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How to Ruin Your Life In Your 20's (Financial Death Sentences)

How to Ruin Your Life in Your 20's
(or Not Ruin Your Life)

This discussion largely focuses on financial prosperity for guys in their 20's and 30's, but can be applied to any type of success.

Although it's rarely discussed -

Becoming wealthy in your 20's or 30's is as much about not disqualifying yourself in your teens and 20's - as it is about being innovative, smart or so much harder working than everyone else.

Half of the game is not ruining your financial future before you get started.


For most ambitious guys, their teens and early 20's is all about having fun and Getting Laid.

Their late 20's (and into their 30's) is about making money.

I recommend that exact blueprint and although I am admittedly a late bloomer, I've been fortunate enough to accomplish a significant amount of both by my current age of 33.
(some financial stats from several years ago)

I've lived in several different cities (Washington DC, Atlanta GA, Greenville SC, New York City, Gainesville FL, San Diego CA, Los Angeles CA, Boise ID, Naples FL) and I've met hundreds and hundreds of people.

Many of them were ambitious but most literally had no chance at becoming financially successful before their 40th birthday.

We are going to define 'financially successful' as having a Top 1% Net Worth relative to your age -

top-1-percent-net-worthCheck Out "The Top 1% Net Worth Amounts By Age" from Financial Samurai 

If you aren't sure about what your Net Worth is, consider 'financially successful' as having a top 1% pre-tax income in your state.

Top 1 Income Map

I know some other young financially successful people.
(26-35 years old, >1 million dollars net worth)

They have a lot of obvious things in common - work ethic, ownership, basic financial/business IQ (invest > spend), etc.

I also know plenty of young not-so-financially successful people.
(26-35 years old, <$15,000 net worth)

This group has far more in common. 

American Average Net Worth By AgeAmerican Average Net Worth By Age (source: Federal Reverse Statistics)

Every guy I know personally who is in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, is stuck in a job he hates or all 3 - is guilty of 1 or more major fuckups in the list below.

If you can avoid these ABSOLUTELY MAJOR FUCKUPS, you will already be ahead of most guys your age who end their financial future before it ever has a chance.

If you are guilty of one of the major fuckups below, you need to try to forgive yourself and spend nearly every minute of your 'free' time taking deliberate action toward bettering your financial future.

Beating yourself up or living in denial will not solve your problems.

10 Ways to Disqualify Yourself From Becoming Young and Wealthy

Two years ago, over lunch at the Cheesecake Factory with a then 16 year old family-friend, I discussed why most guys can never be young and wealthy. He took notes and posted it in his room.

I will share what I told him.

There are certainly exceptions to these rules, but if you want to be wealthy before your 40's, it's going to take a lot of work and you need to minimize outside problems.

In the discussion below, I toss around several financial benchmarks (e.g. living frugally until you have $150,000 in cash/stable investments, not acquiring over $20,000 of student debt, etc.). These are simply my opinions largely based on a conservative personal preference. These figures are all up for debate and obviously vary from person to person. 

#1 You Have Kids Out of Wedlock
(Or Before You Can Even Support Yourself)

This is how most girls ruin their financial future.

Some lucky women can still find a wealthy male provider if they stay thin, learn to doll themselves up and get fake boobs.

It's going to be worse for you though.

At the very least, if you have illegitimate children - you will likely have to surrender a sizable portion of all your pay checks for the next 2 decades.

Unless you have a significant income, you will never be able to use your money to buy assets/investments or buy the time needed to setup a project that can earn you big money. 

Although there are some 20-something financially successful guys with illegitimate children out there, they are the exception.

I, personally, do not know any unmarried self-made guys in their 20's who are paying child support but are also financially successful.

Not one.

Having illegitimate children at a young age is a financial death sentence for most guys. 

Personally, I don't think people should procreate until they have a stable household income of over $125,000.

paystub child support

#2 You Spend Time In Prison For a Felony

Likewise, I don't personally know anyone that has spent time in jail for a felony that is young and financially successful. 

The reasons should be obvious.

Although there are far too many non-violent offenders in prison in the United States for ridiculous victimless crimes - IT IS WHAT IT IS and you should stay out of trouble.


#3 You Are Addicted to Hardcore Drugs or Alcohol and Do Not Seek Treatment

Although most people who use hardcore drugs or drink recreationally do not become addicts, most people who do become addicted do not seek treatment.

