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Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from the book “Take the Helm: Why Do the Rich Get Richer and You Still Don’t Make Your Fortnight?” by Francisco García Pimentel and Salvador Manzano.
High income is not synonymous with wealth. This single statement seems to be a contradiction in itself. We have all fantasized about what we would do if we had a better salary; or if we “fell” an inheritance or we won the lottery.
But let’s understand this well: money is only a blessing if you know how to manage it. Otherwise, it usually becomes a true curse.
I want to introduce you to three characters. Their names, for obvious reasons, have been changed. We will call them Gerardo “The Manager”, María “La Lotería” and Mauro “El Millennial”.
Today we will meet Gerardo; and in the following weeks his two friends.
Gerardo “The Manager”
Gerardo the manager is a 28 year old young man. He studied marketing at an excellent university, with very good grades. After a couple of mid-term jobs, he finally landed his first big job: he’s a marketing manager at a distribution company.
The salary is not bad: 25,000 pesos a month plus bonuses for performance.
Of course, Gerardo deserves better than the Tsuru that he brings every day. Also, the other managers have new cars; some sports. So with his second check Gerardo gives the down payment for a new car. Find a super opportunity and pay a down payment of 40,000 to 36 months without interest; He has payments of 4,100 pesos left.
But there’s no problem; of course you can afford that and have plenty. In addition, you have to pay for the insurance (the same that the agency chooses), the plates and the registration. But what are a few pesos? He already has a brand new car.
Life as a manager is great and he has a lot of fun. She buys new clothes and goes out every weekend with her new friends. The best restaurants and clubs, of course. Now that you have money and are single, you have to take advantage! To spend the vacations the plan is put together and they go skiing in Canada. These experiences are well worth it. Also, he has to establish himself firmly in his new company, like a guy who doesn’t back down.
To travel it is necessary to have credit cards. For the first time in his life, finally! They authorize the card you’ve always wanted, with a higher limit and prime rate. It is golden. The first thing you do with it is to transfer the balance of your old “chafita” card, to pay less interest. Gerardo is very punctual in his monthly payments.
His maximum happiness is the fortnight, and Friday the best day of the week. One fine day he meets Laura, from Sales. It is love at first sight. They start dating and, after two years, things look like a wedding.
As she is getting married and has been working for two years with excellent results, she finally decides to go to her boss to ask for a raise. He deserves it!
The numbers have been very good, so… win! Gerardo receives his raise just in time to start saving for the wedding. From 25,000 pesos they go up to 30,000 nominal pesos, a 20% increase! Sure, less taxes and withholdings, they fall to him in the fortnight like 12,000 pesos, which are excellent.
He is still paying for his car, but with two years and now that he has a new salary … maybe it is time to change it. This is very smart because it will save you more expensive services .
In addition, other managers are already showing off a new car.
So he goes to the agency where he takes his car on account and makes an upgrade. It is a more “adult” car, because he is already getting married. Drop the old car, put a new hitch and start counting another 36 months. Insurance is a little more expensive and, well, it uses a little more gas. But you deserve it .
Gerardo the manager is a 28-year-old young man / Image: Depositphotos.com
The bells ring
The wedding with Laura is going to be great. You have to invite both families, friends and company. It’s going to be epic. Rent the room, the tables, the music, the flowers; pigeons, centerpieces, dessert tables and the vintage car.
Laura and Gerardo are not stupid and try to limit the party to 150 guests. But later they realize that they can’t leave out their friends from high school or their cousins from Mazatlán. In addition, the parents’ friends and, of course, the occasional client. It is a strategic investment . Total, that the wedding ends in 250 guests.
But what about! it’s only once in a lifetime. For the honeymoon, Gerardo finds an excellent tour of Europe and Asia. It is a little expensive, but with the gold card you can pay 24 months without interest, so they will not feel it .
