School vs Money Making

I have been doing some work to assist a local school lately, while it has nothing to do with money making, I can’t help to compare the two, i.e. school vs money making. This turns out to be quite a significant missing link for property investors, especially the experienced ones. Let me explain;

Here is what I find interesting:

  • School: if you ask people who have been to school, most of them will tell you that they didn’t actually enjoy going to school, and yet most of them managed to finish school, be it a high school certificate or a university degree.
  • Money making: if you ask people whether they would like to have a lot more money, most of them will tell you YES, and yet only a small percentage of us actually manage to do so.

Here is an obvious question:

Why do most of us manage to finish something we don’t really like much (such as school), but fail to achieve something we really like (such as having more money)? Some people may say that school is easier. How about we go and ask 10 of our friends and give them 2 options to choose:

  • Go back to school to study;
  • Go and make some more money;

You will probably find that most people would prefer option 2☺! If school is that easy and fun, why wouldn’t more people choose option 1? I also have another interesting observation between school and making money.

  • As much as most of us find school hard work and no fun, we felt reasonably productive with our time and energy and felt good about the results when all our hard work led to the desired outcome, be it a trade certificate or a university degree.  You can find the proof of this from the graduation parties & ☺! In other words, even in a restrictive environment such as school, together with lots of hard work, our morale was quite high. We were able to stay focused and felt like we were going somewhere. We were relatively happier with ourselves during school.
  • After school, our main focus is to make a living. Although we have the freedom to choose a job we want and  how much money we want to make or not make, we often wonder what to do next and become a lot less productive than our school days.  In other words, even in a less restrictive environment, doing what most of us love doing (e.g. making money), our day to day morale seems to be lower than our school days, and most of us feel relatively unhappier as we get older. The irony is that we were all looking forward to finishing school so that we could start making money and be happier. Things seem to have gone terribly wrong from that expectation for most people.

Have you ever wondered what is missing? Maybe we should examine what we have at school that is missing after school. How do we finish school? Apart from dropping out which is definitely a quick way to do it ☺, it is usually done by getting a graduation paper of some sort, such as a high school certificate, trade certificate, or a university degree. What are the things we must do to finish school? Let’s use an example; say you want to get a university degree, you are likely to need to do the following:

  • Select the degree you want to obtain within a socially acceptable time frame;
  • A workable curriculum to follow;
  • Have the disciplines to follow the curriculum and do the work until it is done;
  • Imagine if any of these 3 components above were missing from your activities, what would be the consequences?
  • If you don’t know which degree you want, there are too many degrees to choose from in a university, You wouldn’t even know where to start without a clearly defined goal. It is also socially more acceptable to stay in a degree course for 3-4 years rather than 30-40 years (unless you are the lecturers ☺). So we need to have an expectation for the time frame.
  • Imagine the university didn’t have a curriculum worked out for the degree, and you have to study subjects randomly to see if they are part of your degree. So we need to have aworkable plan such as a curriculum to follow in order to achieve our goals.
  • Imagine if you didn’t have the discipline to follow the curriculum of the degree, and you spent most of your time partying and skipping assignments and exams instead.  What is the chance you will ever get the degree? So we need to have disciplines to follow the plan if we want to achieve our goal.

So if we follow the same logic to examine the way we make money after school. We would need to have the following:

  • A clearly defined financial goal with a time frame. 
  • A workable plan.
  • The discipline to follow the plan.

Hmmm… Interesting… I wonder why life is a struggle after school when it comes to money☺! Most of us don’t have a clearly defined financial goal, let alone a time frame to achieve it.  You can’t talk about a workable plan when there is no goal or deadline. You can’t talk about the discipline to follow a plan where there is not even a plan. It is not hard to see why we run around in all directions trying to make some money but get nowhere…because there isn’t anywhere to go in the first place! I am not saying that these 3 things can guarantee that we do well financially (e.g. having a passive net income greater than their work income, etc), but there is a very good chance that we won’t do well financially without them.

Let’s look at the goal first.

Why don’t most people have a clearly defined financial goal by a deadline? Because no one has asked them that question before! Think about the school paper (e.g. university degree, etc) that you worked so hard to get, didn’t someone (your parents, friends or the society) put that idea in your head? Most of the time, it is not even your idea, but you still get it done ☺! If I may ask you this today; “what passive net income do you want to have by what age?” and you turn your answer to my question into a clearly defined financial goal for you and your family, I bet it will have a tremendously positive impact on your financial wellbeing from here on, as it will keep you focused and productive towards your goal with less distraction.

What about a workable plan?

Not everyone has all the answers and knowledge to design a workable plan, even if they have a clearly defined goal. This is similar to a home buyer who does not know how to draw an architectural plan for their dream home so they hire a professional, such as an architect, to help. You can look at your financial goal as your financial dream home in this context. Some people may ask; what if we don’t like the plan from the architect? The answer is…you can make the architect change it, on paper, until you like it. Isn’t it better to change the plan on paper rather than when the house is half built?  A lot of property investors have built a property portfolio without a goal and an executable plan; it can become very expensive to restructure them half way through.

What about disciplines?

People often think discipline is hard to come by, but we forget that if we really want to do something, we will be disciplined and get it done. For example; I have seen parents sending their kids to school and picking them up on time every day for over 10 years. I have also seen people having 2 cups of coffee and a pack of cigarettes every day for 40 years. So discipline is not that unachievable. If you have a clearly defined goal, together with a workable plan. you can definitely help make the task more meaningful and make it easier for us to have some discipline in.


Money making doesn’t need to be as sophisticated as most people have made it to be. It may just come down to some very simple stuff such as having a clearly defined goal and following a workable plan with some discipline. We tend to overlook the simple stuff as they may not come across very powerful when we are living through it every day.

Check this out:

Assuming $3.50 a cup of coffee and $20 a pack of cigarette currently, inflation 3% and the money you didn’t spend will return you 6%. For the next 40 years:

  • 2 cups of coffee a day will cost you a total of $598,183.40;
  • A pack of cigarette a day will cost you a total of $1,709,095.50;
  • A pack of cigarette plus 2 cups of coffee a day will cost you a whopping $2,307,238.90.  (An equivalent of $138,436.74 passive income a year).

Do I need to say any more? You can almost say that if you can afford a cup of coffee, you can become wealthy. There is almost no justifiable victim in wealth creation ☺.


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