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March 04, 2010

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I plan to reach a net worth of 1 million (without my house, which should be paid off by then) hopefully in 12 years when I'm 60. I plan to have 1.6 million by the time I retire.

If I manage to do that I'll be very happy and grateful--I realize that it's not something everyone can do. Especially because I started very late paying any attention to savings, and because I went through two marriages and expensive divorces from men who were even more financially irresponsible than I was.

I guess it all depends when you start down the savings/investing path.

I calculate that at the rate I'm going, I won't hit $1 million until I'm 50 (unless I start getting busy!). This is one of the reasons I'm investing small amounts of money for my kids. I want it setup so that if they invested just a bit of their salary, and the market conditions are decent... They could have their first million at 40... But then again, a million when they are forty, will probably be worth a quarter of a million today...

It depends on the person. What thier goals are, where they live, how they live, how they intend to live later in life, etc. Personally, I would like to get there by 40, and if we keep up our current pace, we should. It is true that the first million is the toughest, so if one can double thier money every 7 - 10 years, they could put us at 4 million by the time we are 60..... although by that time, 4 million will be chump change.

I think if you hit $1 million by the time you're 50, you're in good shape. Of course, this is just a completely random generalization that nobody should in any way take seriously. Personally, if I don't hit $1 million by 35 I'll be disappointed.

speaking to the blog's author, and not necessarily to commentors:

It all depends on how seriously you take Christian maxims to do justice vocationally and with your resources. Doing justice with your whole vocation is seldom profitable enough to get a second comma ever, much less by any significant age benchmark. And let's not kid ourselves that God is satisfied with running a righteous house or giving 10% when you have nothing but surplus.

How many pastors make a million, ever? Legal aid workers? Food bank administrators?

The whole question stems from a premise that's not even half Godly.

Daniel --

1. There's a difference between making a million and having a net worth of $1 million.

2. You can be generous and wealthy. I write about it all the time.

3. Are no Christians to be wealthy? If you think this, I'd guess you're stuck on the Poverty Gospel:

http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2010/01/the-poverty-gospel.html

This can be answered on a strictly mathematical basis, actually. You can use the NPER function in an Excel spreadsheet to calculate, given your annual salary, the percentage of that salary you're willing to invest, and an assumption of an annual rate of return for your investments, the number of years it will take to reach $1M net worth. Even with a salary of $20K a year, if you put away 10% consistently, and average a return of 8% per year, you'll have a million in 48 years. The problem for most of us is a)failure to start early and b)failure to invest consistently.

When I left college and entered the workforce (actually I ran these numbers about a year after I entered the workforce), I did a detailed proforma of what I want my net worth to look like in 5 year increments. That summary is below. Keep in mind that there were numerous assumptions involved in making these projections, such as percentages of salary invested, average income growth, etc. To be honest, the assumptions I used were fairly conservative. It is crazy how quickly the numbers can start to grow once you reach a million.

Actual beginning net worth (Age 24) - $75,110
Projected net worth age 29 - $196,028
Projected net worth age 34 - $426,745
Projected net worth age 39 - $826,631
Projected net worth age 44 - $1,353,226
Projected net worth age 49 - $2,177,705
Projected net worth age 54 - $3,468,578
Projected net worth age 59 - $5,489,672
Projected net worth age 64 - $8,654,062
Projected net worth age 69 - $13,440,041

Some items worth noting:

1. I am currently 25 years old with a current net worth of $131,850. I am well on my way to reaching my age 29 goal of $196K.

2. I recently began investing in some rental properties on top of normal retirement investing that was included in the projections above. I am not sure what effect this will have (I plan for it to have a positive effect).

3. When I made the projections above, I was much more focused on actual asset accumulation as opposed to income replacement. I am now much more focused on income replacement. If I had $300K to $500K right now I could easily make proper investments in real estate that would replacement my household's current monthly income, therefore, we would both quit our jobs and really have no reason to grow our net worth becuase our assets would be generating the income we need to live on.

4. In my projections, I end up a millionaire somewhere between age 39 and age 44. It grows rapidly from there. In actuality, I would probably be looking to (sort of) retire if I reached that point.

By the way, I think you mean "rest" instead of "test", although test somehow makes sense too. :D

From a practical point of view, I do think it's kind of dangerous to look at finances in terms of arbitrary milestones. Will we be treated to some magical "dream track" out of the rat race when we cross $1 million?

