Note: This article is copied from Wealth Strategies Newsletter for Truly Rich Club Members.
Do you want to grow your wealth? Here’s the first rule of wealth: If you earn it, don’t lose it. That is why if you want to grow your wealth, you need to protect your money. Look under the veil of financial stagnation and you’ll discover these five Wealth Destroyers.
Wealth Destroyer #1: Debt
Mind you, not all debts are bad. There are two kinds of debts: Business Debts and Consumer Debts. Some business debts are OK; some are not. I’ve seen very passionate business owners who were in a hurry to expand and borrowed huge amounts of money, usually at high interest rates, and what was supposed to be a wonderful business came crashing to the ground.
All because of over-borrowing.
Borrowing for your house is a good thing, as long as you can pay for it every month. But almost all Consumer Debt is wrong. Don’t borrow to buy clothes and gadgets and appliances and trips. I’m sure you heard this from your grandmother: Live below your means. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Period.
Look under the veil of why you borrow. Because people who borrow to own stuff have a self-image problem. They base their identity on what people say about them, not what God says about them. I urge you: Look under the veil. Why do you buy designer stuff if you can’t afford it? Deep inside, you’ll discover old wounds that you’re trying to cover up with a Louis Vuitton.
Old-Fashioned Advice: Save Up for Stuff
Here’s a time-tested strategy. If you really want something, save up for it. Decades ago, when I had very little money, I wanted a pair of shoes worth P2,000. During that Jurassic period, P2,000 was huge. And I remember setting aside P200 a month for that shoe. By the tenth month, I already had P2,000 in my hands.
Do you know what happened?
I didn’t buy the shoes. I couldn’t. I worked so hard saving for it, I realized the money was more valuable than those nice shoes. So, instead, I bought myself a pair of shoes worth P500.
That attitude of delaying gratification paid off. Today, twenty years later, I can buy any shoe I want.
Warning: The Bible says that debt will make you its slave. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7 NIV).
Financial teacher Dave Ramsey compares debt to a hunter. He quotes the Bible where it says, “Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net” (Proverbs 6:5 NLT).
How does a gazelle escape from its hunter?
Leisurely? Does it skip away? Does it stop to munch on grass? Does it stop by the lagoon to take a sip? Does it wave at its friends? I doubt it. The deer runs away like a bullet. Because he knows that if he doesn’t do it, he dies.
Debt is like a hunter. It will pursue you and it will kill you. If you owe money, don’t walk away from your debt, don’t stop along the way, run away like a bullet. Create a payment plan so that you become debt-free.
Here’s why: Debt is not only a financial burden, it’s also an emotional burden. It causes anxiety. It causes sleepless nights. It muddles up your thinking. It saps up your energy. It affects your self-worth.
Perhaps God never designed us to borrow. Because the Bible says, “Owe no one anything except to love one another” (Romans 13:8 NKJV).
Wealth Destroyer #2: Scams
Warning: There will always be scammers in this world. Three thousand years ago, the Bible already talked about them: “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel” (Proverbs 20:17 ESV).
These names may be familiar to you: Multitel, Royal Manchester Five, Francs Swiss, Tibayan, Legacy Group, Aman Futures, Emgoldex. The story is the same. Today, the names are different, but the strategy remains the same: They will promise you insane interest rates. They will dangle in front of you a red juicy apple, saying, “You’ll earn two percent a month,” or “Three percent a week” or even “Five percent a day.”
And then they will say, “All you have to do is give your money to us.”
I urge you: Look under the veil. Scams are shortcuts. And about shortcuts, the Bible says, “Hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5 NLT).
When it’s a scam, you won’t understand how the company makes money. One day, a guy invited me to join one of these scams.
I asked him, “What is your business?”
He said, “We do currencies in the European markets.”
What he said sounded like: “It’s too sophisticated for people like you.”
I pressed on him, “Please explain further.”
He actually said the words, “It’s too complicated to understand.”
Oh yeah? Try me.
Sometimes they’ll tell you that they own businesses, like organic farms, restaurants chains, retail stores, etc. But a normal business cannot give you two percent a month.
Why do we get scammed? Because of the next three wealth destroyers.
Wealth Destroyer #3: Greed
This is the reason we get into scams. Look under the veil and you’ll smell your own greed.
I have a confession to make. I’ve never been scammed by those big-time scammers. But early on in my financial journey, when I was still financially illiterate, I invested in six small businesses owned by my friends—and I lost all the money I gave to them.
I don’t blame anyone but myself. Because my friends promised me two percent a month interest on my investments. At the time, I didn’t know that unless your business is selling shabu, this is almost impossible. My point? I got into their business because I was greedy.
The Bible is not against wealth. The Bible is against wealth that you want to earn in a hurry—because that’s fueled by greed. The Bible says, “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time” (Proverbs 13:11 NLT).
Wealth Destroyer #4: Laziness
Here’s another reason I lost millions in those failed businesses: I was lazy. I wanted the easy way. I didn’t want to do the hard work of due diligence. I didn’t read up about the person’s business, didn’t research the industry, didn’t check his numbers, etc.
I find laziness everywhere. Today, whenever I give my seminars on how to invest in the stock market, there are still people who walk up to me and say, “Brother Bo, I don’t have the patience to learn all this. This is so complicated. May I just give you the money and you invest it for me? I trust you.”
