Set For Life: Dominate Life, Money, and The American Dream provides a plan for your money in a no-nonsense way. In a very straightforward writing style, Scott Trench outlines a path for the Average Joe’s of the world to build financial freedom.
Throughout the book, Trench encourages you to rise above the mindset of Average Joe and take action on the ideas presented. Without action, Trench argues that the ideas presented in the book will not have a large impact on your life. However, if you take these ideas to heart, then you could completely transform the trajectory of your life.
- Learn the three phases of financial freedom
- Discover the secrets to creating an efficient lifestyle
- Create your strategy to replace your wages with passive income streams
What’s Set For Life: Dominate Life, Money, And The American Dream All About?
The goal of the book is to put you on a path to financial freedom in three phases. Set For Life is, thereby, broken into three parts, with each part focusing on one particular phase of wealth generation.
- Part 1: The First $25,000 Is The Hardest
- Part 2: From $25,000 to $100,000 Through Housing And Income Generation
- Part 3: Moving from $100,000 to Financial Freedom
Each phase represents a natural stepping stone on your path to financial freedom. The phases outline clear objectives for you to take your finances from average to exceptional. Within the phases, Trench shares a variety of strategies that you can take to achieve the stated goal.
Throughout the book, you’ll hear some of the hard truths that you’ll need to overcome on your path to financial freedom. As you are reading the book, you will not be placed under the illusion that building financial freedom will be easy.
In fact, you’ll learn that it will require sacrifices and hard choices along the way. But Set For Life champions the idea that sacrifices now are worth the benefits of financial freedom later. Let’s take a closer look at what each chapter covers.
In Part 1: The First $25,000 Is The Hardest, Trench kicks off the book by talking about the importance of frugality. He recognizes that building the first $25,000 in savings is the most difficult part of the journey for most people on the path to financial freedom. Throughout this section, you’ll learn how to trim your expenses to maximize your savings.
Building The First $25,000 Through Frugality
Although living a frugal life can seem like a sacrifice, it opens up opportunities for you along the way. Trench shares some reasons for how frugality could open doors for you.
Plus, he highlights the fact that the US tax system rewards the saver over the earner. The value of a dollar saved is higher than the value of a dollar earned after you factor in taxes.
The goal of the chapter is to impress the importance of saving a year’s worth of expenses. With that money easily accessible, you’ll have more flexibility to start working towards financial freedom.
How To Live An Efficient Lifestyle
After learning more about the importance of frugality, Trench dive into different tactics of creating an efficient lifestyle by cutting back on big expenses.
The numbers in the chapter are based on the spending patterns of Average Joe. You’ll learn ways to cut down your costing including housing, transportation, food, entertainment, insurance, apparel, and more. The focus of the chapter is cutting back on your large fixed expenses, not on the smaller line items. You’ll be able to dramatically cut your overall budget by focusing on the larger items in your budget.
What To Do With Money As You Save It
As you start to accumulate some savings, you’ll want to deploy that newfound wealth in the best way possible. The top priority of your new savings should be paying down bad debt. Trench delineates the differences between good debt and bad debt. Plus, he gives effective strategies for tackling your bad debt.
As you eliminate debt from your balance sheet, you’ll also learn more about your credit score and how it can impact your life. Trench advocates for a focused effort on improving your credit score now so that you can gain access to more credit opportunities in the future.
Turning Your Largest Expense Into An Income Producing Asset
In Part 2: From $25,000 To $100,000 Through Housing And Income Generation, the book advocates for making bold financial moves. After building a safety net, you are in a better position to move quickly towards your goal of financial freedom. Trench shares some of the biggest ways to change your financial future for the better.
You’ll receive an introduction to the idea of house hacking as a way to eliminate your housing expenses. Since the Average Joe spends the majority of his income on housing expenses, this move has the potential to completely transform your financial trajectory.
You’ll find detailed case studies of renters, house hackers, and traditional homeowners. The case studies highlight the numbers behind the decision to house hack. You might be surprised how impactful this single decision can be.
