When I was playing professional hoops, I thought, “Shit man, I may get hurt. I may lose my ability to make a jump shot. I may not play forever. How am I going to save, invest, and build true wealth so I can have the freedom to do what I’m passionate about when I retire?”
Living in Europe opened my eyes and mind to different ways of living.
I’ve traveled to Central America, I’ve lived in a tiny home in Northern Michigan, I’ve stayed in a guest bedroom with my younger brother in Flint (for a year), I’ve lived on a 40-foot sailboat in the Caribbean for $300 a month, or I’ve slow traveled Europe, but in the end, money means one thing to me.
The freedom to choose what you want to do with your life comes from the habits and incremental steps you can take to invest that money in a different way than most other people.
Failure, taking risks, and losing money (to make money) don’t scare me as much because I have developed habits that most people aren’t willing to adopt. There are a few habits I’ve developed over the years that have given me the freedom to choose my life.
MY FIVE SELF-IMPROVEMENT HABITS FOR MILLIONAIRES:
I’ll post the next three self-improvement millionaire habits next article:
#1. I don’t buy into society telling me to look a certain way (thanks to my spending hero Warren Buffet). Wear old shoes, old jeans, and be comfortable with your life. Don’t keep up with the Jones family.
#2. I save most of my (little) income from a new startup I invested into (with my time and money). Most millionaires save at least 20% of their income and invest, save, and put it to work.
#3. I don’t stay on the floor when I get knocked down by setbacks or micro-failures (Angela Duckworth). Sports taught me that sometimes you have to eat a shit sandwich once in awhile to get what you want.
#4. I don’t stay in debt, I pay off highest % rates first, and then I learn about investments that have compounding returns factored into them.
#5. I can’t remember five, it will come to me later.
Millennials or time poor people may not understand that this is a game played by a set of very finite rules. If you spend more than you save, this could mean you are a possessed by your own possessions, debt, or poor choices.
In other words, be a man or woman of substance and values first, style second.
Being truly rich means you have the freedom to do what you want and pursue the passions you wish to — without paralysis of fear or failure.
At 25, at the height of my basketball career making great money (not NBA money), I bought a used black Hyundai Sonata for 10k from a auction lot. Then I bought my first rental house and started renting it. After that, I found a piece of land in Northern Michigan, a market I knew really well and invested in that with my mother. Then I built a basketball academy for kids. I had so many irons in the fire, I didn’t know what or who I was.
But these early investments taught me lessons I will always remember. Without making your money work for you, you work for your money, which was the lesson I valued most:
Time, freedom, and autonomy to choose my intersection connection.
True wealth is the ratio and measure of what you have the freedom to do with your life, and how often you get to choose to do it. This is about what I’ve done and failed at to try and create real wealth for myself. *note this all my opinion so please consult a financial professional for any real advice and don’t listen to a thing I say.
HABIT #1: VALUE MONEY, FREEDOM, TIME, AND THEN ACT, DON’T DRIFT.
Most of us are dreamers of the dreams, but few of us act on them.
Why do we have dreams if we don’t act on them?
I’ll tell you why. We don’t have three very important things:
Step one is setting a spending plan in motion and doing it, so you can start to save and invest your money!
If Warren Buffett spends less money than he should, so should you. He eats at McDonald’s (okay, yeah, he probably owns half of it), but he still lives in the house he bought for approximately 40k in the 1980’s. This dude doesn’t care what other people look like, spend money on, or buy to improve their status.
If the richest man in America has great spending habits, so can you.
Instead of using your credit card, try a month of budgeting and using hard cash. Try living within a budget you set for yourself. It’s been proven that credit cards increase spending because of the virtual reality of it all.
See how much money you can save by taking away the bad habits you unconsciously have.
I like to experiment with my spending habits and life.
Try eating all the food in your cupboards before you buy more food (yes, eating peanut butter pancakes and rice can get old fast)! I’ll often go to Costco and buy my proteins in bulk (the more expensive part of a meal) and then head to get my veggies at Aldi (or a cheap place around the corner) and eat the same thing for days.
I try to unplug my appliances when I’m not using them. I’d love to get an electric skateboard or bike (my next goal) to get around my neighborhood to save on gas.
Waste not, want not, right?
Yeah, but dude, I want the points. I need to enjoy life, get the rewards. I want the — life of a modern day indentured servant/slave.
Being indebted to conventional corporate America, buying shit you could save money on every day, eating out every day (did you know saving $2.50 for a family of four at every meal is a savings of $100,000 in ten years?) is a habit most people don’t think about changing.
And I’m a culprit. I buy shit on my credit card. I get rewards. I get miles. I hand the card over and then look at my statement at the end of the month and get pissed.
Yet, I still take that Bumble date out and spend too much on drinks and food when I should just go for a walk in the park and get on a swing set (or something really badass) like throw a frisbee.
What the hell kind of FOMO do I have for taking and spending on dates? My self-awareness can’t even stop me at times.
That said, I also save my money and invest it at a very high clip because of my past life lessons and passive investments. But habit number is the most important. Value your money, freedom, and time.
HABIT #2: SPEND ACCORDING TO YOUR CURRENT INCOME AND LONG-TERM GOALS AND VALUES
This is basically in line with habit number one.
Stop acting like Don Juan.
When I lived on a sailboat in the Caribbean I bought for one dollar from my cousin, I realized most Americans don’t know what it feels like to live a simple life, or how to act, save, or spend relative to their peers. While living in Guatemala, it is apparent no one has a lot of money, so there is no reason to look cool and buy expensive stuff.
If you can save 80% of your income, do it.
Americans that have never lived in a different culture may never know what it feels like to live below their means. Living below your means is a struggle for a lot of people, including me.
The next time you go on vacation, go to a place that values simplicity, nature, and basics. Get out of your comfort zone. Go hiking. Camping. Live on less. When we were cavemen, do you think other cavemen thought about how well the other tribes caves were furnished?
Hell no, because there wasn’t any money to fight over (if there was, watch out my cave would be scintillating).
Don’t let the whining and complaining happen (from you or your kids) because your expensive habits can’t happen.
Persevere and grit it out.
These two words are more important for monetary success than I.Q. or talent.
Don’t look at what your peers are doing, look inside yourself and figure out what your own values and goals are.
Create better financial goals and values for yourself, and your habits will fall in line. If you value buying better food, better things, better gym memberships, better cars, better houses, better clothes, then be okay with having less freedom, time, or fulfillment what you want to do in life.
Living off the grid on a sailboat, or in Europe, taught me simplicity is a good thing. It is one of the internal values I try to live by:
Need less, invest more.
That said, I am aware of my bad spending habits. The doppio espresso at Starbuck (hey, I stopped buying $7.00 frappes). The Bumble date drinks and food. That said, just being in motion, drifting through life making more money and filling up your 401k to six or seven figures doesn’t mean you are rich.
Going out and making more income is not a measure of true wealth nor is the zeroes in your bank account if you have to continue making that money to pay for your expenses, debt, and all the expensive spending habits you practice.
Let me know how bad of a writer I am (Yes, I enjoy critical feedback) @ Trevor Huffman
** ALL OF THIS IS MY OPINION AND I’M NOT A PROFESSIONAL FINANCIAL ADVISOR. PLEASE SEEK YOUR FINANCIAL HELP FROM A LICENSED ADVISOR.