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June 16, 2014


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I'd say it's a good first step toward financial independence. The finish line would be what it takes to generate 75K annually which the clueless journalists deem to be the level of spending for maximum happiness. This would be 2.5M at a 3% safe withdrawal rate.

Or in silicon valley it'd be enough for a downpayment on a detached house in Palo Alto.

A small fortune, and enough to retire on if you are otherwise debt-free.

I've never tracked net worth, but just our investment portfolio; other than our average home we've never carried any debt (mortgage paid off six years ago).

At the end of 1998 our investments totaled $39,000.
In May 2007 they crossed $1,000,000 for first time.
In Jan 2013 they crossed $2,000,000 for first time.
Last week they peaked at $2,865,000 so hopefully 3m is just around the corner.

At least for us, the first million definitely took the longest, and then a little quicker to 2 and appears 3 may be even faster.

1992 - investments passed $100,000.
2002 - $1,000,000 for first time.
2006 - $2,000,000 for the first time.
2009 - too sad to talk about.
2012 - $2,000,000 for the second time.
today - $2,125,000 plus a paid-for home.

The Millionaire Next Door is absolutely one of my favorite books. I particularly like the anecdote about the millionaires meeting with the trust department where the trust officer (who was not a millionaire) drove a leased BMW and had a Rolex watch. The millionaires pulled into the parking lot in Fords and Toyotas and wore Timex watches. The simple fact is that a million is a LOT of money and if invested prudently it can throw off 5-10% which equates to $50,000 or more. That ain't chump change no matter how you look at it. And when combined with Social Security, a pension or 401k/IRA funds it can allow you to live quite comfortably without even touching the principle. Not a bad position to be in in my estimation and those if those journalists don't think it is much, then I'll be happy to take it off their hands!

I find the chronologies fascinating.

So - here is my household:
Net Worth:
04/99 - net worth crossed $100,000
12/01 - net worth crossed $250,000
12/04 - net worth crossed $500,000
11/09 - net worth crossed $1,000,000
04/14 - net worth crossed $2,000,000

1992 -- $320K + Home + Condo - Retired debt free at age 58
1997 -- $1M bubble going strong
1999 -- $2M
2000 -- $3M bubble ended in March
2003 -- $4M
2006 -- $5M
2009 -- $6M
2012 -- $7M
Today - $7.64M

I think that part of the reason folks talk about a million not being a lot is they consider that at a typical 4% withdrawl rate it's only putting out $40K a year and that is less than the "average" household makes and less than most people would consider being "wealthy".

Frankly, I think with no mortgage, no college savings, no dependants, I think $40K a year would be fine for a reasonable life in a lower cost of living area. I'm not looking to buy a yacht, take five week vacations three times a year, support my grandkids rather than having their parents support them, etc.

Guess that's the difference between thinking in terms of financial independence versus retiring "rich".

I track NW assiduously every month. I've got a long way to go to catch up to Limey. Roughly:

2007: $1M (+ 9 years)
2010: $2M (+ 37 months)
2013: $3M (+ 30 months)
Today: $3.7M (+ 14 months)

Of course as we all know, these numbers are misleading. For anyone with more than a little bit, the market (whichever you're most invested in) dictates your NW. Many of us are one big crash away from seeing our NW drop precipitously.

And of course all those lovely assets in retirement accounts aren't going to do a whole lot of good for quite a while...

$1 million is a lot. It is not a fortune and it does not make you rich, but it is still a lot. A very large lot.

Max social security draw is currently at about $2700 per month. Since the last $500-600 of that is the hardest to qualify for, most people who have a job capable of saving up a million dollars can have a social security draw of at least $2,000 per month at full retirement. If you have a spouse, he/she could have the same or if they didn't work could have 1/2 of yours. That would be a draw of $3,000-$4,000 for a couple.

At a 4% withdrawal rate which may not be 100% safe but it will get most people most of the way you would get $40,000 per year in withdrawals plus either $24,000 in SS or $36,000-$48,000 for a couple in SS.

So that is $64,000 for a single retiree at full retirement age or $76,000-$88,000 for a couple at full retirement age.

If you have a paid off house and no other debts, that is going to be a very comfortable retirement.

If we could get even a decent minority of people to save $1 million by retirement, what a drastically better future these people would face. And if nearly everyone had $1 million saved by retirement, we would not hear the doomsday retirement and SS stories we hear now.

$10 million may be the new $1 million, but $1 million is still a very large LOT.

Portfolio only:
1/90: $10K
5/97: $100K (finish grad school)
7/03: $400K (get married, buy house)
12/06: $1M (204 months to 1st M)
10/07: $1.3M
1/09: $.7M (-46% ouch!)
7/09: $1M
3/12: $2M (63 months to 2nd M)
6/14: $3M (27 months to 3rd M, paid off house)

We're targeting $5-6M for a comfortable retirement, safe from inflation and economic downturns. However, we'll likely keep working, and we need to make a semi-retirement plan.

