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You Have to Want It

You Have to Want It

Most people want more money. More money is better than less money, right? That is the conventional wisdom.

But there are lots of people who really aren’t interested in more money, unless perhaps you just gave it to them unconditionally.

What do I mean by that? I mean that most people want more money, but aren’t willing to do what it takes to get it.

There are a few obvious ways to get more money:

  1. Work longer: Work more hours at your current job, or get another job and work that, too.
  1. Work harder/smarter/more productively: Get more done in the time allotted, and maybe get a raise or something like that.
  1. Illegal stuff: Drugs/prostitution/whatever. I hate to bring it up, but this is a path that some people take (at the cost of their character). Walter White did it.
  1. Win the lottery.
  1. Sell platelets.

While lots of people want money, they aren’t willing to work more hours—they value their free time. They aren’t willing to work harder—they value their effort. They are content with what they have. That contentedness is an economic choice.

Now, there are some non-obvious ways to make more money:

  • Get a different job

You’re not going to get wealthy as a high school teacher. Even if you saved until it hurt, and invested like the best, you’re not going to be what I would call “rich.” So to get rich, you have to get a different job—there are no shortcuts.

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You could realistically do something like become a real estate agent, and potentially make two to four times what you make currently.

But most people do not want to change jobs. They define themselves as a high school teacher. They say: “I am an educator. I help children.” It is part of their identity, and doing something different would blow up that identity.

Most teachers/nurses/civil servants derive some non-monetary benefit from their jobs. It is understood that people in those professions make sacrifices, so a certain amount of prestige comes with the job. That prestige is worth something. And you can quantify how much it is worth—simply ask people how much money it would take for them to give up their job and do something a little more distasteful.

Another non-obvious way to make money:

  • Start income investing (real estate, etc.)

You could save up some money, buy a piece of property, and rent it out. If you do it right, you are cash flow-positive. You can borrow more money and do it again, and again. Borrowing money is dangerous, but you can make a lot of money doing this if the economy works in your favor.

RV parks, dental offices, and other businesses also spit out income. I know plenty of people who make a good living off the income from their investments. They are a bit bored, but that’s okay.

I bring up income investing because it is something that most people can do in their spare time, if they are motivated enough to do it. I also include fix-and-flips in this category.

Of course, the best way to make money is:

  • Start a business

Just about everyone has sat around drinking beer and dreamed up an idea for a business. My wife thinks tattoo removal would be a great business (especially here in Myrtle Beach). She might be right, although I don’t think people around here are capable of regret.

Anyway, an idea for a business (even a good idea), is virtually worthless without execution. You have to do a lot of research on tattoo removal machines, get certified in doing it, rent office space, put a sign on the door, form an LLC. All this crap just to have a tattoo removal business. And what if someone opens one up next door? Lots and lots of risk.

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Most people, deep down, don’t start a business because they are afraid of the risk.

It’s good to have a healthy fear of this risk. If you start a business with your own money, and fail, it blows up your personal finances.  You could go bankrupt.

If you start a business with other people’s money, and it fails, you’ll be dealing with some p----d-off people.

But if you want to get really rich, that is pretty much how you have to do it. Why? Because you are actually investing in yourself—and then you are compounding at a very high rate (I will explain this in a future issue).

The reality is that money is a choice. Someone who wants more money can do any or all of these things. They can work harder or longer, they can get a different job, they can fool around with real estate, or they can start their own business.

Most people choose not to, because they are either content with what they have (an economic choice) or their self-image is tied up in not being rich (another economic choice).

So the first step in making money is… actually wanting to make money.

Poor Is a Mentality

There are plenty of people whose identities are tied up in being average schmucks, the people who like to say: “I’m an average joe/working man/blue collar guy.”

Or they define themselves as what they are not: “I’m not a capitalist/money-grubber/investment banker.”

And that’s fine! But you can’t then b---- about not having money. You can’t have it both ways.

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If you don’t have any money, then why not do some things that other people with money do. Lose the cargo shorts. Stop watching The Learning Channel. Hang out in places where rich people hang out.

Well, I couldn’t hang out with those stuck-up people.”

Guess what: When you get money, there is a decent chance it is going to make you stuck-up. That comes from working really hard and being successful, and watching a lot of other people not do that.

It’s hard to have sympathy for those other people, when you know that anyone can do what you did.

