The first book I ever read about personal finance was Kevin O’Leary’s “Cold Hard Truth On Men, Women, and Money: 50 Common Money Mistakes and How to Fix Them.”
I was 24 years old and painfully aware of the fact that making $13/hour as an entry-level copywriter wasn’t going to make me rich anytime soon — so I went looking for answers.
In O’Leary’s book, I found a handful of personal finance tips: invest early, make use of retirement accounts, spend less than you make, never carry credit card debt, and so on. But the one that stood out to me the most was a simple instruction for building wealth:
As someone who could barely afford extra guacamole on my burrito bowl from Chipotle, let alone save any meaningful amount of money each month, O’Leary’s advice sounded great in theory but impossible in practice.
His argument was that if tomorrow the government said, “We are raising taxes by 10%,” then you would figure out how to pay your taxes. So, if you’re capable of prioritizing paying the government an extra 10% each month, then you’re also capable of prioritizing paying yourself an extra 10% each month.
At 24 years old, the maximum I could tax myself was $100 per month.
But, that’s where I started — and Mr. Wonderful had been right. Somehow, someway, I figured out how to tax myself an extra $100 per month, which I started saving and investing into stocks.
$100 eventually turned into $200.
$200 turned into $500.
And 3 short years later, I had saved up enough money to quit my 9–5 and start my own company. And before I turned 30, I was an on-paper millionaire.
Want to get rich? Tax yourself.
This is an Atomic Essay from the Ship 30 for 30 daily writing challenge.