Hearing lots about the mega million jackpot today. $640 million would certainly make an impact in most folks’ bank accounts. Apparently, $640 mil is more than what most US households would earn in 10,000 years.
Your odds of winning are long. Ridiculously long. 2 hole in ones in a single golf game long. You’re more likely to be crushed to death by a vending machine or dying by being a lefty who uses right-hand products, according to the Daily Beast. But boy, wouldn’t it be nice to live like a mega millionaire?
Um, no. Not thinking so. Maybe a mini millionaire. Someone who has enough money in the bank to not worry about whether they’re covering the bills, not feeling like they’re stuck in their job, able to dream a bit and feel like they could make those dreams (travel, motorcycle, adventures, …) come true.
Mini-millionaire is easy, and a lot less dependent on 1 in 176 million odds. Live below your means. If you make 100K, live on 85-90K or less. If you make 60K, live on 45-50K, or less. Act like you’re still making the money you started your career with – no cost of living increases, no raises or promotions. What’s that do for you? It does a few things. One, you’re not stuck in what I’ve heard termed as ‘golden handcuffs’. Golden handcuffs are jobs that you have to keep because they’re the only ones that will give you the kind of salary you need to live on. You’ll keep going to a place that you don’t like, doesn’t inspire you, or otherwise give you any reason to keep going to work other than that particular paycheck number. It’s a gilded cage. It’s a demotivating cage. You’re not going to do your best work if the reason you’re still there is only pocketbook motivated. For one thing, there’s always the distraction of looking for the cage upgrade. Ones’ monetary ‘needs’ have a funny habit of growing, unless specifically kept in check, so soon enough that cage starts feeling just a bit snug.
Second, it gives you a ‘go-to-he**’ fund. It gives you money in the bank which you can use as a cushion to find a different job at any point. A guy I knew at a job a few years ago didn’t particularly like his job, but was paid at the top of the market. He ended up laid off, as top of the line salaries make you top of the line targets. The top of the line salary part wasn’t a bad thing, but his need to get a job very quickly gave him a large salary-sized problem. Contrast that with having the freedom to say: I don’t like this job. I don’t like working for you. I’m not going to do it anymore. It’s a wonderful and yes, powerful feeling, to know that you’re working for someone because you want to, not because you specifically need to. Now, there’s a difference between need to work generally, meaning at some point you need to get another job, versus never wanting to work again. Somewhat theoretical for me – having a hard time imagining myself not working at all at some point in the future, even if that work is part-time or volunteering or … My point is, since entering the workforce out of college, it’s been a goal of mine to never work somewhere just because they’re willing to pay me, even if they pay me well. And a ‘go to he**’ fund is a great tool to help that happen.
Lastly, and on the much more personally rewarding side, one of the things that millionaires often do is give lots of money away to causes they find inspiring. Warren Buffett has Girls, Inc, Bill Gates has the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie had Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Mellon, etc, etc… They write checks to help make things happen. When you live below your means, giving away money no longer is making a choice between helping yourself and helping someone else. There’s a lot more latitude there to give more freely. It hasn’t really cost you anything. Now, one can make the argument that it costs you the things that you’re otherwise not doing in your lifestyle with that excess (my term) money. Still, though, it costs you something you’re not doing, not something you are – very different dynamic.
Reading the paper this morning, someone in Maryland won one of the Mega Million lottery tickets. It’s not me, I’m certain, as I didn’t buy a ticket. Whoever won has a lot more means this morning than they did last night. It should be a bit easier to live within it. That said, there’re many lottery winners who don’t live within their means and go bankrupt, even at the tune of income of the level of millionaires. Contrast that with folks who build their habit of living within their means and become ‘The Millionaire Next Door’. Or, better, the guy who lives like a millionaire because he’s not beholden to his job and gets to give away his money to the causes that he finds near and dear. Bank account balance may or may not make him a millionaire, but he sure feels like one.