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5 money tips from Marie Forleo
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Identified as a New Money Master by Tony Robbins in 2009, founder of one of Inc’s 500 fastest growing companies of 2014, and creator of one of Forbes.com’s Top 100 Websites for Entrepreneurs, Marie Forleo is certainly someone worth modeling. In this interview, ‘M.’, as she delightfully signs her name, shared with us some of the lessons she’s learned about money on her journey to the top.
Image © marieforlero.com. [Watch full video interview: Mastering the Money Game with Tony Robbins]
Your first job out of college was on the floor of the New York stock exchange. But when did you first start personally investing? And what were those initial investments?
I started investing around age 22 by opting into the 401(k) plan at Conde Nast Publications. Honestly, I had no clue what I was investing in. I just knew about the miracle of compound interest, and that it was vital for me to start investing as soon as humanly possible.
Knowing the importance of investing, did you also have a spending plan or budget when you first started your career? If not, when did you start to do so?
When I first started my career, I was saddled with consumer debt from college. So it wasn’t so much about creating a budget or spending plan, per se. It was about coming face to face with the reality that I was drowning in debt. Then, about fully committing to get out of it and never, ever go back again. Once I made that decision, I worked my tail off to get debt-free. And when I started my business, I worked 4 or 5 part-time jobs at a time to be able to afford what I needed to get my company off the ground, to not be desperate for clients, and to not go back into debt.
That’s incredible! Did you take any big risks that you regretted? Did you take any big risks that paid off?
The big risk was quitting working for someone else (which came with a steady paycheck, healthcare, retirement, etc.) to start my own life coaching business at 23. Looking back, it was the best decision I could have ever made.
What do you wish you’d learned about money as a young person?
Money is a beautiful tool that can be used for tremendous good. I wish I’d learned sooner that there was more than enough money to go around. I had some negative, scarcity-based beliefs about money that made me fear it and not give the study of it the time, attention and energy it deserves.
What was a financial milestone in your life, and how did you achieve it?
One of my most memorable money milestones involves writing my first philanthropic check. When I dreamed of starting my own business, I wanted it to be about more than just making a profit. I wanted my business to also make a difference.
Around the time my online programs started to gain some traction, I made a bold move that forever shifted my relationship with money. Now, at that time, I was still wrestling with a lot of my own personal money demons. Meaning, when I opened my checkbook to pay my bills each month, I’d either cry or nearly have a panic attack because often there was barely enough in there to make ends meet. But something in me knew that if I was ever going to shift my relationship with money, I had to start aligning my behavior with my deepest beliefs. And one of my deepest beliefs about money was that there was more than enough to go around, and that I had the capacity to earn enough to not only take care of myself but also meaningfully contribute to others.
So I decided that for a new upcoming online program, I’d donate a percentage of profits to others in need. My mind screamed, “Are you nuts? You can barely cover your own bills — now you’re going to give some away?!?” But my heart knew that if I ever wanted to reach my full financial potential, this was my next step.
A year later, I stood on stage at the kick-off event for the UN Foundation initiative Girl Up which supports over 60 million girls in the developing world who are denied education and fundamental human rights. And as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has written, “There is no more valuable investment than in a girl’s education.” I presented Girl Up with a check for over $7,000 US dollars. It was the first substantial donation they received.
Unexpectedly, that evening also led to a personal invite to spend time with Sir Richard Branson in South Africa at his Centre for Entrepreneurship. It was an experience that completely shifted my relationship with money, myself and emboldened my desire to find new ways to use my business as a force for good.