Beauty & the Bank:

A Personal Finance Blog




Audra Von Minden – Chief Blogger and Lifetime Saver

I grew up with a wealth manager for a father. He wasn’t doing that professionally when I was a child- he didn’t enter the profession until I was 12- but he was always brilliant at managing money. He taught me about interest as a child by taking “loans” from my piggy bank and paying back principle and interest, about saving for retirement as a teen, and about budgeting to ensure that my financial needs were met and to achieve long-term savings goals in my early 20s. For a long time, I thought that everyone knew what I knew about saving, investing, and financial health. It’s funny how we tend to see everything through our own lens of experience.

As time wore on, I discovered that most people, by and large, simply do not have the knowledge about money management that I grew up with, and, moreover, the attitude that “wealth is for other people” is widespread. My dad never indicated to me that I needed to “get lucky” to get rich, by winning the lottery, receiving an inheritance, or masterminding some incredible new invention to become an instant millionaire. I’ve always understood that accumulating wealth is a life-long process, and it is only dependent on individual choices. Income doesn’t matter, nor does family background or even intellect. Anyone can become wealthy, the same way we become successful at anything- making sound choices, one at a time, for a long time. Higher income and windfalls can shorten that timeframe, but at the end of the day, wealth is attainable for everyone.

I have had some lucky breaks, as most of us do. My parents started saving for my college education when I was a baby (when they were living on a shoestring, by the way- less than $50K/year in today’s dollars for a family of four), so I didn’t have to incur any debt going to college. I chose a career path that was higher-earning than some others because I wanted to not only do something I enjoyed, but also something that would allow me to earn a better living over time. I had some really hard times early in my career- I entered the homebuilding industry immediately before the housing bubble bust, and was laid off twice in less than three years due to a declining economy and job market. Shortly thereafter, I had a major conflict with a company I subcontracted for early in my self-employment days that left me without income and having to pay legal fees for an attorney for months on end. I had to learn to live on nothing, because that was literally what I had. My path has not been linear- it has been more like a wavy line with a few steep peaks and many deep valleys. But through all of this, I kept my eye on the ball and continued to try to make smart money choices, one after another, whether things were great or they were terrible. Every situation is temporary, whether you want it to be or not.

I set lofty goals when I was young, and I am still working toward them just as hard now as I was 15 years ago when I set them. I’ve wanted to help others with money for a long time- I wrote the book “How to Be The Rich Friend” more than 10 years ago when I was only 26, but was afraid to publish it because I hadn’t actually reached the goals I wrote about in the book. I thought I knew how to do it, but since I myself was still “doing” it, I didn’t feel like I had much business telling other people what to do- what if I was wrong?? In retrospect, I should have gone for it then, because it worked. I did what I said to in my book, and it turned out exactly the way I predicted it would. But what I’ve learned between then and now is that no one really needs anyone to tell them what to do. Financial gurus have been doing that for years- how to make money is really no secret, nor is how to keep it. The problem isn’t so much that people don’t know what to do or how to do it, but they have difficulty changing their attitudes, or relationships, with money and wealth.

A lot of people I know are at least somewhat aware of how to budget, make sound financial decisions, avoid debt, and save. But the persistent attitude I see is people not actually seeing themselves in the equation for financial prosperity. “I make enough and I get by just fine,” or “I don’t NEED to be rich,” or, most often, “wealth just isn’t really in the cards for me. That’s for other people.” These attitudes are what are really doing the most damage. And I realized no one really needs me to explain how money works- that information is abundant. The SECRET that it seems so few are in on is that this formula works for everyone, every time, across every background, race, socioeconomic status- for YOU. YOU can be wealthy. YOU can be FREE. And I’m going to tell you how.

Americans are largely saddled with debt, and in many ways enslaved to their jobs in order to afford the lifestyles that continue to grow. My goal has always been to get to the point where I don’t need my job, or anything or anyone else, to support me or my lifestyle. I am not there, and I won’t be for a while, but I’m getting closer, and you can too. The purpose of being “rich” isn’t about social status or driving Bentleys or living in castles (although it can be that too, I suppose, if it appeals to you). The purpose is much more about attaining freedom- freedom to make your own choices, freedom to work when and how you want, and freedom from having to pay for things that you had or used long ago.

The missing link in a lot of money advice is what to do with the saved money. I will help you find money to save in your budget by making smart purchasing decisions, lowering your cable bill, eating out less, you name it. But, if you spend that money somewhere else, it doesn’t really help you. The trick to accumulating money is USING found money for savings, and INVESTING saved money for profit. Through the magic of compound interest, you can have your money working hard to make you more money. By living on less than you make (eventually much less), your wealth will expand while your financial needs to support your lifestyle contract. Throughout all of the topics I discuss, I will include simple strategies to make found money MORE money. This is information you can literally take right to the bank. Welcome .