- Neil Lassen went from pushing carts at Target to running an e-commerce business that earned over $2 million in the last year.
- The best advice he got about money was from his father, who emphasized self-sufficiency.
- He also realized the importance of saving, and began viewing money as a tool rather than a goal.
Neil Lassen was a college student making $8 per hour pushing carts at Target when he decided he wanted to see if he could make money online. At first, his ambitions were humble.
“Literally my only goal was to make like $15 per day,” Lassen said. “I didn’t care how I did it,” he continued, because that money would cover his rent, “and that would cover rice and beans.” As long as he could do that, he said, he would be satisfied.
He started looking into things like affiliate marketing, and how to make money on YouTube. Eventually, he would start selling physical products and get into e-commerce. Within months, he was earning more than enough to quit his job.
Today, Lassen lives in Boulder, Colorado and spends his days working on his e-commerce business, teaching others how to make money selling merchandise online like he did. According to records viewed by Insider, his business earned more than $2 million in revenue in the last year.
He shared with Insider three insights about money that helped him go from living paycheck to paycheck to working for himself.
1. You have to do things for yourself
Lassen said the best piece of money advice is one he got from his father, who is also an entrepreneur.
“Back in college, when I was miserable working my job and trying to pay rent,” said Lassen. “He basically told me: ‘Anything that you want, you’re gonna have to do it yourself.'”
This advice propelled him to start trying new things to earn money online — even if he had no prior experience — and the trial and error taught him how to start making money on his own.
2. Saving comes before investing
Another thing Lassen learned about money while living paycheck-to-paycheck in college is that it’s very easy to blow all your earnings every pay period if you’re not paying attention. The frugality he learned during that time served him well when it came time to start his own business.
“You need saved money to actually invest it,” Lassen said. For him, investing his money meant investing it back into his businesses, so he could grow them and earn even more.
Lassen said that when he was trying to get out of working at Target and start working for himself, he’d “buy like 50 pound bags of rice at Sam’s Club,” and invest everything else back into growing his online ventures. Ultimately, that strategy ended up working out for him. “As long as the business is taken care of, then it’s gonna take care of me,” Lassen said. “That’s kind of where I’ve landed.”
To this day, Lassen considers himself to be a fairly frugal person and does not spend a significant amount of his earnings on personal consumption — although there’s been “a little bit of a lifestyle increase.”
“I’m still a fairly frugal person,” said Lassen, who added that he did buy a house and move from Wisconsin to Colorado. “I’m not pinching pennies, but I’m not super extravagant.”
3. Money is a tool to get what you want, not an end goal
Lassen said that his biggest perception shift is that money is a tool or “utility” to get what you want out of life, rather than an end goal.
“Money just gives you the freedom to actually test and implement different things that you may be interested in,” said Lassen.
To him, financial freedom ultimately means that you have enough money to serve as a cushion for your basic needs, and anything after that point is just a means to test, grow, and serve your interests. For Lassen, those interests are software, and “helping other people see the same success.”