Four Key Retirement Ideas You'll Never Hear from Your Advisor

From a man who started with nothing...
and built a $50 million fortune

We recently featured a handful of unusual ideas… and we want to make sure you saw them…

In fact, we think they're so useful, we gathered them together – with bonus material – in a free report, which you'll find below.

These ideas come from our friend and mentor Mark Ford, editor of our corporate affiliate, The Palm Beach Letter.

Nobody has thought more about HOW to succeed in business and in life more than Mark. We've never seen anyone "dissect" every aspect or "model" every behavior to the degree that Mark has.

It paid off… Mark is now an incredibly successful and wealthy man. And he devotes his efforts to teaching readers how to build their own fortunes.

Mark has personally used the common sense wealth-building ideas he shares below to help build a $50 million fortune from nothing.

In the pages that follow, you'll find information on…

  • How Every Decision You Make Can Make You Richer – or Poorer
  • How to Live a Rich Life While Building Wealth
  • How to Grow Your Wealth for Decades without a Single
    Losing Year
  • How to Become Financially Independent in Seven Years or Less

These strategies can help you safely grow and protect your wealth – and sleep well at night – no matter how old you are… or how much money you have in the bank.


Brian Hunt
Editor in Chief, DailyWealth

How Every Decision You Make Can
Make You Richer – or Poorer

By Mark Ford

You go to lunch with a colleague. Everything is good. When the waiter puts the bill on the table, the total is $26.

Do you pick it up? Do you wait and hope he does? Or do you suggest you split it?

On the surface, this is a minor decision. But in truth, it is one of a million chances you've had, have, and will have to become wealthier.

A cheapskate might look at it this way:

If I pay the whole bill, I'll be $26 poorer. If we split the bill, I'll be $13 poorer. If I can get him to pay it, I'll be $13 richer.

To the cheapskate, the best decision is obvious. So when the bill arrives, he gets up to "go to the bathroom," hoping he'll be $13 richer when he returns.

But I have a different view. Wealth building, like quantum mechanics, often operates according to laws that seem contrary to what is "obvious."

Paying the tab, in other words, might actually make you richer. Because the $13 you spend on your lunch partner might give you a return of much more than $13.

Your generosity might signal to him that you are the kind of person he can trust. It might tell him you are someone who is willing to give first without demanding recompense. If he sees you in that light, a relationship might be seeded by this small investment on your part. A year later – it is possible to imagine – he might recommend you for a promotion when he himself gets promoted to head up your department.

It depends on your assessment of his character.

If he impresses you as a person who believes – as you do – in reciprocity, you will know that the $13 is a wise investment. If, on the other hand, he shows you that he is a person who believes in exploiting others, the wise move might be to pay only your share of the bill and not develop the relationship any further.

In either case, you are richer.

In the first case, you are richer in a potentially lucrative business relationship. In the second case, you are richer in knowledge – knowledge about him that can help you avoid trouble or seize opportunity in the future.

I am making two points: First, almost every event in your life is an opportunity for you to become richer. And second, by seeing every situation as a wealth-building opportunity, you can take the actions that will gradually make you very rich.

The people I call "instinctive wealth builders" understand this on a gut level. They see every transaction – social, personal, or business – as a wealth-related opportunity. They are always angling, even subconsciously, to increase their wealth.

Most of us aren't born with that instinct. For us, a casual conversation is just a casual conversation. And choosing to join a club or hire or fire an employee is that and nothing more.

But the moment we put this principle into practice, we see the world very differently. Its potential is no longer limited. It is enormous, maybe even infinite. And we view every action we engage in as a chance – big or small – to increase or diminish our wealth.

Train yourself to ask the following four questions – keeping in mind that every situation, big or small, is an opportunity for you to become richer…

  1. "In what way is this an opportunity for me to become more wealthy?" (Note: I don't ask, "Is this a wealth-building opportunity?" – because every situation is a wealth-building opportunity.)
  2. "What is the potential of this opportunity?"
  3. "What are the possible problems with this opportunity?"
  4. "What can I do to seize this opportunity?"

Look at every situation you find yourself in as an opportunity to make yourself richer. And I do mean every situation, even the most mundane. This includes:

  • The first thought you put in your mind when you wake up each morning.
  • What you listen to on your commute to work.
  • How you greet your boss and fellow workers.
  • What you talk about at the coffee machine.
  • The expression on your face and the firmness of your grip when you shake hands.
  • The conversation you initiate with the person next to you on a plane.
  • Whether you buy a brand-new car or a used one.
  • How your voice sounds when you answer the phone.
  • How you prepare for a meeting.
  • Whether you buy your clothes at Saks or Marshalls.
  • Whether you go out to lunch or eat at your desk.