When they return, you have to put home. Of course they are not going to go to a shack on the outskirts, but rather they have to find a good apartment. As the two salaries are now added – his and hers – they can aspire to something that is in line with their new reality. They find a very modern one near work and furnish it very much to their liking. The rent is a bit high, but it is enough for them.
Laura also has a car, so they take it out, without much trouble. On the contrary, your credit history is better than ever and you have already been offered new cards. At a certain point, Gerardo realizes that he has several at the top: 40,000 in one, 20,000 in another, 34 in another …
But Gerardo is not stupid. He knows that banks offer outlets for this, especially for preferred customers like him. So you acquire a new master card, with which you absorb all the other debts in a single monthly payment, with more term. So it feels less. That anyone knows .
But still, when they go out to dinner or to the movies (the first year of marriage is a great honeymoon, they say) he takes out the Premium card, because it gives him points for travel. So everyone wins!
Six months later, Laura has a surprise for her: they are pregnant!
A great joy floods the family; But now the small two-bedroom apartment is not enough for much, so they start looking for something more spacious. Those in the same area are very expensive, so they broaden their search to small houses.
Laura has loved a three-bedroom house in a preserve, with security and a terrace for events. The rent is 13,000 pesos.
13,000 pesos! That’s a lot of money…
In comfortable monthly payments
Since Gerardo is smart, he knows that renting is really wasting your money. In addition, with what they pay in rent they could well pay the monthly payment of a house of their own. Everybody knows this ; what’s more, they don’t know why they didn’t think about it before.
So they go to the bank and, as they are preferred customers, they release a mortgage of 2 million pesos, with which they can buy the house of their dreams. “Build your equity with credit” says the brochure that the seller gives them. Sorry: “the advisor.”
Clear! –Gerardo and Laura think- you have to build heritage. Everybody knows that . So, very happy and excited, they sign their contract – they will read the fine print later. They burn their cards to give a 10% down payment and are left with a payment of 15,000 pesos over twenty years. It’s like paying rent, but you end up with a house.
Sure, with 2 million you don’t buy a mansion. Searching, Laura and Gerardo find a small three-bedroom house on a preserve just outside the city. It is not the house of your dreams, but it is something. And above all “it is a heritage”.
Finally they move to their new house. What a thrill to have your own home! And they start living there. The commute to work is a bit long, but it’s well worth having a home of your own.
As the due date approaches, it is clear that Laura will need a larger car, a van, to be able to carry all the baby’s things. So they restructure the credit and without problems.
Now Gerardo has to pay 15,000 for the house and another 10,000 for the monthly payments of the two cars, plus expenses, food, clothing and gasoline. They don’t go to the movies that much anymore. The good thing is that they have two salaries.
The baby is coming! The 50,000 pesos for the delivery and the christening party are well worth it. The good thing is that the hospital can be paid with a card and it doesn’t feel so bad.
Everything is happiness. They are the perfect family.
But when the quarantine ends, Laura goes back to work, so the baby has to be taken to nursery, in addition to the expense of diapers and milk. With Laura’s schedules, it is impossible to pick it up on time; so they have to pay overtime or babysitting.
Eventually Laura realizes that all her pay goes to babysitting and gasoline; that is not business. So he decides to quit to dedicate himself to the house. Now she is with her son all day and is perfectly happy.
But Gerardo begins to suffer, because it turns out that there is a lot of month left at the end of the fortnight. With his only salary, he barely pays for the passes and the cars. It has already been four months behind on the cards.
Now Gerardo has to pay 15,000 for the house and another 10,000 for the monthly payments of the two cars, plus expenses, food, clothing and gasoline / Image: Depositphotos.com
One day the car breaks down; is the transmission. You have to pay 15,000 pesos. Where the hell is he going to get 15,000 pesos from? The cards do not give for more.
Once again he goes to his boss to ask for a raise. But now they give you just a 5% increase. That doesn’t fix much. Also, with the distance from the house, he can barely see Laura or the baby.
