You Can Be a Millionaire, and You Should!
Yes, you can become a millionaire!
Maybe you don’t believe it’s possible.
I’m here to tell you that not only is it possible, but if you start early enough, it’s inevitable! Let’s look at the math for a second.
Assume you are starting at age 35, planning to retire at 65, with a household income of $50,000 per year (median U.S. household income in 2018).
Starting amount: $0
Rate of return: 10%
Annual savings: $7,500 (15% of household income)
At age 65, you’ll have: $1,357,075.74
Starting amount: $0
Rate of return: 8%
Annual savings: $7,500 (15% of household income)
At age 65, you’ll have: $917,594.09
These scenarios also assume you started with no savings and never got a raise or changed your rate of savings for 30 years. So, if you start early enough and just keep consistently working and saving, there’s just no excuse to not be a millionaire!
Obviously, if your household income is less than $50,000 per year, or if you start later due to a long training period or a long period paying off student loans, or if you end up divorcing your spouse and dividing your wealth in half, you’ll need to adjust your math. But, I hope this offers you encouragement that building wealth is inevitable if you believe it, work at it, and just don’t give up.
If you read the title of this post hoping for a secret path to getting rich quick, I’m sorry to disappoint you. There isn’t a reliable shortcut to building wealth. Neither Bitcoin, nor finding oil in the ground, nor hoping for a huge inheritance is a good plan for securing your financial future. The formula is really simple:
Work. Save. Repeat.
Do that for several decades, and you will retire wealthy. It’s a boring plan, but it works every time.
Yes, you should become a millionaire!
Unfortunately, wealth carries a toxic stigma now, which continues to amaze and distress me. You hear people on social media and politicians on TV say things like, “No one should ever be allowed to be a billionaire. It’s immoral.”
How have we sunk so low in our society that we feel the need to demonize success? A billionaire in America is usually someone who built a company from scratch, provided goods or services to improve the lives of millions of people, and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process. Why are we unhappy about that? Did they steal that money from us? NO!!
What’s the cutoff? Think about this: if you make over $30,000 a year, you are in the top 1% of global household income levels. That makes you rich by worldly standards. So, is everyone who makes $30,000 per year somehow harming the other 99% of the world? Of course not!
We HAVE to stop terrorizing people who are more well off than we are. Take care of your own household before you worry about someone else’s.
Money has no morality, either good or evil. A dollar bill is a tool, like a car. You can take that car and run over people in the street, or you can use it to drive your sick neighbor to the hospital. The car doesn’t make moral choices, and neither does money.
There is value in becoming wealthy. You can do more with more money. Being broke doesn’t make you holy. Broke people can’t build schools in Africa. Broke people can’t send missionaries to hurting countries, or feed the hungry, or house the homeless. Broke people don’t start college scholarship funds or endow research grants. Being wealthy allows you to take care of your family and be incredibly generous to your fellow man.
So, go make some money!
Here are a few unique scenarios that may change the calculus of the wealth building formula a little, but the principles don’t change.
If you haven’t started school yet, you are in a great position! The number one thing you can do to set yourself up financially is do what you can to minimize the amount of student loan debt you will have. That comes down to a couple of things.
First, pick a school you can afford. Too many college students pick their graduate/doctoral school based on perceived prestige. I went to the University of Texas School of Medicine – San Antonio. It provided me fabulous training, but it is (by national rankings) an average public school.
None of my patients has ever cared where I went to medical school, unless it was just part of getting to know me. None of them ever asked me about my alma mater and then cancelled their colonoscopy in favor of someone who went to Harvard.
Don’t fall for the lie that your school’s prestige matters, except in unique circumstances such as if you want to participate in highly specialized research that is only done at one institution. Also, don’t just go to the school that accepts you. Let’s say you only get into one dental school and it costs you $400,000. What if you come out four years later making $110,000 per year? It will take forever to pay off your loans! So, go to a school you can afford. School choice matters!
The second thing is to find other ways to pay for school besides student loans. Consider the military or M.D./pH.D. programs, look into programs that pay off your loans within a few years in exchange for practicing in underserved areas, and apply for lots of scholarships. The less money you borrow, the better off you’ll be.
I have coached many single parents (mostly single mothers) over the years, and they all tell me that the biggest issue they face is not having enough time. If you are a single parent in the health care industry, you’ll face challenges that will strain your ability to win, but you can make it work!
The single biggest factor that predicts success in a single parent’s life is belief that they will succeed.
If you don’t have hope for victory, you won’t achieve it.
Get some people in your corner. If you are in a church, sit down with your pastor or one of the senior church leaders and talk about your situation. Get involved in a community that can put their arms around you and help you. Consider moving to be closer to family for help.
You still have to make money, and it’s a lot tougher to balance work and taking care of your family, but you can still do this.
I coach single moms all the time who are winning financially, many of whom are wealthier than their bosses and colleagues, just because they believed they could be and they worked hard to reach their goals.
Low household income or disabled
If you are living with a household income less than $50,000 per year for a prolonged period of time, you will find it tougher to hit that million dollar mark.
There are lots of ways to increase your household income. If you are able to work, try to pick up extra shifts or consider moonlighting.
Nearly half of all physicians report considering non-clinical work either as a side hustle or as their primary job. The number of side gigs available today is staggering. Even if you are permanently disabled, there are hundreds of opportunities to use your mind in the online space.
If you are starting late, even in your 50s, you can still make it! Don’t give up!
The math makes it much harder, and you’ll have to work and save even more aggressively, but you can do it! I’ve coached people who didn’t get their plan started until they were in their late 40s and early 50s, but they are on track to retire as millionaires, so I know it’s doable.
Start by calculating the amount you’ll need to save in order to reach your retirement goals. If the amount you need to save is more than you are able to save right now, maybe you need to increase your income, decrease your expenses, or adjust your retirement goals (e.g. retirement age, monthly income at retirement).
Huge student loan burden
This one is tough. If you haven’t saddled yourself with huge student loans yet, you must try to avoid this at all costs!
If you’re already buried under a mountain of debt, you just have to keep working to dig yourself out. There’s no secret here. Just live beneath your means, increase your income, stop borrowing money, and pay those loans off as fast as you can!
Being broke doesn’t make you holy any more than being wealthy makes you evil. Money amplifies your character. If you are generous, money will facilitate incredible giving opportunities. If you are a miser, you’ll end up miserable. Take charge of your finances! No one is going to do this but you! Put yourself in a position to win financially.
Please leave a comment below and share your retirement goals, your struggles, and how we can serve you better. Good luck!
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