Tag Archives: glossary

Can we all be rich?

I want you to be rich.

That’s why I’m writing this blog; in hopes that I can help you stop trying to make money from a dead-end soul-killing job, and figure out how to instead make money in a way that puts your income, schedule, and activities under your control. From there, you can use that capability to set your own goals, and change the world.

“But Raina”, I hear you cry, “We can’t all be rich!”

Ahh… but I think we can. And here’s why.

We are all rich

As the global standard of living creeps up, it’s easy to forget that it is creeping up. But if you go back far enough, it becomes obvious that it has. Let’s go back to 17th century Germany….

  • In most households, somewhere between 70% and 100% of the family income goes towards food
  • Most houses have one room. Maybe 2.
  • Dental care, antibiotics, and the germ theory of disease are all unknown (translation: doctors don’t wash their hands before operating on you.)
  • Water must be fetched from the well.

All of the following were luxuries available only to the rich:

  • Individual beds for family members and multi-room houses
  • A diet that varies from day to day
  • Glass in your windows
  • Water that doesn’t kill you
  • Chocolate
  • Multiple sets of clothing
  • Travel beyond, say, 10 miles
  • A means of transportation besides walking

And these weren’t available to anyone, no matter how rich:

  • Water at the twist of a handle
  • Indoor toilets
  • Double-paned storm windows
  • Insulated walls
  • Air conditioning / Central heating
  • Advil
  • Penicillin
  • Sudafed
  • Transportation that goes faster than 25 miles/hour

So it’s pretty obvious that in actuality, we are all rich. Every single person in the US and Europe, and many people in South America, Africa, and Asia.

But that doesn’t count… I mean someone has to be poor relative to others

Sure, but let’s take a step back here. Why would you even want to be rich?

Some people are competitive, and care about being richest. Fine; feel free — doesn’t bother me. But for most of us, being rich is not a goal in and of itself. We want to be rich in order to have the time and money to pursue what we really care about… whether that’s time with our family, deeper spiritual development, or saving the [insert disadvantaged lifeform here]s.

In fact, we’ve seen a transition over the last century towards a more equitable and level distribution of wealth: in terms of buying power, there’s no one as rich as Rockefeller and Carnegie were at the end of the 19th century, but there are a lot fewer people who are as poor as people were at the end of the 19th century. Some people think we’ve seen the end of the super-rich, and that the wealth distribution of the future will be between those with enough, and those with more than enough.

No, we can’t all be the richest person in the world. But we can all be rich enough.

But there’s just not that much money floating around

Not necessarily true, but let’s ignore that for the moment.

Maybe you won’t ever have a trillion dollars in your bank account. But again, take a step back and look at the reasons you want to be rich. I suspect you’ll find that Robert Kiyosaki’s approach is a better definition for you than any arbitrary net-worth figure:

“Rich” is not measured in money. It’s measured in time. How long could you go without working? That’s how rich you are

By this definition Thoreau, with his $0/year income, was rich, because he didn’t spend any time earning income. He could do whatever he wanted with his day, because he had no outside obligations.

Note that there’s no guarantee you’ll get to laze about all day: Thoreau actually had time constraints in growing the vegetables on which he lived and maintaining his house, and so on. But he was happy with the work he had to do, and could schedule his time however he liked, and so he was rich.

That’s what I want for you: to spend the day doing what you’d like; either because doing what you like makes you money, or because your earning money is independent of what you do all day. (Or some combination thereof). If you can earn your living by doing what you want, then I’m calling it “rich.”

We can all be rich

So yes, we can all be rich. There’s nothing unsustainable about it.

Resources for Further Reading
Is it evil to make money?
Eat Pancakes and Change the World
Forget the Lexus; Buy an Olive Tree
Homework: What do you care about?

Opportunity cost: more is not always better

Every Easter, my fiancĂ©’s family goes to Grand Junction, which is out on the western edge of Colorado and shares a climate zone with the deserts of New Mexico.

The city doesn’t have any snowplows because (contrary to your vision of Colorado) they get less than two feet of snow a year, and what they do get melts within a day or two because it’s a desert, and snowy days are followed by hot, dry days.

Except last year.

Last year, when we arrived on Good Friday, all the roads were icy, snow-packed or both. It seems they’d had a pretty heavy snowfall — 6+ inches — and then a string of cold days. And all that frozen water was sitting in the roads, because Grand Junction has no snowplows.

What does it cost?

You could tell that the citizens of Grand Junction had been grumbling rather loudly, because the entire back page of the newspaper was a letter from the City explaining that this kind of thing happens only 4 times a century, and that Grand Junction doesn’t spend taxpayer money on snowplows that would only be needed once every 25 years.

Is Denver’s snow removal better than Grand Junction’s? Kind of. Denver’s snow removal is faster. But Denver spends a lot of money buying snowplows, maintaining snowplows, hiring snowplow drivers, buying salt/gravel/magnesium chloride and distributing it, then cleaning the groundwater that has salt and mag chloride contamination.

Grand Junction doesn’t pay for any of that. They spend the money on textbooks and school lunches, public playgrounds, firefighters and policemen, or really nice wide sidewalks and a beautiful pedestrian mall. And for 9124 days out of 9131, it’s a great deal. On the other 7 days, getting around town is kind of a pain.

Both cities have snow removal that’s appropriate to their situation.

What’s appropriate to your situation?

It’s common for people to beat themselves up because they don’t keep “good records” — not like that gal down the hall who has every receipt, every transaction, every bill, all filed in alphabetical order.

But do you need all that? What does it cost you when you can’t find a receipt? And what is it costing her to alphabetize every single one?

Software companies fall into this trap all the time: they add on as many features as possible so that the back of the box has lots of bullet points on it.

How often have you been frustrated by software that seems to do everything except the one thing you want it to do? And how many sales is the company missing by not releasing the software early?

I don’t have a “good” laptop. I have a laptop with a tiny screen (13″ diagonal), a tiny keyboard, a tiny processor, a terrible sound card, and a hard drive that is considered small by the standards of the industry. But the tiny hardware fits in my tiny backpack, I don’t do anything that requires an awesome processor, and I’m using just over 1/3 of my hard drive. Oh, and it came at a 66% discount off a “good” laptop.

More != Better (More does not equal better)

Especially here in the US, we tend to associate bigger with better. More is better. Stronger, more powerful, more detailed, more thorough. But “bigger” and “more” come at a cost. And very often that cost is not worth it.

What can you do less?

If your house was a little messier, would you have time to create a blog?

If your DVD or shoe or gizmo collection was a little smaller, would you have the money to start a business?

If your product had fewer bullet points, could you ship it right now?

What can you do with less?

Define Monetize

Since the name of this site is “Monetize Yourself”, I suppose I should define monetize, in the interests of completeness.

    To Monetize (v): to make money from something

    “My website used to be an expense, but I monetized it and now it more than pays for itself.”

    “The number of Twitter users may be growing at 1385%, but if Twitter can’t monetize that, the company is still worth nothing.”

Monetization is the process of making money from something. It originally meant the process of making something into money, ie molding gold into gold coins, but it got co-opted, and is used today primarily in relation to websites and blogs: lots of people have websites and blogs, but if you want to be a professional blogger, you need to monetize your blog.

Let’s take a closer look at how you go about doing that…

Step 1: Identify an asset

Monetization is something that’s only done to an asset. Before you can monetize, you must have something — a skill, a location, an item, a gold mine, whatever — that’s valuable to other people.

Sometimes this is obvious: if you’ve got an apple orchard, then you can provide value to other people in the form of apples. Everyone needs to eat, so that value is fairly easy to spot.

Sometimes it’s less obvious: the Middle East, for a long time, was valuable not for anything it had (it was always fairly desert-y), but for where it was: at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa. To get from one place to another, you had to pass through Persia.

Sometimes it’s really obscure: John Elway, here in Denver, realized that he had an obvious asset: the ability to play American Football really well. But he also realized that he had another, less obvious asset: the fact that he was well known for playing football really well, and that people (especially here in Denver, where we adore our football team) really liked that.

Step 2: Make money from it

Once you’ve identified what value your asset can provide, you have to figure out how to get money in exchange for that asset. Again, in many cases this is pretty clear: you have apples, you exchange them for money. No problem.

Persia was a little harder, and no one, simple solution suffices. Instead, Persia made use of its central location by

  • Selling services directly to tourists and merchants (guides, maps, advice, translation, etc)
  • Taxing trade that passed through the area (in times and locations where they were strong enough to enforce that)
  • Setting up marketplaces and trusting that the traffic from those markets would spill over into local businesses like restaurants and hotels
  • Serving as a home base for merchants who ran trade routes through it

John Elway monetized his football skill by playing football for the Denver Broncos. But, having taken business classes in college, and aware that the football gig is only good for a few years, he also monetized his football-related fame… by starting a series of car dealerships in the Denver area. They were as good as any other dealerships (sometimes better) and you got to drive a car with John Elway on the back, so they made quite a good profit for him.

You are an asset

So that’s how I define monetize yourself.

Notice that when I tell you to monetize yourself, I am claiming that you are an asset. And so I believe. Furthermore, I believe you are an asset that’s worth more than the brainless-labor hourly rate that you currently get paid.

I believe that there are better ways to monetize yourself than to sell the precious hours that make up your life to an uncaring boss. Your assets are worth more than that, and we need more from you than 45 years of labor.

How can you monetize yourself without getting a lame job?

Resources for Further Reading
HomeworK: Figuring out what to do
The slightly smaller big picture: how to monetize yourself
What do you want to be when you grow up? A stupid question
Finding Your Niche

Define: Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur comes from French, where it means go-between (literally “in-between-taker). At the time it was coined, since most businesses were import/export businesses or retail shops, someone starting a new business literally took the goods between their origin and their destination.

Although the types of businesses have changed, we’ve retained the word “entrepreneur” to mean someone who starts up a business on their own, whether that’s a huge industry-changing business a la Steve Jobs, or a corner bakery like the one down the street. And an entrepreneur is still a go-between of some sort: they fill a gap in the marketplace, whether that’s a lack of intuitive music players or a lack of genuine French-style pastries. Other entrepreneurs filled in the gap between those who have used books to sell and those who wish to buy used books (Amazon Marketplace) or the gap between old college buddies (Facebook), or the gap between the high cost to make automobiles and the low cost most people could afford (Ford Motors… the original one, not the current, failing, one).

In No Job? No Way! I listed four potential monetization schemes:

  • Employee (makes money from a job)
  • Self-employed (owns their own job)
  • Business Owner (owns a business that makes money without them)
  • Investor (makes money from having money).

Although there are some advantages to employment, this blog is about making money without being an employee. And so on this blog, I will use “entrepreneur” to mean “making money from one of the non-employee monetization methods”, including owning a small business in which you work, a business in which you don’t need to work, or making money in stocks, real estate, loans or other forms of investing.

Resources For Further Reading
No Job? No Way!
Thoughtwrestling: Entrepreneur Definition