+1 for Apex's comment. Even if you go down to a 3.5% rate and reduce SS to the low end of his scale, you're still dealing with a very-comfortable ~$70K income for a couple.

The key is to be debt-free as stated above. This also assumes no other sources of income, which would only pad these numbers.

1993, opened my business, a $250K~ net worth...made $4K in 1993...
1998, passed $1M..
1999, $1.25M...
2000, divorced, back to $850K...
2002, passed a million again..
2003 Income from business hits a high at $501K...paid over $150K in Federal Income tax!
2004, passed $1.5M...
2006, passed #2M+..
2007, suddenly retired w/ 2.8+~M..AGE 47
2009, $2.4~M, still retired only about 25-33% in equities BTW...
2014 $2.85M still only 25%-33% in equities, (bought a jet ski, STILL RETIRED! @54 attaced and single! :)

I only count real estate at it's 80% of actual value (tax valuation) and consider "stuff" worthless, ..these #'s are investments and cash only!

The best way I could describe my situation is we have a fuzzy million or more in assets. My wife has a pension that she will qualify for in three years and depending on the highest 5 year period of her pay will deternime what she is elegible for in payment and since she has been taking paycuts that is one of the fuzzy things as to what will be her highest 5 years. Then there is the manor of payout where if we want a survivor benefit or not on various rates along of 25% 50%, 75% 100% or none with healthcare dependent on which route we want to take and if the state legislature is voting on a tuesday to cut benifits to retires or if the wind is blowing form the east. All this has an value but depending on quite a varied methods of risk it is hard to determine a value. This could be worth a million in assets but depending on death benifits we select and alike it is all fuzzy right now.

I have a 401k, rollover IRA, Roth IRA and my wife has an roth IRA. That value is close to approaching the million mark but not there.

Until my wife actually retires and has the knowledge of what she will be receiving then I will have a better knowledge base of when I will be able to retire.

I've got a ways to go to a million, but the general trajectory is the same:

Today ~ $330,000

So it took 9 years to get to that first 100K, and despite 2 nasty bear stock markets, it only took 6 years to get to 200K, and just over 2 years to get to 300K.

+1 to both Getagrip and Apex. No, $1M isn't going to give you a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous retirement. But a conservative 3% drawdown plus a low-ish Social Security check of $1000 per month will give a single person $42K per year to live on. If your house is paid off, that should be plenty to live a nice middle class lifestyle. Even if you're paying rent/mortgage, I still think it's fairly decent. Heck I pay rent in an expensive area and spend less than 42K. While it's certainly nice, you simply don't need a super high income to be happy.

I know an engineer here in Silicon Valley who retired with about $1M in his 401K & other savings/investments around 2003. He collected a pension of about $48K from his job and hasn't even needed to touch the 401K, which is now worth $2M. Now he collects Social Security on top of the pension. Since his house was paid off before he retired, the pension alone provided more money than he really needed. So I agree with the others who say drawing 40K from a balance of $1M is going to be enough for most people, especially if their homes are paid for.

I know some other folks who retired with about $1M in 2000 and their story is similar. They were reasonably diversified and didn't go crazy investing in tech stocks, etc. during the tech bust and their house was paid for. With 2 small pensions plus SS, all their basic living expenses are covered. The 401K just provides the extras, like renting a beach condo in Florida for 3 months.

Granted, the pensions aren't going to be around for most people and SS benefits will probably be cut one way or another, but $1M in assets gives you a decent retirement in most places any way you want to slice it.

Wow, I just read the whole article and this statement really resonated with me:

"The best investment guru whom I have interviewed told young adults starting out that the first $100,000 in investments is the hardest to achieve. And with every successive $100,000 it becomes progressively easier."

This is exactly how I felt when I hit 100K. It was like WOW! Even though I knew I wouldn't be retiring on 100K, it was a major milestone and I definitely felt like I broke through to a different level. When I hit that amount, I knew I at least had some breathing room if some major setback happened to me (lost a job, major illness, etc.).

I also liked how the article pointed out about living in a modest neighborhood. But of the millionaires in my post above live in "ordinary nice" neighborhoods. A nice, but modest lifestyle means you have a lot less stress and a lot more flexibility and freedom.

Wow! Way to go FMF. You really struck a cord here and got lots of people including me to share the heck out of their personal results which I have NEVER shared with anyone (not even family, spouse!)

For the folks that are working on it, please stay focused on education, career, investing and the macro-picture. Don't live like the show-off-Joneses, but teach those Joneses how to live 'smart'.

