We all go to school for about twelve years, kindergarten through high school. Some of us go to college and then graduate school. Personally, I went to school for three years beyond college with law school and took financial courses after that was over. In all of that time, economics courses, accounting courses and even tax courses, no course or school ever covered what we are going to talk about.

1. PAY YOURSELF FIRST! The IMPORTANT THING is GET STARTED RIGHT NOW! Whether you start off with $50 a month or $100 a month or $500 per month, FOR EVERY MONTH YOU DELAY, YOU ARE LOSING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. A little money invested consistently over a long time makes a LOT OF MONEY.

Let’s look at what happens if you invest $100 every month for twenty years with a 7% return. At the end of 20 years, you will have paid in $24,000, but you will have $52,093 in your account. What if instead you leave the money untouched for thirty years? Still investing $100 per month, the investment pool will have grown to $121,997.10. Not bad. Let’s see, we put aside $100 per month for 360 months, which would be $36,000. But our $100 a month investments earned almost $86,000, more than double the amount we put in!

How much would be there if the program runs for 40 years? The investment pool is now up to $262,481.34. Let’s see, we put aside $100 per month for 480 months, which would be $48,000. But our $100 a month investments earned almost $215,000! $262,500 invested at 7% would give an annual income of $18,375 per year without touching the investment pool. On the other hand, we all wish social security were so good.

If you start at 20, at 60 you can have that income. Starting at 30 would allow withdrawal at 70. 40 would be at 80, etc. It is easy to see that the earlier the program is started, the earlier you can withdraw. But a program at 50 will still get you there at 80, particularly if you double the money to $200. Just $200 a month, beginning at 50, will give you almost $244,000 at age 80 when you would really need it. (Thought question: Let’s see what if I could invest more?)

If I were running schools from elementary until high school, this one lesson would be repeated over and over again until it became literally part of the students’ psyches. Projects in school would be done to demonstrate that lesson over and over again.

Richard Russell in his newsletter, Dow Theory, gives the example of a 19 year old who opens an IRA with $2,000 at an average growth rate of 10% (7% interest plus growth). After seven years this fellow makes no more contributions. A second investor waits until age 16 (seven years later). He also makes $2,000 contributions but he continues to do so faithfully until age 65 and gets the same return. Our first investor ends up with more money than the investor who contributes for the entire time. The compounding effect of the additional 7 years is phenomenal.

Note for Grandparents: Think about what would happen if you funded a Roth IRA for $2,000 per year for your grandchild for seven consecutive years and the

Most people have the expectation of working from the time they are 25 until at least 55 years old. Assuming a good education, many people would expect to make an average of $50,000 per year over that work life.

Total Years Worked: 30

Average Earnings per Year: $50,000.00

Total Money Earned: $1,500,000.00

Most People will have saved: $30,000.00

Amount Spent: $1,470,000.00

It is unlikely that any of us given $1,500,000 would give away $1,470,000 and only keep $30,000. Amazingly though, when done by the paycheck, that is exactly what happens.

2. THE WAY YOU PAY YOUR MORTGAGE IS COSTING YOU THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS!

Let me illustrate: You want to buy a house for a contract price of $180,000. You have a down payment of $30,000 so you need a loan of $150,000. The lender can provide a loan at 7% fixed interest for 30 years. If you pay cash upfront (we all wish we could), then the price of the house is $180,000. If you buy the house with a loan, however, the real cost with the $150,000 loan is $30,000 cash plus the total of the payments on the loan over the thirty years. The monthly payment on the loan will be $997.95. The cost of those payments is 360 times $997.95. Therefore, you actually pay $389,262.00 for the house, not $180,000.

Keep thousands of dollars for your bank account with this tip. Your payment at 30 years is $997.95. Divide the monthly payment by 12. $997.95 divided by 12 is $83.17 (I rounded up). What we are going to do is add that much to each monthly payment and make the payment on the same day of each month. Your new monthly payment is $1081.12. Notice that you are only adding an additional $997.95 per year.

