Dream and Hustle

Never Broke Again: Path to Financial Stability and Growth

Friday, March 22, 2024

The first thing they don’t teach you is how to handle your money properly. The schools do not teach you this on a personal level, and the community doesn’t tell you how to keep yourself financially sustainable. There is a reason for this.

The reason is to keep you in a perpetual need – all of them. I have to remind people that if you are around people giving you a fish, instead of teaching you how to fish, they want you to be dependent and subservient. They want to dangle a fish over your head and make an exchange for the fish. In US/UK politics, they sell social benefits for votes, but once elected, they ignore the voters and send billions to fund wars overseas.

In the 21st century, you must learn how to manage your money right so you can move freely and stay adaptive to rapid change. If you suffer a layoff, you have to be able to sustain yourself for another job opportunity and relocate if necessary. If you want to move to another country, you will need to be able to sustain yourself financially, and going broke with little social security overseas can be devastating.

I struggled early on in life because no one taught me how to keep myself cash flow positive. Also, I found the people I grew up with, including my family and the women I dated, very non-supportive and trying to take money/resources instead of helping me grow money/resources.

I always found myself completely broke the Tuesday before payday and had to rely on payday advances to get to the next paycheck because I didn’t know how to manage my money. I look back and realize there were people positioned in my life to snatch food from my table. I also had people trying to shame me for having money as well.

Today, I have taken ownership of my money and resources and established protocols for dealing with threat vectors trying to come for my money and resources. There are financial sustainability techniques I went out and learned on my own that I want to share with you to save time learning.

Let’s just get to it.

Use Japanese Kakeibo Instead of Budgeting

What we saw taught to us on handling money is to create a “budget” that shows how much we make then try to discipline ourselves to spend within our means. This self-restraining technique never works like dieting because we are free people and don’t want to live a restrictive life. Budgets don’t work.

What worked for me is the Japanese style of financial management called “Kakeibo,” I think you will like this technique not only for money but also for life management in general.

With Kakeibo, you instead focus on your activities and what you naturally do. Record what you have done during the day and track your habits. Did you go to the coffee shop to buy $6 coffee? Did you order a $15 lunch on your lunch break? Did you go shopping and spend $150? Did you order something online with your credit card? Did you go grocery shopping with a $55 grocery bill after work?

Write down a log of what you did that day. Set up some chill time and reflect on how you spent your day using your resources. Then, think about how to be more efficient.

Instead of buying $6/coffee, invest in a coffee maker and hot liquid containers to take to work—it's actually more time-efficient and cost-efficient. Pack your own lunch and stop eating poor-quality food with hidden bad ingredients. Drop those friends who keep asking you to go out and spend money every weekend and find someone to watch Netflix and cook together.

Kakeibo is a form of continuous lifestyle improvement and efficiency. Instead of “budget”, you start swapping costly/inefficient tasks with more money-saving, more efficient techniques.

Buy Only Liquid Assets

This is one of the biggest techniques I wish I had known at a younger age. Only buy luxury items that can be held on and sold later. Do not buy generic or lame brands; only solid brands that you can keep maintained and trade-in at the highest resale value.

Yes, you know where I learned this—in Japan. If you go shopping for a used luxury watch or electronics in Shinjuku or Dotonbori, you will see the previous owner kept the original receipt, box, and packaging, all in good condition as if you purchased it new.

With the yen at an all-time low against the US dollar, Japan is where you travel to purchase these items as liquid assets you can sell for more in the USA. Do not purchase them in the United States; book a ticket to Japan and go shopping.

You will discover how the Japanese can have financial sustainability and, once again, show how innovative the Japanese people are. I had a first-love Japanese girlfriend who buys and preserves Louis Vuitton bags that she wears. When something new comes out, she sells it and gets a new bag.

I also see Japanese women go to Japanese pawn shops, sell their Hermes, and get cash; she is probably paying a bill. But she cannot do that with a Coach bag, it was not about being rich, it was about retaining value in a liquid asset. That’s when I realized she was never broke and always had options to get cash without borrowing from someone else.

To understand what liquid assets to purchase, visit the pawn shop in your town. You will see the following assets for sale: power tools, small kitchen appliances, fashion accessories, jewelry and watches, electronics like gaming systems and cameras, and guns. Over in Asia, you will see items like luxury writing instruments and high-end liquor that can be held and pawned. What you will not see is sneakers, which are not a good asset to retain for liquidity.

Another liquid asset that folks will mention is game day tickets; they also sell these in Japan. If you go around Japan, you will see a “ticket resale shop,” and what happens is the same in America: people buy tickets to a popular event and resale the tickets for a profit. You have ticket reseller offices that resale tickets on consignment and take a commission of the sale.

Get Certified

One of the biggest financial boosts you can get is by focusing on having a certified skill for a tech job. Brothas and sistas will tell you they were making $30k somewhere, and once they got the certification they trained for, they were making $130K at a new job, and this can happen in the same year.

Get out of the mindset of getting a job that matches your college degree. The majority of workers, such as those from an Indian background, focus on an IT job because it is high-paying and funds whatever future plans they have; don’t sit around figuring out how to use your liberal arts degree after college; switch to STEM.

