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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime!
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When Mj DeMarco was just a chubby teenager, he saw – near an ice cream store in his hometown of Chicago – a 25-year-old driving the car of his dreams, a Lamborghini Countach. “What the heck?” he thought. “How could a young guy afford such a kick-ass automobile?” Not wanting to guess, he went and asked the owner what he did for a living. “I’m an inventor,” the young man replied, before driving off in his Lamborghini. These 90 seconds, claims DeMarco today, completely changed his life, because they opened his eyes to the possibility of retiring young and rich. In a sentence, they exposed him to the Millionaire Fastlane. Get ready to be exposed yourself and prepare to discover why a Lamborghini at the age of 25 needn’t be just a dream, but a reality!
There are only a few categories of people that can get rich young: professional athletes, musicians, actors and people famous for being famous. If you’re outside this demographic, your only way to wealth is the traditional way: go to school, get good grades, get a good job, invest in the stock market, max out your 401(k) and someday, probably some time in your 60s, you will have enough money to stop worrying about money. DeMarco has a name for this conventional life strategy: “Get Rich Slow.” It’s derogatory for a reason. Namely, as far as DeMarco is concerned, the “Get Rich Slow” strategy is a losing game.
“Show me a 22-year-old who got rich investing in mutual funds!” he exclaims. “Show me the man who earned millions in three years by maximizing his 401(k)! Show me the young twenty-something who got rich clipping coupons! Where are these people? They don't exist. They’re fairytales of impossibility.” They are also fairytales with a moral, because they tell you what you should not do in life. Namely, even if this traditional “Get Rich Slow” strategy works out for you in the end, it will work out when it will least matter to you. “The real golden years of life are when you're young, sentient, and vibrant,” remarks DeMarco. If you don’t have the money then to experience your freedom, then you’ll be missing out on all the fun things in life.
The good news is that there is a better way. If this way could be summed up in a word, that word would be “roadmap.” Because wealth, DeMarco explains, isn’t an event, but an orchestrated process. Better put, all those events that lead to wealth are by-products of smart processes. Skip the process, and you’ll never experience the events. Unfortunately, in our “media-driven I-want-it-now society,” the process is never in the spotlight and events are glorified to a horrifying extent. DeMarco knows better. “Process is the road trip to wealth,” he writes. “Even though the destination shines as an event, it’s found by process.”
As with other road trips, even the one to wealth needs a roadmap. The three most common ones are the Sidewalk, the Slowlane, and the Fastlane. Each of them, explains DeMarco, is “governed by a wealth equation and predisposed to a financial destination: Sidewalk to poorness, Slowlane to mediocrity, and the Fastlane to wealth.” Moreover, each roadmap contains signposts that provide direction and guide actions, such as the way you perceive debt and time at each one, the different sources of your primary income and your relevant mathematical plan for accumulating wealth. Let’s delve deeper into each, roadmap by roadmap.
The Sidewalk, according to DeMarco, is “a contract for a pleasurable today in lieu of a more secure tomorrow.” Living on the Sidewalk doesn’t mean living poor, but it does mean being “one something” from living in your parent’s basement. That “one something” can be an album, a gig, a business deal, a layoff – you name it. But it’s always there, hanging above the head of the Sidewalker as if it were Damocles’ sword.
Most people are lifelong Sidewalkers. Meaning, they don’t really have a financial destination to reach. In the life of the Sidewalker, there’s no such thing as surplus money: if they earn something beyond what they are earning daily, they immediately spend it on the next great thing, be that thing a gadget, a car, a holiday destination or just another hot fad. Sidewalkers, writes DeMarco, “are carelessly trapped in a ‘Lifestyle Servitude’ fed by an urgent, insatiable need for pleasure, image, and instant gratification.”
That’s because most Sidewalkers perceive credit as something that allows them to buy things right now – and as nothing more. They also perceive time as a boundless resource. “I could be dead in two weeks,” a Sidewalker usually thinks, “so why not spend my money like there’s no tomorrow?” That means that their wealth equation is essentially a two-part formula: income + debt. Income, needless to add, is whatever the next gig brings.
“Live today, to hell with tomorrow” – that’s the philosophy of the common Sidewalker. “Life is too short to plan any further than 30 days out. You can't take it with you! You're only young once! Besides, I'll hit it big someday.” How? Well, of course, by hitting the casino or buying a lottery ticket after ticket. As far as Sidewalkers are concerned, those are the only two ways to get rich young. To their mind, wealth isn’t a process, but an event.
Of course, with a mindset like that, you end up where most people currently are: 9 out of 10 Americans under 35 live in a household with a net worth less than $100,000. Even worse, the vast majority of people in the 35 to 44 range have a median net worth of $13,000, excluding home equity. No wonder that about 60% of Americans have zero net worth, or negative net worth. Those were all Sidewalkers in their youth. Simply put, they used the wrong roadmap – if they used one at all.
Whereas Sidewalkers don’t really bother with having a financial plan, Slowlaners have one, but it’s the wrong one. In contrast to Sidewalkers who mortgage their future for a pleasurable present, Slowlaners do the exact opposite: they sacrifice their today in the hopes of a brighter tomorrow. At least according to their parents, teachers and the majority of financial gurus, that’s the smart way to go. It would have been, of course, if old age offered the same benefits and pleasures as youth did. Since it doesn’t, the Slowlane essentially offers a promise of wealth at the price of something far more important: your very life.
