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Personal Finance

The Money Outlaw philosophy is based on 3 core principles with a plethora of related personal finance topics. Understanding, studying, and more importantly, implementing these skills and ideas is what will help you create an amazing life where the journey is as enjoyable as the destination. The 3 core principles are:

  1. Entrepreneurship
  2. Alternative Investing
  3. Economics & Systems

Below I have organized sub-topics under one of the 3 core principles from above. In addition, I have made the very first category personal finance. If you don’t understand the basic principles of finance you have no business going into the other areas I outline after that. If you feel you have a decent grasp on personal finance then move on to the 3 core areas I have identified above.

These sub-categories are areas or skills I think you need to understand and be proficient in. I have provided a brief write-up on each sub-category and included a link to further resources or articles to expand on it further. This article should be viewed as a broad overview of the main topics the site will focus on and that I think are important. It is not meant to be all-inclusive or cover each topic comprehensively. Think of it more as an abbreviated Wikipedia of sorts.

Let’s get started.

Financial Literacy

Personal finance should be called financial literacy. It is the understanding of how money and finance work. It includes everything Americans do everyday and is a very broad topic. Sadly, it is not taught in American schools, but it is probably one of the most important life skills you can learn. Most college graduates don’t learn it either, including business majors! If you want to learn it, you will have to decide you want to learn it and dig it out.

I assume if you are here on my blog you have self-identified as someone that has an interest in the topic and either knows the basics or is willing to learn. Some of you may consider yourself advanced in this area, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you will ever know enough. I have learned it is a lifelong pursuit and is always changing. To create a basic grounding that I believe fits in with my philosophy I will put a few of my favorite books down to get you started. I highly recommend if you are new to this to start with The Richest Man in Babylon. Do not be put off by it being a small book. It is packed with some of the best personal finance advice ever written. I read this book every single year!

Entrepreneurship

Freelancing & Small Business:

Freelancing and small business are closely related with subtle differences. Owning a small business or working as a freelancer is the fundamental key of the Money Outlaw philosophy. Having a small business will give you incredible control over your own financial destiny. It will allow you to earn as much as you want and have strategic tax advantages that don’t apply to people that work for an employer and earn W2 income, which is the most expensive income to earn from a tax perspective.

Having a small business will also allow you to have a great quality of life as you can structure it to give you a lot of flexibility and freedom to your time, the type of work you do, and the people you work with. This will be a large focus of future articles on the blog, but for now please start with a few really good books to give you the basics.

Marketing & Sales:

If you are a business owner full time or as a side hustle you will learn very quickly that a firm grasp of marketing and sales is key to your survival. These skills are some of the most important you may learn in your life. Marketing is equally important to generate leads and build a brand. The two professions combined have grown empires. We use the principles from both in our everyday life even if we don’t have a small business and don’t even realize it.

Learning the basic principles of marketing and sales is probably one of the best investments you can make in your personal education. If you are going to be a freelancer or small business owner, it is not optional. Many types of alternative investments also have sales and marketing components to them including real estate, private equity, lending, and private notes. Start with this article as a basic primer on the topics of sales and marketing along with numerous recommendations and resources.

I could probably list hundreds of books in this area, but below are just a handful of recommendations that I personally read and thought were valuable. Sales and marketing is really about people. If you get along with and can communicate with people you will find that takes you a long way. In that spirit I found the Dale Carnegie to be one of the best. I also think if you can learn how to speak in front of groups you will find a whole new way to generate leads, build credibility, and market your business.

Negotiation:

The ability to negotiate is a skill everyone uses every single day. We use it at work when trying to convince a colleague or boss to do something we want. Entrepreneurs and small business owners use it when putting together deals and closing sales. Alternative investors use it when structuring deals in real estate, private equity, lending, or notes. You use it in your personal life when trying to convince your spouse where to go to dinner or your kids to do their chores and homework. In short, it is one of the most used skills in our lives and most people are terrible at it. Some outright dread it. GM once created an entire car brand (Saturn) around the concept of not having to negotiate because people hate and fear it so much.

