Elon Musk: Expert reveals ‘driving force’ for entrepreneurs
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In 2013, Mr Smith was on honeymoon in America when an allergic reaction and medical issues almost killed him, during his three week hospital stay, which amassed even more debt, Mr Smith reflected on just how he had been living, and what little happiness his money was getting him. In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, The Millennial Money Masterplan author shared some insights, tips and tricks to not only help people get rid of their debt and find financial freedom, but also how to get happiness out of their money.
Once he had recovered, Mr Smith finally took the leap of faith that would see him found a multimillion-pound business: quitting his job, co-founding Buckingham Gate and confronting himself on the bad money decisions he had made. He prioritised paying off his debts, saving money and investing to help improve his own financial wellness.
Mr Smith saw so much success in his six step plan that he went on to pen The Millennial Money Masterplan which details the steps he took to escape debt and make millions.
Mr Smith commented on his near-death experience, noting that it was a definite turning point in his life. During his honeymoon in September 2013 in Vegas, Mr Smith had an allergic reaction to a nut, and what should’ve been a life-saving epinephrin injection caused a horrendous reaction in the form of pancreatitis.
“I spent three weeks in a hospital bed not really sure if I was going to make it. It makes you reflect on a lot of things. I had been in banking and finance almost since I left college. When you go through an experience like that you realise how unimportant all this money stuff is.”
He elaborated this claim a bit further: “It is important but it’s a means to an end, it only has value if we use it to do valuable things in our lives.”
Mr Smith cleared his debt, saw his business reach £2million and saved £500K in less than 10 years (Image: Matthew Smith)
“Ever since I can remember I wanted to have my own business, up until that point I had been a bit scared of not having the secure salary and all of the other trappings of normal employment. It’s always scary, but I thought to myself ‘what am I waiting for and what do I have to lose?’”
Mr Smith joined forces with Buckingham Gate co-founder Cabell De Marcellus, who specialised in financial marketing, and tore into the entrepreneurial field. “We started with a blank sheet of paper. Unlike some financial businesses that start with client accounts from elsewhere. We’ve now built the business to the point where we are 15 people strong and it’s an incredibly exciting time.”
However, with big business and big money there is the learning curve of understanding how to manage it. Mr Smith added that this is the reason why many who fall into money instead of earning it often don’t know what to do with it: “It’s amazing how many people inherit or win significant wealth end up blowing it very quickly. They often do end up back where they started in a short amount of time. If you get accustomed to a lifestyle that’s beyond your means, it’s very easy to do and it’s very addictive.”
And this is exactly how debt often begins. Mr Smith shared the very first step in his six-step method to being debt-free: “Step one in that is tell the truth.
“You wouldn’t necessarily describe debt as an addiction, I think in many ways it is similar. The first step in any sort of addiction recovery program is to admit you have a problem. In a financial sense, that means being clear with yourself about what debt you have.”
He added that it is not just those with small earnings that fall victim to this: “Some of the clients we deal with we have multiple six-figure salaries, they often don’t have any clue how much debt they’ve got or where they spend it. They have a lot of money but no idea where it goes.
“It’s important for people to get clear and honest. Write it all down, my mum used to keep a monthly ledger in a lined notebook, it’s just a way to be really clear about where you are today and where you want to be.”
Once one has decided those two priorities, they can continue to plan how they will get there. According to Mr Smith this begins with two things: earning more and spending less.
“There’s so many things you can do to reduce expenditure and earn more money and I think in some ways the latter is more exciting. We all have a level of expenditure we need to survive, whereas your earnings are unlimited depending on your mindset.”
In his book Mr Smith details his journey and how anyone can achieve financial freedom in 10 years (Image: Matthew Smith)
Mr Smith had first-hand experience with this when Buckingham Gate was still finding its feet: “I was doing online user testing, which is when companies that have new websites pay people to test the website and you describe what you’re doing, seeing and drawn to. They’ll pay up to £20 for a 20-minute session.
“There’s families that are just about making ends meet and I think to myself if they did one of these user tests each day that £10 a day, that would make a difference to them but they just don’t know about it. There’s people that will pay for almost anything nowadays. There’s people out there that will pay £10/£20 to transcribe meeting notes, so it doesn’t require huge volumes of skills.”
Mr Smith also shared some of his top tips for those looking to get financial freedom, not just on what to do but how to change their mindsets: “Begin making progress, it doesn’t have to be significant but when human beings see themselves making progress they want to make more progress. If you’re saving very little or nothing at all, just try to get to a one percent savings rate. So. if you’re earning £1,000 just save £10. Then the following month make it 1.5 percent and so on. It will only take you a few years to get you to where you want to be.
“A lot of people have this idea that they’re going to save what’s left at the end of the month but at the end of the month there’s not much left. Pay yourself first, make savings your first priority and have it direct debit the same day that your bills come out and treat it like it’s part of your household bills.
“There was a study in America that shows that if you give people a smaller dinner plate they will eat less,” Mr Smith commented.
The experiment he noted saw an all-you-can-eat buffet handing off smaller plates to some of its diners. It was then noted by the end of the night that those eating off smaller plates at less despite paying the same and having the same opportunity to eat more as those with larger plates.
“If you have all of your money in your bank account at the beginning of the month, you have it all on a big plate and you’re going to eat it all. Whereas if you restrict yourself, put some money away immediately and give yourself a smaller plate you’ll make do with what you’ve got. Human beings are exceptionally adaptable and we are fantastic in making our circumstance suit our means and vica versa. In a way you have to artificially reduce your means.”
“Make the most of the opportunities that are staring you in the face. It’s amazing the amount of people that opt out of their company pension scheme. That’s because of their perception that they can’t afford something or it’s a bad idea, in most cases that is just a perception,” he concluded.