Slowlaners are religious in their hatred of debt. They’d rather work overtime every day in their lives than risk spending a single day dealing with unexpected debt. That’s because they have the wrong perception of time, of which they seem just fine to not have enough in the present if it means freedom at 65. Hence, they gladly exchange the hours of their lives for money, which in turn they constantly budget and “perilously save.” For Slowlaners, wealth is a three-part process which consists of working, saving, and investing. That’s essentially the equation they live by; for them, wealth = job + market investments. Once again, time makes no appearance.
There are two additional problems with the Slowlane. The first one is that no job pays enough to make you rich earlier than the usual retirement age. The second one is that the Slowlane isn’t even a sure thing. Anything from unplanned pregnancies to unexpected health issues can derail the Slowlaners from their road map, and events such as a market crash can turn them into homeless Sidewalkers. In fact, all of these things happen quite often, and the Slowlaners who go through them have nobody to blame but themselves for allowing such things to happen in the first place.
The moral of the story is that you should never settle for less in life because life will then give you less. Giving up on your big dreams to retire with millions one day is a sure path to mediocrity. Sure, you’ll never be “one something” away from homelessness as a Slowlaner, but you’ll never be “one something” away from wealth either. Look around you. Do you really want to live your life the way most people do?
The Fastlane is a hybrid financial roadmap. It offers the rewards of the Sidewalk – enjoying today – while allowing you to create the wealth the Slowlane promises, in a much shorter period of time. Unsurprisingly, the Fastlane is all about starting your own business. Because that’s the truth most financial manuals will never tell you. Namely, with the exception of a few extremely talented or physically gifted people, almost everybody who has gotten rich young did it through some kind of a business.
As defined by DeMarco, the Fastlane is “a business and lifestyle strategy characterized by Controllable Unlimited Leverage (or CUL, for short), hence creating an optimal environment for rapid wealth creation and extraordinary lifestyles.” Let’s break down this complex definition a bit. To accumulate wealth, you need two things: control and leverage. Neither gigs nor jobs give you that. In fact, the only way to take control of your income and earn the leverage to accelerate your wealth is by being the owner of a business or by being self-employed. It’s that simple: unless you’re an entrepreneur or a freelancer, you’re not really a Fastlaner.
Fastlaners know that time is the most important asset one has in life, and that it far exceeds the value of money. That’s why they strive to earn money while not working or rather, they strive to build processes that will warrant them a large income in the present or a passive income in the future – or both, for that matter. To this end, Fastlaners perceive wealth as something that is the natural result of building business systems for cash flow and asset valuation. Therein lies their basic financial equation: wealth = net profit + asset value.
Unlike Slowlaners, Fastlaners don’t see education as something that ends with a college degree. Instead, they remain learners for life. They are also experimenters and adventurers. They believe their dreams are worth pursuing no matter how outlandish, and – more importantly – they know that only the dreams that include other people can make them wealthy. Fastlaners aren’t selfish. They know that wealth is a reflection of how many lives they’ve touched. Money, for a Fastlaner, reflects the value they’ve created.
The Fastlane is not about getting rich easily, but about retiring while you can fully enjoy retirement. However, whoever tells you that you can get rich quickly without doing much work is certainly lying to you. Take it from DeMarco: he often worked two workdays in one day, every day of the week to launch his first business. The difference between his strategy and that of a typical Slowlaner is that his exhaustive work schedule had a reasonable time limit of a few years. In most cases, you can’t get rich by working eight hours a day, five days a week even if you are an entrepreneur with a promising business. And you know why? Because the other Fastlaners will work more than you to get to their destination faster.
As we already mentioned, Fastlaners don’t just start any type of business, but only such a business that has value for other people. In other words, they don’t think of business in terms of their selfish desires, but in terms of other people’s “needs, problems, pain points, service deficiencies, and emotions.” Along these lines, DeMarco formulates his Five Fastlane Commandments – the more of them your business fulfills, the more sense there is to pursue it. These are the Five Commandments, termed a bit differently so as to form a memorable acronym, NECST (pronounced “next”):
Let’s put it this way: “The Millionaire Fastlane” isn’t like most of the finance books you’ve read so far. And that’s a good thing. Because even when the book relays some pretty common wealth strategies, it relays them in a new, memorable way. Moreover, it also shares some tips and tricks you’ve probably never happened upon before. Couple that with a pretty nice roadmap analogy, and you get one of the best books on acquiring wealth of the 21st century.
Be warned, though: if you’re not ready for a few acronyms and a few more mathematical equations wrapped in an energy-bursting, Lamborghini-heavy, no-nonsense approach to becoming wealthy, then this may not be the book for you.
The only way to get rich young is by building something that offers value to the world. So, start a business today! And don’t be selfish when you do – instead of starting the business you love, start the one other people might like. Because they are the only ones that can make you rich.
MJ DeMarco is an American serial entrepreneur, investor and bestselling author. He has founded and managed several companies, including online ventures such as Limos.com and the Fastlane Forum, and the Viperion Publishi... (Read more)
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