Slow Motion Lottery

powerballI didn’t win the Powerball (I also didn’t play but my wife did) and to make matters worse, my net worth has taken a big hit so far this year as the stock market has cratered. If I were close to retirement I’d  be worried.StockDecline

People, so called experts (you know my feelings on experts), are saying stupid things like sell everything, or sell into any rally. Don’t listen.

On the contrary, buy and keep buying. Don’t take every last penny and invest, that’s just as stupid, but if you buy regularly as the market falls, you’ll have a lot more shares when things turn around. It’s a proven concept called dollar cost averaging. These “experts” make it sound like dollar cost averaging is only a good idea when markets rise but it’s just the opposite. It works best the further the market falls.

The spring is tightening, coiling up for those of us smart and confident enough to stick with a plan, and bold enough to adjust the plan to take advantage of panic.

The lottery is real it’s just not a sudden and unexpected thing. It’s predictable (over long periods of time) and involves some faith but mostly discipline. The slow motion lottery of investing and working hard isn’t found in a convenience store, it’s found in your character.

So what should you do?

Make a plan. Investing blindly is no different than paying money for random numbers you hope will match some other random numbers.

It’s a new year and if you didn’t max out your 401k last year, this is the year to do it. I have calculated the amount I need to invest each paycheck so that I’ll hit the max on my last paycheck. Here’s how you can do the same: Take 18,000 (2016 max) and divide by your salary. This is the percentage you should invest. Take that percentage and multiply by your gross paycheck. For example: if your income is $80,000/year then the percentage you need to save is: 22.5%. Your weekly gross is $1,540 and you should put $347 each paycheck into your 401k.

That alone is good but it’s not lottery worthy. Save more now than you ever have and invest in accounts other than your 401k.

Discipline is hard. Saving when you really want to spend is hard but it’s a winning lottery ticket you just have to have the guts to buy it.

PS: if you read this far I’m impressed but I know you’re probably thinking there is no way you could save and invest that much. You’re wrong. Check out how much I save and stop making excuses.

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Money Is The Root Of…

I’ve said before that I don’t like clichés and I’m not alone. My friends Jen @gingerconsult and Monika @healingmuse share that feeling. Monika lamented that so many people use clichés on Twitter and I replied with my agreement.

Twitter quote 1

It reminded me of a post Jen wrote on the subject and I tweeted that to Monika.

Twitter quote 2

This is yet another example of the interaction available on twitter (I’ve written about that too).

But this post isn’t really about clichés, it’s about money. There are lots of clichés when it comes to money and while clichés have some truth to them they are often incomplete. A perfect example of this is the statement “money is the root of all evil.” It’s true that money, the desire for money, the greed associated with money, leads people to do bad things but money is also the root of self-confidence, independence, and security.

Another twitter friend @EmpowrdAmerican wrote a post about this very subject with this tweet announcing it.

While they admit that a lot of people think they would talk about politics with a name like Empowered American, they actually spend a lot of time on the subject of money. Though many people like to say money isn’t important, as my friends at Empowered American point out, “money opens the doors for opportunity.” You need not be greedy to want financial security, independence, nice things, and a certain level of comfort. With the popularity of so many financial experts such as Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman, I think there are a lot of people who agree.

While many people want the benefits of money, the security and independence, almost as many aren’t willing to make the choices necessary. The choices, the sacrifices, shouldn’t be difficult but so many of us make them difficult because we’re unwilling to forego instant gratification. Look at the cars people drive and how often they get new cars.

People also tend to wish for a big windfall rather than doing the work necessary for a steady progress toward wealth. That’s why so many people put their faith in things other than themselves like the lottery.

I’m planning on retiring very early (whatever retirement means from someone who asks What Next) and tomorrow I’m going to introduce you to someone who reached that goal. At the risk of you not reading the post, you won’t hear about any trick or full proof system, you’ll see that smart decisions and living below your means (not buying fancy cars and huge houses) can get you to the finish line much faster than you ever imagined.

So what is money to you? Fill in the blank in the comments area below “Money is the root of…” 


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This post has been updated on 11/25/12: When I originally wrote this it was the MegaMillions that reached such major proportions now it’s PowerBall.

Update #2 January 10, 2016 – now the PowerBall is up to 1.3 Billion which means even more people took a chance on the future instead of making a future.

Who wouldn’t want $500 million dollars? Who doesn’t dream of being set for life? Who doesn’t wish they had that kind of money?


Magic LampThe idea of some gift, some magical win is a fantasy. The dream of wealth without work is just a dream. And the wish for large sums of money are just wishes. There are a lot of people who play, and play, and play but have nothing to show for it.

Why do you think the amount is so high? Because each week, in spite of over 30 million tickets being sold, nobody won. Week after week after week people spent money on a dream rather than investing it in themselves. “But a few bucks here and there doesn’t hurt,” you might be thinking but you’re wrong. It’s the feeling that a magical event will save you from the way things are – it’s defeatist.

Well I play a lottery with much better odds and I have a lot to show for it. The lottery I play is called life and it takes work. Every day, every decision is a gamble but unlike the “idiot tax” of an actual lottery, I can influence the outcome. They say all you need is a dollar and a dream, but I say all you need is a dollar and a plan!

When I bought my first rental property it was a risk but with much more potential than the same amount spent on MegaMillions tickets. When I spent money to study financial planning there was no guarantee of success but at least the odds weren’t 292,000,000 to 1! When I wrote What Next, I had no idea if I would sell a lot or a few books, but I knew it was up to me and not some random freak chance.

I put faith in myself, not a fantasy. I believe I am the only one responsible for my success, not a random series of numbers.

I know I won’t stop you from buying a ticket or ten or twenty but maybe when you wake up a lottery loser you’ll change your focus from an outward search for success to an inward search for what motivates you, what you’re passionate about, and you will turn that into success and happiness.


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