I often write on Quora.com, where I am the most viewed writer on financial matters, with over 575.2 million views in recent years.
In the answers below I focused on the following topics and issues:
- How can I get rich quickly for free?
- Investing: “Markets can remain irrational for longer than you can remain solvent” (by John Maynard Keynes). What conclusions can be derived from the previous statement?
- Will skipping coffee every day make me rich?
- Do rich people love to get stuff for free?
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How can I get rich quickly for free?
Many people want to get rich.
Therefore, nobody should expect it will be easy and quick.
Get rich quick isn’t the same as get rich easy, but “get rich quick schemes” imply that getting rich is possible with little effort or risk.
That isn’t then case, otherwise everybody would do it.
The only ways that people can get rich fast, and legally, is due to previous work.
That is unless you rely on pure luck such as an inheritance, marrying into wealth or winning the lottery.
People assume that there is a connection between hard work and success, which is true.
That doesn’t mean that success is linear. It can happen suddenly.
Many successful people joke that “it took a decade for me to become an overnight success”.
If people consistently take risks, work hard and smart in an industry which can potentially reward them, there is a chance there will be a breakthrough moment.
Examples of breakthrough moments is if a great sport start is scouted and put on a lucrative contract
Or a business owner who has tried, and failed, for years, and then finally finds a way to monetize their business.
I know several people who got rich quickly, but that doesn’t mean it was easy.
It was due to:
- Taking big risks
- Putting in work for years or even a decade, before the breakthrough moment
- Some luck was involved. For example, they went online before Covid-19, or got into the right industry at the right time
In other words, several things happened to ensure that the person achieved linear success quickly.
Most of these people didn’t aim to ‘get rich quick’, it just happened.
More often than that, if people plan for sustainable success, it works out better.
‘For free’ isn’t easy either, but many successful businesses are started by people who first get good at a normal job.
They see opportunities and problems in the industry, and ways the customer can be better served.
They then set up a business and do well over time.
In the service industry, you don’t always need big start-up capital for that.
Some people also use other people’s money to start up, but racking up debts.
As an aside, most of the world’s multi-millionaires got rich slowly, by holding assets for decades.
Investing: “Markets can remain irrational for longer than you can remain solvent” (by John Maynard Keynes). What conclusions can be derived from the previous statement?
He did indeed say that:
It isn’t surprising that he said that, as it seems he had first-hand experience.
I once read that Keynes had lost money speculating in the stock markets.
That shows that being a great economist isn’t the same as being a great investor.
In recent times, anybody who has followed economists like Roubini closely would have realized that he is wrong five times for every time he is right, at least regarding stock markets and asset prices.
It isn’t easy to see why.
Pick any year in recent times.
Almost every single year, the stock markets surprise us.
People expected 2019 to be a bad year, and markets in the US produced 30%.
2020 was a good year for most stock markets despite Covid-19 occuring.
Few expected 2020 to be a particular good year, but markets came roaring back from the crash.
Moreover, most people who predict one bad event or year get the next prediction wrong.
In my network, few predicted the 2008 crash. From those that did, none of them predicted how well the recovery would be.
Same with 2020. Very few people predicted the crash.
Hardly any of those did predicted that markets would recover so quickly.
The main conclusions, then, are:
- You shouldn’t think that you can time the markets, especially as a non-professional investor
- Be careful with leverage. People who time the market are governed by fear. Those who use leverage are governed by greed.
- Don’t think just because you have high technical skills as an economist or finance professional, that this would always give you an advantage. Remember, dead investors accounts often beat even the most technically gifted living person.
- Past correct predictions are no indication of correct futrue ones. Peter Schiff, Roubini, Michael Blurry and anybody who predicted 2008 are great example of that. The media introduces them as people who predicted 2008, forgetting to mention their 100 incorredct predictions since. Of course they will get the next crisis right as well, as they predict almost every crisis!
- Don’t assume this time is different.
Basically, be careful with your emotions. Just focus on good diversification.
Investing isn’t just about technical knowledge.
Will skipping coffee every day make me rich?
No, but consider this.
If you love a certain chain of coffee, then others probably do too.
Therefore, what would be the effect of skipping that coffee AND investing in that firms stock?
Let’s take Starbucks as an example:
You can see the difference is around $200,000 over 20 years.
Imagine how it would compound over 30, 40 or 45 years.
Of course, that doesn’t literally mean you should literally give up your daily coffee and all luxuries.
It merely shows that:
- Being a producer is more profitable than being a consumer
- If you invest in assets that yield dividends, you can eventually buy even more cups of coffee if you want!
- Many good small decisions can compound. Investing that $4 a day won’t make you rich, but making twenty other small decisions like that might.
- Even if you carry on buying that coffee, it still makes sense to invest on the side.
Remember too that the above example doesn’t take account of time savings, and only money saving, when time is so important.
Staying in line is more time consuming than ordering on an app or making your own.
In much the same way that many successful people cut or shave their own head due to the time saving, the same is true for coffee.
So, skipping that daily coffee won’t make you rich in isolation, but if you use those extra 5–20 minutes a day productively and invest the surplus well, it will make a difference.
Most people who like brand coffee find making it by themselves less stressful as well.
No need to have those annoying conversations where people ask what your name is, so they can write it on the cup!
Do rich people love to get stuff for free?
I am not sure about loving it anymore than anybody else.
What I do know is that the richer and/or more high-profile you get, the more things you get for free.
Ronaldo has been given cars, allegedly, for free.
It makes sense for the sponsors.
It works better than paying him for a one-off shout out, as he will use it, and take pictures in it, on social media.
The same for famous businesspeople.
Lunch with Buffett is quite expensive……although he gives the money to charity now.
It isn’t just at the extremes either.
Partners in big accountancy, law firms and banks get more free luxury hotels and flights for free.
Business owners who become more successful can sometimes use the company card to upgrade flights (used for business) with points.
Business providers often invite business owners, top salespeople and executives to free conventions in luxury resorts.
So, I am not sure it is being loving getting stuff for free.
It is just more likely to happen the more well known or wealthy you get.
Many celebrities and businesspeople actually turn down free stuff if they suspect that the provider is dodgy.
Certainly more people are being careful about accepting free stuff from crypto exchanges now…..
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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 694.5 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.