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Boldly Going Nowhere

Friday, February 7, 2003

How to Get Rich

Being rich simply means having acquired much more wealth than others. If everyone is rich, no one is rich.

First of all, there are several ways to never become rich. Avoid the following options:

1) Working for the government -- Good job security but no financial bonanza to be had here.

2) Working for someone else -- Fat cats who own the company get rich, you get down-sized.

3) Gambling -- The only person who ever wins the lottery is some dimwit who accidentally gets into the wrong line and buys a ticket, usually a single ticket, simply to avoid the embarrassment of standing in the wrong line.

4) Marriage -- Marrying into money is highly competitive and potentially humiliating. You must be young and attractive, with an overwhelming desire to hang out with old codgers.

5) Theft -- Stealing is a real bad idea. On the plus side, you will get to spend many years in a rent-free environment, with free meals and lots of exciting social encounters.

6) Inheritance -- An excellent road to riches. However, unless your family is rich, this probably won't work.

There are two major ways to become rich: real estate and starting your own business.

More people have become millionaires through real estate than by any other method. To get started, take real estate classes and become a realtor. This will get you into the business, help you find properties, work negotiations, deal with financing, etc. Basically, you buy under-valued and/or high-potential property, with favorable financing, whereby you can repair and rent the property with a positive cash flow.

Real estate is a long-term prospect. It takes years to acquire properties, continually using them as financial leverage to acquire additional properties. But your wealth is basically tied up in the worth of the property rather than with a high cash flow. As you make money, you must spend it to continue to expand. Plus you must deal with bad tenants, property maintenance, vacancies, etc. This would be a headache business for most people.

Starting your own business is another alternative. Find a field that interests you, then get some experience. If you want to open a beauty shop or a welding business or a computer software company, get a job in a beauty shop or a welding business or a computer software company. Offer to work for minimal wages -- after all, you're getting paid to learn a trade. Volunteer to do additional tasks, such as helping with the accounting or inventory or sales or whatever. Learn the business before you strike out on your own.

Starting your own business usually requires some start-up capital. The government offers many business loans to beginners, especially women and minorities. Make a presentation to a bank loan officer -- even if that fails, you'll learn how to make a better presentation next time.

You can even get started without much capital. If you have a bucket, a sponge and a squeegee, you can start a window washing business. If you have a lawn mower and a rake, you can start a lawn service. If you have a pickup and a chain saw, you can sell firewood. Once you establish a steady flow of clients, you hire people to meet the demand. Over time, you oversee the business while others are working for you.

Those who succeed work long hours and slowly build a business. But there are no guarantees. Nine out of 10 new businesses fail within the first year. On the other hand, some enterprises have grown into giants.

Then there's the easy way to be rich. It starts when you realize there are more important things in life than the pursuit of the almighty dollar. No one ever goes to their grave wishing they had spent more time on the job. Quality of life is measured by the amount of time you spend doing what you want to do, when you want to do it.

The richest people in the world are the ones who don't need riches to find happiness.

By the way, the best tax shelter is to keep income at a minimum. Plus, remaining poor is much easier than becoming rich. So enjoy life and let the rich fight it out. Be poor and happy. It works for me.