Grace Groner lived nearly her entire life in Lake Forest, Illinois, about 45 minutes north of Chicago.
After graduating from Lake Forest College in 1931, Grace was hired as a secretary at Abbott Laboratories, where she worked for more than forty years.
Grace never earned a large salary as a secretary. According to the Los Angeles Times, she got her clothes from garage sales and she lived in a one-bedroom house that was willed to her when a friend passed away.
But in 1935, a few years after she started her job at Abbott Labs, she did something that would alter her financial future profoundly. She bought three shares of the company’s stock for about $60 per share. Her total investment was under $200.
Grace never sold those shares. Through dividends, share splits, and dividend reinvestment, when she died in 2010, her three share purchase was worth $7 million.
No, this is not an article about the magic of compounding. I wrote that article here.
This is an article about ammunition and about war. The ammunition I’m referring to is your money and the war is a war against mediocrity.
Savers are losers
A self-proclaimed money guru with “two dads” famously said “savers are losers”. To be fair, he was criticizing the practice of saving as the only way of accumulating wealth. His primary method of investing is with other people’s money.
But proclamations like “savers are losers” can lead people to believe that saving money is useless. Indeed, one of the most common complaints I hear from people early-on in their wealth building journey is that saving money and having it just lie around is pointless.
They want their money to be doing something. And in this low interest rate environment, they’d prefer that their money be doing anything, but just sit there.
I call this this the “money as a ticket” philosophy. People who see money as a “ticket”, tend to desperately seek-out ways to exchange their tickets. They go to great lengths to give those tickets to somebody else in exchange for something – a new laptop, big plasma screen TV, a new car or the latest pair of designer shoes. These people are stealing from their best friend.
Think back to the last time you went to a carnival or county fair. You most likely bought tickets at the front door to exchange for rides and games at the carnival. Chances are you didn’t leave the carnival without using all your tickets, right? Funny how that works.
You see, the mind is a powerful task-accomplishing machine. When you give your mind a task, it will get done. So, when you convince your mind that those little green slips of paper in your wallet should be exchanged for something else, guess what happens? Your mind goes into overdrive to “help” you, by coming up with all types of things you could exchange your “tickets” for. A new couch, remodeled bathroom, or the latest cordless drill.
But know this – savers are not losers. No they are not. Who are the losers then? The losers are the people who view money as a “ticket” – something burning a hole in their wallet. They are the type of people who will never be rich. All they’ll do is make someone else rich, by exchanging their hard-earned tickets for trinkets. And ironically, the trinket sellers will get rich…off of them.
Savers know that the game of wealth is not won on the consumer side of the ticket exchange. Savers are winners because they know that money is not a ticket. They know that money is ammunition.
Grace Groner became a millionaire because of something she did before she bought those three shares of Abbott stock. What made her a millionaire was this – she saved the $200 and turned it into investment capital. She saved and then put that savings to work. Without that, that 7 million would never have happened.
You see, every dollar in your wallet is a soldier standing ready to build wealth for you. It has the power to give you freedom, freedom for life. And every dollar you save, you add another freedom fighter to your army. And once you have an army of freedom fighters, you can slay all your enemies – mediocrity, that soul-killing job you hate and living a life of servitude.
I had breakfast with a friend this week who told me of a profitable investment he’s made over the past year factoring accounts receivables for a company. Factoring is a financial transaction and a type of debtor finance in which a business sells its accounts receivable (i.e., invoices) to a third party (called a factor) at a discount. A business will sometimes factor its receivable assets to meet its present and immediate cash needs. The factor makes money by charging the business an interest rate for the financing.
My friend has been able to earn a nice return on his initial $100,000 investment over the past year with factoring. As he told me about his investment, what stood out to me wasn’t his return though or even the type of investment he is making. What stood out to me was this – that when an opportunity arose, he had $100,000 ready to put to work. He had 100,000 soldiers ready to go to war and fight for him.
You see, winning the war against mediocrity starts long before the first shot is fired. It starts in the preparation. It starts with saving your money in anticipation of going to war later. Much later. And trust me, there will be a war. Many wars. But let me ask you this, who’s going to win a war – the ill-prepared guy with 10 bullets or the diligent guy with 1,000,000 bullets?
Some of the very biggest gains in my wealth have come right after long periods of my money doing absolutely nothing.
Just sitting there at the bank. Stacking up. Until.
Until it was time to go to war. And when the battle was on, my army was ready. And I won.
The great battle
The great recession of 2008-2010 offered an enormous opportunity to buy stocks. Some of the world’s largest companies where selling at discounts nearing 75-80% of their book value. You could pick up large, blue chip American companies for pennies on the dollar. This wasn’t just any war, this was the mother of all wars.
Now, who do you think was better prepared to win the war – the person who had spent all his money on expensive cars and gadgets prior to the war or the person who had millions and millions of soldiers ready and eager to go to war? Exactly.
Remember, your money is your army. The more you have, the more “freedom fighters” you have to fight for, and ultimately win, your freedom.
“Here’s how I think of my money – as soldiers – I send them out to war everyday. I want them to take prisoners and come home, so there’s more of them.” -Kevin O’Leary
Have patience in waiting for opportunities. Resist the temptation to always be doing something with your money. This type of behavior breeds haste and haste breeds mistakes. And mistakes lose wars.
So, what does your money represent to you?
Is it a ticket that you can exchange for things that will most likely depreciate in value days after they are bought?
Is it a piece of paper to be “blown”?
Or is it a seed for your next money tree?
Is it a soldier in your fight for freedom?
Do you want to stop fighting for money? Then do this – make money fight for you.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
Want even more ammunition to help you win your financial freedom? Check-out the “bullets” below from the blog archives: