The general drift of our mission at LiveCheap.com is to help you live cheap by saving a buck here or a thousand bucks there. It's not the most glamorous stuff, but it works. But let's say you're the impatient type who wants to get wealthy fast and can't be bothered spending the next thirty or forty years saving and investing in stocks and real estate. We're talking about getting on the fast track towards seven figure wealth in 10 to 15 years, or even faster. If you're a basketball player or a stunningly beautiful actress, it shouldn't be too difficult and the only real advice you need is to not piss it all away. But, for the rest of us - the physically ungifted - it takes a bit more of an effort to get to the magic millions and get there fast. So if you want to know "How do I get rich," read on.
Wall Street: While the rest of the country bemoans the seven-figure bonuses that are being handed out to the very same bankers we bailed out two years ago, the recipients of those bonuses feel they deserve to be rewarded for toiling in Manhattan's financial sweat shops for a decade or two. Investment bankers, traders, and brokers all make big bucks when the market does well. And even in bad times, many of the smarter ones manage to do very well by designing and implementing complex trading strategies. Why do they make so much money? They're smart, work extremely long hours, and have the skills to rake in huge sums for their firms. Not to mention that the Psychiatry bills after ten years cost a pretty penny and alimony gets downright expensive when coupled with child support. Head to Manhattan in your early twenties and if you are talented and work your butt off, you can be making high six or seven figures in 10 to 15 years.
The downside: crazy hours that will give you ulcers, a super-expensive cost of living, ultra-demanding employers, high pressure, ridiculous deadlines, and precious little time for your family. Most will burn out after a decade in the city, but for those who persevere, the rewards can be enormous. If you can get comprable employment away from the Big Apple, you may earn just as much and get to enjoy a slightly healthier life-style.
Small Business Owner: The popular image of a startup is a Google or an Amazon on the drawing board in somebody's basement ten years ago. But in reality, most startups are very small businesses that never make a name for themselves. Drive down any main street in America and you will see retail businesses and franchises that were started up by some very ordinary individuals. But these little mom and pop stores can generate enormous wealth for their owners at a very rapid clip. A $2 million business is a very small business, but with 20% pre-tax margins, an owner can pull down $400,000 a year. And given that many personal expenses, like a company car, are absorbed by the business, the owner can dramatically lower his or her cost of living and put away some serious cash. Grow the business to $10 million with reasonable margins and the owner can retire comfortably after selling it. The business doesn't have to be sexy either: machine parts, dry cleaners, medical services, transportation services, etc.
The downside: working seven days a week for many years, the very real hazard of losing invested capital, difficult collections, bankruptcy risk, managing people, natural setbacks of every possible kind at every juncture, the hassles of securing additional capital, business failure, and the need to make payroll twice a month. In today's economy with private companies sporting ultra-low valuations, opportunities abound to buy out distressed companies, but plan on working like you have three full time jobs and make sure you and your family acquire a taste for heartburn. The biggest problem is that you'll likely end up running it for 30 years because you and the business will become inseparable.
Real Estate Kingpin: While a four-plex investment will take decades to bring you wealth and give you back problems in the process, if you are a true real estate entrepreneur, you could amass a small fortune in less than 15 years. In today's market, that means taking advantage of distressed properties, having great negotiating skills, and having a skill set that brings added value to your investment. Typically, you are going to need to rely on limited partners to help you fund the right project, but if you are successful, a huge windfall awaits. There is quite a bit of competition for distressed properties in cities that promise a fast turnaround. Even so, there are some real gems out there that you should be able to turnaround and unload for a handsome profit in ten years or so. Think in terms of putting together a real estate portfolio of thirty to fifty houses or buying and managing a 50 unit apartment building. If you can make the right purchase, add the right value (whether fixing it up, finishing the houses, or marketing the properties well), and avoid getting caught in a downdraft, you can easily make your money in under 10 years.
The downside: hard to get good properties at the right price, massive external factors such as interest rates, delinquencies, stagnant property prices and local market softness that can potentially kill your chances of ever being wealthy no matter how good your skill set is. And of course, if you get into the rental business, get ready to deal with tenants.
Professional Partner: Smart enough to be a doctor, lawyer, or accountant? Well if you are and you are good at what you do, you can usually make partner after seven to ten years with a good firm or practice. But if you want to get wealthy and you are a lawyer or accountant, you also need to be good at bringing in clients. And if you are a doctor, your patient referrals or marketing needs to bring in patients to fill your schedule to the point where you end up hiring younger physicians. How you do will depend on how the partnership does. The recent downturn has affected lawyers disproportionately and incomes have fallen with it. The real plus to many of these jobs is that many of them require minimal travel and once you have made it, you can spin of the cash for years and still have time for the golf course.
The downside: special skills, attendance at top notch schools, years of study and practice, ultra demanding clients, little time to take vacations, late nights, high pressure environment with tight deadlines, and the expectation that you will be a partner for the rest of your career.
Sales: If there is one truth in compensation, it is that companies will be very generous with employees that consistently close deals and haul in the money - and that usually means the salesmen. While the best programmers might get 25% higher than average pay, the best sales people can earn 500% more than average. The ability to sell is the great equalizer that confounds even the most tenured manager. Great salespeople have very different backgrounds: the highly educated and the high school dropout, the good looking and well.... the not so good looking, the pushy types and the cerebral solution finders, the shmoozers and the play the numbers guys. The core ability of great salespeople is that they consistently find ways to get deals done and they always meet and exceed their quotas. How they do it varies significantly, but above all else, salespeople are tenacious. To become a top notch salesperson, migrate to the right company in the right industry and you can easily clear half a million a year. The best can pull in seven figures once they get established.
The downside: spending 70% of your life on the road, cold calling, constant rejection, starting at zero every quarter, limited status in the Company, changing compensation plans, intense pressure to achieve and beat quotas, getting stuck selling a poor product, a highly variable compensation package that can plunge during a recession.
Nobody said getting rich fast was going to be easy. Most of these jobs demand the equivalent effort of two or more full time jobs. If none of these sound right for you and you can't sing worth a damn or dunk from the free throw line, then you'll have to hammer out your wealth over 30 or 40 years by living cheap and saving your money. While it may not be as interesting as some of these jobs, it's a far more reliable way of getting there.
Have more jobs that can make you wealthy in less than 15 years? Add them to the comments.
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