“That car that we pay $20,000 for, is really costing us about $150,000.”
For the past 35 years, I’ve learned that there are only five ways that you could accumulate wealth in America. Number one, you can be born into it. Number two, you could marry into it. Number three, you can purchase a business and have your employees create wealth for you. Number four, you can purchase real estate and have your tenants create wealth for you. Or number five, you can focus on saving more of your money.
Notice, nowhere in there did we say you need to earn a higher rate of return on your money to become wealthy. You see, traditional financial planning focuses on rate of return. Oftentimes people go from one advisor to the next advisor, all with the promise of a rate of return that’s better than the last. We believe that there’s more opportunity in making your money more efficient than there is in picking the winners.
For every dollar that goes through our hands, we could only make two choices with it. We can either save it or spend it. Saved dollars will grow over time, spent dollars are gone forever. Now the potential future value of spent dollars is called opportunity cost. We will never see the money that we don’t earn after we spend our money, but let’s take a look at an example to see just what an impact opportunity costs can have on our money.
Today we’re going to look at buying your first car. You graduate college and you get your first job. Now you want to buy a car. Let’s say it’s a $20,000 car. That $20,000 could have earned 5%. We’re going to look at this over the next 40 years. Well, focusing on opportunity costs, we think the car cost is $20,000. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that car costs us $20,000 plus what we could have earned on our money for 40 years, that’s an additional $127,168. That car that we pay $20,000 for is really costing us about $150,000. That is opportunity cost.
Keep in mind. This is only looking at the cost of one car. The average person is going to purchase 12 cars over their lifetime. The point is, it’s not what you buy, it’s how you pay for it. Making your money as efficient as possible and losing as little opportunity cost as possible is what will make you financially free. There’s no certainty in trying to risk your way to financial independence.