Most people desire to have enough money to be comfortable and to not have to stress when it comes to paying your creditors and monthly obligations. The thought of missing out on the finer things in life causes people to make poor financial decisions, which puts them in a pit they can't get out of. The reality is that those that are affluent, in many cases, have gotten to a point where they can spend liberally and not have to worry about every dime that is spent on a day-to-day basis. Chances are they did this with hard work and small amounts of savings that grew over the course of many years. Nothing more and nothing less, but society likes to villainies these people -- who just made prudent choices -- for somehow being the evil ones and therefore punished for their success.
Some of the wealthiest people I know are ones that are very generous and enjoyable people to be around. After all, haven't you heard time and time again your friends say that if they make a million dollars they will start giving to people in need and helping others out? Well, the truth is, many of the millionaires that are making a great deal of money are doing that very thing. How can you truly help someone else out when you can barely make it on your own? Many people understand this intuitively, but then turn around and then despise those that have achieved this level of success in their own lives. So to be a significant help to those around you, it helps to actually have some money in the bank to really make a difference.
This hatred towards the 1% blows my mind. It's this idea that just because someone is successful, they are now someone that should be despised because they are no longer in the typical American mold of a household that is living paycheck to paycheck.
Money isn't Evil – It's a Tool...
Talking about money -- especially in America -- seems so taboo. Saying that you want to make a lot of money might actually get you some weird looks, because people have been conditioned to think having a lot of money is evil. Sure, you could do a lot of evil with money, and the love of money could tempt you to obtain it in ways that are not honest, but in it of itself, money is just a tool.
Enough money provides real independence. It liberates you from work that is drudgery, from relationships that confine you, and obligations that are holding you back. This amount of money that is needed is different for everybody, because everyone's situation is unique and the cost of living around the world varies to such a large degree. No one is truly free when he is a slave to his job, his creditors, his circumstances, or his overhead.
Rich People Control Their Money – Not the Reverse
People who live in perpetually poor situations are those that generally have money dictate their lives. Many millionaires that I know are those that haven't made substantial amounts of money in any short period of time, but have built their wealth through savings over the course of their lives. They were people that didn't have the highest-paying jobs, but those that separated a little bit of money each month from their pay and thoroughly enjoyed their lifestyle below their means. So many people assume the millionaire lifestyle before actually becoming a millionaire. This is common among college graduates with a prestigious degree, without actually getting a substantial job. They jump the gun on their income before the flow even starts to roll in.
Facts on the average real millionaire lifestyle:
- Live in a house that costs less than $400,000.
- Do not own a second home.
- Have never owned a boat.
- Are more likely to wear a Timex than a Rolex.
- Do not collect wine, and generally pay less than $15 for a bottle.
- Are far more likely to drive a Toyota than a BMW.
- Have never paid more than $400 for a suit.
- Spend very little on prestige brands and luxury items.
Now, for those that have a net worth north of $5 million, this lifestyle becomes a lot more prevalent. But keep in mind what someone with a net worth of $5 million spends their money on might seem lavish to someone with a net worth of $50,000, but still might be relatively frugal in terms of their purchasing power. But the truth is, the rest of the people who are spending their money on extravagant things really aren't millionaires, but just those that are desiring to live a lavish lifestyle without actually having the financial power to sustain it.
I've been called cheap many times throughout my life, and most of the people who accused me of this are in financial conditions that I do not envy. The truth is, being financially stressed and in over my head brings more discomfort than the joy that supposedly comes from a lavish lifestyle. If you have the money where you can afford to spend it on nice things, by all means, go for it. But if you don't, stay away from it. I'll be the first one to say that you can substitute an expensive lifestyle with things that are much more affordable, and you will be just as happy. In fact, if you don't know how to be happy with what you have currently, chances are you will not know how to be happy when money does flow your way.
Practical Takeaway on How to be a Millionaire
People think it takes a lot to reach financial freedom, but it doesn't. Even with the slightest bit of income, it can be done. If invested properly, and you earn nothing more or less than what a diversified portfolio of common stocks has delivered with dividends reinvested for the last 200 years, that would be 10% a year. Plug the numbers into a calculator and you’ll see that you will be a millionaire if you save $190 a month. That’s because $190 a month compounding at 10% a year will grow over a million dollars over 40 years. That's just a mere $190. If you had a shorter amount of time, you could invest $478 a month at the 10% interest rate and see that grow to a million dollars in 30 years.
This is the simple, slow, and boring way to becoming financially free. You could double down and really be aggressive, achieving this goal much sooner, but it will just take more persistence and a greater drive. My goal today was simple, and it was to show that almost anyone -- if they start early enough -- can become a millionaire if they just simply save, invest, and live below their means.
I encourage you to live like the average millionaire today. Be content, without being extravagant.