They were saying, “Bahala ka na!” (Filipino idiom that means “whatever.”)
I tell them, “Once upon a time, you didn’t know how to use Facebook. But you learned. Now, you even know how to send a cute emoji. Today, you don’t know how to invest in the stock market. But you can learn that, too.”
Are You Willing to Pay the Price?
I find this disturbing when young people come up to me and tell me, “I want to be a successful entrepreneur like you.” I hear that all the time. But when I ask what they did over the weekend, they say, “I went to the beach.” And the weekend before that, they went to parties. And the weekend before that, they went shopping. Their dreams are all talk.
So, I share my story, “For decades, I worked sixteen hours a day in both my ministries and my small businesses. I am where I am not only because of God’s grace but also because I chose courage over comfort, commitment over convenience. If you want to be where I am, are you willing to go through what I went through?”
The Bible says, “Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23 NLT).
Another thing? I noticed that young people today lack patience. They want to harvest after two or three years. Jacob worked for his dream—Rachel—for seven years, but when he got Leah, he worked for another seven years, or a total of fourteen years. Like Jacob, you have a dream—she is called financial freedom. Are you willing to work for this dream nonstop for fourteen years?
Connected with Laziness is . . .
Wealth Destroyer #5: Ignorance
Specifically, financial ignorance. I’ve met a lot of doctors, lawyers, and managers who earn a lot of money—but they’re broke. They have large paychecks, but they’re still living paycheck to paycheck. My maids, because they have been investing for the past eight years, are richer than many managers.
One day, I spoke to a roomful of CPAs—corporate accountants who manage millions for their companies. But they don’t know how to manage their own personal money. They have debts. They have little investments.
One day, I met the captain of a ship. He was earning P500,000 every month. And yet, when I met him, I asked him my magic question, “If you lost your job today, how long can you live on your savings?”
His answer floored me. He said, “None.”
Why? He said he had lots of debt and very little savings. If you can steer 120,000 tons of steel through thousands of miles across oceans, that means you’ve got brains.
But knowledge is multidimensional. It doesn’t mean that if you’re intelligent in one dimension, you’re intelligent in another dimension.
Knowledge doesn’t work that way.
The captain knew how to pilot a ship. He didn’t know how to pilot his money.
Learn how money works. Research. Read. Attend seminars.
There’s also another kind of ignorance that makes us lose money.
Ignorant on How to Love
Many people don’t know how to love needy relatives. This is a very common story: Some Filipinos have no money to invest because they give away all their money. Anawim, our ministry for the abandoned elderly, has lolos and lolas who, once upon a time, had good professions.
We have teachers, principals, a dentist, musician, even a film director—but who never invested because they kept helping siblings, nephews,
nieces, and cousins. When they retired, pretty soon, they ended up in poverty.
Question: Should you help relatives?
Yes. But in your giving, be sure that you’re not training them to be parasites. If you do, you’re not loving them; you’re cursing them to poverty.
Remember, when you invest for your future, you’re really loving others. Why? If you don’t invest in your future, in your old age, you’ll become a burden to others. But if you invest now, you’ll be able to keep helping others even in your old age.
What should you do? Here’s a powerful strategy: When you receive your salary, already set aside your tithes and your investments. Make these two funds your first expense. And you can do what you want to do with the rest of your money—spend it or give it.
You Already Have It
Jacob worked for seven years for Rachel but got her sister Leah instead. Here’s what I find interesting: When Jacob told their father, Laban, he really wanted Rachel, Laban said, “Wait until the week’s marriage celebrations are over, and I will give you Rachel, if you will work for me another seven years” (Genesis 29:27 GNT).
Think about it: Jacob already had Leah. Why would he work for Laban for another seven years?
Spiritual writers down through the ages saw Leah as a symbol of the Old Covenant and Rachel as a symbol of the New Covenant. In the Old Covenant, you work hard to gain God’s approval. In the New Covenant, you already have God’s approval from the very beginning, and you work hard out of a deep sense of gratitude.
But since this is a financial series, I’m going to apply the lesson of Jacob’s story in this area. When I read motivational books and self-development authors, I find them very useful. But I’m aware of one stark difference between what they teach and what we teach.
Here’s one glaring contrast: You can work for your financial dreams from a spirit of tension or from a spirit of trust. If you believe that God is your wealth, and God lives in your heart, then you know you’re already rich. You work for material wealth with overflowing peace. You’re not anxious.
You’re not afraid.
Why? You pursue your financial dreams with (1) purpose, (2) patience, and (3) peace.
The ‘What’ May Be the Same, But the ‘Why’ and ‘How’ Are Different
The mission of financial freedom may be the same, but the motive of why you do it and the manner of how you do it can be as different as night and day.
1. You pursue with purpose. This is not an ego trip. This is not to cover up self-image problems. This is not to show off to the world that you’ve finally made it. You work for material wealth to build a spiritual Kingdom. It’s not about you. It’s about God’s purpose.
2. You pursue with patience. You’re not in a hurry because you’re already enjoying true abundance now. It’s a done deal. You’re wealthy now. You’re rich now.
3. You pursue with peace. I meet a lot of people who have boatloads of money but are shackled by a spirit of scarcity. They’re really poor millionaires. They’re petrified that they’ll lose it all. But if you’re a Jesus follower, you know you’ll lose it all one day. But you’re at peace—because you know you’ve got something in you that you’ll never lose.
You already have it.
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