Some of your opportunities will be small and some large. But by asking yourself these four questions first, you will bring your batting average way up…

If you make it a habit to approach every situation this way, it will soon become automatic. And before you know it, you will have seized hundreds – even thousands – of wealth-building opportunities… each one making you a littler richer.

You CAN Live a Rich Life While Building Wealth

I grew up relatively poor, the second of eight children. My father earned $12,000 a year as a college professor. As a teenager, I was ashamed of our small house, my hand-me-down clothes, and my peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

I dreamed, literally dreamed, of living like a rich man.

And so, when I got my first job at age nine as a paperboy – and then at 12 as a lackey at the local carwash – I would spend my money on luxuries, like a pair of brand-new Thom McAn shoes.

I worked every chance I got through high school, and then worked two or three jobs during college and graduate school. I spent 80% of my money on necessities: food, clothes, and tuition. But I always spent a bit on little niceties. Even back then, I had the notion that I didn't need to deprive myself now for some better life later.

I tell you this to emphasize a key part of the simple money-management system I've used to generate more than $50 million in wealth…

I don't believe in scrimping severely to optimize savings. I believe you can live a rich life while you grow rich, so long as you are willing to work hard and you are smart about your spending.

Think of the typical earning/spending/saving pattern of most wealth-seekers…

During their 20s, they spend every nickel of their modest income to make ends meet. At that age, it is nearly impossible to put aside money for the future.

During their 30s, their income increases. But this is also when they start a family. Expenses soar. There are more mouths to feed, a "family" car to buy, and the dreaded down-payment on a first house. They manage to save a little during these years, but not nearly as much as they thought they would.

If they work hard and make good career decisions, their income climbs much higher in their 40s and early 50s. They have more money to put aside for the future, but they are also tempted into buying newer cars, nicer clothes, more exotic vacations, and – the biggest wealth-stealer of them all – that dream house.

In their later 50s and 60s, their income plateaus or even dips… and they may have to start shelling out for college tuition. Aware that their retirement funds are being depleted rather than enhanced, they invest aggressively to try to make up the difference.

Finally, sometime in their mid- to late-60s, they realize that they don't have enough money to retire. They have spent almost 40 years working hard and chasing wealth, but they never managed to attain it.

It's sad, but it's the reality for most people. And it is just as true for high-income earners (doctors, lawyers, etc.) as it is for working-class folks.

There are two lessons to be drawn from this:

First, it is very difficult to acquire wealth if you increase your spending every time your income goes up.

Second, setting unrealistic investing goals means taking greater risks. And taking more risks, contrary to what many pundits say, will almost always make you poorer… not richer.

The truth is, there is only a marginal relationship between how much you spend on housing, transportation, vacations, and toys, and the enjoyment you can derive from them.

My spending strategy is simple: Discover your own, less expensive way to live a rich life. By a "rich life," I mean a life free from financial stress, but also filled with things that give you pleasure.

For example, good, restful sleep is essential for a happy life. Ideally, you're going to spend around one-third of your life sleeping. So rather than "pay up" for an expensive car or an expensive necklace, buy a great mattress. By getting a great mattress (which can be had for less than $2,000), you'll sleep as well as any billionaire… and be just as happy.

Your family can be just as happy in a house that costs $100,000 or $200,000 as opposed to one that costs $10 million or $20 million. Likewise, a $25,000 car will get you where you want to go just as well as a car that costs 10 times that amount. There are dozens of ways to live like a millionaire on a modest budget. If you learn those ways, you will have a tremendous advantage over everyone else at your income level.

Make smart spending decisions. Stop thinking that because you're earning more money, you should be spending more. Your future wealth is determined by how much you save and invest, not by how much you spend.

So here's what I'd like you to do: Figure out how much you need to spend every year to live your own personal version of a "rich" life. It might help to spend a few minutes thinking about all the things you truly enjoyed last year. If you are like me, you'll find that almost all the things you enjoy require very little in the way of money. (Those are the true luxuries.)

Keep the biggest wealth-stealing expenses – like your house, your cars, and entertainment – to a necessary minimum. And eschew any expenditure that has a brand name attached to it. Brand names are parasites that gobble up wealth.

Don't nod your head and promise to get to it sometime in the future. Do it today. Estimate, as well as you can, what you need to spend each year to have the life you want.

This is a number you must have firmly in your mind if you intend to be a serious wealth-builder.

This simple system for managing money can work for you if you commit yourself to it. As I said, it's part of the system I used to build a net worth of more than $50 million – and it's still working for me and everyone else I know who has tried it.

So today, spend the time it takes to establish your own approach to "living rich" now… and in the future.

