Daniel's Corner - Learning About Financial Freedom
The Single Most Important Thing I’ve Ever Learned About Financial Freedom is from Chocolate
I grew up poor. My dad was out of the picture and my mom raised me single-handedly on welfare. When I was really young my mom and I lived on a farm in Mendocino, in a fiberglass dome with no electricity or running water. We didn’t have a car until we moved to the Bay Area and I was in Jr. High. It was a rusty Volkswagen bug with peeling purple paint, a leaky sunroof surrounded with tree ring like layers of brittle duct tape, it smoked and stalled at stop signs when it was cold. One of my most awkward & funny childhood memories was our bug stalling in the morning on my way to school - I had to get out and push it while other Marin County kids watched, passing by in their parents shiny BMW’s & Mercedes. This was a crushing blow to my fragile 12 year old ego that just wanted to fit in. It’s pretty funny looking back though, and the experience of growing up poor has fueled me on the path of learning how to master my financial destiny.
Aside from my love for good chocolate and food in general, one of the reasons I started Coracao is to be financially free. To be able to provide for myself, my family, my team and my friends in a way I never had growing up. This has led me to study business & personal development for the last five years.
“Dogs have no money. Isn't that amazing? They're broke their entire lives. But they get through. You know why dogs have no money? ... No Pockets.” -Jerry Seinfeld
Coracao has grown by leaps and bounds over the last four years. Starting out in 2008 Matthew and I had no savings, no investors, no equipment and no kitchen. We took a leap of faith based on a dream and our shared love of great chocolate. We started out working crazy hours, seven days a week and did everything ourselves. Fast forward to now and we have a team of twelve people, are in 72 retail stores & growing fast, do Farmers Market’s and ship nationwide via our web store.
Through all of the challenges and successes I have learned a lot! I want to share with you one idea that has taken me thirty years to learn. It is probably the simplest, yet most important thing I have ever learned about business and money. I always used to assume that I would have more money in the bank when I made more money. This thinking is false and sabotaged my financial freedom for a long time.
Question: How much money has passed through your hands since you’ve been working and how much would you have in the bank right if you had saved 10% of it?
Most people are geniuses at spending money and idiotic when it comes to saving it, because very few of us were taught how to save and invest. We are programmed to buy and consume.
Ok, so here’s the simple, yet life-changing technique I have implemented for my personal finances and in my business: The idea is to set up an auto-withdraw from your checking to your savings to automatically save 10% of your income off the top. That is important so I will say it again: Save 10% off the top (not what’s left over). It’s a priority. You’re a priority. This money is not touchable (unless it’s a true emergency) and it goes into your financial freedom account. Studies have shown that people can tolerate up to a 10% loss of income without much of an effect on lifestyle or happiness. So basically you won’t even really miss it.
Author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind and Financial Guru T. Harv Eker takes it further and suggests having multiple savings accounts in the following order:
10% goes into your financial freedom account, you do not touch this, it is your financial cushion.
10% into a play account- Money you consciously use to have fun with and buy Coracao chocolate.
10% into an education account, for you and or your kids.
10% into long term savings for spending.
10% into a give or charity account.
50% into necessities.
I really like this model. It is all about auto-withdrawing so you don’t even have to think about it, it just happens. Last year I set up an auto-withdraw to save $50 a month or about $1.67 a day. I have increased this and put in a little extra whenever I can. I now have a couple months of my expenses paid for in liquid cash and can’t tell you how much it has stabilized my stress levels to have that cushion in place.
“The surest way to ruin a man who doesn’t know how to handle money is to give him some.” -George Bernard Shaw
I have implemented an adapted version of this in my business practices as well. It is hard. Really hard. There are mini emergencies, excuses and reasons that come up all the time not to do it, but it is creating a cushion of stability and a release of stress in my life and business that I have never experienced before.
“The highest use of capital is not to make more money, but to make money do more for the betterment of life.” -Henry Ford
Until next time…