Last year I saved or invested over 20% of my pretax income.This year I am on track to do the same. I have a full time job that pays well over the median household income in America, and yet I spend most of my nights blogging and trying to build a second income stream out of my website.
I look at every individual credit card purchase at the end of each month to look for fraudulent charges and track my spending in a big fancy budget spreadsheet. I even sign up for bank accounts that give a cash bonus, and then close the account as soon as the rules allow me to get out with the free money.
This may seem like an unhealthy obsession. Why do I care so much about having and making money? There has to be a strong internal motivation for me to put so much time and effort into my finances.
My motivation to be financially successful really took off during my senior year of high school. I was on the Newspaper team, and we were in charge of doing the senior superlatives. I wasn’t the most popular guy in school, but I was one of the smartest and had what I thought was a pretty good personality. I thought I had “Most Likely To Succeed” wrapped up pretty easily. We put out a survey and the votes came in. Turns out I didn’t win. In fact, I don’t think I even got any of the votes.
To make matters worse, I was assigned to write the “Most Likely To Succeed” article. I went to interview the guy who won and asked him about his plans after high school. His answer: “I don’t really know.”
If he was the most likely to succeed out of all my classmates, I’d hate to meet the least likely to succeed.
Now the rational part of my brain realized it was a stupid vote and it didn’t matter, but the emotional part said, “Nobody in this school thinks I have what it takes to be successful. Won’t they be surprised when they hear about me a few years from now.”
I try to keep a level head, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get to me a little bit. I took that snub as a challenge. It probably sounds stupid, but that stupid newspaper vote kept me highly motivated all throughout college and into the beginning of my career.
Then once I began my career and started making money, my eyes were opened to a whole new world; a world where I actually had money. Just before my job started I paid for a five week European backpacking vacation. Then a few months later I bought a 350Z convertible. For a quick minute, I was enamored with all the cool stuff you could do with money.
That phase was short lived though. I loved the European vacation and believe it was worth every dollar, but the car was too expensive and didn’t make me any happier than my old Nissan Sentra. I realized I didn’t need or even want a bunch of things. I did, however, want to make a difference. It took me a while, but my true financial motivation surfaced, and it is one that keeps me going to this day.
Money can make the world a better place. I used money to start a 529 for my niece and help her save for college. I can also use money to take my deeply religious Catholic mom to Vatican City for the first time in her life (I haven’t done this yet, but I’m going to). Isn’t it great how money can make the world a better place for the people you love.
Furthermore, it can make the world a better place for people I don’t even know. I’ve used money to donate to worthy charitable organizations and help them improve our world. Maybe if I get enough money I can stop working M-F and start volunteering. Or even better, I can use that money to start a business and give other people jobs and help them provide for their families. Some people say money is the root of all evil, but I think that is only true for evil people. The more money I have, the more good I can do in the world.
My money motivation has changed a few times over the years, but I have always had something driving me to be successful and make enough money to live the life I want.
What is your money motivation?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.