Grow Your Wealth for Decades without a Single Losing Year

Maybe I'm lucky.

Or maybe it's just common sense.

I've been involved in the investment advisory business for 30 years. And except for a few early mistakes buying real estate, the big financial hoaxes and bubbles that devastated so many investors never burned me.

That made a huge difference over time. It allowed me to grow my net worth year after year without a single year of loss.

In this essay, I want to identify several lessons I learned and how to avoid the biggest mistakes average investors make.

The financial life of the typical investor is marked by a plethora of hopeful speculations. Only a few dozen, at best, achieve their promise. My investment history is less exciting but more profitable.

I get into trends only after they are proven, I get out as soon as they don't make sense, and I turn my back on nine out of 10 opportunities that come my way.

For example, in the 1980s, penny stocks were the rage. The financial press was full of stories about investors who got rich by buying little-known companies at $0.50 a share. My boss invested in one and tried to convince me to do the same. I was tempted. But something inside of me told me to let this bus pass me by.

I'm glad I did. My boss, a very savvy investor, lost 100% of his money on that deal. It turned out to be a scam. I remember thinking that if a sophisticated investor can be fooled by one of these cheap stock deals, I'd stand no chance.

Or take the recent real-estate bubble. By that time, I had been investing in real estate for more than 10 years. I knew the game. I had made a lot of money. But by 2006, the houses I had been buying were selling for 20 times their yearly rentals. I knew it was time to get out. I stopped buying and advised my friends to do the same. They thought I was crazy. I'm sure they wish they had listened to me now.

I'm telling you these stories not to brag, but to illustrate an important point: You don't have to be a sophisticated investor to avoid making big investment mistakes. You can do so by applying a little bit of common sense.

What follows is a list of the five biggest mistakes most ordinary investors make:

Mistake No. 1: Being swept away by exciting stories.

The business my boss got suckered into had an amazing story. A company in Central America was turning beach sand into gold. The company had "proof" of their success in the form of audited financial statements, geologist reports, and endorsements from investment experts. My partner even went down and saw the operation. He saw the sand going in and the gold dust coming out.

I didn't invest because the story sounded so fantastic. I remember telling him, "This sounds like alchemy." I didn't know anything about geology or gold, but I didn't need to. The story itself was just too crazy. When I hear stories like that nowadays, I am totally turned off. One part of my brain might get excited, but the smarter part tells me, "Stay clear!"

Mistake No. 2: Investing in businesses you don't understand.

My boss was a sophisticated investor. He had his own seat on the stock exchange when he was in his twenties and had been successfully investing since that time. But he knew nothing about gold mining. Nothing at all. His ignorance allowed him to be duped by the reports and by the fraudulent factory tour. The scam was exposed by a few people who were in the mining business. They understood the industry and they knew how to read reports with the sophistication of experience.

If you don't understand the business you are investing in, then you are investing blind.

Mistake No. 3: Allowing yourself to be bullied by good salespeople.

I mentioned that early in my real estate career, I made some bad investments. Those were due to a combination of the two mistakes I just enumerated, plus I buckled under pressure from a real estate broker who also happened to be my landlord and, I thought, a friend.

I agreed to make the investments even though I had a hunch they wouldn't work out. I ignored my instincts because she was so good at manipulating me emotionally. Nowadays, whenever someone tries hard to sell me something, I take that hard selling to be a signal: stay away!

Mistake No. 4: Investing in trends too late – when the only chance of making money is to find "the bigger fool."

I got into real estate investing at a good time, when prices were already going up but also when the values were still very good. I made a lot of money as the market rose, but when I could no longer buy properties at eight or 10 times yearly rental… I realized the only way to profit was to ride the bubble to the top.

But riding a bubble when the economics are bad is a fool's game. Your only chance of winning is to find someone else willing to buy you out, who knows less about the market than you do. Insiders call this "the bigger fool theory." You would think anybody with common sense would not fall victim to this impulse, but millions of Americans (including bankers and brokers) did.

There is a time to get into a trend and a time to get out. Neither is that difficult, so long as you pay attention to the fundamental economics of the deal and ignore the excitement caused by the bubble.

Mistake No. 5: Investing without a way to limit your losses.

Sometimes, even if you use your common sense and avoid the four mistakes I've already explained, you can lose money because something entirely unpredictable happens. To avoid this, I have a rule that I never get into an investment unless I have a way out.

When you are investing in a business deal, that way out might be a buy/sell agreement. When you are investing in real estate, it is the income you can get from renting it if you can't sell it for any reason. When you are investing in stocks for yearly gains or income, it is the trailing stop loss.

There is always a way to limit your downside – so long as you identify what that is before you make the investment and stick to it, even if you feel like you shouldn't.

