12 Money Philosophies That Rich People Understand Better Than You

Money is time, money is confidence but most of all, money is freedom. It is not a pretty truth but if you want to become the best version of yourself, you need to become financially secure. The following are the key takeaways I have had from an on-going series of coffee meetings with wealthy mentors. These are not just some of the most helpful financial philosophies I have encountered, they are some of the most valuable philosophies I have encountered period!

  1. Debt is worse than evil, it is debilitating. If you want to be happy, unstressed and free, you absolutely need to wage an all out war on personal debt. Do absolutely everything you can to pay off debt as fast as possible. Don’t hold yourself to to societies normal standards regarding this fight. Be ruthless, unrealistic and ridiculous when fighting for your financial freedom. You have to be, think about your enemies: credit card companies and loan sharks.
  2. Money

    Debt is the real shackle that binds most people

  3. Money can buy happiness, it’s called a bicycle. Save money on insurance, gas and gym membership by investing in personal transportation. If it is good enough for billions of people worldwide, it is good enough for you.
  4. Buck the trend and focus on lowering expenses rather than raising income. Income is reliant on someone else (boss, clients, etc), expenses are usually entirely under your control.
  5. OWN LESS STUFF! (The capital letters and exclamation point mean I am yelling at you.) Stuff has both emotional and monetary weight. This means your possessions don’t only siphon fuel out of your wallet, they also siphon fuel out of your heart and mind. Don’t let the habit of unnecessary purchases add weight to your life. See this post for practical advice on paring down.
  6. fish food

    Fish eat out of habit even after they stop being hungry. They are also meals for the majority of the world’s carnivores. Be smarter than lunch, don’t spend money just because it has become a habit.

  7. Mommy and Daddy are the two most expensive titles in the world. Kids are wonderful but prohibitive and expensive. Be careful with those ugly regions your swimsuit normally covers.
  8. “Real estate is the greatest investment you can make” is absolute bullshit. It is a lie that is perpetuated by the industry that makes the most money from this untruth, banks. For every one success story of a real estate billionaire or house flipper there are 100 crying families who just had their houses repossessed by a faceless bank. Boo hiss!
  9. The best investment you can make is in yourself. Spend time broadening your mind and improving your health. You are going to be stuck with yourself your entire life, you might as well make you the best companion possible.
  10. Beware of the post-college living conditions money sucking death spiral – After college it is normal to move out of a dorm/cheap apartment/car and upgrade your living conditions. Beware that this is a difficult to reverse trend. It is easy to raise your living conditions but incredibly hard and painful to lower them. Take your time with this transition.
  11. In today’s world, having a specialization is far more valuable than have a lot of general skills. In the old world, being an “everything man” and having a breadth of skills did have some value. Then we humans invented the Internet. Now this is no longer the case. Specialize so you can get paid.
  12. Be your own boss but don’t hire employees. Many people grow up wanting to be a CEO or business tycoon but how many people with these job titles are happy? Running a big company requires lots of management. Management is extremely draining and takes you away from what drew you to your profession in the first place. Running a tiny business (just you) isn’t sexy but it is freeing.
  13. Boss

    Being a boss doesn’t require having gold hair but it sure does help!

  14. Money is necessary, being poor is being trapped, being trapped is awful.
  15. Make your dreams a priority, no one else will do it for you. Remember, if you don’t pursue your dreams, someone else will hire you to pursue theirs.


I wrote this post while sitting in a small speakeasy in a hidden corner of Saigon. I have been thinking a lot about money lately and wanted to get some of these ideas out of my head. Here at this speakeasy they were cranking super funky and uplifting house music “love makes you win, love makes you win, love makes you win” and I think it impacted my voice in this post. Maybe I should come here more often :-)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hey Danny,

    Interesting article. I read it pretty much immediately after it appeared in my mailbox. I agree with much on the list. You make some excellent points as well, such as real estate. Real estate gave myself and my family the opportunity to support ourselves by traveling, but it required a lot of time and patience. We didn’t house flip. Instead, we bought a place we loved, and 8 years later, it quadrupled in values. There’s as much luck involved in real estate as skill.

    Your point about kids, however, raised an eyebrow. Yes, kids are expensive, particularly if you raise them with the philosophy that they need cribs, diaper genies, camp, their own rooms, private school and a bunch of other things that, quite frankly, you don’t need. Not all that different from what you say about living life in general, no?

    I want to also point out that having children doesn’t mean you can’t travel. I’ve been traveling with my daughter since she was 2 years old. She’s 9 now. Just last year, we went up to Bolivia to volunteer in a monkey sanctuary. It is certainly different traveling with her, but there are also many advantages. As an example, traveling with a child allows you to integrate into local culture in a way that you often can’t when traveling solo.

    Just my two cents.

    • Hi Leigh!

      Just subscribed to your blog. Looking forward to reading more.

      It sounds like you have reached outlier status, living a life where you do things daily that most people consider impossible.

      > Not all that different from what you say about living life in general, no?

      I agree with you about the materialism normally associated with being a parent. While I don’t know if I could go as hardcore as you, I certainly agree that not all of the normal “needs” are strictly necessary. I have seen kids who have more toys than I do possessions. I have also seen, on multiple occasions, children who have more expensive cell phones than me. Who are they going to call?!

      The biggest difference I see between my life and the life of a parent, is the amount of risks I can feel comfortable taking. Be it financial risks or otherwise, I have a lot less at stake.

      I appreciate the two cents! :-) Keep fighting the good fight!

      • Hehe… well, I don’t know that I’ve ever been called hard core before. That will leave a smile on my face for the rest of the day for sure.

