Tim Ferriss on the Power of Personal Entrepreneurship

I write a lot about saving money. Like many of you, I've found frugality an excellent way to widen the gap between what I earn and what I spend. Frugality helped me get out of debt, increase my monthly cash flow, and ultimately begin to build savings. Thrift is a key component to personal finance.

But to be successful, to build wealth, you must also increase your income. You might do this by changing careers, or by obtaining for a promotion, or by asking for a raise. You might invest in real estate. Or you might start your own business.

I recently interviewed Timothy Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek. I've already shared parts of our conversation:

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The pros and cons of gift cards

photo illustration for gift card article

There's always a lot of fuss this time a year about gift cards. Some people love them, and some people hate them. I'm sort of in the middle.

  • On the one hand, I continue to believe that anything a big company wants you to purchase is probably not in your best interest. That is, if a mega-corporation is all fired up to sell gift cards, you can bet they're a profit center, which probably means they're rigged against consumers.
  • On the other hand, gift cards are convenient. They're easy to give, and they're generally easy to use. There are many circumstances in which gift cards make great gifts.

Related >> Discounted Gift Cards: The New Coupon

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How I became a millionaire while working in my pajamas

This article was written by the Millionaire Mommy Next Door. At her blog, MMND shares her recipe for success, happiness, and financial freedom. This piece originally appeared on her site in a slightly different format.

When my husband and I married (at age 23), I was working as an office assistant at a veterinary hospital earning $7.50 per hour. Unsatisfied with my low wages, I brainstormed ways to generate extra income.

Going to the Dogs

I had worked as a volunteer dog-trainer for the Humane Society since age 14, so I combined my experience and youthful exuberance into a part-time side business. I offered dog-training classes and taught them in the veterinary hospital's backyard. It was a win-win situation: my employers had a new service to offer their clients, and I was self-employed, with very low operating expenses.

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How to earn extra income through private tutoring

Are you looking for a way to earn some extra money? Did you do well in school, or on standardized tests? Offering tutoring services may be a good bet for you.

I've been a private tutor for the better part of seven years now. It kept me in spending money as a part-time job in college, and it has turned into a full-time gig for me over the last few years. The best part about it, though, is that it's an easy concern to keep going whether you have three or thirty hours a week to devote to it.

What to Tutor

I've taught everything from high school writing to college calculus to professional certification exams for public school teachers. That's just the tip of the iceberg: there's a market for tutors for every standardized test in existence, and probably every academic subject at every level, too. Heck, much of this article probably applies to things like music lessons, as well.

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The Incredible Secret Money Machine

In 1978, Don Lancaster — a computer and electronics geek — published a book called The Incredible Secret Money Machine. Though the title smacks of get-rich-quick schemes, The Incredible Secret Money Machine is really about starting and running a small business.

To Lancaster, a "money machine" is any venture that generates "nickels". Nickels are small streams of revenue from individual customers. If your goal is simply to earn a comfortable income for yourself by doing something you love, then this book can help you explore the idea of business ownership. It's not going to help you launch the next Google or Microsoft, though. Lancaster is all about nickels, not about dollars.

Getting Started

Lancaster says that in order to build a money machine, you must adhere to four basic beliefs. (Note that I've left his very-1970s language as-is.)

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Quitting the day job: Finding the guts to pursue your dreams

Something amazing has happened in the past eighteen months. While I've been learning about personal finance — and sharing my knowledge with you — Get Rich Slowly has grown from a small site with a couple hundred readers into a real-life business. GRS currently has 35,000 subscribers and generates $5,000 in monthly revenue. It also takes most of my time. This is a blessing and a curse.

The Blessing

As my income from this site has grown, I've been able to achieve my financial goals more quickly. In two weeks, I'll be debt-free except for the mortgage. I have an emergency fund. I'm maxing out my Roth IRA every year. Get Rich Slowly has also put me in touch with a lot of great people: readers, colleagues, and media contacts. Most of all, I've learned tons about personal finance. I'm still a novice when it comes to investing and retirement planning, but I'm a novice who knows how to find the information he needs, and who is willing to share it with others.

The Curse

As wonderful as this site has been to me, it's not without its drawbacks. Chief among these is that it takes time. Kris and I used to do more things together. I used to have spare time to read books and to play games and to hang out with my friends. Though I still do these things whenever possible, more of my time is devoted to providing quality content. Writing Get Rich Slowly is literally like having a second full-time job.

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How to list an eBay auction for maximum profit

Over the past eight years I have been buying and selling items on eBay for myself and, more recently, for small businesses. In that time I've learned a few tricks to help get maximum profit for items with just a few tweaks during the listing process. Here's a checklist to use when listing your items:

  • List the item on Sunday
  • Know the item you're listing
  • Research what similar items have sold for
  • Be honest with your description
  • Be realistic with what you expect to get for it
  • Avoid most eBay add-ons
  • Get a good starting bid, avoid reserves, use Buy It Now
  • List the item for maximum visibility
  • Be as descriptive as possible
  • Use quality photographs
  • Explain any flaws
  • Spell check
  • Explain shipping & handling fees up front
  • Create a disclaimer
  • Reply to all questions in a timely manner
  • Ship fast
  • Use PayPal
  • Promote your auction

List the Item on Sunday

Listing a standard seven day auction late Sunday afternoon into early evening will give you the best chance of a great auction selling price. More people are likely to be home and you will get the exposure of the remaining part of that day and the entire following Saturday. If you live on the east coast of the United States, list it somewhere between 6 and 9pm. This will give people on the west coast ample time to see it. Ideally, you want as many people to see it in the last few hours as possible, which is when most people make the decision to buy.

Know the Item You're Listing

Sounds silly, but many people don't know exactly what it is they are selling. Say for example you are selling a toy you bought for your toddler but they hate it. You threw out the box when you gave it to him, so you lost a lot of the information about it, what age group it was for, etc. Without that information, you cannot make a solid, descriptive auction. The information should be available on the manufactor website, so search for that. Likewise, if you are selling something like a handmade wood bowl that your grandfather gave you, list that it is a handmade item and that it is one of a kind (if it truly is).

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Garage sale checklist: How to have a successful yard sale

Have you ever hosted a yard sale with dismal sales? You made a dollar per hour for your efforts. No fun.

Last weekend, I hosted a garage sale with my brother, my ex-wife, and my girlfriend. It was a raging success. We cleared out tons of stuff, and we netted over $2500 in the process.

I've hosted many yard sales over the years (and shopped at dozens more) and have developed some strong opinions about what works best. I've heard people complain that garage sales aren't worth the time. But they can be quite profitable if you do a few simple things.

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More money: 5 ways to earn extra cash in your spare time

The discussion yesterday about how to earn money when you've lost your job got me thinking about ways to earn extra income outside regular employment. None of these are quick fixes, but they're ways to generate cash in your spare time.

Get a Second Job


A second job can be an excellent way to earn extra money if you have the time and energy. Why have a second job?

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Book review: Acres of Diamonds

One recurring theme of personal finance books is that it's easier to accumulate wealth by working for yourself than by working for others. Many have heard this maxim, but few have heeded it. Some want to, but don't know how to begin.

A century ago, Russell Conwell was famous for his traveling lecture in which he encouraged listeners to find the "acres of diamonds" in their own backyards. Conwell was born in Massachusetts in 1843. During the Civil War, he served as a captain in the Union army. He studied law, but ultimately became a Baptist minister and a popular public speaker. "Acres of Diamonds" was his most famous talk. (He delivered this lecture over 6000 times!) Conwell also founded Temple University.

Conwell was one of the original motivational speakers.

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