Pictured above is Le Mont-Saint-Michel.
It’s an isolated abbey on a small island off the coast of France. But it’s no regular castle. It’s one of the longest standing examples of medieval military architecture in Europe.
During the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, Le Mont-Saint-Michel did not fall once. This was mostly due to the isolated nature of the island, as you can see in the photo.
Low tide makes the castle approachable on foot, but when the tide is high, the castle is entirely surrounded by water.
This tactical geographic advantage makes a siege almost impossible. For this reason, Le Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the strongest castles of the middle ages and an excellent source of inspiration for managing your money.
Why should you bother adopting this mental imagery for your money?
Not to insulate yourself from the world but to ensure you can play a lasting role in it.
How and Why to Build a Fortress for Your Money
To be a successful investor, it doesn’t matter what percent return you earned last year, or how many stocks you own, or if you can hold through a crash with diamond hands and buy the fkn dip.
No. This isn’t Reddit. This is your life and the well-being of your family (or future family).
To be a successful investor, you need to make sure your money allows you to live the life you want, when you want.
That means you need to be able to withstand any attack (or tweet-induced crash thanks to Elon Musk) on your money and be the last man or woman on the battlefield when the dust settles.
You need a fortress like Le Mont-Saint-Michel.
Like any good stronghold, you’ll need land (or water as is the case for Le Mont-Saint-Michel). This is your foundation. Your education and your career.
The land around your kingdom’s center must be fertile to grow crops and sustain your people or provide some tactical military advantage. This is your college degree, your certifications, and your paycheck. Lifelong learning expands your territory.
Then you’ll need to build the walls of your castle. This is your savings. Your emergency fund. You’re not going to be able to protect your money if you don’t have any.
You’ll want towers and turrets too. These are your stock investments. Just like your investments grow, these towers grow towards the sky and loom over any would-be intruders, but only if you leave them for long enough.
If you are constantly day trading and checking your portfolio balances, you’re punching holes in the towers and your turrets will crumble under the weight of short-term capital gains taxes and losses from selling when the market isn’t doing well.
A moat around your castle is important to prevent a siege. The moat can be made up of specialty investments outside of stocks. There may be water in it, alligators, or spikes (REITs, cryptocurrencies, and high yield savings accounts).
While you’re busy watching for an approaching army, don’t forget to ensnare the rogues that work in the shadows.
Trapdoors, booby traps, and hidden passages are like your credit score. They are invisible to anyone (including you) on a day to day basis but important to remember.
Pull down on the candlestick in the library to reveal a shortcut in times of need.
To do this, make your payments on time, never use more than 15% of any credit card limit, and be sure you have a few different kinds of credit to your name such as an auto loan as well as a credit card (that you pay off each month!).
This will ensure the hidden passages and secret passageways don’t crumble and wear out over time while you aren’t paying attention and are fit for use at a moment’s notice (like when you are applying for a loan and need a good interest rate).
The archers, cannoneers and foot soldiers of your fortress are your ability to understand the world. Tap into your professional and personal networks to stay in touch with advancements in science and technology.
All night and day you’ll need to assess risks on the horizon such as unemployment levels, social and cultural changes, interest rates, and the countless charlatans and snake oil salesmen trying to separate you from your hard earned money.
Your (cyber)security habits need to be smart.
But a castle isn’t built overnight.
Time is the single most important ingredient to financial success.
Do not listen to any person or headline or interview where an “expert investor” or millionaire is predicting the next market crash. They will say the market is frothy, or that the sky is about to start falling. They will sound like they are trying to help you. And when someone is claiming to help you, you will naturally be inclined to take heed of their advice.
The market crashes; it’s a fact of life. You already know this. That risk is the precise reason you are making higher returns from investments than money in a piggy bank.
If you continue to leave your money on the sidelines, the market will charge ahead and leave you behind in the dust. It’s heartless. It doesn’t care about you and neither does any billionaire on CNN or Yahoo Finance.
Don’t rely on anyone else to protect your money. Rely on the layers of defense you build into your fortress.
In due time, you will have a fortress of money to rival even Le Mont-Saint-Michel.
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