On Monday morning, you get a message indicating there’s a new balance in your PayPal account. You check and see that — while you were at the beach that weekend — more than $6,500 was deposited into your account.

On Tuesday, you receive a check from a client: $4,000, which he sends every month.

On Wednesday, you receive a statement from your brokerage account. It shows that you made an extra $475 the day before.

On Thursday, your spouse comes home with the cash she’s collected from the little vending business you started together last year. She plops down $1,400 on the table.

Then on Friday, your property manager emails you to let you know he collected last month’s rents and he’s depositing $11,500 into your account.

“Not a bad week,” you think, sitting by the side of your pool.

Of the many ways to build wealth, starting up a business and building entrepreneurial equity offers great potential. This is how the richest of the rich — from Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates — acquired their vast fortunes.

Now, that’s all well and good. But I don’t want to talk about building a world-scale business… or even a city-scale one.

I want to talk about another “best way” to create wealth. It’s a way that’s easier and more practical — and doesn’t require a boatload of startup capital or time… or a genius original idea. You don’t need any of that. I didn’t need any of that.

I’m talking about the primary way I developed my wealth.

I’ve been involved with dozens of entrepreneurial businesses in my career, the largest of which has grown into a $600 million business. But the wealth I acquired never came from selling any of these businesses. It came from the income these businesses generated and how I put that income to use.

I call this strategy developing multiple streams of income

And I’ve been doing it for more than 30 years. I’ve tried dozens of things. (More than half of them didn’t pan out.) But my method was always to start very small and test the waters quickly.

If it looked promising, I pushed the throttle. If it started badly, I pulled out quickly.

Using this strategy, I have developed self-supporting, nearly automatic cash streams.

The Simple Concept That Made Me $6 Million Last Year
Me on my favorite day of the month: the first.

Last year, my total income from these automatic cash streams exceeded $6 million. I earned that without ever having to go into the office, without ever answering to a boss, and without ever doing anything I didn’t want to do.

Two Common Wealth Traps 99% of People Fall Into

No. 1: The Trap of the “Regular Employee”

Are you a doctor, lawyer, or other professional? How about a salaried employee?

If so, you’re in a trap. And you’ll never get out unless you listen up right now.

Here’s what I mean…

At the end of the day, you are charging for your time. And if you want to make more money, there are only two ways to do it:

  1. Charge more per hour (though not too much more, or you risk sounding ridiculous and worse, getting replaced).
  2. Work more hours (though there are only so many hours you can work and still have a life).

As you improve your skills or stay long enough with the company, you may earn more for every hour you work. Eventually, you might even earn a couple hundred thousand per year. To earn that money, you will have to work very hard. Often, that means 10- to 14-hour workdays.

If you’re a salaried employee or you have a job that pays by the hour, you know exactly what I mean. You may be earning good money, but it’s hard to enjoy your success because you’re always up to your eyeballs in work.

Retiring is an option. But when you retire, remember you lose your active income. That’s not good. I know. I tried retiring for 18 months. I was rich and retired and happy to write poetry and paint bad paintings.

But I was always worried that I would run out of money or that one of my investments would tank. That is not financial safety. I promised myself I’d never fall into that trap again.

No. 2: The “Not Enough Cash” Trap

It is, of course, much easier to end up with a multimillion-dollar income if you start in your early 30s, as I did. But even if you are older and have fewer than 10 years to generate the income you want, you can do it. But you must get started now.

Let’s talk a second about this — where you could be starting from. I’m going to assume you’re not yet wealthy — or not as wealthy as you’d like to be.

Perhaps the financial crisis in 2008-2009 devastated you. Perhaps you’re starting from scratch. Or you have to delay your retirement plans 10-15 years…

In each one of these scenarios, the single best answer I can give you is: Generate extra streams of income.

The problem most people have isn’t that they’re getting only 0.5% on bank accounts, 3.5% on bonds, and 8% from stocks. The problem is that they don’t have enough cash!

Stop and ask yourself if that’s true for you.

What will change your financial life in a dramatic way? Getting an extra few percentage points on your current investments? Or bringing in thousands of extra dollars in cash every month?

Very few people reach financial independence through stock investing and options alone, and yet the vast majority of financial advisers only offer these “solutions.”

Instead, you need to increase your income through different avenues and opportunities. And then put that money into ventures and operations that will gush cold hard cash.

You Won’t Hear This Anywhere Else

The point I made earlier — that you cannot possibly achieve the wealth you need in fewer than 10 years from the stock market — is not something you’ll hear from your average financial adviser, stockbroker, or money manager.

I’ve never heard anyone in the popular financial community say it. All they talk about is stock returns, 401(k)s, or some new trading program. Another camp tells you to save more by paying less money for coffee or cutting out your trips to restaurants.

This is, if you’ll excuse the correct word, bullshit. The way to solve the problem you have is by generating extra income.

Others won’t tell you this because (a) there’s no benefit to them in saying it and (b) most of them have no idea about how to actually do this.

But I do.