That said, I also agree there is also an element of silliness to that phrase as well, because while I agree a million isn't a lot nowadays, I'm also not a millionaire. :D Yet.

In that same vein, I also don't have an age figure for you as to when one is suppose to reach a million. To me, it's still an arbitrary milestone similar the million dollars. The bottom line is, I'm going to do my best my personal finances as quickly and as effectively as possible. It's all I can realistically do.

With all that said, there IS one metric that I do look at: My practical ability at generating passive income. Once passive income outpaces my everyday expenses, then I will think that I have it made. The required balance will change as time progresses, but suffice to say, "$1 million isn't that much money." :D

I didn't do a net worth projection, but I have done a retirement projection. I'll hit the $1M mark when I'm 50, which probably means my net worth hits it a little sooner than that.

15 years later, the retirement number hits roughly $7.5M. I'm going to be 35 in May, so it takes me 15 years to get to $1M and in another 15 years after that, I've made another $6.5M. Guess the first $1M is really the hardest.

Eugene --

You're right, I meant "rest." I changed it.

and C) Generate a compounded average return of 8% :)

$1mm by 35 is mathematically imposable unless you are a very high earner and had some good fortune. Simply saving wont get you there.

When you are younger the list of things you need and want is very long so your costs of living are a lot higher. (need a hose that lasts 20 years or a ladder or a couch etc) Thus it is a lot harder, even from a % savings, to hit absolute wealth numbers.

The savings curve and thus wealth curve has an exponential nature to it as time progresses. (as does any business with high fixed costs, low variable costs, and increasing units produced.) So hitting high net worth numbers is much harder at younger ages.

Networth $1M or $1M in assets? Big Difference.

Way too many factors to even venture a guess, so I'll give my personal goal. NW $1M by 40 (currently 26).

I was just re-reading my post and thought to myself, "I wonder what type of growth rate all those numbers imply?"

I am sure I figured it at the time, but didn't have it written down.

By my calculation, average growth over the 45 year time period would need to be 12.2%. Nothing to sneeze at by any means, but certainly achievable.

Its easier to achieve a high growth rate now becuase my actual net worth in relation to my contributions each year is small. For instance, last year I achieved net worth growth of 59.46%. If I could achieve that growth rate from now until age 69 (44 years), I would have a net worth of $109,083,167,958,040 (yes, that is trillions). Obviously that is not going to happen.

Because of inflation, the younger you are today, the more you'll probably need to save for retirement.

Using assumptions of 3% annual inflation and 4% sustainable withdrawal rate, a 60-year old needing $50,000 annual retirement income could retire today with $1.25 million. A 30-year old planning for retirement at age 60, needing $50,000 in present-value money annual retirement income, will need about $3 million to retire. A child born today would need to save $7.36 million to have the same retirement.

Same age, same retirement lifestyle, vastly different amounts. That's the power of compounding inflation.

My goal coming out of college was to be a millionaire by 42 (20 years later). I started out with a net worth then of maybe $10k. I am 29 now, and am now at ~$300k. The stock market has not helped me at all, but I did make some excellent investments in real estate around 2003 that now generate some decent cash flow and more than doubled in price. I don't expect to ever replicate that again- I bought in a depressed area that turned around and the neighborhood where I bought is now one of the more desirable. I still hope to get to $1MM by 42, though I will be engaged soon, and not sure how to adjust my expectations once me and my future wife are joined. Do I double the goal (she works)?

A follow on question to ask is- when do you feel wealthy? affluent? rich? I live in NYC and while I definitely feel comfortable, I don't feel rich by any stretch of the means. It has only been very recently that I have felt that I am even pulling away from the pack just a bit.

by 28. just work yourself to the grave and you will reach a couple of million by this age

If you started working at 20, worked for 8 years, saved 100k PER YEAR, had 8% returns every year, you would have $1mm net worth. To save 100k per year, really takes 200k per year of income.

Your taxes increase, your ability to deduct decreases, No roth, benefits of an IRA diminish, Mortgage deductions fade.

Oh and if you are married just divide everything by two because there are two people.

1mm by 28, very unlikely.

What is even more important than when you hit that magic number, or what that magic number even is, is how surprised you will be when that achievement creates little to no fanfare.

When I was young and broke (college) I thought having $1000 would fix everything. Then it was $10K. If I had $10K in cash I would have no worries...I thought.