Taking some time to learn about negotiation and do it better is a skill that will pay dividends throughout your life. If you follow the Money Outlaw philosophy and start a small business or delve into alternative investments, you will need to learn it. Here are 3 of the best books I have found on the topic.

Multiple Streams of Income:

Most people earn only one income stream, typically income from a job (W2), but that can vanish overnight and is a risk most people live with every day. Earning income from multiple sources offers you a lot more financial and income security. If you are not ready to start your own business then have a side hustle. Consider creating some online income or hold some investments, such as real estate, that can generate some additional income streams. If you have started your own business how many ways does it generate income for you? Having multiple streams of income flowing into your life is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Tax Strategy & Accounting:

The U.S. doesn’t have A tax code and set of rules; it has several. Our tax code is thousands of pages of rules, laws, and court decisions. It covers every conceivable area of modern life in America. Too many Americans don’t understand this because they work a 9-5 job for an employer, don’t own a small business, and invest in a standard 401(k) savings plan. Their idea of tax planning is taking a bunch of papers to a tax preparer once per year and hoping they get a refund. People that do this have very few deductions they can claim and pay the most taxes of any group in the U.S.

People that have small businesses and alternative investments have an entirely different set of tax rules and benefits. Many times, these people are some of the wealthiest members of our society and pay the least amount of taxes simply because of how they legally structure their business and investments.

Unfortunately tax planning is something that falls on you. The bottom line is nobody cares (or knows) as much about your business, personal finances, and money as you do. Your CPA *might* suggest a few deductions for you, but they will expect that you tell them what strategies you want to implement. You will need to learn these strategies and then work with a tax professional to implement them. I want to repeat that YOU will need to learn them and figure out how you might benefit from using them. Below is one of the best resources I have found that puts tax planning into terms and concepts small business owners can understand.

Once you learn the basic strategies working with the right professionals is key. If you have a small business or alternative investments learn from one of the best people in the business how to save A LOT of money in taxes. I have been a huge fan of Mark J. Kohler for years. He has written several easy to digest books, hosts a great podcast, and has tons of blog articles and YouTube videos that are well worth your time. Check out Mark J. Kohler today.

Asset Protection:

Unfortunately, we live in a very litigious society where people sue other people at the drop of a hat. Some of these people are opportunistic and do it out of greed or a misguided sense of justice. There are countless attorneys that will help these people conduct these frivolous lawsuits for nothing out of pocket to the person suing. If you are a small business owner or alternative investor your odds of facing a lawsuit, frivolous or otherwise, go up tenfold. Sometimes the motivation is jealously and sometimes it is for other reasons.

The why is not important, just know that it is possible. What is important is how to protect the business and investments you are building. Asset protection is an extremely complex topic that involves both legal and accounting. You will need a professional in both to help guide you through this potential minefield. DO NOT try and do it yourself to save money. You won’t know you made a mistake until it is too late. I have found 2 resources that I have learned a lot from. Both resources generally put the concepts into easy to understand terms and concepts if you aren’t a lawyer or CPA. I would start with Mark J. Kohler, he is a little more accessible and affordable if you are just starting out. Once you start growing and need some advanced planning you should check out Anderson Business Advisors. Anderson is very good, but they are expensive and I feel that you need to be at an advanced level before you will see the real value in working with them.

Alternative Investing

Real Estate Investing:

I first learned about real estate investing from my martial arts teacher when I was 18 years old who did it on the side while working a full-time job. I didn’t learn enough to implement the strategy when I was 18, but it did plant the seed that has become a lifelong passion of mine. This is one of the single greatest investment vehicles in human history.

There are as many ways to make money in real estate as there are people to think them up. You can build incredible wealth, income, tax savings, and net worth that are second to none using this alternative investment class. It is without a doubt my favorite alternative investment and you will find a lot of information throughout the site on this topic. To start please see my introduction to real estate investing primer.

Precious Metals:

I am a gold bug at heart and love silver as well. I believe precious metals should be part of every investors’s portfolio. It has been both part of our monetary system and used as an investment throughout human history across all nations.