When I began to develop my own streams, I started out small and built slowly. I never took large risks. And I never gave up my day job.

Some of the income streams I have today are:

  • A local rental real estate portfolio (using very specific cash flow strategies that have nothing to do with the risky practice of buying and flipping houses)
  • An international rental real estate portfolio
  • An interest in a half-dozen companies
  • My consulting income
  • My income from bonds
  • My income from dividend stocks
  • And more

Each of these streams is greater than the amount of money I spend every year. So if all but one of the above suddenly disappeared, for example, I would still have enough income to live on without diminishing my lifestyle.

And to back that up, I have a stash of hard assets that I could live on for the rest of my life.

That is a lot of financial security.

You don’t have to emulate my exact plan. There are thousands of other possible streams you could set up for yourself… as many have under my tutelage.

I will also tell you this: Time and time again, there is one thing that underpins every success story… and it will be the same for yours:

The most important thing is getting started.

Getting started is the only difficult part. The rest is a relative piece of cake.

Inertia is always the biggest challenge. You know that you need to take some action, but you aren’t quite sure what to do. And even if you do know what to do, there are so many distractions… so many current responsibilities… keeping you from the first step.

You will see — I promise you — that the first step is by far the hardest. After that, it’s like walking, one step after another. Before you know it, the cash will flow almost automatically. And it will increase with the passing of every month.

If you can get started, I have full confidence that by this time next year, you’ll have at least one — and maybe two or three — extra streams of cash coming into your life every month. That year is going to pass by quickly — whether you are on the train or standing at the station.

Why not hop on now?

Editor’s Note: Mark has made more than $15 million worth of real estate deals without losing a dime. It’s just one of the topics he covers in his upcoming — and 100% free — 24-hour-only webinar presentation: “How to Add a Million Dollars to Your Net Worth — Without Touching Stocks.” Be sure to tune in this coming Thursday. If you’re ready to start collecting those rent checks each month, click here for instant access to Mark’s free special report.

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How to Trick Your Brain into Making Better Decisions (Backed By Scientific Studies)

What are some tools to use for effective decision making? originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing site where questions are answered by people with unique insights. This answer was shared by Charles Duhigg, staff writer for the New York Times and author of Smarter Faster Better, on Quora:

Here is what scientific studies say will help you make better decisions:

Thinking through various, contradictory possibilities, and then trying to force yourself to figure out which ones are more or less likely, and why. (This is known as probabilistic thinking, and studies show that it significantly increases the quality of people’s decision making.)

Say, for instance, that you are trying to decide whether your group of rebels should attack the Death Star. Seems like an easy decision, right?

After all, the Death Star is filled with jerks, and it has a big glaring weakness (that apparently no architect considered when designing the ship): one well placed shot can blow up the entire thing.

If you are some hillbilly from Tatooine, you’ll charge off into space. You’ll think about this decision in binary terms (“The Empire=bad. The rebels=good. What can go wrong?”)

But, if you are practiced at decision making, you’ll probably do something a bit differently: you’ll sit down with Adm. Ackbar, and you’ll try to envision the dozens of different outcomes that are possible. (“We could get defeated before we make it to the ship. We could make it to the ship and not have enough X-wings.

We could have enough X-wings but then miss the shot. We could make the shot but our intel could be wrong. We could have good intel and make the shot and the Death Star blows up, but our reward is Jar Jar Binks…” You get the point.)

Now, here’s the thing: you aren’t going to be very precise at assigning probabilities to all those possibilities. (“What are the odds that our intel is bad?”) But forcing yourself to think through all the possibilities and then simply TRYING to assign odds will be really helpful in revealing what you do and don’t know.

So, maybe you are pretty certain that your intel is good, and maybe you are pretty certain that, if they can get close to the Death Star, your pilots will hit the target (because, after all, you’ve got the force on your side), but you aren’t particularly certain that you have enough X-wings to make sure that you’ll get close to the Death Star.

Now you know which parts of your plan are weakest, you know what you need to learn more about and what problems you need to solve to increase the odds of success.

Our brains, left to their own devices, prefer to think about choices in binary terms. (And, from an evolutionary standpoint, this is really efficient.)

But to make better decisions, we have to force ourselves to think probabilistically – AND THEN WE NEED TO GET COMFORTABLE WITH THE FACT THAT PROBABILISTIC THINKING TENDS TO REVEAL HOW MUCH WE DON’T KNOW.

It is scary to confront uncertainty. It can make you crazy and anxious. That’s why it is so much easier to look at choices as binary options (“I’ll either succeed or fail”) or deterministic outcomes (“I ended up married to her because she was my soulmate.”)

But if you genuinely want to make better decisions, you have to fight that instinct, and make yourself think about multiple possibilities – both the good and the bad – and be really honest with yourself about what you do and don’t know (and what is knowable and unknowable.)

And then you have to take a leap, and make a decision, and see it as  an experiment that gives you data, rather than a success or failure that you should congratulate yourself on/beat yourself up about.

Because, unfortunately, the force doesn’t really exist. But probabilities do.

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