9 Secrets of Achieving Financial Freedom – Part VII

The eighth secret of the 9 Secrets of Achieving Financial Freedom is the Secret of Leverage. Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world.” The right use of leverage can accelerate your success for just about any goal you have. Thinking of the investment arena for a moment, there are numerous ways leverage is used to magnify success.

One of the simplest forms of leverage is compound interest or as Albert Einstein said, “Compound interest is the eighth natural wonder of the world and the most powerful thing I have ever encountered.” Simply stated, compounding is the effect of earnings on both your principal and interest. In other words, if you invest $1,000 at 5% interest, you’ll earn $50. By reinvesting your interest along with your principal, you are now earning 5% on both your principal AND your reinvested interest.

You can also create leverage through tax planning. For example, our government has passed tax laws that encourage certain behavior such as deferring income into your company 401k plan. Doing so avoids immediate taxation on income and defers taxes on earnings until funds are withdrawn in retirement. Whether it’s tax free interest on municipal bonds, depletion allowance on oil and gas exploration, depreciation on real estate and business assets, each strategy allows you to leverage your returns.

Donald Trump became a billionaire by using financial leverage to buy real estate. He’s not alone. Financial leverage has created more millionaires than just about any strategy. You put a down payment on a piece of real estate and a bank or other lender will loan you the balance. Here’s an oversimplified example: You pay $100,000 cash for a rental property and it produces a $10,000 profit, earning you 10% on your money. However, if you invested $10,000 and borrowed $90,000 and earned a $10,000 profit, your return would jump to 100%. Now that’s leverage!

Clearly leverage can be a ‘two-edged’ sword as we have seen millions of good folks lose their homes and businesses to foreclosure because of declining values and revenue. However, when used judiciously it can truly accelerate your success. With any goal you have, ask yourself this question, “How can I use leverage to accelerate my success?”

So how have I used leverage in my Ultimate Fitness Quest? It started with a demanding goal…to lose 20 pounds of body fat over 40 days. I then got great advice from a team of experts in the field of health and fitness. I knew I would need leverage to inspire me to success so I did three things. First, I asked for support from my wife and co-workers, the people I would be spending the most time with. Next, I recruited a Support Partner, someone who would encourage me and hold me accountable. Finally, I told someone…excuse me…EVERYONE what my plans were. You want to create leverage on yourself? Try setting an audacious goal and then tell a bunch of people! So far I’ve lost 15 pounds in the first 30 days!

If you’re ready to set some audacious goals for your personal finances or health and fitness, sign up for the 9 Secrets to Achieving Financial Freedom or the Ultimate Fitness Quest at www.StewartWelch.com.

9 Secrets to Achieving Financial Freedom – Pt V

In this continuing series of the ‘9 Secrets to Achieving Financial Freedom’, today I’ll discuss the Secret of Financial Focus. One of the reasons that so many people struggle financially is they fail to give proper attention to their finances. Sure, they’re paying the bills and maybe putting a little money into their company’s retirement plan but that’s not enough to create financial success. The success of the Secret of Financial Focus lies in consistent attention to your finances. If you want to become financially free, how much time should you spend? In my experience, 30 minutes a day is adequate to significantly accelerate your progress towards that objective. Think about it. Your money is the ‘glue’ that holds your financial situation together. Most people will spend more time planning a vacation than planning their personal finances. No wonder so many folks are drowning in financial deep water. Realize that becoming financially astute is a process. As my wife is fond of saying, “Bloom where you are planted”, meaning start wherever you are and bloom from there. A logical place to start is to determine your ‘baseline’…by listing everything you own and owe. To access a form go to the Resource Center at www.WelchGroup.com; click on ‘Links’; then Asset/Liability Review. Next, educate yourself about the in’s and out’s of personal finance. Commit to spending 30 minutes each day learning about personal finance and investments. A good place to start is my ‘9 Secrets to Achieving Financial Freedom’, a free 30-day Internet course that will give you a good foundation from which to build. You can access it at www.StewartWelch.com. There’s also lots of information on the Internet and many great books on the topic.

