The answer to this question makes or breaks someone. I have seen people completely screw up their lives, becoming twisted, gnarled, and nasty because their motives were wrong. They hurt other people and themselves. They lose their spouse or their kids. They go bankrupt, or become greedy and stingy and live isolated because they never cared for people. When they're in their grave one day, what will really matter at that point?
I’m not trying to be super philosophical. But I believe this is important.
What you want for the future drives what you do today.
There are many entrepreneurs, trainers, and coaches who talk about the importance of making money. I am 100% for making money and lots of it: I think that is good, and there's nothing immoral about it. We were made to go out, build, create, and make things better. Just like I want to have good health, I want to have wealth. The notion that desiring money is greedy or corrupted is an upside down concept.
But the difference for me is that money is not the end goal. Many entrepreneurs would disagree with this.
Money is a tool and a means to something greater. In fact, money is only a concept. It’s not even real. It’s an idea that has value because millions of humans agree on it. If you went to a store with $1,000 and wanted to buy something, but the store decided that $1,000 meant nothing to them, you would not be able to buy it. A transaction takes place only because they agree with you.
When we remember that, money almost seems silly! So treat money like a tool and it will work well for you. If money is the master and the end goal, it can screw up people’s lives. I’ve seen people become very bitter and unhappy, resorting to cheating and lying, because money is their end-all and they would do whatever it takes to get more. People become stepping stones to what they want. That doesn't work, and it's jacked up. However, if you bring something of true value to people, and they pay you money for it, you deserve that money, because you offered something that increased and benefitted their life.
Money has to be a servant. It is a tool. But what is the tool for? What is the greater end?
For me, it is time. I truly believe time is my greatest asset. I speak a lot on how time and knowledge are your two greatest assets, but if they were in a race for the most important, time wins.
When I have time, I can gain more knowledge. If I sit down to read a book, I have time. If I don’t have time to read a book, I don’t get that knowledge. Time is precious and important.
When I first started doing short-term rentals, I would work with a landlord and agree to sublease the property I was leasing from them. I didn’t have the money to buy the property, so I would rent it, then turn around and rent it to people who would stay one or two nights. You can charge a lot more per night if they are only staying there a few days.
That makes very good money. You can easily profit $2,000+ a month off that. But the biggest challenge is you have to go in, clean it up, and prepare it for the next guest.
When we got up to six different properties, I didn’t have any more time in the day. My life was cleaning and preparing, cleaning and preparing. So I decided to hire someone to clean. When we had three properties, I hired someone to come clean and prepare the properties for me. It cost me $1,000 a month.
That seems like a huge loss in profit at first. But if you break it down, it’s a $333 cost per property, and if each one was already making $2,000 a month, you’re still making a good profit. And even better, you got back your most important thing: time.
Time is more important than money because I can use time to create more money.
If someone is consumed with making money, they won’t think strategically any more. They won't be able to give up $1,000 a month, because they’re thinking “I need more cash.” If they would hire a cleaner to take care of cleaning and preparing their properties, yes, they would lose $1,000 a month: but now they have all that extra time in the day! They can go get another property, or build up an Amazon store, or become a massage therapist if they wanted to.
This is why it is crucial to understand our motivations. If my motivation is to gain time, then I’m going to think more strategically than if my motivation is money. Money is a means to an end.
Money makes one of the most evil, vicious, terrible masters. But it is an outstanding servant. How is it a servant? Every month, even though I make a lot of money, I live on a budget. I have exactly how much I can spend on food, clothing, electricity, and other bills written down on a spreadsheet.
I tell my money where to go: it is a servant. I say “you do this for me.” It doesn’t tell me where to go. You want to control your money instead of letting it control you, because money is a merciless master. It will tear you up from the inside out. I have seen it destroy marriages, families, friendships, and completely detonate companies that otherwise could have been incredible.
In our culture today, especially in the US, we either tend to worship money and make it the master or consider it evil. Both are bad.
Another way of looking at it is that we undervalue a dime and overvalue a million dollars. A million dollars isn’t that amazing. It is only satisfying for what it creates: time and margin. On the other hand, if you take a dime and use it to buy a coffee or a pack of gum, you take away its potential to become a million dollars.
The helpful view that I adhere to is that greed is wrong. That’s why I give 15% of everything I profit back to people in need. I am against greed. But I’m also against the idea that money is evil.
I don't believe rich people are greedy and wrong. Rich people are some of the most self-disciplined people in the world. It is the impulse of the non-disciplined people who don't think strategically and need to work through issues that often is wrong.
I’m not saying if you are poor, you have issues. That's not my aim. I have been broken, and I have been wealthy. I know what both are like. I’m saying that if the reason I am broke is because I am making unwise decisions, I need to change and grow so I can start improving my habits, investing my time and money wisely, and making it work for me.
I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s radio show the other day, and a lady who inherited $1.8 million called in. One thing he told her which I thought was very wise was “Do not take that money and live off it: invest the money and live off what it produces.”
In other words: you have a golden egg-laying goose. Don’t kill the goose and cook it for dinner! Now you have nothing left. Feed the goose, let it keep producing eggs, and then take the eggs from the goose. See the difference?
It’s the same as planting a tree. Plant a tree, and years later it will produce fruit and give you rewards. Don’t cut down the tree and use it for firewood for one night, because then it’s all gone. That’s how we need to view money.
When you view money this way, your Amazon store will grow by leaps and bounds if you re-invest it the smart way. I’ve come up with a strategy that works very well for me, that allows me to live off of some and reinvest the rest. When I’m very devoted to that, my store grows bigger, the money ends up making more money, and I free up my time to do what I love with the people I love. It’s an amazing feeling.
I hope this is inspiring and challenging to you. Motivation is huge if you’re thinking long-term. Time is your asset. Use money as a means to that. You will be so much more satisfied by the end of your life.