The Financial Impact Of Housing Decisions
After learning about the concept of house hacking, you’ll dive even deeper into the numbers. This chapter walks through each of your options when it comes to choosing a place to live. As you read, you’ll find it impossible to ignore the benefits of house hacking. Set For Life includes many hypothetical stores that allow you to think about the possibility of house hacking in real terms.
How To Make More Money
Unlike many other personal finance books, Set For Life does not advocate exclusively for side hustling to make more money. In fact, Trench shares a pie chart of the time available in the day for Average Joe with the conclusion that there may not be enough hours in the day for a profitable side hustle on top of your day job.
Instead of focusing on a side hustle, Trench recommends finding a career with higher income possibilities. Look for options that will allow you to build your income, even if you aren’t particularly passionate about the job. Since you’ve already built some financial runway in the first part of this book, you might be in a good position to shift careers.
Finding A Scalable Career
Finding a lucrative career path is only one part of the equation. The second half is that you need to place yourself in a high achieving environment and push yourself to success. Trench recommends continuing your education, eliminating trivial decisions from your like, and putting yourself in a position to get lucky.
An Exploration Of Financial Freedom
In Part 3: Moving From $100,000 To Financial Freedom, you’ll learn more about creating passive income streams with the goal of replacing your wages. Trench outlines the different levels of financial freedom from being cash flow negative to completely financially free. These milestones can act as achievable goals throughout your journey.
In addition to learning about the milestones, you’ll learn about the practicalities of reaching financial independence through your net worth. Set For Life shares what you should and should not include as an asset on your journey to financial independence. With a simple math equation, you can set your sights on the goal of financial independence.
An Introduction To Investing For Early Financial Freedom
Now that you are excited about the prospect of reaching financial freedom, you’ll learn about how to invest effectively along the way. With the seven core tenets of investing outlined in the book, you’ll be prepared to start building your investment portfolio with the goal of early financial freedom in mind.
Investing In The Stock Market
With a basic understanding of investing under your belt, it’s time to learn about stock market investing. Trench advocates for investing in low-cost index funds on the path to early financial freedom. The goal is to create a low maintenance portfolio that can grow with little effort on your part.
Real Estate Investing
As an alternative to the stock market, you can dive into real estate investing as a way to build your passive income streams. Set For Life shares several compelling reasons to invest in real estate. Plus, you'll learn some of the nuts and bolts of building a profitable real estate portfolio.
Tracking Your Progress
Tracking your progress is a key component of a successful journey to financial freedom. The four metrics that you might consider tracking include your net worth, spending, income, and time.
This chapter offers several practical tips for tracking each of these metrics. Plus, you'll find some hypothetical case studies that offer food for thought. Start tracking your own financial progress with these money management apps.
Habits And Their Impact On Financial Freedom
In this final chapter, Trench shares ten habits that can easily delay your path to financial freedom. Some of these habits seem fairly straightforward to eliminate on your path to financial freedom. Others may seem like a bit of a stretch. You’ll need to make your own decision about which of these habits are necessary to eliminate from your life.
About Scott Trench
Scott Trench is the CEO and President of BiggerPockets. He has used many of the strategies outlined in the book to build his own real estate portfolio. Currently, he is an active investor in the Denver market and manages a real estate portfolio of around $1.5 million. He released Set For Life in 2017 to help others follow his successful path.
Who Should Read Set For Life: Dominate Life, Money, and The American Dream?
If you want an action plan to achieve financial freedom, then Set For Life: Dominate Life, Money, and the American Dream is a good option. The book assumes that you are starting from a baseline of little to no net worth. If you follow the steps in the book, you’ll be on the path to building significant wealth.
If you already have a strong understanding of personal finance concepts, you may not need to read the first part of the book. However, parts two and three still offer useful advice for anyone looking to achieve financial freedom at an early age.
Overall, Set For Life offers a straightforward approach to personal finance. Trench’s writing is extremely honest about the sometimes stark realities of personal finance for average Americans.
You need to be ready to hear some harsh truths that might be reflected in your own life. But you’ll also find the writing very application-oriented, which could help you find the motivation that you need to take action in your own life.
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Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer covering credit cards, mortgages and student loans. She has written for numerous finance publications, including MagnifyMoney, Business Insider and ChooseFI. Her blog, Adventurous Adulting, helps young adults get a handle on their finances.