Addicts tend to be delusional about their financial future, often becoming overly optimistic when they are under the influence and overwhelming pessimistic when they are not.

Neither is reality. 

If this is you, all I can tell you is -


I spent a couple years of my life addicted to prescription pain killers and made it through just fine.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule.

Plenty of people who are young and wealthy have substance abuse problems - but almost all wish they could ultimately get clean.

Regardless on your personal view of "drugs", most of us can agree that a habitual dependency to any hardcore substance will be more of a hinderance than a 'performance enhancer'.

This only applies to daily use of illicit hardcore substances or alcohol, there are some legal compounds such as Kratom that have greatly benefitted my personal, social and financial life

You need to get off the hard shit and alcohol if you are going to have the focus and emotional stability to become wealthy at a young age.


#4 You Spend Money That You Don't Have On Crap You Don't Need

This one is the most obvious.

You will see it on every single advice website.

Everyone knows this, but few avoid it.

The government, corporations and media seek to exploit this one the most. Without the credit system and surplus consumption, our economy society would literally fall apart.  

Until you are 'financially successful', I highly suggest that you keep your consumption to a minimum. 

Especially of luxury goods. 

Don't fall into the absurd pitfall of 'pretending you are financially successful' by buying status symbols (expensive cars, jewelry, etc.) to impress people.

Show me a guy in his 20's living the "playboy" lifestyle and I'll show you a guy who is probably in debt or one paycheck from ruin.

Other than a house (and only if you plan to live in the same location for 10+ years), you should not buy anything expensive that you don't need.

Follow a 'Spartan Lifestyle' until you have $150,000 in cash or stable investments. 

If you are in debt - you should have a quantitative plan to repay it and stick to it even if it means that you only eat 2 times a day.

broke v rich

#5 You Acquire Major Debt From Student Loans

This is related to #4.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of guys have no idea what they are getting into when they "invest in their future" via "financial aid".

They have no idea how it can take DECADES to repay $100,000 even when starting from a "good" (semi-entry level) job.

Perhaps once well-intentioned, the current system of making massive debtors of college students is simply a blatant corporate-government trick to create and exploit a young, inexpensive but skilled labor force.  

I don't believe that everyone should forgo college though.

It's right for some, but everyone should forgo higher education that leaves them more than $20,000 in debt or if they aren't 100% SURE that they are going to use their degree for a specific occupation.

Related -

#7 You Get a Job (or Degree) Unrelated to How You Are Actually Going to Make Big Money
(Industry Experience in Your 20's is More Valuable than a Paycheck)

This one is not as obvious.

A lot of ambitious guys work jobs for money in the hopes of [one day] doing something completely unrelated to make their fortune.

Here's an example -

I have a friend who is a financial advisor.

Let's call him "Nate".

Nate makes decent money ($55,000?) relative to most single guys his age in his largely blue-collar medium-size Northeast city. 

Nate really hates his job and ultimately wants to setup his own media company that covers the professional and local collegiate sports teams.

Sounds like a better gig with an unlimited ceiling for earnings.

Nate's plan is to make enough money to quit and then go 'all in' on his dream career.

He gets really pumped up when he talks about it, although it's been over 11 years with this same plan. 

It all makes sense to him.

But reality says otherwise.

He complains that he's doesn't have enough money to quit and go "all in" on his business.

He is further hesitant because he doesn't know the first thing about sports media or how he'd even begin.

His plan (earn a bunch of money then go do something completely unrelated) has always been completely unrealistic. 

I just realized this recently though.

Although he might be making a few more bucks as a financial advisor, he'd be much better off if he got into some type of media/marketing job in his early 20's and learned the industry. 

Even if he was just a cameraman, worked on sets for the local newscast or even simply tried making YouTube videos where he and his friend interviewed random non-superstar athletes - he'd be WAY further ahead than he is now.

He'd have experience, contacts and a lot more confidence.  

The experience you gain in your 20's is what will launch your first financially successful project.

My 20's were all about lifting weights (using steroids), sleeping with random women, male enhancement, Kratom, etc, etc.

I've found a way to tie it all together at Good Looking Loser.

Had I not been in those "industries", this place would absolutely not exist.

I would be a pill-popping personal trainer who sold growth hormone or a below-average lawyer.