While precious metals are generally not used to earn a return like you would in real estate or the stock market it is excellent hedge against inflation and used to create stability in your portfolio. Further, it is a fantastic way to save money due to its protection against inflation. In addition, there are ways of investing in this asset that will earn a return on your investment as well as a store of value. There are multiple ways to invest in precious metals with bullion being only one way. I would recommend checking out The Gold Newsletter as a place to start. I am also putting a few books below that would be good to read.

Note Investing:

A note is simply a promise to pay a debt of some kind. Notes have payment terms, rates of interest, time to repay and other details. Notes are created when you buy a house, car, or borrow money. Some notes are short term, and some are long term. Both businesses and individuals create notes. Most of them are held by a variety of lending institutions, banks, and investors. Some notes perform well and are paid back without issue. Some go into default and become non-performing notes. Finally, some of these notes end up in private hands both intentionally and unintentionally. While it is possible to invest in debt in public markets through things like corporate bonds and Treasuries that is not what I am referring to here.

Note investing can be a fantastic alternative investment class. Buying, selling, trading, and creating private notes can offer great returns that are safe and secured by valuable assets. Many real estate investors eventually become involved in note investing at some point in their careers. You can invest in notes inside tax advantaged retirement plans as well. I would recommend starting with the books below to learn this fascinating area of investing.

Crypto Currency:

This is one of the newest alternative investment options to become available to investors. It is also one of the fastest growing and most in demand alternative investment classes. In short crypto currency is a digital currency that is outside of centralized control from a country. It utilizes a technology called the block chain and is a very technology centered investment. The space is filled with speculators, technology enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs.

The first and possibly most familiar crypto currency is Bitcoin, but there are hundreds of other currencies available. Some do well and some vanish with investors cash. There are many ways to invest in crypto currencies. You can invest directly into the currency itself or buy it on the stock market by using tracker stocks. You can also invest in businesses and technologies that utilize crypto currencies for other projects, which falls under the broad category of de-fi, short for decentralized finance. It is a very exciting investment class but does require a lot of knowledge and skill to do it well. I recommend the books below as a place to start.

Tax Lien Investing

Every county in the U.S. has properties that are owned by people responsible for paying property taxes. These taxes are what is used to support county government, schools, and other spending by local government. Every month that you make a house payment part of your payment goes to the taxes due. If you rent it, is built in, but you still pay it indirectly. Some people are responsible for paying these on their own when the bill comes due, and it is not in their monthly house payment.

When these taxes are not paid on time the county goes into swift action to collect. They create a tax lien against your property. The county will then sell these liens to investors. The rate of interest charged and all the rules surrounding how to buy, redemption period, legal remedies are all controlled at the state and/or county level. These are wonderful investments. They earn a nice return and have excellent collateral behind most of them, which is real estate. The books below are a little dated, but they will give you the basic concepts of how to invest. You will then need to do a little research to learn the updates that apply today.

Economics & Systems

Austrian School of Economics:

To many people when you mention economics, they either don’t know anything about it or consider it the most boring topic on earth. Unfortunately, economics affects nearly every area of your life and learning about it is not optional for the Money Outlaw. If you understand it, you can take advantage of it. If you don’t it will take advantage of you. It is intertwined with politics and is global in nature.

There are several “schools” of thought on economics, but the one Money Outlaws should focus on is the Austrian School of Economics. This school of economics focuses on free markets and sound money. It is the school of economics for entrepreneurs, alternative investors, and freedom advocates. Economics is a lifelong study that can go as deep as you want. I can’t think of any better source to start learning than the place where it started. Mises.org

Macro Economics:

Macro is the study of economics at a national or global level. Is a vast area of study that intersects finance, banking, politics, law, philosophy, money, investing, business, and resource allocation. Being able to have firm grasp of macro economics will allow you to make better financial decisions, be a smarter investor, and understand the effects of various political decisions.

Many moons ago I majored in economics at the University, which is why I am so passionate about people learning the basics at a minimum and potentially making it a lifelong study. While I can’t hope to impart everything, I have learned through a university degree and decades of study I can point you to some introductory resources such as the Kahn Academy. Once you take their basic primer on macro economics and have a basic understanding and framework of understanding I would recommend returning to Mises.org to fill in specific areas with Austrian School economics.

