It was the fall of 2014; I was a sophomore in college at the University of Montevallo. I was a Mass Communication major but my sister had talked me into minoring in Business, because really what could it hurt? If anything, it would force me to take classes that would help me become financially responsible, and if my major failed me there was always the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur. Okay, really I just took the classes so it would look good to add “Business Minor” on my resume, or well I told myself it would look good on my resume.
After graduating and looking back, I am extremely grateful I ended up in at least one of those classes. Which, I came to find out I really didn’t even need for a business minor, but I took it anyway. General Business with Harry Hamilton. BEST. CLASS. EVER. If you are a current Montevallo student, unfortunately, you can’t take this class. Dr. Hamilton retired in 2017.
Fortunately, I have had access to an amazing education throughout my life. I remember a lot of my teachers and professors, but even more so there are specific lessons that I have carried throughout life.
But, getting back to the point, here I am the first week of classes as a sophomore in college. I am sitting in Dr. Hamilton’s class and he walks in and the first thing he tells us is, “I am going to teach you how to be a millionaire by the end of this semester.” Of course, my ears perk up, because who doesn’t want to be a millionaire?
I will readily admit I paid more attention in that class than any of my other business classes, because of course I wanted to know the secret to being rich.
The last day before the final exam Dr. Hamilton told us the secret, “Marry for money, the love will come”. I remember the class sitting there completely dumbfounded and very unsure if he was being serious or joking.
He was joking. If you know Dr. Hamilton, you have probably heard this advice before, and you know his personality and this shouldn’t shock you. After laughing and carrying on for a little while explaining why this was the best advice we would ever receive he decided to tell us the REAL way to become a millionaire.
Brace yourselves; this may come as a shock. Dr. Hamilton told us the easiest way to become a millionaire was to start a savings account and start saving money immediately.
Again, the class sat there silently, dumbfounded and very unsure if he was still joking with us. He wasn’t. He pulled up websites and charts and explained the concept of compound interest to a room of about twenty-five students, who ranged in age from 19 to 28.
We learned how compound interest, which is interest calculated on the initial principal and also on the accumulated interest of previous periods of a deposit or loan, helps your money grow faster. Meaning, the sooner you start that savings account, the sooner the compound interest kicks in and the faster you become a millionaire.
I like to think about it as a house. Starting a savings account and your contribution, whether it is yearly, monthly, daily, whatever works best for your situation, is the foundation. The compound interest is then like the bricks that build the house. So just as you build a house brick on brick on brick, the interest builds interest on interest on interest.
I remember one of the guys who sat in the back and never spoke, said “It can’t be that easy?” After the class got over the initial shock of hearing this kid speak and Dr. Hamilton jokingly remarking about his ability to speak and participating in the lesson, Dr. Hamilton explained how it is easy, but also difficult.
It really is that easy to become a millionaire, but it requires discipline and patience, and that is the hard part. You see, that compound interest doesn’t accumulate overnight. It takes years. Several years.
It is probably the hardest thing to sit back and watch as others around you purchase new homes, cars, and other fun toys. But, is it really worth it when you are stressed out each month trying to pay for all of those new, fun things while also trying to pay the necessary bills?
Plus, I have found the shine and sparkle tend to wear off pretty quick on those new toys, but the price tag doesn’t. Being disciplined enough to save, when there are endless amounts of temptation around you telling you to spend, is not an easy obstacle to overcome.
According to this study, done by some people that are a lot smarter than I am, it takes about 66 days to form a habit. If you can discipline yourself to save a little every day for 66 days, next thing you know it will be a piece of cake to save a little from every paycheck! Even Aristotle said it, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
If I have heard this once, I have heard it a million times. Patience is a virtue. It is so extremely hard though.
We live in a society where we do not have to be patient. We have the world at our fingertips. We have all of the answers at the click of a button. It is not easy being patient but I have learned valuable lessons in learning patience.
Patience helps foster humility, gratitude and happiness. I have learned so much more and taken more pride in the things I have had to be patient and work hard for, rather than those that came so easily.
Saving is hard. Money management is hard. Being financially responsible is hard. If we’re being honest life is hard.
Going back to those life lessons I learned from teachers and educators, probably one of the most influential lessons I ever learned, besides marrying for money of course, is nothing in life worth having ever came easy.
So, if you have made it this far in this post, you’ve learned a little about my life and I hope you learned a little from Dr. Hamilton. Lucky for you, you didn’t have to pay for the class.
Marry for Money. Just kidding.
Start saving ASAP.
Compound interest is your best friend.
Be disciplined. Be patient.
Life is hard, but it’s worth it.