Everybody knows it's a wise man who understands the benefits of having multiple streams of income. In today's economic climate, this is more critical than ever.

If you are one of the few who still has a job with benefits, good for you! However, the chances of becoming wealthy in that scenario are slim to none. More than likely, if you landed that job because you have a degree, you also have a mountain of debt that goes along with it. Creating secondary streams of income is crucial to creating wealth.

So how do you do it?

The first step is to immediately begin paying down your debt, because the interest you pay far exceeds the interest you'll earn on any kind of savings vehicle available today. But what if you're already living paycheck to paycheck, and don't have the cash flow to pay down debt?

That's where step two comes in, which is to start a home-based business (not a second job), ideally in network marketing. No other business model allows you to generate significant income with what is typically a very small investment. You also don't have the overhead or other logistical headaches associated with a traditional business. In network marketing, you are leveraging your time through the compounding effect of team-building and the efforts of others. With consistent, persistent effort, you can develop the secondary income stream to enable you to fulfill step one, and pay off your debt.

Then, once you are debt-free, you can take step three.

Maintaining that same discipline, now begin investing that second income stream into other areas to create a third stream of income that has nothing to do with your job or your home-based business. Take the money you've been using to pay off your debt, and start a savings account, if you haven't already, as a way to accumulate some cash for your investments (not with the expectation that you'll earn any significant amount of interest or savings, because you won't).

True wealth comes when you are able to leverage your income to create another independent stream of income. You want your money to work for you, not the other way around.

While your savings is building, begin researching investment vehicles. You might consider reading Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad's Guide to Investing as a start to learn about what he calls the B (business) quadrant.

My favorite investment vehicle is oil and gas. This is a natural for me, because I am a third-generation Texas oil man. I started out as a roustabout to learn the business from the ground up. Ultimately, I started my own oil and gas company, which was where I first experienced true "mailbox money."

There's nothing better than being a participant in a well that hits. Once you have a good well, you can count on that income stream for ten to twenty years. However, there is a problem with this type of income: you are dealing with a diminishing natural resource that over time becomes unprofitable due to decreased production while "lifting costs" continue to escalate. At that point, the operator makes the decision to cap the well and move on. (Ideally, you have a working interest in more than one well, so that when that day comes, you're still generating income from the other wells.)

With oil and gas, your income starts out high and eventually peters out—and many years ago, it occurred to me that network marketing is the mirror opposite of that curve. With networking, your income starts out low, but it increases exponentially over time.

Thirty years ago, armed with that realization, I began a long and tumultuous journey on the path to duplicating the success I'd had in the oil business, but in the network marketing world. Today I am blessed to have achieved the goal of creating multiple streams of income that are all generating mailbox money. I can rest assured that if something happened to me, my family would be well taken care of.

Whatever vehicle you choose to create leverage, do it today. There are many ways to achieve this goal, but the bottom line is, you need to start now.

A third-generation Texas oilman, JOHN HAMMACK
has been a top field leader in several network marketing
companies, created a successful consulting practice
and was the vice president of three network marketing companies.