“Go to school and get a good paying job”. Ah, that age-old advice that’s been handed down by well-meaning parents for decades. Sounds great. Unfortunately, it’s so misguided.
With this advice, your parents assume that you’ll get a good job and that they won’t have to worry about you. But the goals of “not worrying about you” and “wanting you to be massively successful” are two different things. And know this – this advice isn’t so much about you as it is about their social status. Parents have a deep desire to be able to say, “MY son/daughter graduated from college.”
There is a powerful drumbeat of “college = success” out there. Educators, guidance counselors, financial aid officers, politicians and pop culture repeat this advice ad-nauseam. Their influence is palpable. Parents can’t avoid the peer pressure. Because of this, most parents see their mission as, “I have to get Mary through college, otherwise she will end up living in a cardboard box”.
Now, lest anyone think I’m bashing the idea of getting a college degree, rest assured that I am not. I have a couple of college degrees. Getting a college degree is important. Degrees open doors and most professional-level jobs require that you have a college degree.
So, what’s the problem with the “go to school and get a good paying job” advice, you ask?
Getting By Versus Getting Ahead
It’s not terrible advice. The problem with it, is that it’s just not great advice. It’s the type of advice that will allow a person to get by in life…but not really get ahead.
Here’s what this mantra has produced over the years:
- A person under the age of 55 is 57% likely to have zero net worth or negative net worth
- An estimated 62% of all households in the U.S. have less than $100,000 in net worth
- 89% of all “under 35” households have a net worth less than $100,000
- A person in the 35-44 age range has a median net worth of $13,000 excluding home equity
You see, the problem with this advice is that it doesn’t support the idea of self-sufficiency. Yes, it’s good advice if you want to be dependent. If you want to spend your days underneath the fluorescent lights as a cog in some company’s wheel. It’s good advice if you support the idea of trading 5 days of work for 2 days of life on the weekends. It’s also good advice if you want to be overworked and overstressed the rest of your life, hoping that maybe someday, you’ll be able to enjoy a little bit of life in retirement…that is if you don’t get laid off.
That’s not a life.
It’s The Builders Who Get Rich
My friends, I’ve spent most of my life studying the greats of wealth creation. And there’s one thing all of them have in common – they’re all builders.
By builders, I mean that they built things that produce income and wealth – companies, stock portfolios, assets and real estate holdings.
Here’s some statistics to back this up:
- 54% of all millionaires are business owners
- Most millionaires earn the majority of their income through interest and appreciation of assets via rising stock, bond and real estate prices
- 62% of all millionaires and billionaires are self-made
Society has a ‘normal’ belief that education is THE path to success. This is not to say that education is wrong. The point is that ‘normal’ means what the majority do but it does not mean what is necessarily ‘the best thing’ to do. Most people do what everyone else does, because that’s what has been taught to them.
From my experience, people will generally get the least amount of education for the most critical things in their lives. They’ll put a check mark in the “College Degree?” box and then never avail themselves of the type of real education that truly allows them to get ahead in life. Then we wonder why 60% of people 20–25 years old return to living with their parents and why three fourths of Americans are in debt.
Focus on how you can become financially self-sufficient. Learn how to truly get ahead in life and follow what the greats have done. Yes, a college degree will be a part of that equation. However, when you get it, I strongly encourage you to shift gears to, “How do I become financially independent?”
Question bridge – Are the people you take advice from where you want to be in life?
Friends, if you’re like most people and just model your parents and the people you know, in 10 to 20 years you’ll be where they are – which, given the statisticS above are struggling or just getting by.
As soon as is humanly possible start building something – a business, a portfolio and a group of assets. Instead of modeling people that are stuck in mediocrity, model the greats such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. You’ll find that they are all builders. Yes, you have to build your dreams. You have to build your fortune. You have to build your future.
You’ll Never Be More Successful Than Your Boss
Friends, a degree will get you a job but know this – you’ll never be more successful than your boss. This advice is true for the millennial as well as the 50 year old. And if you think you’re too young or too old to start building something, here’s some information to prove that you’re not:
Rose Blumkin left the turmoil of Russia in 1917 to immigrate to America. She arrived in America at the age of 24, not knowing a word of English and with only $66.00 in her pocket. But that didn’t deter her. She quickly got to work building. She started selling carpet out of her basement and grew that small business into a furniture and carpet behemoth. Today, that same store that Rose started decades ago does over $400 million annually in sales.
You are also NEVER too old to start building something. I’m only going to mention a few, but there are hundreds of famous entrepreneurs that got their start late in life. Here are some of the ones you may recognize:
John Pemberton – inventor of Coca-Cola (age 55)
Colonel Harland Sanders – founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (age 65)
Ray Kroc – the man that made McDonalds (age 52)
Henry Kaiser – founder of Kaiser Permanente (age 63)
Piggybacking off years of experience, these builders used the wisdom gained to grow, to understand what worked, what didn’t work and what was in needed to be successful.
If you look 10 years in future and are happy with what you see, you can choose to live that life.
But if you look into the future and want more—more freedom, flexibility and control of your time—you have to choose another way. I’m not saying you have to quit your job and start a business tomorrow. What I’m saying is that you have to start building.
Starting begins by having the courage to reject conventional “wisdom”. Starting is saying you’re going to control the outcome. Starting is being clear for yourself, knowing what is important to you and what you want from your life. This is not something that anyone else can do for you. Even a well-meaning parent can only suggest what they think is ‘best’ but that fails because each person has their own special purpose in life.
What will you start building today that can lead you to riches? What can you start building today that will give you control of your life? What can you start building today that can lead you to financial freedom? Let me know in the comments section below.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
P.S. Are you missing out on what tens of thousands are getting in their mailbox? Sign up on my email list and there will be lots of extra stuff about building wealth that you will receive in the future if you do!
P.S.S. Looking to make an overnight fortune? Don’t sign-up to receive my newsletter below. There’s no magic secret. Becoming financially free takes time and dedication. But learning professional-grade money skills can have a life changing effect. If you’re ready to put in the work and learn, I can show you how to achieve financial freedom. There’s nothing for sale on this blog or in the newsletter. I just provide actionable advice for free as my way to give back. What do you have to lose? Subscribe today.
Ready for more tips on how to achieve the free life? Check-out more articles from the blog archives below:
What Warren Buffett Really Means When He Says His Favorite Holding Period Is “Forever”!
50th Anniversary! Live Blogging From Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Shareholders Meeting
The Big Question: Will Berkshire Hathaway’s Stock Fall When Warren Buffett Retires? I Sure Hope So!