To celebrate my 37th birthday, I decided to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from becoming a self-made millionaire by age 35.
Why am I sharing this?
I don’t believe talking about money is vulgar or bad, even though I respect that some people do. When I was in my twenties, and frustrated that I wasn’t able to find my way in the world, or make any money, I would have loved to read an article like this.
When I was in my early thirties and starting to make traction in my business, but still afraid of money, I would have loved to read about a woman like me.
Part of my role in the world is normalizing wealth for women. I don’t aspire to be any kind of guru, I’m just happy contributing to the conversation around women and money. I hope I’ve been useful to you.
A quick note. I’m not going to add qualifying disclaimers on each point. I feel like women often feel pressured to add, “but I know I’m really lucky!” or “I know how fortunate I am!” or “but there are real problems in the world!”. Yes, I know and it would be really boring to add it to each point.
This isn’t a “how to get rich post”, because my path to becoming a millionaire might not work for everyone, it’s just a series of observations! Some are right, some are wrong for you.
So, in celebration of my birthday, here are some major lessons and thoughts I’ve learned along the way:
1. I often worry my kids will grow up unmotivated and entitled
I know, #luckybeeproblems right? But it’s true. I worry that they’ll grow up without any motivation at all to make their own money. A lot of women I know want to be rich so they can give their kids everything, but that doesn’t motivate me at all. I’m still working out how to teach them good money habits too.
2. I sometimes romanticize growing up poor
I think the hardship must have been good for me somehow or that I wouldn’t be motivated today if that wasn’t the case. Now that I’ve coached thousands of women in my Money Bootcamp, I realize that it doesn’t matter if you grew up rich or poor, you can still have identical money blocks. It’s weird but true.
3. Money is a great lubricator
In that, it generally makes life smoother. I love that I can fix things when they’re broken, buy things when I need them and generally not worry about unexpected costs. More than anything, being rich has given me peace of mind.
4. I try and use money to solve problems
I’ve noticed that instead of wanting to deal with the messiness of human emotions and problems, I’m so tempted just to throw money at the problem. For example, when friends or family have issues, it’s easier for me to pay my way out instead of just being there for them emotionally. This isn’t the healthiest solution and I’m working on it.
5. I’m really not into physical possessions
The richer I’ve gotten, the less I’ve wanted stuff. Go figure, right? I think the most I’ve bought recently is to furnish a new house but other than that, I don’t have much desire to buy things.
6. I don’t have expensive taste
My hubby bought me an expensive handbag recently and I was like “Um… ok. What do I do with this?” I don’t really hang out in expensive places, and I think I live in a pretty down to earth, non-ostentatious town. Feeling rich is often based on comparisons. If I lived in a super-luxurious town, I might not feel so rich.
7. I still think Business Class travel is expensive
I’m not sure I’ll ever get to a place where I don’t think it’s expensive. Long haul Business Class for my family is more expensive than my car. It’s not a decision I make lightly, but it’s usually one based on time and ease. For example, my hubby is going to Europe soon for a solo trip and I insisted he fly Business Class for the most selfish reason. As soon as he gets home off the plane, I need him well-rested so he can take over parental duties!
8. I’m self-made but…
I always laugh when I hear people who grew up wealthy say that they are self-made. But who really is self-made? I think I am because I grew up with not much money, and I’ve created a business from scratch. But, I understand I have lots of advantages too. I’m a white, well-educated, straight, able-bodied woman who grew up in a peaceful country (incidentally, do you know that Australia is nicknamed “the Lucky Country”). Would I have been as successful if I was born somewhere else?
9. Time is my currency now
And convenience. I’d rather spend money as a currency than use my time to do something I don’t want to do. I love buying VIP tickets so I don’t have to queue, I like to get the premium package and fast shipping. Think about adding in a VIP service into your business for people like me who value time over money.
