There is no get rich quick. People do not become wealthy through quick schemes or plans to turn small investments into large sums. Wealth is built slowly and steadily over-time by avoiding debt, living below your means, and investing consistently.

Studies of wealthy people show the vast majority of millionaires and multi-millionaires build their wealth by applying a disciplined and consistent approach. In fact about 90% of Millionaires never took out a business loan and about 65% never took out a HELOC. (1)

Trust me, I learned this lesson first hand. In my late 20s and early 30s I accumulated investment properties in Vancouver and leveraged that into opening a franchised restaurant. It was a house of cards that collapsed in great fashion.

To say I was over-levered, is like saying the Toronto Maple Leafs are in a slight Stanley Cup drought. After about 5 weeks from opening day, I knew I was in a downward spiral that ended 6 months later losing everything. It was a painful lesson learned about the risks of debt and leverage to an impatient, cocky young investor.

I had enjoyed a bit of success with the real estate and believed myself invincible. I subscribed to the ‘other people’s money’ approach to business financing. And thought I only needed to execute to make my investments successful. I kept stretching my balance sheet and leverage until it finally collapsed. Karma had had enough of my folly and taught me a fast lesson.

Fifteen (15) years later, my net worth is three times what it was at my peak before opening day. And I am completely debt free. No gimmicks, no high-leveraged deals. Slow and consistent saving and investing.

The restaurant was Mexican food meets Subway. Customers were assembly lined processed like Subway, which sounded great. Trouble was I sold a $4.00 burrito for $6.50 in a sophisticated Mexican food market. Patrons didn’t find the value in the food and repeat customers were rare. Its like how Chinese food franchises don’t dominate Vancouver and Toronto. The market is too sophisticated for mass-produced Americanized food.

Here is a picture from opening, 2005

I don’t consider myself religious, but I like proverbs 13:11, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”

(1) The study referenced is from Chris Hogan’s book, Everyday Millionaire. Page 73 in the kindle edition.

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