Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How To Get Rich

Being rich simply means having acquired much more wealth than others. If everyone is rich, on one is rich.

First of all, there are several ways to never become rich. Avoid the following options:

1) Working for the government – Good job security but no financial bonanza to be had here.

2) Working for someone else -- Fat cats who own the company get rich, you get down-sized.

3) Gambling -- The only person who ever wins the lottery is some dimwit who accidentally gets into the wrong line and buys a ticket, usually a single ticket, simply to avoid the embarrassment of standing in the wrong line.

4) Marriage -- Marrying into money is highly competitive and potentially humiliating. You must be young and attractive, with an overwhelming desire to hang out with old codgers.

5) Theft -- Stealing is a real a bad idea. On the plus side, you will get to spend many years in a rent-free environment, with free meals and lots of exciting social encounters.

6) Inheritance -- An excellent road to riches. However, unless your family is rich, this probably won’t work.

There are two major ways to become rich: real estate and starting your own business.

More people have become millionaires through real estate than by any other method. To get started, take real estate classes and become a realtor. This will get you into the business, help you find properties, work negotiations, deal with financing, etc. Basically, you buy under-valued and/or high-potential property, with favorable financing, whereby you can repair and rent the property with a positive cash flow.

Real estate is a long-term prospect. It takes years to acquire properties, continually using them as financial leverage to acquire additional properties. But your wealth is basically tied up in the worth of the property rather than with a high cash flow. As you make money, you must spend it to continue to expand. Plus you must deal with bad tenants, property maintenance, vacancies, etc. This would be a headache business for most people.

Starting your own business is another alternative. Find a field that interests you, then get some experience. If you want to open a beauty shop or a welding business or a computer software company, get a job in a beauty shop or a welding business or a computer software company. Offer to work for minimal wages – after all, you’re getting paid to learn a trade. Volunteer to do additional tasks, such as helping with the accounting or inventory or sales or whatever. Learn the business before you strike out on your own.

Starting your own business usually requires some start-up capital. The government offers many business loans to beginners, especially woman and minorities. Make a presentation to a bank loan officer – even if that fails, you’ll learn how to make a better presentation next time.

You can even get started without much capital. If you have a bucket, a sponge and a squeegee, you can start a window washing business. If you have a lawn mower and a rake, you can start a lawn service. If you have a pickup and a chain saw, you can sell firewood. Once you establish a steady flow of clients, you hire people to meet the demand. Over time, you oversee the business while others are working for you.

It's not all that difficult to make money -- it's a lot harder to make a difference.

Those who succeed work long hours and slowly build a business. But there are no guarantees. Nine out of ten new businesses fail within the first year. On the other hand, some enterprises have grown into giants.

Then there’s the easy way to be rich. It starts when you realize there are more important things in life than the pursuit of the almighty dollar. No one ever goes to their grave wishing they had spent more time on the job. Quality of life is measured by the amount of time you spend doing what you want to do, when you want to do it.

The richest people in the world are the ones who don’t need riches to find happiness -- it's better to live rich than to die rich.

By the way, the best tax shelter is to keep income at a minimum. Plus, remaining poor requires less effort than becoming rich. So enjoy life and let the rich fight it out. Be poor and happy. It works great for me.

Quote for the Day -- "Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver." Ayn Rand

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee, where his riches are his friends, his freedom and his memories.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What to Be or not to Be

There is no cure for the common birthday.

Today (August 10) is another birthday for me. It’s amazing how quickly time passes when you’re on the downhill skid of the last half of your life. Traditionally, I almost always spend much of a birthday trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. This year is no exception.

When I was knee-high to an aardvark, somewhere in grade school, most of the guys I hung out with wanted to be policemen or firemen or cowboys or outlaws. Something with a bit of danger involved. I was no different, except my dream was more unusual than most – I wanted to be a treasure hunter. There would be tons of adventure in exotic places involving a potential of danger with vast riches waiting to be discovered.

After high school, I became a tad more realistic and yearned to be an architect. It required creative and technical skills, and had a high ceiling of compensation. I started college at the University of Minnesota as a math major, planning to enroll into architectural school after I had completed the prerequisites. Some of the required courses were art classes, including drawing. Having no aptitude for such things, my life reverted back to the directionless stage.

In my sophomore year, I decided to become a geologist. It required some technical skill and the possibility of adventure in exotic places. So I took an introductory geology course and nearly died of boredom.

Then one day I read a newspaper article about how computers were going to play a major role in the future and there would soon be a big demand for computer programmers. It sounded like an interesting profession involving technical skills with plenty of prestige and compensation. I immediately announced to family and friends that I was going to start a new life as a computer programmer. Since they were all tired of hearing about my next new life, I had an extra incentive to do it and stick it out to the end.

Miami-Dade College, UNLV and San Jose State were considered to be the three best schools for computer technology at the time. All were a long drive from Minneapolis and Miami-Dade was the cheapest so I headed down to Miami in August of 1964 in a ‘53 Chevy to start another new life. After I finished all the computer courses and returned to Minnesota, I started working in St. Paul as a computer programmer.

Before long, I was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent two years as a data processing analyst at a small Army post in Atlanta. Afterward, I went back to Minnesota to re-start my life once again, this time by returning to the University of Minnesota to earn my BS and MS degrees. Then I got back into the wonderful world of computers as a programmer and project leader.