So those are the five biggest mistakes ordinary investors make. As you can see, they are all pretty obvious – the kind of mistakes that you can avoid by applying common sense. Avoiding these mistakes is part of how I've managed to get richer, year after year.

Think about your own investment experiences and the investments you are making right now… and ask yourself honestly: "Am I making any of these five common mistakes?"

How to Become Financially Independent
in Seven Years or Less

You are middle-aged. Your net worth is meager. Your income is barely sufficient to meet expenses… And those expenses are going up. The Great Recession is looming. Economists are predicting things will get worse. What can you do?

Should you give up your dream of retiring comfortably one day? Should you accept a future of increasingly meager existence? Should you grow bitter and curse the powers that be for putting you in this situation?

Or should you take responsibility for your situation and make changes?

That last question was rhetorical, of course. But sometimes, I wonder if people really do understand their options. There are things that happen in life that we can't control. But we can control the way we respond to them.

I understand that when you are halfway through your life and are barely making ends meet, it seems like the only chance to become financially successful is to win the lottery (either an actual lottery or the stock market equivalent of one). So it may be frustrating to hear some rich guy from Palm Beach telling you that you can't quickly turn $25,000 into $1 million by investing in stocks.

But I believe – no, I am certain – that anyone who has modest intelligence and a positive attitude can become financially independent in seven years or less if he or she is willing to work enormously hard.

You do not have to give up on your dream of being wealthy. You always have the ability to change your financial life. It will take a bit of time and patience. And it will require that you change some of the thoughts and feelings you have about wealth and your relationship to wealth.

The first thing you must do is accept the fact that you are solely and completely responsible for your current financial situation. Before you react defensively, read that sentence again… I didn't say you are the cause of your situation. I said you are responsible for it.

By taking responsibility for your current condition, you also assume responsibility for your future. Nobody can change your fortune but you. And nobody else will. The sooner you accept that reality, the sooner you will shed the anger and blame and begin to feel financially powerful.

I'm not giving you a pep talk. I'm telling you the truth. I've done it myself, and I've coached dozens of people to do it, too. It is a simple adjustment of your thinking, but it is extremely powerful. It works instantaneously. Without it, you cannot move forward, even by a single inch.

The next thing you must do is set realistic expectations. I've had people tell me that they don't want to make 10% or 15% per year on their money. They think returns like that are "ho-hum." They want some incredible stock tip or some secret get-rich-quick technique. But when I hear people say that, I think, "This person will never become wealthy." Realize that 10%-15% is a high rate of return. Warren Buffett – the most successful investor of all time and the third-richest person on the planet – has averaged 19% on his investments over his entire career.

And realize that the journey to millions of dollars is earned $100 at a time. You must be willing to accept this fact to move your financial life forward. Your financial life is like a train that has stalled. And right now, you want to be driving it at 100 miles an hour. But it can't go from zero to 100 miles an hour in no time flat. Inertia is against you. Be happy with 10 miles an hour now… and then 20… and then 30. This is how wealth accumulates: gradually at first, but eventually at lightning speed.

The third thing you must do is thoroughly understand the difference between spending, saving, and investing. With every paycheck you get, cover your necessary expenses first (bills, mortgage, etc.). Then put some money toward saving. And then put some money toward investing. Then and only then – after you have "paid yourself" – should you add to your "spending" account.

The fourth thing you must do is recognize that your net investible income (the amount of cash you have after spending and saving) is the single most important factor in determining how quickly you will become wealthy.

Commit to adding to your income with a second income. Make an honest count of the number of hours each month you devote to television and other non-productive activities. Devote them to wealth-building instead. Cast aside the comfortable shoes of victimization. Put on the working boots of a financial hero.

It's not fun to realize, in the midst of your life, that you haven't acquired the wealth you want. But the good news is your past doesn't have to be a prologue… unless you allow it to. You can change your fortunes today by doing the four things I've just told you to do.

You are only 47, not 87. You have plenty of time to increase your income and grow your net worth. Why do you assume all is lost when – as any 87-year-old will tell you – you have a whole wonderful life ahead of you… a life that can be rich in 100 ways? Regards,

Mark Ford

Editor's note: These are just a few of the wealth-building ideas and lessons Mark has used to become a multi-millionaire. If you're interested in more of Mark's insights and actionable advice, he recently formed a small group at The Palm Beach Letter where he shares detailed, step-by-step instructions to reaching seven figures without stocks, options, or other risky investments.

Until recently, he only shared this information with a few close associates ­– several of whom have created multimillion-dollar fortunes for themselves. But Mark has decided to expand his circle. And he's agreed to offer our readers interested in joining his group a special deal – for a short time. Click here for more details.


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