This past summer, we hired a college bound student to help with things on our farm. She is a great young lady that wants to be a veterinarian. It will be a financial challenge for her to find a way to pay for the first four years, let alone the graduate program but she is doing everything she can to figure out a way to obtain her dream. She even joined the National Guard to help pay for college.
She didn’t have a car so she went car shopping shortly after starting work for us. I expected that she would find a small, fuel efficient car for her long trips to college. I was shocked when she showed up with a shiny crew cab four wheel drive pickup. I wished she would have asked for some advice on good vehicles that would have met her needs and provided cheap reliable transportation. She just didn’t know. That is true for all of us. There are usually things that we don’t know that can hurt us financially. We just don’t know what we don’t know.
If we want to achieve the financial future we desire, we should pay attention to the habits of the folks that have achieved financial success. They leave clues that we can learn from. We can learn a lot from them if we are willing watch and learn. Growing up I was greatly influenced by a man named Norbert Volny. I started working for Volny at about age thirteen and while we worked on the various projects, he would pour words of wisdom into my life. One of his favorite sayings was, “You will never get rich on a W-2.”
One of the key things Volny taught me was the importance of building assets that generate cash flow. I believe one of the keys to financial freedom is to consistently build small streams of passive income. A lot of people prefer to chase flipping opportunities that generate $5,000 to $25,000 jackpots and can’t get excited about a deal that generates $250 every month.
I love the deals that add consistently to my monthly cash flow. While the $5,000 check looks great, it seems to quickly disappear. The rental or note investment that generates $250 a month in cash flow compounds very quickly. If you did one of those deals every quarter for five years, you would have $5,000 a month coming in. I would much rather have $5,000 a month coming in than chasing a onetime check of $5,000.
Another important lesson Volny taught me to do was take action. Something I try to remember is that there’s a difference between being clear and gaining clarity. It might seem kind of dumb to worry about the nuances between these two phrases, but I find the distinction important. It is very difficult to be 100 percent clear on goals, strategies, or the best tactical approach. We live in an imperfect world, and we seldom have all the information we need to make decisions. Yet it is easy to fall into the trap of waiting for things to get perfectly clear before we take action.
I have found it better instead to seek clarity. Work through things to get in that 70-80 percent range and then move forward. It is good enough for now. As you take action and move forward, you will gain more clarity and be able to make adjustments. Like driving in the fog, if you keep moving forward as far as you can see, more road will become visible. Sure, there will be flaws; things may be a little fuzzy. It will be okay.
As you start (or continue) your journey towards financial freedom in 2014, I wish three things for you:
- You will seek ongoing cash flow opportunities from assets not just paychecks (from employers or flipping).
- You will write down goals and take action. Seek clarity, not certainty.
- You believe that a better financial future is possible, no matter where you are starting from.