1986 -- $101K Total Net Worth (first time crossing 6 figures)
1992 -- First Child Born $355K Total Net Worth
1999 -- $1M Net Worth with Investable Assets + Primary Home
2000-2013 -- Too Mad to Total (just worked hard)
2004 -- Became Debt Free by paying off everything
2014 -- $3.1M + $1M Real Estate + Primary Home + Collectibles
Goal -- Get there with "Old Limey"!

I see why Old Limey has a lot to teach us......But the key is the Penta-Millionaire is the New Millionaire, with lots of articles written on this topic. Of course, if one is struggling to get to $1M then it will seem impossible, but the 2nd book that was written on Millionaire is better than the 1st one since it has LOT more stats in it on how people become a millionaire.

Please keep privacy of everyone's information esp. since email addresses are provided below to FMF! Thank you.


Great article. I used to live in South Bend in the late 90's and the home prices haven't changed much in 16 years... yikes!

For me the compounding was equally true:

1996- started working
2001- $100K
2007- $1M
2010- $2M
2013- $3M

Estimation to hit $4M... TBD, hopefully by 2016.


Great to see people setting goals and achieving them! But there isn't alway a good ending to the story. Met relative in law years ago at a wedding and he introduced himself saying I looked like his investment banker and spent the next 10 minutes bragging to me about his financial success. Ran a small business and died with 4M in the 90's. When his only daughter (adopted) was asked about funeral arrangements she said something terrible ...
(I'm sorry but I'm ashamed to repeat).

I'm slower than most (House + Investments):

Feb 2009 - $87k
Feb 2010 - $111k
Feb 2011 - $132k
Feb 2012 - $184k
Feb 2013 - 224k
Feb 2014 - $275k

@Tim what is the point of your comment?

Listing ages would also be helpful

One other thing for young people to factor into their retirement planning is INFLATION. I retired in 1992 at the age of 58, I am now 79 and have seen a huge amount of inflation since then. We bought our present home in 1977, it was 2 years old and we paid $107,000. There are very few sales, none recently, in our development, but the price estimates are all over $1.5M. This is another reason to quit being a renter as soon as you are settled down, don't plan on moving, and can afford to buy.

My wife does almost all of our shopping and is up on prices but I am often shocked when she asks me to go and buy something, especially food items.

One quandary about how to invest is when should you lower your risk and stress the safety of your principal? This will depend upon the individual - I knew the point when I had made plenty enough to have a long and secure retirement and when I was starting to worry about future large drops in the market. Every retiree at some point will need to decide when it's time to move into the slow lane and drastically reduce risk. It's a very individual decision that only you can make.

$1M is starting to be affluent, $2 to $5M is enough for most, $10M is the entry point to rich, $50M+ is my dad... Filthy rich, and at 76 years old Still Working because he enjoys it.

I think both sides are right. On one side 1,000,000 can buy a lot of food, gasoline, clothes, necessities etc. On the other hand with the fed printing more and more money out of thin air and the value of the dollar going down a million dollars certainly isn't what it used to be. Great controversial topic to discuss!

I think 1 million is now more of a "you made it" rather than a "you're rich". It's enough where you can retire and live a decent life or do basically anything you want (financial independence) as long as you don't live in an expensive area. But not enough to have multiple homes and a yacht.

@T. Perfect description.

I guess whether $1M is "not much" comes down to its purpose. For most people savings is what keeps them sheltered from emergencies. $1M can keep most people sheltered for quite some time...your only real "worry" about money is that you can't retire as soon as you wanted to (which, unless you're disabled, isn't much of a 'worry', just an inconvenience).

If its to provide for your necessities, I think it also passes muster. Given per capita income is about $40k, being able to make investment income of the median American without working is a pretty impressive thing.

Now can you get all your wants on top of that without working...well, that's never gonna really happen

I reached my first $100k at age 22. Since then, things have really taken off. It's calming to know even if I don't work one day, I'll still go to bed richer than I was when I woke up(assuming I don't spend much, that is).

I aspire to be a millionaire. I have great respect for those of you who are.

We live quite comfortably under $40K annually, so at a 4% withdrawal rate, $1M is the target. It is "sleep well at night for decades" money. Anything above that will be gravy.

Investments not including restricted stock, house, pension value.

1995 First Investment in the market
2000 $344k stayed about here for 3 years despite saving
2007 $1.0MM
2008 $813k :-(
2009 $1.1MM
2010 $1.4MM
2011 $1.6MM
2012 $1.9MM
2013 $2.5MM
2014 $2.9MM YTD

2006: 1m

2006: 1m

2006: less than 0
2014: more than 1m

Can't use the signs. See my two earlier and very cryptic posts (which can be deleted).

2006: Pass 20k for first time
2009: Pass 75k for first time
2010: Pass 100k for first time
2013: Pass 200k for first time

Started last year on a plan for $1M in 2020; currently on path to hit $1m in 2019.

Hoping to finish this year over $260.

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