Then the number was $100K. If I had $100K liquid cash I would be set. Then $500K. Then $1M.

But each milestone, while better than the alternative seems uninspired when reached. Maybe because that is the way life works, or our needs change. Or priorities change.

What I have found is the important number isn't what you need, but what you don't.

You can either try to learn the rules, or you can simply not play the game.

When your focus is no longer on money, or your net worth, but instead on your life, then you have crossed over.

And the amount of money is immaterial.

Hmmm. Starting at the age of about 45, it took me about 15 years to reach a net worth of $1 million. It took one year for the economic crash to trim the feathers on those wings.

I started with about $130,000, a combination of a large freelance fee, a small inheritance, and half of an IRA from a former marriage. During that time, the 403(b) that came with a new job accrued about $174,000 (post-crash figures). So, say it takes about 10 years to rack up $130,000; add 15 to that, and you come up with around 25 years as the total amount of time required to build a mound of a million bucks.

Four percent of a million dollars is forty grand. As retirement incomes go, that's not at all inadequate, since a person who has worked most of his adult life will collect around $12,000 to $15,000 in Social Security. IMHO a retirement income of $62,000 to $65,000 is pretty respectable. When people say you don't have to spend as much in retirement, they're not kidding: I'm finding my day-to-day expenses have dropped to around $20,000 to $24,000 a year. Even without Social Security, the post-tax net on $40,000 would put $32,000 in your pocket, more than enough to live comfortably.

Troy has got it right: "What I have found is the important number isn't what you need, but what you don't."

Reached it at 39, lost it w/ market/divorce then got to it again by 42, the second million by 45 and almost the third at 47~, when I said "enough" and retired! When you work is ALSO you passion, it accumulates fast if you aren't a "consumer" but live a modest lifestyle and pay "cash". I purchased a new modest townhouse (I rented when I worked for the efficiency, and made too much income for the tx breaks anyway)and still have about a $2.4~ NW. Locked up 1/4~ at the high point of over $2.8M w/ a VARIABLE ANNUITY that hass a guaranteed minimum 7% payout and principal guarantee option (VA's for the RIGHT purpose work well!, especially for tax deferred money that are gonna be ordinary income anyway!), Over $500K of I bonds are sleep well deferred dollars. Aout 1/3 in equities is fine. a military and VA pension pay the minimal bills and the portfolio is efficient as my income is below $50 for taxes now! Woo hoo, retired at 47~, It can be done, but how?: I drive modest vehicles -one at a time only, keep 'em a while, don't have cable tv, buy modest but, nice clothes, vacation cheaply and at fun places, shop frugal and have only one phone!..see you at spring break this year....

I don't shoot for a million dollars or really any hard monetary number. I shoot for a retirement age. I start with anticipating a death or around 85 and then figure out how much (after tax) money I need to have at that chosen retirement age (based on 3% inflation). Once I have those numbers I calculate how much I need to put away and what rate of return is required based on the years between retirement and my current age.

Then it's just a simple matter of iteration. I use 8% return on equities and 3% return on property as a basis. If I can't generate enough net worth each year to meet my goals, then I shift my retirement age a year and re-iterate until I can. At some point, I'll be ahead of the game at which case I'll just retire earlier or start using a more conservative investment rate of return and re-allocate my portfolio accordingly (Once you've exceeded your monetary requirements there is little need to have extra risk in your portfolio unless you just want to take more money with you to the grave)

For safety factors (in case I live a long time), I use a 5% return on investments during my retirement years, don't include social security income, and plan on downsizing to a small apartment that isn't included as part of retirement funds but could be reverse mortgaged if required.

I think its a pretty reasonable goal to shoot for $1M in assets by the time you are 50. Get yourself a good paying job (2x median income) and save 10% of your wages and you should have maybe ~$500k after 30 years. Throw in the value of a paid off home and a savings account and you ought to have a good shot at hitting $1M.

It also depends when you started and how old you are now. If you started accumulating wealth 30-40 years ago then it would be harder for you to hit $1M by a younger age cause the effect of inflation. But if you're starting now at 22 years old then I think its pretty reasonable to hit $1M by the age of 40.

Based on our current investments and an 8% return, we should be hitting a $1 million net worth by 45. If we successfully open and start fully funding another Roth IRA this year as planned, we'll be able to hit a $1 million net worth by 40.

