When Steve Maxwell graduated from college, he had an engineering degree and a high-tech job—but he couldn’t balance his checkbook. “I took one finance class in college but dropped it to go on a ski trip,” says the 45-year-old father of three, who lives in Windsor, Colorado. “I actually had to go to my bank and ask them to teach me how to read my statement.”
One of the biggest obstacles to making money is not understanding it: Thousands of us avoid investing because we just don’t get it. But to make money, you must be financially literate. “It bothered me that I didn’t understand this stuff,” says Steve, “so I read books and magazines about money management and investing, and I asked every financial whiz I knew to explain things to me.”
He and his wife started applying the lessons: They made a point to live below their means. They never bought on impulse, always negotiated better deals (on their cars, cable bills, furniture) and stayed in their home long after they could afford a more expensive one. They also put 20 percent of their annual salary into investments.
Within ten years, they were millionaires, and people were coming to Steve for advice. “Someone would say, ‘I need to refinance my house—what should I do?’ A lot of times, I wouldn’t know the answer, but I’d go find it and learn something in the process,” he says.
In 2003, Steve quit his job to become part owner of a company that holds personal finance seminars for employees of corporations like Wal-Mart. He also started going to real estate investment seminars, and it’s paid off: He now owns $30 million worth of investment properties, including apartment complexes, a shopping mall and a quarry.
“I was an engineer who never thought this life was possible, but all it truly takes is a little self-education,” says Steve. “You can do anything once you understand the basics.”
Read more about Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires in our next post: “Passion Pays Off”
Written By: Kristyn Kusek Lewis (Reader’s Digest – December 2007)
Source: Readers Digest, December 2007
About Keelan Cunningham
Keelan Cunningham is an entrepreneur, multiple business owner, author, and personal finance/wealth building specialist. Keelan’s passion is helping people improve their business acumen and personal wealth creation strategies, so they can lead a truly wealthy life in all aspects and with any luck similarly transform the lives of others.
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