My best “money and business” teacher once told me that “I choose to be poor.” I was 20 years old at the time. I was just about to embark my life’s journey with the world at my feet. In the late 80s, girls, my age, got married right after high school or college. That is — if they were pretty enough to catch a man’s eye, especially a wealthy man’s eye. But I wanted love more than money, and a husband to share all the adventures together. I remember being torn between wanting that kind of life, but not having a family per say, but wanting a good husband that understood my ambitions of being one of the best visual artists of my time. I still didn’t know what kind of job I really wanted as a backup, of course. The only thing that tickled my fancy at the time was running and managing a gallery or “artsy” retail shop. But neither was really available nor the pay that good to cover a student loan that had to be repaid, —- much less a running car, and a decent place to live. I graduated from college unable to catch a man’s eye and during one of the worst economic times when it came to finding good paying job. There was nothing out there for someone fresh out of college save for Desert Storm going on in Kuwait. After a solid eight months of job hunting, I finally ‘gave up’ and joined the military for ‘financial reasons.’ I had lost heart for I was back to living in my car again with no hope in sight. The best I could get was another form of training without having to pay for it other then the possible exception of paying for it with my life. The Army paid off my college loan in three years in addition to being paid a monthly below minimum wage salary. All I had to do was be able to dodge a few bullets or an attack on the flight line. That was my best scenario at the time.
I did what I had to survive at the time. I was truly “thinking poor.” That teacher’s statement made me very angry for a long time. No one “chooses” to be poor! In addition to a couple of expletives from time to time. I spent eight years being poor. I spent another two more years being poor with my new husband. I kept doing everything right. Working hard. Doing good work. Working two jobs and still not able to make ends meet. I lost most of my late twenties and early thirties working ourselves to death even though we got really great paying job with very high wages in the end only to end up losing all of my year’s salary into taxes every April 15th and then some.
By my third year at job, I began to question why I was even really working. What for? I didn’t get to keep my salary at all. But we still needed my income to pay off more student loans and a credit card debit that racked up over the time we got our FAA licenses and two house moves. It wasn’t until I read a simple little purple book on finances (Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki) that I finally and truly understood my teacher in that “I chose to be poor.” She was right. I didn’t do a thing to learn how the rich got rich and how to think rich. Picking a mentor to follow so that I could become wealthy and eventually get out of the “rat race.”
In less than 88 pages, I learned more than I ever could from high school, college, and the military together. I cried that night. Cried about wasting so much time in finding and truly understanding the answer to becoming rich. Had this book been read when I had just started college, I do think I would have been light years ahead financially. After my crying session, I made a plan. I even wrote it down and stuck to it. I got my husband involved. He picked up on it faster than me because he came from a ‘rich family.’ Together, we made it a habit to read something financial, a success story or follow one of our chosen mentors (Sir Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, Donald Trump) for 15 minutes a day. We set aside time to specifically work on our route to get there. Our route was through Real Estate Investing. Since 2001, we have come a long way from flipping homes and managing rental properties. We now own several mini-businesses and invest in other motivated business oriented individuals. We now are rich, and more importantly think rich. We now have chosen to “be rich.” —Crissy