Since we plan as though we are not receiving anything from social security (so if we do, it's a happy bonus), we are shooting for at least $2 million in retirement accounts and savings plus my husband's full pension in order to retire by age 52 (about 25 more years).

I'd say that most people will need at least $1 million in today's money to retire without eating cat food...hopefully that is possible by age 65. For people my age, that leaves them about 40 years to get together about $3 million.

Here's my question, how are so many people retiring without nearly that much in the bank? I only know a few retired people (and they have enough), but I know even more people in their 50's that have negative net worths. Even if they want to work until they die, they probably won't be able to.

What happens when you just don't have money for retirement? Live with family? What if you have no family?

Let's just say, I'm worried for a few of my close friends...

Oh, I forgot about our house. The above numbers are all based on money in the bank or from rent houses...they don't include our house, cars, furniture, art, etc...

@Wanzman
As a 75 year old that has "Been there and done that". There's a couple of issues that you may or may not have thought about.

1) Federal and State income taxes start getting quite onerous when you make large capital gains.

2) More importantly though is the fact that once your investment portfolio starts getting up into the mid upper 7 digit area where mine currently is, the drawdowns due to market volatility become very, very scary and really gut wrenching. Are you ready to lose $347,000 in 4 market days as I did between 3/10/00 and 3/15/00 as the dot.com bubble hit its peak and then burst. Fortunately I got out over those 4 market days and preserved 90% of my portfolio for better days in other market sectors. Most people did not, the Nasdaq peaked at 5048, hit bottom at 1114, and here we are ten years later and it is still only at 2280 (so much for highly touted Buy & Hold). Do you have your strategies in place yet? If not then you should start thinking about it.

You are showing a projected 12.2% annual compound rate of return over a 45 year period.
I had a 19.1% annual compound rate of return over a 17 year period after I retired at age 58 including being in CDs and Bonds for the last 2 years, but that needed the, once in a lifetime, dot.com bubble as the Internet came into being, as well as a lot of expertise in market timing and fund selection.

I listened to Robert Prechter the other day, he's the President of Elliot Wave International, the world's largest international forecasting firm. He believes we are on the cusp of the biggest bubble in history that is yet to burst.

@Old Limey

You listen to Prechter and are still in bonds? Very strange.

@Old Limey

Did you listen to him over the net or another source. Would be interested in hearing what he has to say.

Thanks

Another domesdayer says "pop", it goes on and on....sure, we've got tough times ahead and 1-2% inflation really means one shouldn't/don't expect equites to come anywhere NEAR double digit returns, but, remember, over ANY 15~ year period, STOCKS have done about 7.5%~ plus, the best return yet! as you get older, expect to have less in equity markets (gradually down to 20-40% of your investments by retirement), take 1/4~ of your $$ into an annuity of SOME type, do a "buckets" strategy NOT a set% w/d rate from equities, (see the last decade, that WILL break you), plan on 10%+ when young as a target save/invest to and 25% as a high income target to save/invest. Avoid debt, downsize, be frugal, all the things as a 16 year financial planner I saw very few do. I did, starting at 19~ and stayed "on plan", no deviations. It takes time! A million w/o a pension isn't enough! Taxes WILL be higher, social security? If your under 40~ don't plan on it as guaranteed income. Realize medical expenses too, most younger folks should think of working to age 70~.

"over ANY 15~ year period, STOCKS have done about 7.5%"

If I can pick ANY 15 year period, I can find times where the stock market had negative returns and a number of periods were it failed to yield the 7.5% hurdle.

Annuities? This is a huge can of worms, but in a lot of cases, they make zero sense.

What's a bucket strategy? I didnt understand what you were saying in that sentance.

$200 per month for cell and cable, with an 8% return gets me 110k after 20 years... not exactly make or break a $1mm net worth goal.

@D
Prechter was on Tech Ticker at Yahoo Finance last week.
@Rod
I bought my muni bonds below par with a yield to maturity of 4.955%. I am very happy to make almost 5% tax exempt and then receive a capital gain as each one matures between now and 2022. Since I bought them below par and bonds have gone up my Fidelity account shows them to be worth $232K more than I paid for them but I don't have any plans to sell them.
My CDs have an average yield to maturity of 4.56% tax deferred and they will be held in our IRAs until they mature between now and 2019. My Fidelity account shows them to be worth $152K more than I paid for them, the best being the Goldman Sachs Bank 5.15% CDs that I bought in October 2008.

