The Early Bird Gets The Cheese

april coverThe Early Bird Gets the Cheese
Start Early. Make Money.

Wait a minute…is that what I think it is? Is it? Yes, it is…it’s….the SUN! Holy mackerel, I can’t believe it. I was beginning to think that the economy was so bad that we couldn’t afford sunlight anymore. Whew, that is a relief. I just recently realized how different my attitude is when it’s warm outside and the sun is shining. I just have better days in general under those conditions. Perhaps I need to move to a warmer climate. Hmm, something to think about.

I also get excited because the warmer it gets, the closer I get to playing golf. I started playing golf a few years ago because I thought that it was a skill that I needed to have as a businessman. It only took me a couple of times out on a few beautiful courses and I immediately fell in love with the game. Love, though, does not reduce your handicap so I continue to practice so that my swing never, EVER gets as bad as Charles Barkley’s. If you haven’t seen his swing, check out the Haney Project on the Golf Channel for a few good laughs.

If you start to play the game you will hear a lot of golfers say “Boy, I really wish I had started playing golf earlier.” I agree. The funny thing about that statement is that it is very similar to what I hear people say about their money. “I wish I had gotten started with investing earlier.” “I wish I had saved more money when I was younger.” Funny how life imitates golf, huh?

Talent vs. Training

Of course we can’t talk golf without talking Tiger Woods; especially since he laid the Chris Brown…oops I mean the smack down, on an entire field of golfers essentially on one leg at the US Open last year. How does he do it? Watching some of the shots that he makes, it seems as if he has superhuman powers. But he’s from California, not Krypton so there has to be another answer. There is…lots and lots of practice.

Tiger started playing golf at age 2. That means he had about a 27 year head start on me by the time I tiger youngfinally got serious about the game. I have a lot of catching up to do! Imagine what you could do if you focused on something, relentlessly, for 20+ years? You probably will, but you may not start until you are thirty.

This is exactly why athletes and entertainers are compensated so handsomely. Sure, especially in sports genetics play a role, but in general these individuals are successful because they spend a great deal of time and effort becoming experts in their craft from a very early age. We on the other hand can’t even figure out what we want to major in until our junior year. See the difference?

The same philosophy applies to you and your finances. Imagine what you might have accumulated, prior to last year of course, if you had been diligent about saving and managing your money since the time you got your first piggy bank? Well, saving $100 per month at 7% interest annually, for 20 years amounts to about 52k. Would that come in handy right about now?

Analysis Paralysis

People get paralyzed by what they don’t know or don’t immediately understand. There are lots of great business ideas stuck inside of people’s heads simply because they are not sure how to get from A to Z. Instead of just trying to figure out how to get to B and then to C and so on…most people would rather not take the trip altogether. Shame on them.

Getting started early can help you manage this problem. You will not have any experience writing a business plan until you write one. You will never have any experience investing until you actually start investing…so start. However, I need to be clear; No, throwing next month’s rent payment into pork bellies is not a really good idea. I would suggest starting with an amount that you are not afraid to lose. Once you get your feet wet and begin to see how the market works, you’ll become more comfortable building a portfolio or managing your retirement account.

This is also true of your saving and spending habits. I can’t tell you how many people tell me that they don’t invest because they don’t have any money. What? The purpose of saving and investing is to BUILD wealth and that means that you have to start somewhere, even if it’s from zero.

You Are What You Repeatedly Do

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” Amen! The habits that develop with your money are so much more important that any dollar amount. If you get used to saving even when your income is low, you can increase that amount when your income is high.

If you want to be paid like a star, figure out what you want to be as early as you can so that you have plenty of time to become good at it…then great at it…then better than anyone else at it. The smaller the number of people that can do what you do, the more someone has to pay you to do it. It’s true that the early bird catches the worm.

It’s also true that practice makes perfect. Just ask Tiger.

Rob Wilson has a wealth management practice where he provides financial advice and guidance to professional athletes and entertainers. He can be reached at with your financial questions and comments.

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