Many Americans are in debt, stressed, underskilled, and working at jobs they will hate until they die or retire with little or no savings, perhaps with a bankruptcy or two along the way. Any couple who can earn at least $60,000 a year who starts early enough can retire with at least $1.5 million (and most can have substantially more). How? By living below one’s means and investing steadily throughout one’s career, in good and bad markets alike. One need not resort to schemes or undue risk to achieve wealth; compound interest, good habits, and consistency (ideally by automating investing) will be enough.
Some Americans find saving too difficult because they believe they lack enough income to live, much less save. Such perceptions are often illusory and fail to appreciate the exponential power of small decisions, but underachieving earning power is indeed a hindrance to wealth accumulation. At a time when the U.S. middle class is seemingly disappearing, the basic tools of industry and self-improvement remain potent tools to those who wish to use them. While many do not know how to improve their job skills or even start their own businesses, one can learn these skills and flourish.
Demystifying Wealth is a blueprint and friendly guide. How can typical Americans transform their futures from bleak drudgery and indebtedness to freedom, independence, and security? How can someone with any skill set improve themselves enough to generate income sufficient to achieve this dream, and more?
Demystifying Wealth is premised upon many core principles, including:
- Wealth is more than money. Wealth is not simply money. Money does matter, of course, as it is necessary for personal freedom. Wealth is the ability to do what you want, when you want, with whom you want, for as long as you want, wherever you want. Wealth also includes things money cannot buy, like the ability to find meaningful relationships with friends and family and to make the world more just and beautiful in extraordinary ways.
- Humaneness and compassion. Every person deserves to dream, imagine, and create; be valued for the contributions of their mind; and be enabled to excel at deep self-learning and in their profession. The programs teach participants how to reimagine themselves as agents of change in their own lives and communities. Americans are deeply entrepreneurial and creative, but we have let this part of our national character atrophy.
- Financial progress. Every person can become financially independent and comfortable with sufficient time. It is never too late to start. The best time to reach someone is before they have started their financial and career journey, but the program will teach practical triage emergency techniques to get out of debt and other bad situations, even if those strategies take 2-3 years.
- Not about false overnight answers. Accumulating financial assets is about spending less, saving more, and investing simply. We do not teach crypto, buying and leveraging rental properties, flipping real estate, day trading through barely disguised fraud or voodoo, or other schemes. Simple, automated index fund investing through tax optimized vehicles is all one needs to beat more than 90% of managed funds, and it requires virtually no effort once set up. The greatest barrier to becoming rich is the desire to get rich quickly. Use the time you are not spending on esoteric and almost always futile get-rich-quick schemes to improve yourself, hone your skills and knowledge, and do the things in life that create memories and bonds, all while your investments grow on autopilot with little to no effort.
- The reality of human psychology. We are not weak for being vulnerable to the forces which destroy savings and wealth. Why are we not programmed to be successful, which makes us prey to multi-trillion dollar financial and credit industries? How can we create strategies that make us not feel bad when we fail in small or even big ways? How can we create simple habits and automated strategies so when we fall to our systems we still succeed? How can we create programs that give us small victories and reinforce the angels of our better selves? For example, we often spiral our spending with increased earnings as our careers advance. Simple techniques can help us invest a significant portion of those increases, while only slowly increasing our spending, at least until our savings and investment goals are met.
- Flexible approaches. Although evidence-based principles are universal, particular tactics will vary. Demystifying Wealth is not pushing a system or step program or one-size-fits-all formula, but teaches core principles and a range of tactics. For example, for some debt is an addiction, physiologically akin to the neural reality of cocaine addiction. For them, debt should rarely or never be used as a tool. For others, responsible and good debt is an investment in a better future and a crucial tool. Participants will have a range of needs, both short and long term. When someone is lost, we want them to know how to find the North Star for their own situation.
- Equality and opportunity. The tools of Demystifying Wealth are for all, from those on the bottom of the economic pyramid to the rapidly upwardly mobile. The tools of investing and saving are available to all, as are the tools to generate more wealth through better skills, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The programs understand that scarcity and poverty changes attitudes toward money and resources. The tools of Demystifying Wealth are an important tool of promoting substantive economic and social equality in an increasingly stratified economy.
- No shame. The program does not seek to embarrass participants or make them feel bad. These are for many hard skills to learn and harder ones to master. Small victories, tiny habits, easy to implement tactics, and no judgements for previous bad decisions are all important values.
- Generational wealth. The programs will enable participants to create generational wealth and pass down the values which created that wealth. We also hope that our participants can become teachers and evangelists for financial independence in their networks and communities, as well as charitable and philanthropic givers.
I founded these programs to share my lifetime of knowledge. Having grown up under the poverty level in rural Kansas, I fiercely believe in unleashing the potential of all, an approach deeply rooted in equality of opportunity and the economic realities of wealth and human capital creation. By promoting innovation, financial and adulting literacy, and entrepreneurship, we can give people solid financial bases, create jobs, give opportunities to people no matter their circumstances, and transform communities and economies.