But most importantly, the loan is paid off a little over 6 years early. 75 months times $997.95 is $74,486.25. You just SAVED $74,486.25. That’s almost half of the original cash price of the house! You make money from your house first by building up the equity through paying down your mortgage. You can pay rent for thirty years and not have anything to show for it. You just learned that by paying an extra $80 per month, you can add an additional $74,486.25 to your bank account.

You won’t miss that $80. Skip having dinner out once a month.

3. NEVER REFINANCE YOUR HOUSE FOR LONGER THAN THE ORIGINAL MORTGAGE. If you refinance, don’t go longer than your initial term. If your original term was 30 years and you have 23 years to go, then just refinance for 23 years, not any longer. And make sure you are getting a lower rate, although in today’s market, you can’t get much lower than the historically low rates we have now. The key is to just make the payments for the rest of the mortgage. If you don’t, then you start paying interest all over again and you would have better off by not refinancing at all. You pay more for the house in the long run for your refinance.

Look at it this way. You are the tenant in your house. Your principal and interest plus insurance plus taxes are your rental payments. The goal is to PAY OFF THE HOUSE! Your real investment is your down payment. You would have to pay rent somewhere anyway. You get the entire appreciation on the house even though the bank puts up most of the money. If the house did not appreciate at all, you would end up with a $180,000 asset for your $30,000 downpayment. A 600% return on your investment in 30 years. That is a 20% annual return! If you prepay the mortgage, you will increase that return even further.

4. GET OUT OF CREDIT CARD DEBT! Going into debt to buy things that do not pay you money is a bad idea. If you cannot pay cash to go out to dinner, you should usually good to wait. Stop using the cards.

Then, let’s get you out of debt. If you are paying interest on credit cards, you should pay them off as the first part of the pay yourself first program. Interest works the other way too.

Get out your statements and check the interest rates. If you have more than one card, look at all the statements. The first step is to call the company and ask to lower the rates. If the first person can’t help you, call back and ask for a supervisor. Ask for a rate under 10%.

The second step is to pick the card with the highest rate and concentrate your payments there. Figure out what it would take to pay the card off in one year or less. That should be your payment for that card. You will still have to pay the interest on the other cards but you are making progress. Keep doing that until the cards are all paid off and keep them that way. If you want to live at higher level, increase your income, don’t borrow the money.

If you don’t have enough cash to pay all the payments, you may need more help and obviously need more advice.

5. INVEST IN REAL ESTATE. More fortunes have been made and maintained in real estate, than almost any other investment. Go back to the last paragraph of Step 4 above. What if you had tenants who paid your mortgage payments for you? That is the essence of investing in real estate. If you buy a rental house for example, you will put down a cash down payment. The bank puts up the balance just like with your house. Again, you get all the appreciation potential even though you only put up part of the funds. You get all of the depreciation of the asset, even though you only put up part of the funds. As the mortgage is paid down, you get all of the equity in the property even though you only put up part of the money. Yes, there is risk and you might have to make some of the payments yourself but you could have your money in a mutual fund in the stock market also and have as much if not more risk. If you do not know how to invest in real estate, there are a number of good books on the subject or contact me and we can put you in touch with local investors.

6. START YOUR OWN BUSINESS. Both the author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and the author of “Start Late, Finish Rich” recommend owning your own business and further recommend the direct sales or network marketing business as a strong candidate. The startup costs are low. A carefully chosen company handles the orders and fulfillment of those orders. If you pick a product you like and is quickly consumed, the business can multiply. Your business can give you tax benefits you never can have as an employee. The business can also generate the extra cash that is the key to being able to achieve your goals for the first 5 tips.

If you would like a more detailed explanation of the steps, just email me and I will be happy to send you my more detailed lessons: timementor@mac.com

*February 25, 2005*(1766)