March 12th, 2020 President Trump appeared on national television to announce that travel to and from Europe would be banned due to the Coronavirus outbreak. What seemed like a common-sense decision, had a heart-wrenching effect on Emma and myself. Our wedding was seven days away, at a beautiful castle in Denmark. We and all our US-based family were stuck in America with no way to get to the wedding. All those hours of long-distance phone calls with venues, caterers, bands, and florists were suddenly all in vain.
If you’ve planned a wedding in the last 20 years you know that the modern wedding takes a great deal of coordination, planning, and money—$33,000 on average in the U.S! Now, if you think planning a wedding is stressful, you should try unplanning one. We worked full time for two weeks on negotiating with airlines, hotels, vendors, etc. Thankfully, my experience as a professional negotiator helped us get nearly all our wedding expenses back - including a free weekend when we visit Denmark next. Following this nightmare, we quickly pivoted toward a simple wedding on my parent’s front porch with 10 guests and video-streaming for overseas family. And to top off our movie-like-masquerade of a wedding, in cliché fashion, it was pouring Texas rain in the middle of our ceremony on our family. It was planned in less than 48 hours and our total out of pocket cost for the wedding (including what we lost to our canceled wedding) was only $2,300!
Maybe you feel sorry for us—I did for a while. But at the end of the day, we were blessed to have a nice chunk of cash as a consequence of our botched wedding plans. Imagine you're young, newly married, what do you do with this money? A new car? A new wardrobe? Extravagant honeymoon? Down payment on a house? Maybe you’re smart and put it in a retirement account (nerd). If you guessed any of these options, you’d be wrong.
We have spent every single penny of wedding savings on education. That’s right education. Emma and I already have our degrees, yet we decided to invest all our money into hiring investment coaches. We have hired three high-level real estate coaches, purchased a curriculum, and paid in advance for networking and education events. Since March, we have taken four trips to different markets around the US and have spent hundreds of hours learning the best investment strategies.
But why spend tens of thousands of dollars on coaching and networking, when that money could be used as a down payment for a property. Why not practice investing by purchasing our first home? I’m sure many of you are thinking this, and it is a very good question, but let me give a few reasons:
Return is defined by Investopedia as "the money made or lost on an investment." In other words, the return is what an investor receives in exchange for participating in an investment. So what is your return on self? What good or bad do you receive for being you? What good or bad do others receive from interacting with you? What good or bad comes from your beliefs? What about your thoughts? What about your work? What about your words? In college, some students sat in the back, did what they needed to, and eventually earned a diploma. They accomplished their goal, to get a degree, but they received no less, no more. Other students in the same classes engaged fully, asked questions, and stayed late talking to professors. They too got their diploma but were more likely to be recommended for jobs and internships by their professors. These different students, equally smart, equally situated, and equally qualified have wildly different outcomes because of why? Who they are produced different returns—ROS.
If you want to change the type of life you have, then you need to change the type of person you are. Many people try the opposite approach, they toil and sweat over changing the quality of their life, but fail to change the quality of themselves. Sadly, this approach leaves us chasing an effect while leaving us blind to the cause. Our coaches Gino Barbaro, Bill Ham, and Darren Light possess such a high ROS that they naturally improve the ROS of others. By learning from these talented investors, we are becoming a different type of person. We are addressing the cause, not the effect.
Spending our wedding money on coaching courses may seem odd to you. We think we’re nuts too! “Who does this?” repeats in my head as we tread into waters most people avoid. But maybe that’s a sign that we’re on the right path. 90% of people, both novice and experienced, lose money in the stock markets. That means just 10% earn 100% of the gains! Simply don’t be like the 90%. As T. Harve Eker says in Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, “If you’re not rich yet, there’s just something that you don’t know.” Emma and I have a lot to learn; we don’t even know what we don’t know. But we are determined to find out what that something is and are investing heavily into doing so. Join us on our journey and let’s achieve financial freedom together.
“Better to have a friend who has a boat, than to have a boat.”
-Boating Proverb 16:02