It's nice at our age not having to worry whether the market goes up or down. I have had enough market volatility to last me a lifetime.

I'm sorry to have to be pessimistic but I also listened to Joseph Stiglitz in a great interview by Charlie Rose on PBS the other night. Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize winner, former Chief Economist at the World Bank, and was Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers under Clinton. He made so much sense. I don't just get my opinions out of thin air or from TV cheerleaders, I listen to and read, what distinguished and very experienced experts have to say.

Charlie Rose is the best interviewer on TV, nobody else even comes close. Last night he had an outstanding hour long interview, without commercials, with General David Petraus. I don't know of a more impressive general and that includes the big names like Eisenhower, Marshall, Bradley, and Patton from WWII. At least I feel hopeful of a good outcome eventually in Iraq and Afghanistan.

@ Old Limey:

I have to be honest, over the past 2 years, especially since I have been married, I have been questioning more and more what my goals in life truly are. It really makes no sense to me to follow the ways of the world, just earning as much as I can just for the sake of spending it.

I would much rather lower my overall material expectations, narrow my life down to the few activities that I really enjoy, amass a small portfolio of investments and other income generating assets and just quit the rat race when I have just enough to be happy.

The world, and the general lifestyle of folks in the US, really makes me sick. Too materialistic.

I am trying to talk my wife into eventually living on a houseboat, managing a handful of rental properties, and just enjoying a slow paced life. She is slowly coming around.

So to answer your main question, I am not sure about absorbing huge losses in a 7 digit investment portfolio. I guess that is a problem that would be nice to have, although based on my current attitude toward the rat race, I highly doubt I will be able to hold out long enough for my portfolio to reach that level.

I will be out here long before that...

@Wanzman
You make a lot of sense. I can tell you that a 7 digit investment portfolio gives you a great sense of security in troubled times but apart from that it doesn't actually bring happiness. However you do need a secure monthly income that can provide a modest lifestyle and good healthcare. The most important aspect of my life is my constant companion, my wife. Definitely do everything in your power to keep your marriage as happy as possible. The other thing to do is to try to both stay as healthy as you possibly can, and that above everything else, means concentrating on regular exercise and a very healthy diet, and that's a lot easier now that food products are all labelled very thoroughly.

A handful of rental properties is a very good alternative to the stockmarket. One of our friends owns a fourplex in a nice area that rents very well. Other friends own several single family homes as rentals. If you can become a handyman you can save yourself quite a bit of money on maintenance. The other thing you MUST do as a landlord is to be very picky about tenants, you MUST get a reference from a prior landlord as well as running the usual credit check. With Real Estate, it's all about location. Location determines rents and also the caliber of the renters. You also need to establish a procedure for checking up on your rentals from time to time to make sure they aren't being abused. Alternatively there are plenty of property managers that will do everything for you, at a price.

If you want to get away from the very materialistic lifestyle you have to go to more rural areas. Hopefully you love the outdoors and the recreation it can offer. In California there are opportunities in places like Lake Tahoe (where one of my daughters lives) for skiing, fishing, hiking etc. and then there's Santa Cruz (where my son lives) for beaches and water sports of all types. These places attract those that want to have a more casual lifestyle and get away from materialism and keeping up with the Jones'es.

@FMF....I think you meant "descendants" not "ancestors".

@Tyler,

Could you please gives us one 15 yr period when the stock market gave negative returns?

1929 - 1944

If you bought in 1929 you're returns were likely negative until after 1950.

If you allow me to inflation adjust returns I can give you more recent examples. If you lower this to 10 year periods I can give you more. If you want periods were returns were less than 7.5% I can give you more.

"over ANY 15~ year period, STOCKS have done about 7.5%"

This is false. Its a bit of a near term disease. Many people who talk about stock returns use numbers and talk about things as if the world began in 1982. 1982 started the longest and largest bull run in history. It started after a 16 year period of negative returns from 1966 to 1982. There are other horribly negative periods too. 1929 to 1954 for example to get back to even.

Given the structural changes in the economy, the global and domestic debt situations, future tax and entitlement issues and coming on the tail end of the longest and largest bull run in history, would an investment environment that doesn't exactly parallel 1982 to 2000 be that difficult to imagine?

I don't know what will happen but as the disclaimer phrase used so often states: past results are no guarantee of future returns. And given where we came from and what still lies ahead, I would argue that past results are not likely to be a good guide to future returns.

