Journal Entry 

 How to Build Financial Independence 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos


Reflect on common financial phrases like “It takes money to make money.” While in prison, I realized that employers might not hire me due to my past, so I focused on achieving financial independence through building appreciating assets. Compounding interest is key to growing wealth—small investments can grow significantly over time. To prepare for success upon release, invest in personal development: improve your writing, communication, math, and critical thinking skills. Set clear goals, stay positive, and build a strong work ethic. Your actions today shape your future success.

Newsletter: How to Build Financial Independence

1) It takes money to make money.

Have you ever heard any of the following phrases?

2) The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.

3) The more money you have, the more money you make.

Why do you think such phrases exist? What amount of money does it take to get started on this plan? What can you do today to prepare for the success you’d like to have in your future?

While I’m not providing financial advice, these are the kinds of questions I used to meditate on while serving 26 years in prison. Perhaps they will prompt you to reflect and consider your own questions. Your responses may lead to better adjustment decisions.


While I served my sentence, I reasoned that employers would not want to hire me when I finished my term. They would view me through a cynical lens, considering that since I served so much time in prison, I must be a bad person.

I didn’t see myself as a bad person. But my personal view didn’t matter. I would have to live in the world as it existed, not as I wanted it to be. People would always judge me for the bad decisions I made that led me to prison.

If we’re to learn from leaders, we know that instead of making excuses for the reasons that they cannot achieve something, they focus on getting the results they want.

What results do you want?

If employers wouldn’t hire me, I could whine and complain about the unfairness. But that wouldn’t help me get the result I wanted. I wanted financial independence, so I wouldn’t be beholden to a job. To succeed, I had to figure out strategies that could generate multiple income streams independently.

While serving my sentence, I wouldn’t have access to the opportunities that people who were not in prison took for granted. If I could prepare for success, I reasoned that more opportunities would open later.

When my wife picked me up outside the prison in 2013, I pledged to her that I would earn my first $1 million within five years. It wasn’t that I intended to lead a life of leisure. Rather, I knew that if I could build equity, I would be able to leverage that equity into new income streams. Once I had sufficient income streams, I wouldn’t have to focus on earning an income from individuals. Rather, I could earn an income from the assets I created. The key would be to build assets that would appreciate in value.

That’s where the phrases I introduced at the beginning of this newsletter come into play. Once a person builds $100,000 in working capital, it becomes much easier to grow those assets.


It’s because the scale of capital grows with compounding interest. Warren Buffett described compounding interest as one of the wonders of the world. Consider an investment that generates a 10 percent annual return over the course of a year. If a person invests $100, after a year, the person would have $110—an extra $10. If a person invested $1,000 in the same investment, after a year, the person would have $1,100—an extra $100. If a person invested $10,000 in the same investment, after a year the person would have $11,000—an extra $1,000. And if a person invested $100,000 in the same investment, the person would have $110,000—an extra $10,000.

The more assets a person has that appreciate in value, the more equity a person can build!

For that reason, a person should strive to control appreciating assets in appreciating markets.

Had I not spent my time in prison thinking about the complexities I would face upon release, I would never have been in a position to build assets that appreciate in value. It’s the reason that I encourage every person in prison to invest in personal development. Learn how to write better, learn how to communicate better, and learn how to solve math problems better. Develop strong critical thinking skills, and build a self-directed work ethic.

These virtues will prove invaluable in accelerating your pathway to success upon release.

Take Action Today:

1. Set Clear Goals: Identify what you want to achieve and break it down into manageable steps.

2. Invest in Yourself: Use available resources to improve your skills and knowledge.

3. Stay Positive: Focus on what you can control and maintain a positive mindset.

4. Network: Build connections with people who can support and guide you.

Your future is shaped by the actions you take today. Start building your pathway to success now.

Today’s Question:

  • What plan can you begin working on today that will accelerate your pathway to financial stability, as you define it?

Steps to Build Your Profile:

1. Send an invite to [email protected]

2. Once accepted, send an email to the interns with the following information:

   – Your name

   – Your number

   – Your location

   – Your sentence length

3. Respond to any questions presented in the newsletter by sending your answers to the email above.

By taking these steps, you can memorialize your journey and demonstrate your commitment to a better future.

Keep striving for greatness. Your efforts today will pave the way for your success tomorrow.

We Have Updated Our Terms And Conditions

We have updated our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Terms of Service page. To review the latest version, please click on Terms of Use. If at any time you choose not to accept these terms, please do not use this site.