My next door neighbor had moved back in with his mom while he started his first job after college. He was hired as a broker for a small brokerage firm in Atlanta. Although he was ten years older, he became a mentor to me. He showed me the magic of compound interest and suggested that I start investing $25 dollars a month in a mutual fund. I could open a money market account to get started. He told me that I could become a millionaire by the time I was thirty-five. (He did the math and everything).
It was 1981 and I was only 14. Where was I going to get $25 a month? He convinced me to go to the local pizza joint and get a job…any job. I was hired at $1.00 an hour to bus tables in the evenings Thursday, Friday, & Saturday. I was to also get a tip share.
Two weeks later, my neighbor asked if I wanted to go to Six-Flags over Georgia. I told him I didn’t have any money. He asked, “Didn’t you get paid?” “Yes,” I answered. Then he asked me the million dollar question: “What do you have to show for that money? Show me what you traded your time and labor for.” He said he’d wait while I ran home to show him the “stuff” I’d bought.
I could only produce some trash. I had spent my first paycheck on frozen pizza, Cokes, and junk food when a buddy came over to spend the night. I felt humiliated and ashamed. My neighbor then said, “Always have something to show for your money.”
I did open those accounts. I have always lived on 80%. (10% to God, 10% to savings). I funded those accounts until I needed the money for college. (This was in the days before state sponsored lottery funded education.) It was a great lesson and one I have passed on to countless employees over the years. (I used to own several restaurants.)
What do you have to show for the money that you earn? It’s a really powerful question to ask yourself.