Are you a Struggler or a Thriver? Probably not a question you get asked very often. Is it one you are prepared to answer, or do you even know the answer? If you are like me, most of the people you know unfortunately fall into the Struggler category. The average American is one catastrophe away from bankruptcy. Many people still haven’t fully recovered from the Great Recession that officially ended in 2009, almost ten years ago! It’s not for lack of trying, it’s not for lack of opportunity, and it’s not even for lack of education; there are millions of very smart, well educated people in the US facing financial uncertainty. The main reason so many of these smart people are in this predicament is a lack of knowledge. Not just any knowledge but specific, little known, financial knowledge that isn’t taught in high school or even college. It’s not often taught at home, and in some cases, it’s knowledge that banks, credit card companies, and financial institutions would rather you didn’t have.
Not everyone is a Struggler, as a matter of fact it is estimated that one in four families in the US can be categorized as Thrivers. Merriam-Webster defines “thrive” as: to grow vigorously, to gain in wealth or possessions, and to progress toward a goal despite or because of circumstances. A Thriver is someone who does any and usually all of those things. Even in the tough financial environment we live in 1700 new millionaires are created each day. Yes, you read that correctly, 1700 each day! Are these people smarter than everyone else? Are they luckier? Is a matter of gender, race, or location? An argument could be made for all of those factors and they all contribute to the equation in one way or another. The truth is, in most cases a Thriver is a Thriver because they know something that the Strugglers do not. They have been privy to this secret financial knowledge I want to share with you.
The Financial Ninja
Do you know why the ninja was such a feared and deadly opponent of the samurai in ancient Japan? It wasn’t that they had more training than the samurai; it was because they had different training. The ninja was willing to wage irregular warfare. The samurai followed a strict code that the ninja disregarded which gave them the upper hand in combat. The ninja didn’t operate in the narrow confines of warfare at the time, they sought out any advantage they could and took full advantage whenever possible. They did things differently; they found ways of accomplishing their goals that were so different than what was considered normal that they gained legendary, often superhuman status. But they weren’t superhuman in any way, just normal men who found innovative unusual ways of getting things done. They were not pigeonholed to the status quo, this is what I want for your financial lives.
The goal of the Financial Ninja
So why would you want to become a Financial Ninja? There are a lot of reasons really but those reasons can be summed up in two words: cash flow. We normally hear the words cash flow in regards to a business but cash flow can be just as important to your personal finances. Healthy cash flow can be the difference between the success or failure of a business and it can be equally important to the success or failure of your personal life. Earlier I mentioned that most Americans are one catastrophe away from bankruptcy, healthy cash flow can drastically mitigate that risk. Cash flow can also mean the difference between getting approved or denied for a loan, credit card, or mortgage. It can allow you to take advantage of business opportunities or investments when they come your way. Cash flow can help you weather the inevitable storms of life and it can guide you into retirement with much less stress and worry than most people face. Cash flow is the lifeblood of your personal finances and it is the goal toward which we as Financial Ninjas are always striving.
The tools of the Financial Ninja
The Financial Ninja has many tools in their arsenal and learns to use the right tool at the right time. These tools fall into one of five general categories: Banking, Credit, Taxes, Business Ownership, and Investing. Over the next few weeks I’ll be digging into each one in detail. But for now, here is a little overview of each.
- Do you really know how much you’re paying for your home? I’ll bet you’d be surprised if you knew exactly how much you will pay over 30 years. Let me give you an example. If you have a $300,000 mortgage financed at 6% fixed interest for 30 years and you take that loan to term with on-time payments every month you will pay over $647,515 over the life of the loan!! That’s $347,515 in interest alone!
- How would you like to know how to cut the number of payments by 1/3 and cut several hundred thousand dollars of interest without having to make any extra money?
- Do you know how your credit score is generated? What the difference is between a credit score and a credit report? Or that your credit score influences more than just your ability to get a loan, it also can be a factor in how much you pay in insurance premiums and it may determine if you get a job?
- How would you like to understand how your credit score works and what your credit report is actually based on? Would you like to know how to make simple changes that can improve your credit score? Would you like to know how to repair your credit legally, professionally, and ethically?
- Do you know what the biggest expense is in life for the vast majority of people in the U.S.? Do you know what the number one, greatest tax strategy is for the middle-class American? Do you know how the new tax bill is going to affect the average American?
- The biggest expense for the vast majority of people is taxes. The number one tax strategy is owning a small business. And the new tax bill is going to help most but hurt some but there are ways to turbo charge the benefits and mitigate the downsides fairly easily. Would you like to know what those are?
- Business Ownership:
- Do you pay for things above the line or below the line? Do you have a pass-through entity that allows you to filter your income in different ways to avoid certain taxes? Are your kids on payroll?
- All of these benefits and more are available to you just for having a small business. I don’t necessarily mean quitting your job, you can get all these benefits by adding a small business to your life.
- When it comes to investing money is not the only currency you have, there is also credit, time, knowledge, and network that can be providing you returns if you know how. Ever wonder why your financial planner isn’t rich if they know so much about the investments they are putting you in? That money in your IRAs and 401Ks can be providing you with much higher returns than you are currently getting and they can be used for a lot more than just mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. The secret to building true wealth is through rental real estate, and it can be one of the most safe and secure investments in the world with just a little bit of knowledge.
- Are all your currencies working for you? Are you just blindly handing your money over to a financial planner to invest for you? Are you limited by what you are allowed to do with the money in your IRAs and 401Ks? Are you investing in a safe and common investment that can produce a 100% ROI the first year?
These are just a few of the tools in the Financial Ninja’s arsenal. I’ll explain them all and more in detail in the coming weeks. I’ll show you how, with some knowledge, an open mind, and a willingness to wage irregular financial warfare, you too can become a Financial Ninja. But be warned, the road to becoming a Financial Ninja takes time to travel, this is not a get rich quick scheme. Becoming proficient at anything takes time, training, and patience. My goal is to provide you with information you may have never been given access too. In addition, I’ll share stories of my journey, which is by no means finished, I’ll be taking this trip right along with you. I will be extremely transparent, sharing with you my wins and my losses both past and present. My road has been extremely bumpy and my hope is that I can save some of you from my mistakes. I will also be sharing all of the resources I’ve picked up along the way. Sometimes I will provide you with resources in the form of a download, a website to visit, or a company to check out. I will have special guests join me from time to time, experts in one strategy or another, who are just as dedicated to helping as many people as possible become Financial Ninjas. My goal is to provide access to this little known financial knowledge to as many people as possible.
The Financial Ninja Mindset
I believe anyone can be a Thriver, it doesn’t matter where you are or where you’ve been. Becoming a Thriver really starts with a change in mindset. The strategies I will be sharing with you are obtainable by virtually everyone who wants them. The only thing that will keep you from improving your financial life is you! Whether you admit it or not, you are your biggest enemy and you are the only one who can overcome that enemy. Many of the strategies I’m going to share are simple, but they are not all easy. Often these strategies will take time and effort but very few things that are easy to get are worth having. And remember these strategies are not taught in school, you don’t need a degree to understand and implement these strategies. You generally don’t know what you don’t know, the real trick is figuring out what you don’t know. When you do that, you are on your way to becoming a Financial Ninja.
“I never let my schooling interfere with my education” ~ Mark Twain