        What sort of risks do you take that you don’t think you’d take if you had kids?

        I tend to think people consider things risky even before they know what is really involved. There are lots of preconceived notions.

        That is not to say, of course, that I think everyone should have kids. Plenty people don’t want them, and it’s far more important to realize that than to go and have kids because it’s something that’s expected. I just don’t think risk or money is a reason not to have kids.

        Let’s just say, when I read about traveling Bolivia, I learned enough to make me think it would be dangerous and risky. The reality was very far from that. I fell in love with the place. I won’t take another long 18+ hour bus ride and will definitely break my trip into 5 hour pieces. Otherwise, I don’t believe the dangers of Bolivia are more than, say, growing up in Brooklyn.

  • Hey Danny,

    It’s refreshing to read this post of yours. Very different from the time when you wrote more about search and what have you.

    Keep it up.


    • Thanks Jurgen, great to hear from you again! It has been far too long!

  • Jeremy Page

    Danny I think you are an OG (and loved the list) but disagree with this one:

    Buck the trend and focus on lowering expenses rather than raising income. Income is reliant on someone else (boss, clients, etc), expenses are usually entirely under your control.

    To me, that is sound advice, even wise advice. But it’s also a ‘cop-out’ mentality to pushing yourself and pulling the trigger on riskier and brave endeavors.

    • Hey Jeremy,

      > But it’s also a ‘cop-out’ mentality to pushing yourself and pulling the trigger on riskier and brave endeavors.

      Good point. The world doesn’t need more excuses :-) Maybe I should rework that point to something along the lines of start with the advice I gave (it is more practical to cut expenses especially when you are just getting started) but then stop being a tool and build something you own. I think that needs some polishing… :-)

  • Mary Lane

    Danny! So insightful for someone so young. It has taken me decades to come to most of these conclusions myself. A consumerism lifestyle is such a trap, and most people don’t even realize that it is at the root of so much discontent.

    Sound advice to “be careful” about bearing children. As Leigh pointed out, you can have your cake and eat it too. But there’s a huge difference between one child and two (or more) – financially and logistically. And the values we pass on are just as important as choosing when and how many to have. Be careful.

    I second the “boo-hiss” to the real estate industry (ok, I’m standing on my chair and waving my hands in the air!). Children are very independent after a mere 18 years, but most mortgages last for 30 years. If my kids were still laying around my house sucking up tens (hundreds) of thousands of dollars in interest after 20 years I’d have thrown them out.

    • > Children are very independent after a mere 18 years, but most mortgages last for 30 years. If my kids were still laying around my house sucking up tens (hundreds) of thousands of dollars in interest after 20 years I’d have thrown them out.

      Wow! That is an incredibly interesting insight. That says an odd thing about financial priorities doesn’t it?

      Thank Mary Lane, you rock! :-)

    • Well said. :)

  • Craig

    #8… yes!

    Nice post Danny!

    • #13 Invest in authentic raft making supplies.

  • sam

    Like this post a lot, just wanted to share 2 perspectives with you from my life.

    1.) real estate: I took a different approach to this. After college I bought a 2 family flat (that needed a lot of fixing up). I live in 1 bedroom and rent the rest to 3 of my college buddies. I priced everything so that the entire monthly payment & utilities are covered by rental income. This setup has really granted me the freedom to run my own web design company and not have to worry about having enough money for traditional expenses “rent/utilities”. In addition this living setup has been really rewarding on a personal level, all 4 of us have a great time hanging out and have become even closer friends + we have the freedom to live however we want in the house (think foozeball table in living room, ping pong table in basement next to my office ect..)

    2.) lower monthly expenses instead of trying to raise monthly income. I 100% agree with this, everything I do is aimed around this (that and trying to get people to pay me recurring monthly payments haha). I drive an old truck, and ride my bike as much as I can. Don’t waste money on buying frivolous things (except for some splurges tools as I fix things up at my house).

    That being said the one thing about the house that I feel limits me to a degree is on travel, I really envy your ability to be so mobile. And I guess the limitation is partially a false one I am putting on myself to some degree…. but anyway thanks for posting. I really like following this blog.

  • Love the list, Danny! I’ll be sharing this.

    The only one I don’t agree with is the real estate one. “Real estate is the greatest investment you can make” is not absolute bullshit, but it’s not always true either. Depending on how you treat it, real estate can be a liability or an investment. Differentiating between the two is the key.

    My first home was a liability; we loved it, but also spent too much money fixing it up and had to sell it at a loss because of bad timing.

    My subsequent properties, however, are investments. Much like sam above, I did a lot of analysis and calculations before purchasing. I save up as much money as I can and then, instead of putting it in a pension account, I invest in real estate. I’ve done both flips and rentals. In both cases, it’s impossible to buy just any property and expect it to be a profit-making machine. There’s a lot of education (your point #7) and work needed to turn a property into an investment.

    Where people go wrong is buying a home that they like without considering the financial aspect, then expecting it to also be an investment. No. It doesn’t work that way. You either treat real estate as a money-making business or accept the fact that, in all probability, all the money you put into your home could just as well go to waste.

  • Minh


    I’m from Saigon (but living in the West for the moment) and I came across your post quite by pure chance. However I think it’s pretty interesting because I can relate myself to all of the points you wrote above.

    What about those people who have strayed away from these illuminating philosophies ? What if we already have a personal debt or what if we already had a degree in “generalized” studies, for example ? I think that writing these guidelines into our minds when we are still a blank paper is far easier than when we are at a somewhat more “advanced” stage of our lives, don’t you think ?

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