Today’s question comes from Logan. He asks:
“I just turned 20 years old and currently study finance at Purdue University. I want to be financially independent by the time I am 30 years old. I have a Roth IRA with a few thousand dollars in it and I have some student loans. I wanted to reach out and see if you had any advice on some things I could do to earn some money while I am in school. Any solid books that you would recommend I read? I know ultimately becoming wealthy comes down to earning more and spending less, but are there any things you would tell your 20 year old self given the things you know now?”
Being financially independent by 30 won’t be easy. I’m assuming you want at least $1 million to generate $40,000 a year in passive income. You will have to work really, really hard, and be insanely focused.
Elon Musk is going through his second divorce. People underestimate how hard guys like him work. Everything else in their life suffers. But they don’t want to do anything but work, so it’s easy for them.
That means when your friends are going to happy hour and hooking up you’ll be working. And when your friends are goofing around playing video games you’ll be working. And when your friends tell you that you won’t be able to do it you don’t give up you go back to working.
Growing up, the biggest vacation we ever took was to Disney World. We drove from Illinois to Florida and to save money my dad would book a motel room with two double beds for two people. He’d get the key, and me and my two sisters would sneak into the room so the manager wouldn’t see us. One of us would sleep on the floor.
We didn’t have much money so I grew up with a scarcity mindset. But to be successful you need to be able to have an abundance mindset. To know that there’s always more money out there, that you can switch jobs or careers when things aren’t working, and that you can do big things like becoming a millionaire in eight years.
That’s what I wish I knew in my 20s. To see the world as a place of abundance. I wouldn’t have been afraid of failing. I wouldn’t have been afraid of making decisions. I would have believed in myself, and the vision I had for my life.
What helped me shift my mindset was getting a mentor. I don’t know why more people don’t use them. They helped me get out of a career that was boring. It’s the single best career decision I made.
You know, Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Steve Jobs. Bill Gates was mentored by Warren Buffett. Gwyneth Paltrow was mentored by Madonna. And Sheryl Sandberg was mentored by Larry Summers.
So I read a lot of books. And they can take you pretty far. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill has the basic rules of success you need to know. But books won’t tell you what you don’t want to hear, or hold you accountable. And that’s why you need a mentor.
You can find one anywhere: A boss, someone on LinkedIn, a professor, a teacher.
My freshman year of college I was laying sod because I needed the money. And if you need to earn money right now it’s okay to do menial jobs. But then your free time should be spent working on interesting and challenging projects.
Because when you graduate you want to be the candidate who’s saying, “I had an idea for a business and learned how to validate it and then I created a prototype and tested ways I could monetize and market it.”
Or, “Here’s what I did at my internship at JP Morgan.”
And guess who can help you with these things? Right, a mentor.
You might become a millionaire by 30. But you need to know you’re going to have to work really hard while your friends are having fun. And that you need to believe in yourself and your vision when no one else does.
But most importantly, you need to seek out good mentors. If you can do that you can succeed.