In any war games, be it Starcraft or Red Alert or even Civilization, the general strategy for a win is to gather as much resources as we can in the shortest possible time, produce enough war machines and attack before the enemy do so. The speed at which you gather resources, the rate of your production and of course the strategy you use all play an important role. Mess up one, and you will have a hard time. Today, I will use the classic Command & Conquer Red Alert to illustrate how our journey towards financial freedom is a battle, and how we can navigate and score a win. The illustration will be kept simple so that non-gamers will have an easier time.
Note: Obviously the shortest path to wealth is always to do illegal, immoral or risky things. Every easy way to get rich quick is written into the law: do not rob, do not steal, do not blackmail, do not cheat, no drugs, no insider trading, no copyright infringement, no slave trading, no spying, no treason allowed etc. But we are not going to go down that road. Many of us are just the average commoners with no intent to go into a prison cell or get ourselves executed. We are aiming for financial freedom, not to be disgustingly rich. The road to financial freedom itself already has a price tag too high for many to pay.
In Red Alert, one of the very first things we do is to set up an ore refinery, with which we can gather ores. These ores are resources which we can convert into cash, with which we make our purchases on either infrastructure or war machines. Similarly, when we start out, the very first thing we need to do is to get down to work. Work a full time job, work another part time job, do an additional side business if you can.
There is no need to think about investments and trading for now. That will come later. For the start, work. Because working is the fastest way to get money. Even your business should not be a full-time venture but a part-time sideline at the start, because it does not generate income quickly at an early stage. Your sideline can be a tutor or any freelancing jobs depending on your skills. Your priority now is to gather as much resources as you can, which consists of primarily money, secondarily network and experience.
Time management is important at this stage because you need to work effectively and efficiently to get things done, at the same time take care of your health and spend time with your family. We will not want to neglect the important things in life, without which everything else would be meaningless.
Building Your War Machines
Once the gathering of resources is in place, the next step will be to get prepared to launch an offensive. Just as we need to conquer enemy territories in the games, we need to secure our own territories in terms of finances. What are these territories? They are the hens which lay golden eggs for us, be it a passive rental income or a scalable mature business. Of course, before we do that we need to save up as much of the money we have earned as possible.
In the game, we send out scouts to explore unknown patches of territory and station them at various locations firstly to know what is there and secondly to alert us of any potential danger. Likewise, it is very important for us to know politics, economics and current affairs. Many people wrongly thought all these has nothing to do with their daily lives, but these are the scouts that allows us to discover opportunities and react to dangers in advance. Invest some time everyday, even if it is 30 minutes, to read up on current affairs and to expand on general knowledge.
Your war machines are these resources you have at your disposal – liquid cash, experience, knowledge, network, skills etc. With these, you set out to conquer territories. This is where your productivity and time management comes in. In the games, we need to quickly react to ensure all factories are constantly producing the machines and not idling by. Similarly, we need to ensure our time are spent meaningfully. One needs time to relax, to sleep, to enjoy life. But one also needs to use the time to constantly gather more resources. This does not mean there should not be idle time, but that there should be minimal pockets of time where you simply do not know what to do and waste it. How to plan the time and use it effectively is a skill one has to master.
Identify Your Target
We attack small bases with smaller forces, and with bigger bases we need to muster a bigger army or produce a constant stream of troops who will never-endingly harass the enemy base. As mentioned earlier, the enemy bases we intend to capture with our existing resources are money producing assets. What are money producing assets? Properties, stocks, businesses and any other things that can generate decent income on a long term basis, whether it is active or passive income.
But not all assets are made equal, and we should take care not to carelessly move our resource into an asset which is too big for us to take down. For example, if we have only $400,000 now, perhaps it is better to buy a $800,000 property and rent it out and not aim for a $1.5 million property in a better location even if there is more potential for capital appreciation. True, the $1.5 million property is very tempting, but just like in the games, we target bases which we can take down easily, after which we ‘digest’ it and truly turn it into our assets before moving on to the next. If we carelessly attack a big base with our small army, we will be killed off without mercy.
Similarly, not all are made to play the financial markets, such as the stock, forex, crypto, options, commodities market etc. There are risks in these financial instruments and not many can control their emotion well. You do not need to capture every single financial territory and it is impossible for us to do so anyway. Identify a money-earning area which is suitable for you, then work towards it slowly and carefully.
Self-preservation is priority. Only when you survive can you think about winning.
Once you have identified a territory to go into, be it the property market or the stock market, a business venture or any other money generating activities, we need to strategise. Doing homework, deciding when to go in, how much to go in, how long will the process be, the risks and the rewards are just some of the things we need to work out. We do not blindly go in and leave everything to luck. As to this portion, this blog have covered various aspects in detail, so I will not bore my readers by repeating everything.
This part talks about the general outline on what we need to do. Everyone’s situation is different and so in the next article I will go through the steps we can do for firstly the singles, secondly the married without kids and thirdly the married with kids. I will not be able to cover everyone’s situation but only the general categories. If you do not really fit into any one of them, perhaps you can pick the closest one to you and adapt it accordingly or just mix and match ideas from the different groups.
The objective towards financial freedom is a war by itself. A war with the existing system designed to trap and enslave you till the day you die. If you want to achieve financial freedom, go in prepared. Go in ready for sacrifice. Go in ready for failure and unfairness. And lastly, go in knowing you will win in the end.