Ok, I know this might not be your number one fun thing to do in life but each of us has a responsibility to be a good steward of our money. I love this quote from Sir Josiah Stamp, “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities”. There’s a universal law called the Law of Attention which states, “What you put your attention (focus) on, expands”. Pay attention to your money and watch it grow. Consider thinking of your personal finances in a new way. Think of it as a business you own with the intention of growing it into a big business. If you really did have a business, it would get daily attention. So should your personal finances.

How would I cross-relate the Secret of Financial Focus to my own ultimate fitness quest…my personal goal of losing 20 lbs of body fat in 40 days? Simply drop the ‘Financial’ and insert ‘Health & Fitness’. I’m focusing daily attention on what I eat as well as exercise. For me it’s been focusing on one day at a time. “What do I need to focus on TODAY to move me towards my health and fitness goal?” Check out my results…then realize you too can use the Secret of Financial Focus to transform your financial circumstances. Or you can use the same concept to transform your own heath and fitness in just 40 days! For your fitness transformation, visit www.UltimateFitnessQuest.com.

9 Secrets to Achieving Financial Freedom, Part III

Once you decide what you want to accomplish in your life; make a total commitment to doing whatever it takes; and get perfectly clear about that accomplishment looks like, what is the next step in the journey to turning your intention into your reality?  Well, it’s the Secret of Decisive Action!  You see, a lot of people know what they want but they fail to take the action necessary to make it happen.  What are the reasons?  They are many but a couple of the most prevalent include:

  • All the facts, please. If your personality is of the ‘analyst’ type, you may be hindered by the need to know all the facts before you ‘start’ on the road to success.  You’ve heard the mantra, “Ready, Aim, Fire!”  Well successful people believe in the same mantra but they reorder the words a bit.  Their mantra is, “Ready, FIRE, Aim!”  Whether we’re talking about creating financial freedom or, in my case, using the 9 Secrets to Achieving Financial Freedom to take control of my own health and fitness, what’s critical is to get in the game!  One of the greatest ‘understandings’ of success is failure.  All highly successful people get into the game knowing they’ll make mistakes and run into obstacles.  They just don’t let that stop them.  They adopt the mantra, “Correct and Continue!”  When you make a mistake, learn from it, adjust your course and continue on your journey as a wiser person.  Here’s a great slogan to embrace, “All Masters were once Disasters!”  You become a Master through blood, sweat and tears.
  • Procrastination. An awful lot of people fall into this category.  They know what they want but they’re just too comfortable where they are to take the actions needed to change the course of their lives.  If you are a constant procrastinator, there’s still hope for you.  It will require that you create a new but simple habit.  Write down what it is that you want to accomplish, why it’s vitally important to you and then list the first few actions you could take in the next 7 days to move you towards your goal.  Then commit (here’s the new habit) to completing at least 2-3 actions per week while continually updating your action list.  I’ve even created a form to help you called ‘My Promise’ which you can access at the Resource Center at www.StewartWelch.com.

In applying the Secret of Decisive Action to my own 40-day health and fitness transformation (www.UltimateFitnessQuest.com), I first put together a world-class team of experts to coach me, got into the gym every day and immediately began eating healthy.  I cut out sugary and fried foods, processed foods, alcohol, and diet soft drinks.  The human body is amazing!  Within a few days I started feeling better, more energized and by day 5 my clothes began to feel looser.  By day 10, I had lost 6 lbs of body fat and 8 total pounds!  You don’t have to know all the answers.  I accelerated through my nutritional and fitness learning curve by consulting experts in the field.  Whether your goals are financial or fitness related, you can use this same strategy.  They’ll guide you and support your success.

9 Secrets to Achieving Financial Freedom – Part 2

What does it take to achieve financial freedom? What does it take to achieve anything that you truly desire? Most people haven’t a clue. I spent thirty years studying people who have achieved extraordinary success and found that they each consciously or unconsciously do and think differently from everyone else. I call these the 9 Secrets of Achieving Financial Freedom. Last week, I discussed the first two secrets: the Secret of Decision and the Secret of Total Commitment. To achieve any worthy objective it first requires that you decide what you want and then make a total commitment to making it happen. Not every successful person does this but you will increase your chances of success many-fold if you write it down. This leads me to the third secret; the Secret of Clarity. You must have a crystal clear vision of what you want to do, become or have. The clearer the picture, the easier it will be to attain. The Secret of Clarity includes seeing yourself ‘as-if’ you already are that which you wish to be. It’s ‘imagining’ yourself into the future to that time when you are what you set out to become. Your mind will then begin to make decisions towards that reality.