@ Old Limey:

I could not agree with you more when you say this:

"The most important aspect of my life is my constant companion, my wife. Definitely do everything in your power to keep your marriage as happy as possible."

Both my wife and I were raised in wonderful loving homes and the concept of divorce is completely foreign to us - not an option. It is amazing how hard you are willing to work at something when you are 100% committed. Most amrriages I see are really just glorified dating relationships. If it works, fine. If is does not work, fine.

Once again, I have to agree with you on the following:

"If you want to get away from the very materialistic lifestyle you have to go to more rural areas."

My wife and I were both raised in a small town in Oklahoma (25k people). We now live in Tulsa, OK (less than 1MM people). Tulsa is probably the most progressive city in Oklahoma, and believe it or not, the urban and materialistic feel gets to me quite a lot.

Blieve it or not, the best choice my wife and I have made in the past couple of years is purchasing a small boat and docking it on a lake about 20 miles outside of the city. It allows us to escapy into almost a completely different world and just relax...all within about 25 minutes of our house. I cannot wait for summer to be here...

Spot on apex.

I can't find any ROLLING approx 15 yer period where stocks HAVEN'T done about 7%+ or better..(Using the S&P 500, w/ dividends REINVESTED), in fact notes author and planner Ray Lucia, even states something similar (BUCKETS OF MONEY is his first book, a GREAT read/theory about PRACTICIAL investing for long term).....I'd go w/ Jeff (see above) in theory, besides he had $1M+ by 40 and retired pretty young, he's been on here before and has been "spot on". I also know MANY varible annuities that have been sold but, aren't offered anymore cuz they were too generous, MetLife, Prudential, etc., had several and if you bought 'em over 2 years ago, they are KEEPERS! I'd rather listen to those who "walk the talk" not jsut "talk"...lots of talk on here, few WALK the TALK!

I echo the comments by Tyler and Apex, the data bear them out.

The only two measures that seem to be growing nicely are the Budget Deficit and the National Debt, and their rate of growth is unsustainable if we are to survive as a nation. Likewise, unemployment benefits and food stamps were meant to be a temporary help between jobs not a way of life. When you are out of work for two years, it's not only two years of salary that are gone, it's also two years of job growth and valuable experience that are lost.

Chynalemay-

SNP 500 has only existed since the 50's. Look at the dow for a larger 'market' data set. I'm not making up the data and provided an example... 1929- 1944. Div reinvestment wasnt stated in the absolute comment.

Does my apprehension about listing my networth weaken the validity of my comments? or anyone's comments? would it help you to know that I have discression over hundreds of millions of dollars? Is that even verifiable?

I stand by my general comments about annuities. They are rarely a solid investment. They tend to pay massive sales commisions for a reason.

Tyler, Apex et all...My comment should have originally been clarified for reason(s): "since about 1950, any (any/ALL!) ROLLING 15 year period WITH DIVIDENDS reinvested (S&P 500) has produced approx 7.5%~gains." That's over 60 modern years consecutive, even the lasst terrible decade! I said it for to reason: NEVER go 100% out of stocks, NOBODY can ALWAYS time the market! Younger folks should continue to be heavily in equites via dollar cost averaging, middle and older folks MUST "bucketize" their accounts as a systematic w/d (the old common 4% withdrawal rate) from stocks will bankrupt you in a bad decade! Diversify, own equites, annuitize at least 1/4 (even up to 2/3 of your retirement income) of your retirement income and be secure. yYunger folks will need over $2M to do so as pensions become scarce, spend less, save MORE, avoid debt! I stand by many great insurance companies for various fixed and variable annuities. You can own the market, NEVER lose money, be in stocks up and down but, have various withdrawl rates/times GUARANTEED FORVER. A GREAT choice for income. I locked in all my tax deferred money (30% of portfolio) in a nice VA at 1525~ S&P (yes, my timing was 2% off the market top), my accounts withdrawl rate can never "lose money" below 7% annually of the HIGHEST point. Sleep well in a down market, I did! Planners deserve the commissions they earn, complicated products, service and analysis take an investment of time and certification, licensing to recommend, sell and market. I was a FIDUCIARY and PRINCIPAL, not just a broker dealer/RR for most years. Managed over 160M in middle class client assets daily. I bet you know the difference THAT means when making a recommendation to a client? A PRO can really help. I relied on one and became one, retired at 47! Proof enough....(and paid out over $400K through a divorce and moved my business three times across country!)..Sorry for the confusion but, the END is NOT near, though somebody ALWAYS says so! Fear not in capitalism....