And that’s what’s at the bottom of this game—lots and lots of hard work. Sure, there is easy money to be made sometimes: bitcoin, marijuana stocks, things like that. But most of the time, making money is hard, there’s no shortcuts, it’s arduous, and it’s really a grind.

If you want to make money, that’s what you have to look forward to. A lifetime of struggle.

Yes, it gets easier after a while, and when you see someone who has money, they are probably making it seem like it was easy. It’s a bit like an iceberg—all you’re seeing is the top 10% of it. Underneath is a whole lot of sweat and toil.

Maybe you think that money will turn you into a different person.

Let’s hope it does!

The alternative is that you can remain the authentic you that you are, and accept that you’ll never be able to afford to go to that nice restaurant that you’ve always wanted to go to.

Money Is a Choice

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Money is a choice: You have to choose to want it, and it also represents choices. It represents things you can do. It is what finance guys like to call “optionality.”

The very wealthiest people enjoy more optionality than the rest of us. Of course, the biggest perk of being “ultra-high net worth” is private air travel. The ability to go to the airport, skip security and all the bull----, get on your own plane, and fly anywhere.

I like to think of money as a big pile of things I can do. Anything becomes possible.

If you don’t want to make money, I can’t help you. If you just want to want to make money, I can’t help you.

You must possess a belief system which tells you that material things can make you happier and that your work and effort can buy increased comfort. And if you want to make the world a better place, you can donate what’s left over.

You don’t have the ability to do any of those things if you first don’t want money.

All the personal finance lessons, stock tips, and investment research in the world won’t make you rich until you first get the right attitude.


  1. Making money is hard.
  1. It is worth it.
  1. You’ll know what I mean when you get there.


We welcome your comments. Please comply with our Community Rules.


jack goldman
July 6, 2018, 6:17 p.m.

Cancer survivor here. Money is nothing. Breath is everything. Where is Steve Jobs? I outlived him. People who wage wars for scores, for counterfeit currency computer credits live deluded, sad tragic lives if they live their life just for the score and status. Buddhist monks teach how to escape this sad deluded life that it’s all about the score and winning. There is no excessive joy after the middle class life of $70,000 a year. $700,000 is about the max happiness for net worth. That’s enough. Just had our first grand child. My multi millionaire buddy’s wife would give up all their money for a grand child. Steve Jobs would have given up eight billion dollars to live as long as me. It’s about the breath AND the money, harmonizing. Money is the score but it’s not the game. Buddhist monks live happy lives with no money. No one wants to suffer but water kills in a flood and a drought. A flood of money, winning the lottery, ruins over half the winners, the MAJORITY. It’s about heart, the center, balance, not extremes. For those who live for money I say, “Good luck with that”. If you have $70,000 a year or $700,000 net worth you have “enough”.
July 5, 2018, 2:12 p.m.

Okay, I want it I want it.  Which subscription comes closest to enabling its accumulation?  I’m not greedy; I’m a mushy left wing liberal.  You can use your money for Las Vegas and/or establishing endowments for my college alma mater and my kids’.  I can think of a lot of other possibilities that are not egoistic.
July 5, 2018, 11:44 a.m.

Jared, in recent columns you have been drifting from the specific (eg calling the top of the equities market, which I admired for it’s boldness—I think in the long run you were correct) to the very general, not to say the obvious.  It’s tending toward the boring.

But in this last column, you left out two other factors:  intelligence and education.  You can work your butt off, but if you don’t have the mental horsepower or the education to apply it, you’ll go nowhere.

Chuck Clark
July 5, 2018, 10:40 a.m.

Jared, this is a great piece.  Direct, blunt and right on the mark.  There are a small number of people who have real physical limitations that prevent them from becoming wealthy, but for the vast majority it simply requires being committed and willing to make sacrifices in the short term to reach your goal.  Those who don’t want it badly enough to work for it need to realize they made a choice and therefore they are not a “victim” of an unfair or oppressive system.
July 5, 2018, 10:39 a.m.


What’s wrong with cargo shorts?  I invest in real estate, started businesses with my wife, and don’t need to work.  I like cargo shorts.  In fact, I like walking into the bank or title company wearing cargo shorts.  Why build wealth if you can’t do (and wear) what you like?
July 5, 2018, 10:31 a.m.

Good article, totally agree on the post and its premise.  Better character for the “Illegal” example would be John DeLorean, as Walter White is fictional.

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