Looking to become rich? Write a cheque for ten crores to yourself!

Published: December 31, 2023 at 6:00 am

The first step in getting rich is to believe without a doubt that we will be. It is just a matter of effort and time (in that order). Allow me to explain. How does one get rich? What is the first step towards financial independence? Crude as it may seem, the first step to being rich is to think you will be rich. The first step to financial independence is a clear purpose.

A high salary will help fasten the process but it is not mandatory, as many mistakenly believe. It is the purpose that counts -the desire to change the way your family have been handling money. Here are two fascinating anecdotes.

Jim Carrey

Renowned for his comedic performances, Jim Carrey is a multifaceted actor. He originates from a destitute background, where his family resided in a van in Canada. At 16, he forsook his education to become a full-time custodian, having previously worked an eight-hour shift helping his father with the same profession after school. (source, plus many others online)

Created with the http://www.hashemian.com/tools/check-generator.php

In the early 1990s, he penned a check for 10 million dollars, made payable to himself for the acting services he had provided. He dated it Thanksgiving 1995, which falls on either the second Monday of October in Canada or the fourth Thursday of November in the USA, and stashed it in his wallet. As luck would have it, right before the designated date, he received a 10-million-dollar payment for his work in the movie “Dumb & Dumber.”As Oprah Winfrey so rightly puts it in this interview (youtube),

Jim Carrey visualised himself as rich and visualisation works if you work hard

To which Jim replies,

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Yes, you cannot visualise and go eat a sandwich!

When his father passed, Carrey placed the cheque in his father’s casket because it was “our dream, together”.

“Wait, are you suggesting that this is an exception rather than the norm? That Jim Carrey’s success was inevitable due to his superior talent? Well, I respectfully disagree. Let me offer up another example.”

Mr. Lastbencher

This is about my college mate who was a last bencher in location and behaviour. He did not appear one bit interested in doing what he was supposed to do – study physics. Cut to 22 years later (six years ago), a mutual friend told me that Mr Lastbencher is retired!

After adding him as a Facebook friend, I sent him a message asking for the scoop. Unfortunately, it took him months to finally see it. Eventually, he replied, revealing it was “not a big deal.” His goal had been to retire by 40, which he accomplished at the ripe age of 39. He departed from a top-ranking position with a generous severance package and, for the past four years, has split his time between cruising on his Royal Enfield and staying at home. On occasion, he even drives a taxi to occupy himself!

I asked him how he did it, and he said (a) closed out loans, (b) reduced his needs to achieve his goal, and (c) invested right.

Now, what do you say to that?! He would have easily been a contender for the “least likely to succeed” award based on the evidence available 28 years ago. Now, look at him! Please do not look at his position or the severance deal. Focus on his desire to live his dreams by a certain age. Focus on how fast he must have risen up the company ranks and the hard work associated with it. Focus on his planning; his cutting needs short.

Most importantly, focus on the fact that he exhibited no special talents. He was only passionately driven (as Einstein said about himself). Most education systems have no way to judge this. Academic performance can neither reflect intelligence nor passion – at least, that is what I tell my students each semester. As long as a student gets her act together at some point in life, she should be fine. Mr Lastbencher is a fine example of this.

What is common between these two tales?

Tamil actor Vijay Antony sums it up quite well. When asked “how he did it”, he said:

I knew where I was today and I knew where I wanted to be tomorrow. So I did what was necessary to go there.

That is it. Pure and simple – a clear purpose followed up with the necessary effort.

Nothing to do with how much they earned. Sure, the quantum of money earned will decide how financial independence is achieved sooner or later. But it is not a race. There is no special award for getting there earlier. And not all can get there at the same time.

This is about the intent and the journey.

So let us go ahead and visualise ourselves as rich. Write yourself that cheque for Ten Crores.

Let us ignore trivialities (discounts, reward points, cashback, charges, fees, 0.5% drop in interest rates etc.) and focus on the big picture (start early, invest right and invest big). The first step in getting rich is to believe that we will be. It is just a matter of time and effort.

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Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter(X), Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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