What Would You Give Up To Become A Millionaire?
Where is the balance between saving for tomorrow and enjoying life today?
I never thought about being a millionaire. In fact, I have always been happy living on a smaller income. Perhaps because of my background in nonprofits, I never considered becoming a millionaire as a possibility.
Recently, I learned about supersavers, a small group of people who commit to reaching $1 million in their brokerage accounts on which they will live comfortably throughout retirement. Some people want to have that amount in the bank by the time they are 40, some by 50, but all aim to meet their goal before they reach the standard retirement age.
When I first heard about this idea of reaching a million dollars, I was intrigued, though I thought only someone making $70,000 or more could really achieve it.
But when I read that one supersaver was working as a state employee, I was inspired. I don’t know how much she was making; she was planning to retire at 66 — later than many of the other supersavers. Even so, her story made me feel that anyone could do it.
To reach their goal of $1 million, many supersavers cut back on entertainment, eating at restaurants, and buying things they don’t need.
They budget every cent they have. They have no debt, and they have an income that allows for extra padding, meaning they aren’t living paycheck to paycheck.
Most millennials feel that they have good financial habits. But the average millennial has many financial obstacles, including student debt, low wages, rising rent and housing costs.
Even so, millennials are saving where they can, and 69 percent have a savings account, according to a Bank of America/USA Today poll.
After seeing what happened to our parents, we are more cautious about money. We watched our parents quickly lose both their jobs and savings when the economy crashed, and we aren’t willing to take the same risks. Even so, it’s still difficult for many people to save for an emergency fund, let alone retirement.
My partner and I are big savers anyway, but no where close to supersavers. We track our spending but don’t overdo it. We know where we spend the most money and what costs we can cut.
With $1,000,000 by 50, what could we do? We would travel in style all the time. Our last (and only) trip in first class was so worth it, but it’s a luxury to have that many points or that amount of cash. We would study for pure pleasure, not because it would enhance our professional career. We would be able to afford a house in the neighborhood we want and purchase a few investment homes to maintain a steady income.
But is it worth it?
To reach the million-dollar mark, we’d have to do a major overhaul of both our income and expenses.
According to one millionaire calculator, my partner and I would need to save around $2,100 a month with a six percent rate of return to become millionaires by the time we’re 50.
To do that, we’d need both of us to work full-time and put the entire second salary into savings. As a freelancer, I would need to be making more than double the income that I make now in order for it to work, especially once taxes are taken out. And we could no longer afford organic food or most kinds of entertainment. We also would not be able to buy a house, since the down payment would come out of our savings, not to mention other major costs associated with moving and buying a home.
Suddenly, the idea of saving all our money until we reach retirement isn’t that appealing.
Would we be enjoying everyday life now when we are so focused on saving for the future? Would we restrict ourselves so much that we would feel guilty for any purchase now when we know the money saved is potentially worth more? We wouldn’t be able to focus on organic grocery and household items, which might lead to us being sick or have chronic health problems. What if we are ill when we retire and can’t do the things we had planned?
That doesn’t seem like a way to live for us! Perhaps someone else can swing it, but where’s the fun in living if you aren’t living in today?
We agree 100 percent that we need to save for retirement — and we are — but we also want to enjoy life while we can.
Money isn’t everything. If we are working so hard that we get ill, that money isn’t worth anything. I know that’s a weird thing to say on a financial education blog, but I truly believe that money is only a part of happiness. It’s not about the kind of house you can buy or the fanciest technology you can afford.
It’s about being able to know what you need financially to be stable, and I’m confident that while we might not become millionaires, we are saving enough to both live and retire comfortably.