Although I was tracking my net worth closely, I can’t pinpoint the exact moment my total net worth would have crossed into seven figures and someone might consider me a millionaire. It was something I wasn’t thinking about for a variety of reasons, but because I was an entrepreneur, I was the owner of a business that was increasing in value. It was difficult to assign a specific value to that business, but because I ended up selling that business — this website — the buyer and I both had to agree on a value.
Sometime before then, I also crossed the point of having a balance sheet that included investable (non-business) assets of a million dollars. One of the reasons I stopped publicly tracking my finances as I wasn’t interested in drawing attention to the fact. I tracked my finances to hold myself accountable for making better decisions with my money on a day-to-day basis; as my business grew, most daily decisions had little impact on my financial well-being.
So I stopped. And I don’t talk about my net worth. Instead, I let Consumerism Commentary readers track theirs, like I did for many years, through Naked With Cash. But there are a lot of people who like talking about what it means to be a millionaire. For most people who have reached that abritray round-number milestone with their investable net worth, life hasn’t changed too much from when their net worth was lower.
Jaime Tardy founded Eventual Millionaire to talk to as many millionaires as possible, with the goal of gaining some insight about entrepreneurship that could help people see that kind of success. But does it make sense to look at that millionaire milestone as the target? Most people in my age group (I’m 38 years old as of last week — happy birthday to me) would probably need several million dollars invested if they wish to be financially independent today or would need as much twenty years from now for a healthy retirement living a middle class life.
In this podcast, I discuss this issue with Jaime, and we determine what we might be able to learn from millionaire entrepreneurs. Her new book, The Eventual Millionaire: How Anyone Can Be an Entrepreneur and Successfully Grow Their Startup, is now available.
Continue reading this article to listen to the audio or to find a link to download the audio for later. You can also subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Luke: I’m Luke Landes and this is the Consumerism Commentary Podcast. Today’s guest: Jaime Tardy, the Eventual Millionaire.
Luke: Welcome to the Consumerism Commentary Podcast. I’m Luke Landes. Today’s guest is Jaime Tardy, the author of The Eventual Millionaire, the blog, and Eventual Millionaire: How Anyone Can Be An Entrepreneur and Successfully Grow Their Start-Up, a book, available at Amazon.com and other retailers. Jaime, welcome to the show.
Jaime: Thanks so much for having me, Luke.
Luke: What is it about being a millionaire that is so aspirational for people?
Jaime: It’s so funny, it’s the extra comma that does everything, that makes it so absolutely amazing. It is a silly, arbitrary goal. Why not $999,000, why a million? But it is that point where we can pick out as if that is success. That extra digit means a big difference in people’s lives. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a millionaire, too. I know so many other people hone into that as a huge goal to have.
Luke: But what does it mean to have that “extra comma.” Does it really change your life?
Jaime: Exactly — no. That’s the thing. A mutual friend of ours who came on my show, Todd Tresidder from financialmentor.com, told me on the show that hitting that million dollar net worth led to one of the most unhappy periods of his life. The reason was he thought that comma, that extra digit, made a difference, and he was under that assumption the entire time. But when he realized that he hit it, he said the reason he was so unhappy before was because he hadn’t hit that number. Now that he hit that number, he had to look at everything else in his life. If he was unhappy, it was all on him.
Luke: Between the lack of a change when you hit a specific number like that, and also the fact that a million dollars isn’t really enough of an investable net worth to make you financially independent — at least for people who want to live a middle-class lifestyle — does it even make sense to encourage people to still look at the millionaire status as being something that can be an ultimate goal?
Jaime: I agree with you. Number one, it should not be an ultimate goal. The problem is a lot of people have issues even thinking that big. So really, to me, it’s the first step. I need three and half million by the time I retire in order to live on about $50,000 a year. Now with inflation, a millionaire is definitely not what it used to be. And doing all these interviews, it’s funny. The people who have only a net worth of a million, two million, or three million, are pretty middle class to tell you the truth. The ones that are ten million plus, those are the ones with the Lamborghinis and the really nice houses.
A million dollars is definitely not what it used to be. But the reason why I think it’s really important to be focusing on that goal is because the first million’s the hardest. So really wrapping your mind around that. Most of the people I talk to, even if they’re my age and need three million dollars, think a million is so big they can never attain it.
When we start thinking like that, of course we’re never going to be able to get to three million. So having that very first subset goal of a millionaire, sounds kind of cool, people are attracted to that. Yeah, I want to be a millionaire! Later you have to hit them with the fact that’s not going to be enough anyway. But at least that gives you the upfront push towards something that you can see as a worthwhile goal.
Luke: So you’re saying it’s the psychology that makes the first million the difficult million to achieve. Is there something more than just getting over the idea that it’s a number that makes it difficult?
Jaime: There’s so many things because way back when, it was worth so much more. There is some information in the book. In 1950’s dollars, a million is only about $200,000. The fact a million dollars would only get you that much is nothing, right? Unfortunately. When you start thinking about it that way and think of the way our parents or grandparents thought of a million dollars as being this huge thing, it’s because they thought it was a huge thing that we still think it’s a huge thing. Even if it’s not.
And so not only psychologically really making sure that, yeah, we need to be able to get past that, but our conditioning as kids is like, Oh my Gosh, this is absolutely an amazing feat. My parents personally never in a million years, and still to this day, don’t have anywhere near a million, even though they need it for retirement, and that sucks, right?
If they’ve always told me, “Oh my Gosh, a million dollars, blah blah blah,” Yeah, those are hard-core set-in beliefs you have to get past, especially at first.
Luke: You’ve wanted to be a millionaire since you were young, as you mentioned. And you decided at some point as an adult that you needed to change your course. You decided money wasn’t important, so you experimented with some business ideas, according to your book. What happened at that point. Did you start making money right away?
For the rest of the interview, listen to the podcast.
Published or updated March 17, 2014.