10. Most older men don’t know what to make of me
I’ve met many older, mostly white men who don’t know quite what to make of me. “You seem pretty confident” they say, or they assume that my husband must be a rich, older guy. Sometimes they even start to brag about their success to compete with me, which is weird. It’s like I’ve been so in the world of female entrepreneurship that I’ve “forgotten” how I’m supposed to act around these guys (deferential to their opinion, patient with their mansplaining), and it’s jarring for them. I’m also lucky that I have some amazing men on my team who are totally supportive of my business.
11. I’m still learning how to be a rich person
I feel like there is a whole world of stuff that born rich people know that I don’t. Most of it I don’t give a shit about (old school etiquette for example), other things I’m more interested in, like how ethical rich people invest their money or how rich people do amazing health care.
12. Making money feels easy to me now
The first couple of years of my business, it felt like a slog and most people give up before the cogs really start turning. Now it feels like a fun game. I say to my financial team, “tell me how much money we need to do X, and I’ll go away and get it”.
13. But I’m also still working on my money blocks
I definitely could have a bigger business right now, but I still get blocked around doing launches just like anyone else.
14. My “fight or flight” response has disappeared
Growing up, I had some stressful situations for me. When I first moved out of home, I worried about money constantly. Money doesn’t completely solve everything, but it helps knowing that you deal with most problems when you have some extra cash. Even getting the help you need.
15. I still judge the shit out of (some) rich people
I still get triggered and disgusted by massive wasteful displays of wealth, mostly around people who don’t do anything good with their wealth. I also find that I judge children of rich people who just seem to spend their money on material goods. I’m working on this one.
16. I still judge (some) poor people too!
This isn’t a “pull yourself up by your boot-straps” judgement, but I judge the way some people I know spend their money. I think the comforting thing to know is that if you’re a judgy bee now, chances are that’s not going to change much!
17. I love having savings
I could never really save money, and I think the block was being uncomfortable with more than I “needed”. Now my savings account is unbelievably healthy, and it feels really solid knowing the money is there.
18. I splurge on things that save me time
We have a weekly cleaner, pool guy, lawn guy and a regular handy-man who helps us with random household chores. I get healthy meals delivered from a local cafe, and I just started getting private yoga instruction at home.
19. I finally convinced hubby to leave his job
When it came time to have baby #2, I really didn’t want to do it alone while my hubby worked full time. Earning enough in my business, and most importantly having a healthy savings account finally convinced him to take the plunge. It’s amazing having freedom for our family. This is one of the best things I’ve done with my money.
20. My biggest expense is…
We probably spend the most on food. Eating out regularly, the food delivery service, and then I like the fact that I can buy expensive tomatoes or gourmet products without worrying about the cost.
21. I really don’t mind paying taxes
Australia has a great social safety net. I could afford to go to University because of the Govt’s deferred loan system. It cost about $25k for me to get a degree (so much cheaper than America). Plus, I got a low-income allowance to help pay for books and rent. My tax bill this year will be multiple six figures. I’m so grateful that those social programs are in place, and seriously, what a great investment it was for the government. A ten fold return just this year. I feel good to be able to pay my taxes and support other people in that way too. Don’t be afraid to pay more in tax. It’s just an inevitable part of making more money.
22. It’s fun to give away money
When I was younger and I felt broke, I’d give away $2 to my favourite charity and it would immediately make me feel abundant. Then I stretched myself to give $20. Then I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and gave $200. Now I like to give $2000. Basically, don’t start until “one day” to be the philanthropist you want to be in the future.
23. I worry about how to be more generous
But also, I don’t want to give away all my money either. I have conflicting goals of wanting as much financial security for my family, and wanting to help others. I don’t know what the balance is, and as women we’re taught to share with others and not to take more than we “need”.
24. I don’t think I look like a rich person
I’m pretty casual and low-key, and I don’t think I look like a stereotypical rich person. I used to think I had to be fancy and well-dressed all the time, now I realize that rich people are just normal too. Basically, wealth doesn’t have a strict dress code so stop worrying that you’re not the right kind of person to be rich.