I was willing to do it my way though - and that's why I have it my way today.

Whatever your ultimate dream is - you need to be working on the beginning steps of it today.

Even if you don't know what those steps are. 

Unless your 'job for money' is paying you really big bucks that you can save, don't trick yourself in working an unrelated job for money if your ultimate plans lie elsewhere.  

You have no idea how valuable getting REAL EXPERIENCE at a young age is.


#8 You Don't Start Young and You Don't Try

One of the reasons that so few guys are young and wealthy is simply because they simply don't try to be.

Their plans are always meant for the future, under a different set of circumstances.

There will never be a perfect time to start.

But there is always a perfect time to try.

That time is now.

Realistically, your first try or first project probably won't be the one that earns you big money.

It is the EXPERIENCE from your first try that may though.

My first online project was the ghetto looking website - Hair Loss From Steroids.

It earns me about $2500-3500/month in passive income. Nothing huge, but not bad for a website that I literally don't touch.

I gained valuable experience from Hair Loss From Steroids and I used it to create Good Looking Loser.

I'm not one for most cheesy mainstream inspiration quotes, but the logic here is legitimate -

qtation31610 final

#9 You Don't Own Anything
(You Just Have a Decent Job)

You will probably never get rich by working a traditional job where you work for someone else, especially not while you are still young.

There is no budget that you can follow in your 20's that can make you wealthy if your income is not in the Top 1%. 

Even the best salaries for guys in their 20's aren't that high and most will likely have at least some higher education or credit card debts.
(the exceptions are 'wildcard' sales jobs such as real estate, insurance, pharmaceutical/medical devices and some Wall Street jobs)   

It can take well paid doctors, highly-qualified investment bankers and in-demand techies 20+ years to accumulate millions of dollars. Odds are you won't find a better paying job in your 20's.

Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can certainly become wealthy, but that is only after they establish their own practice and pay off all their debts, which usually isn't until their mid to late 30's - at the earliest.

The vast majority of young professionals that are "ballin'" or "making it rain" may have high incomes but generally have a low net worth because of their consumption habits.  

Don't believe the hype.

The real money is in ownership and having the ultimate say of where the profits go. 

Done right, your business (and therefore income) can grow very quickly.

Especially if your business is online, with low expenses, and meets a demand of an international marketplace.  

Many of you guys are planning to start a business one day, so you might as well do it now because chances are - your job won't make you rich anytime in the next 30 years.

Median Salary by Age and Sex 2014

#10 You Don't Actually Want to Be Young and Wealthy
(You Just Think You Do)

Most guys say they want to be young and wealthy.

Virtually ZERO of them actually mean it.

When it comes down to it, very few guys are willing to work 14 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week - with no guarantee of massive success.

The fact of the matter is -

Most people simply are too comfortable to really try to be wealthy, especially at a young age.

They just want to be happy.

That is fine.

But it's time that you start being honest with yourself if you really value money over happiness and how much both are worth. There's not enough hours in the day for large amounts of work and entertainment.

I personally would rather be a multi-millionaire and 'retire' by age 40 than to have a billion dollars by age 70.

The former takes way less work.

Most of you guys need FAR LESS money to really enjoy your life than you think.

At the same time, becoming young and wealthy doesn't happen by accident.

The vast majority of your 'free time' should be spent being productive, not comfortable. 

If you are really going to try and be young and wealthy -

Business comes before pleasure.

Business comes before physical appearance.

Business certainly comes before friends and family.
(related: "33 Ways to Be the Greatest - See #7")

MySweetRetirement NetWorth

Pour Conclure

Most guys disqualify themselves from becoming wealthy in their 20's and 30's by doing one or more of the above.

A major key is to simply not fuck up and keep your expenses to a minimum while you build something.

Half of my success is simply due to not making any 'financial death sentence' decisions in my 20's.

The other half is simply doing things my way.

As you mature and watch people you know fall off, you'll see that a big part of 'success' is simply NOT making stupid decisions. 

If you can avoid certain pitfalls and simply not ruin your life until you've figured some of it out, by default, you will have a far brighter financial future than most.

If you have fucked up, try and move on.

You can absolutely become wealthy but don't put so much pressure on yourself to do it at a young age.

While I'm an expert at 'online business', I'm hardly an expert on personal finance yet.

I want to know what you thought of this discussion, so let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

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