Do not get the generic silly certifications that you see marketed online. Get the industry and vendor certifications offered because they can vouch for you and even recommend you through their network of certified affiliates to work with customers.

The best certifications are enterprise software platforms for release automation, project management, human resources, and other corporate applications. Too many people talk about coding line-by-line when platform software is usually point-and-click buttons and text boxes. You look online for openings on this software, and you see salaries for $150K to $175K in places like Dallas or Atlanta, where you can live very well off that kind of salary, and these jobs can be remote work as well.

Once you make that kind of money, that sets everything up to start moving on up and doing real money moves later.

Live Close to the Money

Always live close to where you work. It is much cheaper than living way out in the suburbs. The reason why it is cheaper is that you will have more time/money to make moves, and that is the key.

Living way out in the suburbs, you waste an hour each way to and from work. So, you wasted two hours of your waking hours just driving and thinking about things in a sea of slow-driving cars on the road. You could have spent those two hours on your side hustle with a 10–15 minute commute each way near the job.

If you drive long distances once a weekend to your church or social spots, you are most likely working most of your days near your job. Many people running to suburbs don’t realize this until they wake up while in a traffic jam and realize their sanity and peace would be better if they lived close to where they worked.

Switch to EV / Rideshare / Rental Mix

In all modern publications, it has been identified that the number one thing keeping people living paycheck to paycheck is car ownership. The existing auto industry is designed to have cars needing routine service: oil changes, tune-ups, alternator repairs, 02 sensors, brakes, and we can go on and on.

People are out here paying $750/month or more in financing to try to impress others. That is just the car payment. When you add in insurance, the cost to fill up, and tire replacements, we are talking about an added-in cost of $1000/month on a car. Used cars are not cheap for those thinking they are cutting corners, as they will need parts from time to time.

Your best option is to buy a used EV where you still see instant money going back into your pocket. 2020 during the pandemic, I found a used EV with 24,000 miles and 5 years old that cost $11K. I paid it in cash, and at that point, I never had a car expense except tire replacements.

There were no gas fill-ups as I lived around dozens of free charging stations just walking distance away. I lived near the office, so my commute was less than 3 miles each way. There is no need for repair and fluid changes except the windshield washer. I have driven for the past 4 years with zero car repair expenses.

That cost savings from the EV went straight into liquid assets and ETFs. If I need to fly out of town, I call rideshare to the airport. If I need a car to go somewhere, I rent a weekend special from the car rental place. That was probably the biggest financial windfall I accomplished, freeing up a significant amount of my expenses to turn them into revenue and savings.

Get to Credit Card Points

Get a credit card that gives you cash back or travel points. If you have financial debt, focus on paying it off by any means because having flexible credit options and reward points will take you a long way.

My credit score was 550, and there is a reason why – I did not own any credit cards or debts, so I didn’t have a credit history. I got it up to past 700 quickly by doing the following steps.

First, I got the Discover pre-paid cash-back card and used it for subscription services. I put $500 on the card and only had about $50 in subscription billing, and that gave me a quick credit score increase since I was only utilizing 10% of the card.

Then I moved to Capital One and got the points card from there, and I got more cash back rewards. I followed the same pattern and kept the Discover, and my credit score went up significantly again. Then I moved to Venture X for travel and got travel points and lounge access.

I moved all billing to a single credit card that I paid off and got points. The points accumulate to $100 to $200/month, and I just order something off the Internet with the points as a gift to myself each month. I order something from eBay mostly, or if something I can pay with PayPal, they connect my points cards to deduct points first and the remaining balance.

The Money Falls Right in Place

By adopting the concepts I highlighted above, you can establish financial sustainability for yourself. There are additional concepts, such as taking advantage of your 401k and employer matching because the employer matching amount can be the withdrawal penalty paid for if you need to pull it all out and make a big move later in life. Most of you are not going to live to see that retirement, let’s be honest. Even if you lived to see retirement, your best years are already behind you.

But the immediate goal is to monitor and observe your life and spending. Observe the time wasters and the big spending tickets, and swap them out to be more efficient and replace them with better alternatives to your life. Choose running around fit people in the morning instead of clubbing with drunk, drug-using people at night.

Then, you start building up liquid assets. Go to Japan and buy excellent-conditioned luxury items such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and Rolex. Then stash them and don’t tell anybody—as far as they are concerned, you're just a broke paycheck-to-paycheck bum. Ensure they think of you that way and keep your wealth to yourself.

Center yourself around your money. Move close to your job and make accommodations, such as using public transportation back and forth to your job or getting an EV to cut down on car expenses. Then, focus on building up your credit by paying down all debts aggressively while maintaining low-balance credit cards that are paid off each month.

Once you get things set up, you don’t have to worry about asking someone for money or what to do if a financial emergency happens. Trust me, if you had to sell off a Louis Vuitton for an emergency, that is just a life experience you are not going to feel bad about. In fact, you will be happy you gave something up to cover that event rather than going around spending money you don’t have, being in a stay-broke cycle many people are currently caught up in.

Take care of yourself by managing your money, and remember—kick out anybody and anything that is trying to eat food off your table. The minute you get your money right, you can reward yourself by taking trips, buying things, and being with someone who is taking care of their financial situation just like you. 


Ed Dunn

From Chicago West Side to Worldwide