Perhaps my favorite story of clarity relates to a struggling Asian actor. In 1970, in a letter to himself, he wrote, “By 1980, I will be the best known oriental movie star in the United States and will have secured $10 million dollars. In return, I will give the very best acting I could possibly give every time I’m in front of the camera…” In 1973 Bruce Lee completed the film Enter the Dragon and became in instant mega-star and martial arts legend. Through hard work, Bruce Lee became who he had to become to be that mega star. And I love that he included what he’d give back in return.

It is said that the human mind makes a wonderful slave but a terrible master. What you tell your mind often enough, it believes. Successful people learn to control their thoughts so that roadblocks to success become ‘challenges’. And everyone loves a challenge.

In applying the Secret of Clarity in your personal finances, get perfectly clear on exactly what success looks like for you. Is it being debt free? Is it being financially free? And what exactly does each of these mean for you? Certainly ten people would arrive at ten very different answers.

I’m currently using the 9 secrets to transform my own heath and fitness over a 40-day period. I made the decision, am totally committed and have perfect clarity around what I intend to achieve. Using proper nutrition and exercise I’ll slash 20lbs of unwanted body fat and reduce my waistline three inches. I’m calling it the Ultimate Fitness Quest and invite you to join me in a quest of your own. A team of health and fitness experts is showing me (and you) how to turn my body into a fat burning furnace. They promise me I’ll never go hungry and won’t have to spend hours in the gym. Apparently, little changes can make a world of difference. If you’d like to join in the fun or just follow along visit www.StewartWelch.com.

9 Secrets of Achieving Financial Freedom- Part I

At the ripe old age of twenty-two I decided to study self-made millionaires in order to determine how they created their success. My hope was that by doing what they did, I could achieve similar results. Seems logical, right? I even hosted a TV show where I interviewed self-made millionaires including folks like the founder of Compass Bank and legendary banker, Harry Brock. While I made lots of mistakes, I learned that by modeling successful people’s behavior and actions you could get astounding results. I also noticed something else: virtually all self-made millionaires did a handful of things that other people didn’t do. Think of them as the ‘secrets’ of self-made millionaires. Most importantly, these secrets are skills that anyone can learn and use to create financial success in their own life.

I distilled these secrets down into what I call the ‘9 Secrets of Achieving Financial Freedom’. Once I had written the 9 secrets, it dawned on me that they are universal secrets to success and you should be able to use them to create success in any area of your life. So as a personal experiment, I intend to use the 9 secrets to transform my own fitness level over the next forty days. In this column over the next six weeks I’ll share both the 7 Secrets to Achieving Financial Freedom as well as my progress regarding my own fitness quest. By the way, wealth without health is not really wealth or said another way, “If a man has his health, it is said he can have a 1,000 wishes. If he has lost his health, he will have but one.”

The first two of the 9 secrets are the Secret of Decision and the Secret of Total Commitment.

One of the first observations I had regarding self-made millionaires was that they decided specifically what they wanted to accomplish and then became totally committed to their success. They displayed an attitude of certainty about their outcome. In Harry Brock’s case he was totally committed to changing the face of banking in Alabama from the stogy, ivory tower, white-shoe atmosphere that prevailed at the time to one focused on customer service and rapid expansion through a sales oriented approach to acquiring customers. He ruffled lots of feathers and fought many battles both in and out of the courtroom but prevailed and built one of the largest banks in America.

Knowing that the first two secrets, what achievement would you be willing to be totally committed to? In my 40-day experiment, I’m committed to reducing my body fat by 20 pounds while increasing my level of strength and cardiovascular fitness. I’ve brought in a team of health and fitness experts to coach me… and you too, if you’d like to shed inches from your own waistline. I’m calling it the Ultimate Fitness Quest and I’ve set up a web site with lots of resources to help you in your own quest. It’ll be an opportunity to test the 9 secrets in a realm other than personal finances and test myself at the same time. So if you’re ready to create your own 40-day transformation just in time for summer, visit www.StewartWelch.com and be sure to read my column each week here in The Birmingham News!

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