to find an opportunity, lucky for us we live in a country where we are definitely not short on opportunities. However, this tends to be a double edged sword. When we are faced with endless options and opportunities, it tends to paralyze and overwhelm us. We don’t know what to do. And what do we do when we don’t know what to do??? We do nothing.
To solve the first of these issues, it’s crucial to make peace with one of two facts:
Number one is the fact that once you choose a path to increase your cash flow, it will require work. Stop believing these marketers when they say, “It’s fast, it’s easy, and anyone with a pulse can do it!” It’s going to take work and there’s really no way around it.
Number two is that if you’re not willing to work hard to escape your current situation, you'll have to live stressed about your finances for the rest of your natural life. Make peace with the fact that your finances will never change and will gradually get worse, because as you age it will only get harder and harder.
To solve the second problem, If you do choose to work, remember the 80/20 rule. Find something that will give you the greatest rate of return for the work you’re willing to put in, and ideally something you can enjoy at the same time. I find that people work harder when they enjoy what they do, and the byproduct of working harder will simply result in increased productivity and increased cash flow.
Take charge of your life. Don’t wait for some politician or for the winning lottery ticket to change your finances, chances are neither of those will ever happen.
I know that most people might NOT want a Lamborghini. But I know that almost everyone has a shiny object that catches their eye. I am not against buying these things as long as your assets pay for them…
In his book, One Up On Wall St, Peter Lynch talks about preparing yourself to invest in the stock market. On his list for preparation, he says to invest in a house before you invest in a stock. This is because, generally, real estate is a safe investment.
People are usually confused when it comes to finances. It’s not your fault if you don’t understand finances or don’t know what to do. It was designed this way on purpose to keep us ignorant. Notice how there’s NO basic financial education in schools? That is NOT an accident.
Nonetheless, finances aren’t that complicated once you understand how the game works. There are 3 major pillars in finance: Credit, Cash Flow, and Assets.
We all get credit the day we turn 18. In fact, if your parents understand credit, they probably helped you build credit even before you turned 18. Regardless, we all have an opportunity to build this tool that allows us to access funding and can help us achieve wealth. That way if you’re not born into a rich family, you still have access to money in the form of credit from the bank. Unfortunately we are given this tool without any education, and like any dangerous tool operated by one who doesn’t know how to operate it, what tends to happen?
Cash flow is a funny thing. We all get cash flow one way or another. Even homeless folks in this country have cash flow from panhandling. The issue is that people don’t know what to do with it. Money is like credit. It’s another powerful tool that we all know we want but we don’t exactly know what to do with it once we get it.
The Washington Post posted an article that said approximately 70% of lottery winners will go bankrupt within a few years of winning the lottery. So that presents two problems for most people. First, how do I increase my cash flow? Second, how do I make it multiply? I know people who have made lots of money who ended up broke. I know a guy who made $1 million within 3 years of starting his laboratory business and then lost it all! Once you understand the 3 pillars, it’s easy to see how it happened.
It’s important to know that there are two types of cash flow you can get. First, you have earned income from putting in your physical labor, usually from work or a business you own. Second there’s passive income that comes in whether you work or not. This comes from investments that produce income for you.
What wealthy people do is they take their credit and cash flow and immediately acquire assets with it, which is the third pillar of finance. This allows them to generate income while they vacation, while they sleep, while they enjoy their family, or while they continue to work to acquire even more assets.
Most people use their credit and cash flow to buy liabilities like shoes, purses, cars, or other frivolous things that will NOT make them any money, and only prevent them from achieving true financial peace of mind. I am not a minimalist who is against nice things.
But do you want to know how people who earn $1 million in a year go broke? Or how lottery winners go broke? Here’s your answer, they spend their money and use their credit to buy things that won’t make them MORE money. Instead, let your assets pay for your Lamborghini (or whatever shiny object catches your eye).
It’s a simple shift in philosophy that can radically change your outcome. As my late mentor said, “What’s easy to do, is also easy not to do.”