Microeconomics:

Microeconomics is the study of individual markets or pieces of the economy. All the pieces that go into a macro economy if you will. Your humble author was not a particularly good student of microeconomics much preferring the study of macro. However, it is still an important component of understanding macro economics and individual markets where you may be investing. I would again recommend the Kahn Academy course on microeconomics as a place to build a basic understanding and framework. The principles you learn here apply in your study of Macro economics, but more importantly will help you understand markets where you may invest such as real estate or precious metals among others.

Sound Money:

The U.S. Constitution states:

Article 1, Section 8

1. The Congress shall have Power …

5. To coin Money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin….

6. To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting … current coin of the United States.

Article 1, Section 10

  1. No state shall … emit Bills of Credit and make anything but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.

At one-point, gold and silver was the money of various countries throughout history. Over time that became a difficult and, in some cases, a dangerous way to travel and transact business. Eventually someone came up with the idea to create paper money that was backed by gold or silver, meaning you could trade this piece of paper in for a set amount of gold or silver. This is called sound money because the paper had a value of a tangible quantity of gold or silver. Many countries used sound money principles throughout history including the U.S. up until the early 1970s. Today none use sound money principles.

Eventually governments came up with the brilliant idea of creating fiat currencies that are backed by nothing but the “full faith and credit of the government” issuing the money. This policy has repeatedly ended in disaster throughout history. One of the best books I have ever read on the topic is called The Creature from Jekyll Island. Every American should read this book, but most will not. I consider it required reading for Money Outlaws. Governments, kings, and empires have collapsed from following the policy of fiat money. This disastrous policy is what gives us inflation (see below) and has other ill effects. Understanding what sound money is and why it is important is useful in business and investing. I recommend this Mises sound money article. Here is another article that is also very good that explains it well.

Inflation:

When you go to purchase various goods and services such as housing, food, gas, clothing, plumbers, electricians, among many examples you have probably noticed they cost more and more each year.

Inflation occurs when governments print up new money that is not backed by anything valuable like gold or silver (see sound money above). It becomes a hidden tax on the wealth of a people. Politicians spend far more money than they raise in taxes. They borrow money that they are short between the expenditures and taxes raised, which today is essentially printing money and this causes inflation.

If you are an entrepreneur or investor and don’t find a way to work around inflation you will literally get poorer each and every year. It isn’t going away anytime soon so you need to find a way to work around it. Here is a basic primer on inflation and some ways to work around it.

Interest Rates:

When you borrow money, you pay back that money plus interest. The rate you pay varies by a few variables that include your credit history, source of the funds, use of the funds, and the prevailing interest rate set by the Federal Reserve. As I write this the Federal Reserve is fighting a recession caused by the Corona Virus and has set interest rates at near zero.

UPDATE:

Since I wrote the above section about a 0% interest rates the other shoe dropped and all the Fed’s money printing created inflation levels not seen since the 1970s. Consequently the Fed started raising interest rates to fight off the inflation they actually created. Currently interest rates on everything from credit cards, mortgages, car loans, etc. are at levels that some people haven’t seen in their lifetime, i.e., younger readers. To a few relatively older folks like myself I have seen these rates before. My first house was purchased with an 8% 30 year mortgage. Even in a higher interest rate environment there are ways to protect yourself. 

If you know how to put your savings to work in a place other than the bank and use debt to creatively grow your net worth you will do even better. Understanding interest rates, which direction they are going and, most importantly, when, can make you a millionaire. There are entire companies with analyst constantly trying to predict rates. Every single word the Federal Reserve Chairman says is parsed and analyzed for clues about where interest rates are going and more importantly when.

Interest rates and strategic use of debt can be a powerful way to build investments such as real estate. The Money Outlaw needs to understand interest rates and debt to create wealth and protect their hard-earned savings. For now, start with this primer on alternative investing.

Disclaimer

The information contained within this website is provided for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining legal, accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional tax planner or financial planner. Full disclosure

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