Lately, I have been reading this book called the The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime.
by MJ Demarco. I haven’t read a more inspirational personal finance, wealth-building, money-management book since the The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)
by Tim Ferris. Hmmm, but then again 4 hr Work Week is more of a lifestyle / follow your dream kind of book. Ok, maybe I hadn’t read a more inspirational book since Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
and that was ages ago.
I really dig this book mainly because of the straight-talking and harsh-sounding tone of MJ Demarco. He lays it out openly, no-holds barred and tells you what you are doing wrongly in your goal to getting rich. He keeps making use of the driving/ fast car analogy to demonstrate the core theme of the book: Getting Rich Fast. As Fast As Possible.
When I first started reading it, I was sceptical. I was thinking – “Bloody ang moh, don’t want to slog and grind, only thinking of hustling people.” Turned out I was wrong. The book is highly addictive and MJ Demarco writes with such an outlandish style that I got hooked reading it immediately. He openly declares his love for luxury villas, his collection of sports cars, his near-death experience drag racing, and his outright detest for the traditional wealth building philosophy of saving and investing.
Yes, you read that right. He hates the grinding out in a 9-5 job, living frugally, cutting coupons for discounts, squirrelling your money away into a bank and putting it into a diversified portfolio and be contented with a 8% annualised portfolio return for the next 2-3 decades. He calls this get rich slow or wheelchair millionaire or being wealthy in a wheelchair. He calls this the Slowlane. He thinks that society has been brainwashed by too many personal finance books until we have all bought into the Slowlane strategy of getting rich. ( I think many fellow investors are flipping out now when they read this.)
The truth is… I agree with him.
( Now I think the loyal Bf Gf Blog readers are flipping out. Hold on! Calm you tits!)
Assuming that most of us don’t come from a wealthy background, are laden with student debt or have old parents and children to support, our starting base of cash is much less than a rich man’s son to begin with. Even if we do invest successfully, we need time to realise the capital gains. 10 years in my opinion. Some people have a time frame even longer than that. And honestly, investments, prudent expenditure and savings will make us rich…. someday…. in the far future….
I don’t mind being a rich old man. I just don’t see the point in trading the best years of your life to a mind-numbing job you hate so that you can enjoy your financial freedom at the ripe old age of 60 or 70. I also know that you cannot demand your investments to grow faster or chase risky, and speculative stocks in order to grow your wealth faster. Since I have accepted the reality of long-term investments and got that pat down, the only other way to get rich FASTER and YOUNGER other than winning the lottery, is to start a business.
The book also brings up many points. Most I agree, some I disagree. I agree that relying on investments to get rich can be a slow process and you shouldn’t put your whole life’s dependency onto that one plan. I agree that the advice of “Doing What you Love and the money will follow” is …. terrible advice…. but more on that in another blog post.
However, I don’t like it when MJ Demarco denounces stocks. He says stocks are highly risky because they are volatile and we have no control over them. He prefers real estate. I have to disagree STRONGLY on this point and all the Bf Gf Blog readers should disagree too! But… I shall save my views for another long blog post.
The most important thing I want the readers to take away now is to realise that there are 3 paths of money management that we can use to categorise people.
1. The Side Walk
People who stay on the sidewalk, according to MJ Demarco, are people who live day-to-day on instant gratification, have no savings, and possess the mindset of “Spend now, I will earn it back later.” These people blow their money away at casinos, and on luxurious items to make themselves look rich so that they can win the respect of others. These people are constantly in debt and will attribute their lack of success to forces of the markets or bad luck when the cold hard truth lies in their bad decision-making processes.
Take a hard look at yourself. Are you always buying 4D or lottery in a hope to get rich? When you see articles on savings/ investments/ personal finance do you just skip it to read about how Kim Kardashian is pregnant or some other celebrity gossip trivial? Do you constantly feel the need to buy expensive clothes, accessories or indulge in expensive hobbies (that puts a strain on your income) just so you can impress and win the respect of your peers? Do you constantly complain that you are down on your luck? Do you blame the government, government policies, high-standard of living or our high-stress education system that result in the ‘hopeless’ position you are in today?
Many times, when I eat at the coffeeshop or talk to people, I keep hearing these complaints from people about how they are not rich due to external circumstances or misfortune. Although some really do experience misfortune, I find that most of the complaints I hear are what I like to term as loser talk – finger-pointing and attribution of blame to someone else, some organisation, or the society in general. Seriously, screw that. If you refuse to take control of your own life and depend solely on external factors to get rich, then you shall remain on the Sidewalk and belong to the Sidewalk.
2. The Slow Lane
I think most of us are sensible enough to not be on the Sidewalk. I think most of us are in the Slow Lane – working a cushy job, saving and investing, waiting for our day of financial reckoning. Even though I own a business, I think I still fall into this category…(*so sad)… but I am desperately trying to upgrade one level to get out of the Slow Lane. The problem with the Slow Lane for most people is the paradox of financial freedom or financial stability. You are exchanging your time for money. You are exchanging 5 days of work for 2 days of freedom… if you call recharging over the weekend ‘freedom’. And you continue to live like that for the next 30-40 years. Yes, you may become rich by the time you are 50 or 60 or 70… but is it worth it to confine yourself to this way of living? Is it worth it so subject yourself to such ‘normalcy’ or ‘mediocrity’?
When people talk about working OT every day or braving the Causeway jam to Malaysia to save a few bucks on petrol and groceries, I always wonder how much they value time. When people queue up overnight at stores to get the latest Iphone or for a freaking Hello Kitty, I wonder if they would still do this kind of shit if they had only 3 months to live.
Time is more precious than money yet people prioritise it the other way round.
I know for sure that I would never want to exchange 5 days of slavery for 2 days of freedom. I’d rather work like a dog for 5-7 years and achieve a lifetime of financial freedom than to subject myself to 30 years of slavery. I think both paths are equally hard. So… why choose the slower path?
I also think that risk in business is often misunderstood and overestimated. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, once made an interesting point about how we humans always overestimate risks due to our natural instinct for survival. With a logical and prudent decision-making, I feel that we can mitigate risks of failing at businesses or start-ups.
MJ Demarco also pointed out that Slow Laners try to raise their intrinsic value by furthering their studies, which is kind of contradictory as they incur even more student debt to pay off the ‘investment’ in their studies. I honestly never understood the concept of furthering studies to get richer. I always thought you further studies just because you love what you are studying.
3. The Fast Lane
Many businessmen or entrepreneurs still fail to get into the Fast Lane because they approach business with a fundamentally wrong mindset. If your passion or love for what you do isn’t scalable then you will remain in the Slow Lane. MJ Demarco stresses that your business must provide value to millions in order to make millions. As much as the money-crazy nut this author makes himself out to be, he is extremely philosophical in his approach to business. Provide value to the market, solve a problem, impact the lives of many – then the money will come. Also, if you are doing what everyone else is doing, then you will never be rich.
Be different, be exceptional, and build a business that is invaluable to society.
For those who are now cruising on the Fast Lane, congratulations to you and hope you continue remaining prudent with your financial decisions. (Hey, Mike Tyson still needs to work despite earning billions and Michael Jackson died a bankrupt.)
For the rest of us trying to get to the Fast Lane,
If you are interested in the books mentioned in this post, you can get it by clicking on the image links below:
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