Finally the solution! The bank offers you a second mortgage on your new home. With this money he can update the cards, fix the car and take a vacation. That they have it well deserved. You have to rest. That everyone knows …
And that cycle repeats itself a hundred times. Every time there is more money, their standard of living increases. Maybe later Gerardo will be a director or vice president … and will have a better salary. But the truth is that they always live on a tightrope, trying to keep up and have a better car than their colleagues.
Gerardo and Laura sincerely believe that this is normal; which is the best way to live.
The “normal” lie
But let’s ask ourselves two questions about this case:
1. What would happen to Gerardo and Laura if Gerardo loses his job for any reason?
2. What will happen when more expenses come, more children or want to change house?
The truth is that, if Gerardo loses his income, they will be on the street, with a debt of millions on their shoulders; a line of creditors at the door; children in school and tuition without paying.
They will probably end up hating the house in which they have invested so much and to which they are tied for 20 years (by the time they finish paying for it, Gerardo will be 51 years old) … unless the bank takes them away for non-payment.
And it can be even worse.
According to the Bank of America, more than 40% of divorces in the United States have money as their main cause. It is the leading cause of quarrels and separations in marriages.
Unfortunately Gerardo and Laura followed that path because they thought it was normal.
But this word – normal – has two meanings.
“Normal” can mean “common”, which everyone does. In this sense, what Gerardo and Laura did is very, very normal. The estimate indicated at the beginning of the book indicates that more than 70% of Mexicans follow him. Only a few manage to escape this story.
But “normal” can also mean “which is the norm” or the desired or ideal parameter. In this sense, the path of Gerardo the Manager is not normal at all! And yet millions of people follow him day by day.
According to the Bank of America, more than 40% of divorces in the United States are mainly caused by money / Image: Depositphotos.com
They can change the numbers. Maybe we are talking about a starting salary of 10,000, or 50,000. The reality is that what a person “earns” is irrelevant in the long run, unless the five keys to wealth are learned and applied.
1. The rich man pays himself first.
2. The rich man has a plan.
3. The rich man seeks advice.
4. The rich man does not work for money.
5. The rich man is generous.
Many people I know dream of “the raise” or “the new position” that will finally get him out of the poor. But they live deceived, because they live in this system where
INCOME IS THE SAME EXPENSE
Or even worse:
EXPENSE IS GREATER THAN INCOME
This system is called by Robert Kiyosaki in his book The Rat Race . It is a system where all our lives, every day, we seem to be running non-stop, with our tongue sticking out after the next fortnight, the next check, the next customer … but we remain in the same place, like a rat on a wheel hamster.
This is the quintessential middle class system. It is the system in which the big house, the new car and the giant screen are more relevant than reality and tranquility.
This is the system where the neighbor’s garden always looks greener; where we get carried away by social or professional pressure to pretend a lifestyle that we have not earned. We are guided by the “normal” when the normal thing is that the neighbor is also in debt to the brim, running his own “rat race”. In a rat race, nobody wins; everyone ends up exhausted.
This is the system where newlyweds spend the first five years of marriage wanting to match the standard of living they had with their parents, regardless of whether their parents are 30 years older than them. In the process, they mortgage their future and peace of mind.
This is the system where “the things that everyone does” are the rule. Where notions such as “it is always better to owe home than to pay rent”, “I paid my cards with another card”, “debt consolidation”, “I already changed the car again”, “I will buy this for months without interest”, “I took this room in weekly payments ”are perfectly respectable, although financially they are usually absurd decisions, of those who do not know mathematics and operate their finances through their stomach.
And here we are talking about the vast majority of Mexicans.
Are you GERARDO THE MANAGER ? Just a few years ago, I was one myself.
But there is another type of character, perhaps more complex: MARÍA LA LOTERÍA. We will talk about her next week, at the same time and on this same channel.
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