25. I’m pretty much the same person
I like mostly the same stuff. I’m still an introvert. Money doesn’t really change you so don’t worry that you’ll turn into some horrible, greedy person (unless you already are). Money will just amplify who you already are.
26. But I’m more confident in setting boundaries
I feel okay in saying no now. Because I feel like nothing bad will happen if I say no. They can’t evict me or fire me. Being rich has made me confident in myself.
27. Money is easy
The money part is easy now, but the personal growth stuff is still the same. Just because I have money sorted, I realize there is still a lot that I’m not good at – like self-care, pleasure, femininity, presence etc. Having money can’t shield you from the human experience.
28. I’m not good at taking time off
I’m pretty rubbish at taking actual holidays even though I used to travel a lot for conferences (pre-kids). I honestly would rather work on my business than do most other things, so even though I theoretically have the time to do yoga and travel a lot, as soon as I do, I think of more business ideas!
If you’re the same way, I think we have to accept that we’re business oriented people and as long as it doesn’t impact our family and health, it’s okay!
29. I worry about being judged for talking about money
I said I wasn’t going to do a disclaimer, but sometimes I wake up feeling really guilty about having money when so many people are struggling in the world. To alleviate my guilt, I give some money away, and then remind myself of my purpose in life. I’d love to solve every problem of the world, but I think I can serve better if I focus on my calling – helping women to change their relationship with money. If each of us raise our prosperity consciousness a bit, and do a bit of good in the world, we can have a huge ripple effect.
30. The book that changed my finances recently was…
The Millionaire Next Door series helped me realize that most millionaires drive average cars and don’t lead really ostentatious lives. It kind of gave me permission to be rich myself, but also stressed the importance of building long term wealth, instead of just looking rich from the outside.
31. I drive an average car
Maybe one day I’ll get a super fancy car, but for now, I’m okay driving a really average one with my LUCKYB personalized plates. I don’t feel like I have to show off to prove how wealthy I am.
32. The rich get richer because …
They have great advisors. Now that I’m rich, I see how the rich get richer. Not because rich people are greedy and it’s unfair, but I’ve seen how you can pay for advisors to give you great advice. To take advantage of the tax system and to structure your life in a way that protects your wealth.
33. My biggest financial goal is…
At the moment, it’s to build a house in my dream area and then pay off the (big) mortgage by age 40. I figure after that I can do more investing, but I want that experience of being 100% debt free. I see that as an emotional financial decision but I can also see what that peace of mind would allow me to do.
34. I’m a contributor, not a guru
As soon as I gave myself permission to contribute to the conversation of women and money, and not have to be a guru or expert, then my business became fun. If you really care about a topic, be a contributor. Who cares if you don’t know everything. You don’t have to be the best to make a difference to someone.
35. I feel a responsibility to …
Learn to take care of my money, so it lasts. I’ve seen many cautionary tales of people who got rich overnight and then spent it on stupid rich-people toys. I’m still a relative newbie rich person, so I want to learn how to be better at money, and share what I know with my community.
36. I have a long term view of my business
Now that I’ve made a significant amount of money in my business, I feel it takes the pressure off the urgency of my ambition somewhat. I look at Louise Hay who is still speaking on stages around the world. I could potentially have another 50 years of my business. I don’t have to do it all at once.
37. Manifesting is a muscle
I’m really really good at manifesting things I want, and I have to be really careful of my thoughts because they sometimes manifest instantly. It’s kinda scary but awesome at the same time.
I do believe anyone can do this with practice, but I go back to basics every time.
Your goal might not be to be a millionaire. Now that I’ve done it, I don’t know if I’ll have bigger and bigger goals.
As I was writing this article, I was getting kinda bored by it, but I want you to see that the actual making money part kinda IS boring. When you don’t have money, you think making money is the goal, but it’s really not. It’s about creating a life that works for YOU, and most of the time that doesn’t cost anywhere near a million dollars.
Anyway, if all you get out of this article is “Wow, Denise isn’t all that, maybe I could make more money too…” – YOU CAN!
It’s your time and you’re ready for the next step!