I reached a $1 million net worth at 40. I'm now 45. Nothing secret about it. I got a lot of education (with a little help from parents, but not a lot) and a high paying job. Began aggressively saving and investing when I was 25, after graduate school. My wife and I lived (and continue to live) modestly, but not in a spartan way. I just keep my head down, avoid debt other than our house, love my wife and try to be a good husband and father. We take a decent family vacation each year and my wife and I usually do a nice "parents-only" trip annually (Italy, Egypt, France, India, London, Spain). We take these trips to enrich our relationship and as a hedge against one of us getting sick or dying prematurely--don't postpone all your fun until retirement because sometimes things can go wrong! We buy cars with cash, maintain them well, and keep them a long time. Our primary car has 110,000 miles and we're shooting for 200,000. We've always tithed 10% of our gross income to our church and feel that this has also been a key part of our financial plan--not only because we believe the Lord blesses us, but also because it brings an unavoidable measure of financial discipline into our lives. Paying for our three kids' college educations is the next challenge, but our first daughter has received a full-ride scholarship and we've got about $150K saved for our two younger kids, who are in their early teens. It's amazing to me how much financial success is an outgrowth of a happy, stable family life. My (fairly conservative) projections indicate that we should have a net worth in excess of $10 million by 65. That would be nice. If it occurs, my wife and I will be missionaries for our church, travel, perform other service and love and visit our kids and grandkids. We've been wonderfully blessed. I want to be a good steward over those blessings.

$160 mm of middle class clients? That's got to be at least 250 clients. No wonder you retired! Every time the market moved you got 250 phone calls asking why! I would be exhausted by 30. :)


Yes, trees grow. The markets natural state is towards growth and the last 60 years has seen unprecedented growth. And yes, to be correct, your statement about 15 year returns needed a lot of clarification. (the market has NEVER gone down in a single day! Since yesterday.)

"NEVER lose money". These statements are just wrong. In financial markets there are rarely 100% certain events. There are low probability and high probability events, but unless you have a pure hedge there is never certainty. The only thing I know for certain about finance, is to run from anything claiming to be 100% certain. Even your "GUARANTEED" annuity can stop paying you. Unlikely? sure. But totally within the realm of possibility.

I'd have to know exactly what you did to know if "FIDUCIARY and PRINCIPAL" made any difference.

The end may or may not be near. I'm not able to tell the future. My analysis of the current risk of the end being near tells me it has increased, and thus I make decisions based on the likelihood of events occurring. Is it a low probability? Yes. But it's more likely than it was. A small crack in the ice doesn't mean I am going to fall in, but I tread carefully.

You should strive to hit $1 million in net worth by the time you are 34. It is achievable with some luck and a lot of sustained effort, speaking from experience.

The big question is at what age should you be worth $10 million?

-Mike

@Tyler
"NEVER LOSE MONEY" is a great slogan to try and live up to because, as you obviously know, a 50% loss takes a 100% gain just to get even. You cannot be an investor and never lose money but you do have to cut your losses but let your profits run. I'm sure you agree with this philosophy. In order to do this you have to have some method or methods by which you time the market. Such methods are never 100% right, but can often be 70% right. If you also only buy those investments that have low volatility and low drawdowns it makes timing a lot easier and a lot more successful. Fund selection also plays a role because when you feel very confident that a sector can maintain its upwards momentum you can invest aggressively whereas when you lack that confidence it's only prudent to invest conservatively. At least with this approach you are attempting to invest intelligently rather than blindly. To my way of thinking buying several funds that track an index and holding them through hell and high water is not very intelligent, and not something that any money manager worth his salt would do. Don't you agree?

If I could trade as adroitly as Old Limey I'd be in the market- however my luck has been more that I've been like "The Gambler" - one day I broke even. All wealth I've been able to build come from a sound marriage and buying a condo in cash 4 years ago and living here, while saving most all income and keeping it in cash. 1st million by 34, estimated age for the 2nd million is at 37, a year away. I guess the 3rd will come by age 41 or so- after that I stopped counting because 41 seems pretty old to a guy who is 36! Isn't it always like this?

-Mike

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