Over our last discussions, we have covered knowing your big why, forming big goals, following big models and developing big habits.

When focusing on how a millionaire investor thinks, how we use the money we have is vital. From the book “Millionaire Real Estate Investor” by Gary Keller and Dave Jenks, we know there are two types of wealth-shadow wealth and financial wealth.

Shadow wealth is based on what some Texans call having a “big hat but no cattle,” having cash for spending purposes. You may look wealthy based on display-your clothes, cars, home, etc.-but can only keep this up by working, and living paycheck to paycheck.

Financial wealth, on the other hand, is built on capital and cashflow. When money comes in, the first thing you do is put some in the Bank of You-using that money to own capital assets, that pay you whether you work a job or not. These two types of wealth determine whether you are working for money or your money is working for you. Which type of wealth do you have?

Winning isn’t everything, but the effort to win is.

A key component to winning the financial freedom game is becoming aware of how you see money. Do you see it as a tool you can use to plant seeds that will blossom one day, or as a tool you can use to consume, consume, consume? With the holidays arriving, consumption is the name of the game. I just found out that Cyber Monday drove more than a billion dollars in spending.

What you do with your money, as it comes in, either makes you a consumer or investor. When you get paid, do you immediately spend all of the money on bills and other things, sometimes having something left and sometimes not? Or do you put some money away for an emergency (savings), in the bank of you (investments), and in a cause you believe in (tithing), using what’s left to pay the bills? As difficult as it may seem sometimes, this is the ideal scenario. These are the money habits of the investor. Is your money supporting your goals (of financial freedom and grand retirement), or just paying the bills to help someone else besides you become wealthy and financially free?

As I write this article, I remember the story of Robert Kiyosaki, author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” There was a time in his life where he and his wife had been down and out financially. They sought the help of a bookkeeper to account for their money as they were building everything back up. Robert would make sure that every time they received income, no matter how small, they would put some aside for investing, whether all the bills were paid or not.

This drove their bookkeeper hysterical. After all, we’re supposed to pay our bills first, right?

Well, think about this: If all you do in life is work for money to pay bills, with nothing left over at the end of each month, what will you be doing for the rest of your life, I ask? Working for money to pay bills. There is human capital-the talents, skills and experience we use everyday working the job that makes us money. And then there are capital assets, the investments that make us money, without us having to work a job. Wealth happens when the capital assets replace our human capital to cover our basic needs and wants, and more. This is what Kiyosaki and his wife knew.

See, you have to put some of your income in the bank of you for capital assets-in the form of stocks, businesses, real estate, etc.-no matter how big or small. Then one day those assets will work for you, to pay your bills without you having to work. I know I was never taught about this in school (or at home for that matter), but this is the real meaning of wealth building, which leads to a retirement that you deserve.

So, put some money in the bank of you every paycheck, and plant your money to grow financial wealth instead of shadow wealth. You deserve to live a wealthy life and to leave a legacy of prosperity. After all, you do want to have your money working for you over time, don’t you? To your financial freedom.

Nannette Atuahene-Barrie is a real estate consultant, educator and investor, who specializes in helping you become financially free when you buy a home, sell a home or invest in real estate through good money management principles and practices. She holds financial literacy workshops regularly in the Palmdale. Contact her at, NannetteBarrie.com.