Eventually, I moved to Los Angeles where I started another new life by working my way up the ladder as a senior systems analyst, later as a general manager of a software company and soon became self-employed as a consultant.

During this period, I started a new phase of life as a married man. Six years later, I started a new phase of life as a divorced man. I also spent much of my free time writing screenplays, trying desperately to start a new life in the movie business.

In my 40s, I quit the rat race and started another new life as a treasure hunter after all, spending the next six years prospecting for gold, mostly in central Arizona. When life as a desert rat wore off, I moved to the hills of Arkansas to start another new life as a college instructor, newspaper columnist and novelist.

After retiring on Social Security, I now have nine published books -- four novels and five nonfiction books containing numerous articles on various topics.

Starting a new life is easy. All it costs is money, energy and time. And in many cases, you’ll move from one rut of existence into another rut of existence.

But life is a journey and full of ruts. If you’re lucky or smart, you may eventually figure out what to do with the rest of your life. Unfortunately, I’ve never been lucky and am apparently not too smart either. I’m still trying to figure it out.

What to be or not to be – that is the question.

I suspect the answer is that my destiny is to forever be a seeker of the answer. Hopefully, by my next birthday I will forget the question and merely be.

Quote for the Day -- "I'm at an age when my back goes out more than I do." Phyllis Diller

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where what will be will be.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Famous People from the Land of Opportunity

Arkansas is known as the Land of Opportunity. Many people from Arkansas have taken advantage of that opportunity on their way to fame and fortune.

Entrepreneurs thrive in Arkansas.

Sam Walton was a native of Newport, Ark., who opened his first Wal-Mart store in Bentonville in 1962. When he died in 1992, he was the richest man in America with more than 1,600 stores in 32 states. Today, Wal-Mart has over 3,400 stores in America and another 1,000 internationally. It employs 1.2 million people, second only to the federal government, and had $244 billion in revenue last year.

Other successful entrepreneurs include Don Tyson, CEO of Tyson Foods, the largest poultry processor in the country, and J.B. Hunt, founder of the largest truck carrier in North America.

Arkansas has produced its share of musical artists. Johnny Cash was born in Kingsland in 1932, to a family of sharecroppers who later moved to Dyess. A legend in country music, he was elected to the Country Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Others include Glen Campbell and Conway Twitty.

Many other famous people have been spawned in Arkansas. A partial list includes Gen. Douglas MacArthur (soldier), Alan Ladd (actor), John Grishman (novelist), Paul “Bear” Bryant (football coach), Dizzy Dean (baseball player), Mark Martin (racecar driver), Helen Gurley Brown (publisher) and Jennifer Flowers (concubine).

By the way, the forty-second President of the United States was from Arkansas. He spent eight years either feeling your pain or giving you a pain, depending on your level of gullibility. He now resides elsewhere with his wife Hillary, where he is currently writing his memoirs. Some pains never seem to go away.

There’s also a long list of people from Arkansas who remain unknown to the general public, but their contributions to humanity have forever changed the course of human events.

Harley Farley – In 1947, Farley had indoor plumbing installed in his house in Viola. He tore the old outhouse down and used the lumber to enclose his back porch, including his washing machine. Thus the first utility room in Arkansas came into existence, a trend that appears to have caught on nationally.

Abner Skittles – On July 24, 2001, Skittles caught a largemouth bass on Bulls Shoals Lake that weighed 38 pounds and 11 ounces, a new world record. Unfortunately, Skittles wasn’t too bright. The largemouth bass turned out to be a Goodyear tire. However, due to a clerical error, it’s still listed as the world record.

Lloyd Floyd – Born in Toad Suck in 1807, Floyd was the inspiration for the invention of the spittoon. He always had a mouthful of chaw and paid no attention to his surroundings whenever he needed to relieve himself of some of it. The receptacle made little difference though; Floyd tended to drool and was a bad shot anyway.

Betty Sue Ledbetter – Having made over 220 predictions, Ledbetter is the world’s most accurate negative psychic. Nothing she foresees has ever come true. She once predicted that America would have a six-month drought. Two days later, it rained so hard her mobile home in Horseshoe Bend became a houseboat.

Waylon Smucker – As a young musician from Calico Rock, Smucker formed a band in 1957 that had an annoying beat and would shout words instead of singing them. They called their style “rap music” because they were often told to “rap it up and get out of here.” Forty years later, rap music became popular once again.

Billy Clodhopper – Raised on a hill near Gepp, Billy had a cousin named Billy who lived down in a hollow. To keep from being confused, a common occurrence among the Clodhopper clan, they call them “Hillbilly” and “Hollowbilly.” Hillbilly eventually became part of the English language to describe a backwoods dunderhead.

Gus “Bubba” Ballas – As a breeder of exotic animals on his farm near Moko, Ballas crossbred a possum with a raccoon. He called it a poon. It looked like a sewer rat wearing a mask. Today, he’s the largest breeder of poons in the world. He also crossed a possum with a skunk, called a punk, but it smelled like a French armpit.

Quote for the Day -- "In my hometown of Hope, Arkansas, the three sacred heroes were Jesus, Elvis and FDR, not necessarily in that order." Mike Huckabee (former Governor of Arkansas)

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where life in the Land of Opportunity is bountiful.