What Would You Do With A Million Dollars?

FINAL

It’s not about the money. It’s never been about the money. This is why.

If you’ve been with us since the beginning, you’ve already read 99 posts from us about frugality, optimizing our career lives, setting up side hustles, losing 10+ pounds effortlessly, house hacking, and how to set ourselves up for retirement. It’s been over two years, and I’d like to thank you all for accompanying me on this crazy ride towards being the healthiest and wealthiest humans we can possibly be. This post is our 100th post on Unconbentional, so for once, let’s dream a bit and remember why we’re doing what we’re doing. There’s a point to all of this, so stick around for some not-quite-obvious advice. If you want to live like a millionaire now, this is how.

We’ve all thought about it. With unlimited money, how would our lives be different? Almost a year ago, I challenged you to define your ideal day and — spoiler alert! — pursue exactly those goals and pastimes for the rest of your life. Some of us realized that happiness was within our grasp all along. Some of us realized we weren’t quite there yet, but that was okay too. What I discovered was I needed to set aside my “When I reach ________, then I’ll be able to ________!” mentality. Heck, I didn’t even wait until I had $500,000 in the bank to pull off a mini-retirement, and I learned a lot from it! I still have ambitious dreams though, and I’d like to share them with you now. Here’s a quick rundown of why I want to be a millionaire.

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My main hobby now is cooking. If I were a millionaire, I could cook every day for my friends. Heck, I might even pay someone to do my cleanup! (I wouldn’t though, because I know there’s value in doing what you hate.) Every night, I could roll out something ambitious and crazy like stuffed pig’s trotters or rigatoni con la pajata, and I could be creative and well-fed all the time, surrounded by friends at the dinner table. That’s Dream #1 and every day, I get closer. Sure, I might still be on French onion soup, but we all start somewhere.

Dream #2 is helping my friend “D” start a brewery. I’m more a drinker than a brewer, so I’d mostly look to finance it instead of actually working there. He’s been a loyal friend for over a decade, and if I were a millionaire, my dream would be to make his dream come true. For me, friends > money, every time.

Meanwhile, unrelated to food and drink, I’ve got a whole pack of friends who love cars, fixing them up, and drifting like maniacs. Basically, if a car’s going forwards or backwards, it’s boring. Driving sideways is their jam. (I think they’ve just seen too many Ken Block videos.) Dream #3 is going in with them to buy a cheap piece of land in the boonies, and owning just enough to put in a bit of dirt track. Those car nuts can go sideways forfuckingever. Again, happy friends make me happy.

The fourth and final dream is a pretty common one: World travel. I’d love to see Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Australia. A loose goal I set myself is seeing 20 foreign countries by end-of-life. Dream #4 will be a lifelong pursuit, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

That’s why I want $1M.

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The money doesn’t actually matter though. It’s just a tool to buy the dreams you really want. $1M in the bank doesn’t do anything except generate some profit from investments. Done properly, you can Retire For Good this way, but if you’re a loyal Unconbentional reader, you might realize full-on retirement might not be the world’s greatest goal either. Instead, for once, I urge you not to think about your dollars too much.

Instead of using only money as a metric of success, I’ve started quantifying the completion progress on my dreams. Since I’m an efficiency kook, I started looking for ways to increase my progress with as little money as possible. I quickly realized “When I reach ________, then I’ll be able to ________!” was just an excuse to delay working on goals. Supremely motivated people like you or I know we can start whenever. Here are examples.

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Dream #1 (40%)I cook once a week already, and I’ve gone up to four large meals in a week before. That week almost became a problem! With both my roommates working all the time, they can’t commit to at-home dinners seven days a week anyway. The last beef bourguignon I made even led to some food waste because we ate through it slower than we thought we would. Can you imagine if I cooked every day? I think I just need more friends to feed!

Dream #2 (10%) — Not much I can do about this one yet. I need to take care of my own money before I drop tens of thousands on a brewery. However, “D” became the assistant brewer at a 2,500-square-foot brewery recently, so maybe I can just visit him and strut around pretending I own the place.

Dream #3 (0%) — I mean, I’m researching lots to buy, but this ain’t happening soon.

Dream #4 (50%) — With a little advance planning, I can almost always leave on a weeklong trip. With contacts in Mexico and Australia, my vacations there could be cheaper than I thought. I’ve also already visited 10 countries; France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Greece, Denmark, UK, US, China, and Japan! Getting to 20 in this lifetime should be a cinch!

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I’m not saving to reach $1M. Not really. I’m actually saving to max out on my dreams. Here’s the thing: Without even spending all that much, you can work on your dreams every day. That’s what I want you to know. No more “when ________, then ________”! You’re not saving money; it’s more like dream fuel. The best part is real dreams are rarely tied to money. If your dream is to own a house someday, you might think you need $3M — (I live by Vancouver, okay?) — but with a little digging, you could also find a €19,000 property in Sicily! Money’s not the goal because your dreams are! Sometimes, a little bit of knowledge or even reading a blog post can fulfill an entire goal for you!

Gary Vaynerchuk once said, “People are chasing cash, not happiness. When you chase money, you’re going to lose. You’re just going to. Even if you get the money, you’re not going to be happy.”

This might be a personal finance blog, but it’s not about the cash. It never was. Find out why you do the grind. Work on your dreams now, every day. Look beyond the bank account, and remember why you want those numbers healthily high. Imagine what you’d do with a million dollars, and start doing that thing now.

It turns out I just want to cook for my friends. What dreams are you delaying for no reason?

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My Five Streams of Income

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According to this, “65% of self-made millionaires had three streams of income” and “29% of self-made millionaires had five or more”. Meanwhile, this article starts breaking down “7 different income streams”, but some of their recommendations are things most of us should be doing anyway, like investing. Other ones are downright odd. Do you consider your spouse’s salary as a stream of your income? I don’t. I don’t think you should either.

For this article, I’m laying out the five streams of income I actually count. If you count my index funds or the fact I’m technically a SOCAN-recognized composer who’s only earned pennies in royalties, I have more. I’m mainly counting my side hustles that actually put money in the bank though. This is how I make my money.

My main gig is I’m a wedding photographer. My smallest package is $990 (two hours) and my largest package is $4,995 (twelve hours). My secondary gig is as a liquor store clerk, making a paltry $13.50/hour. I could choose a more lucrative job, but this is pure fun for me. I could spend all day talking about wine, and I’d actually be less happy making $20/hour doing something I didn’t care about. My third gig is as a landlord. In March, I’ll be looking after two renters/roommates, and you should know this is actually more work than I thought. For now, any rent money I make is going back into renovating the property. Both bathrooms need to be redone, but this is an investment for the future. A beautiful bathroom will enable me to charge more for rent once my friends move on. My fourth gig is I write for pay now, and make $0.15/word on assignments. This is currently super fun for me! I can do this anywhere I want, and if I had an idle gig where I’m just needed as a warm body — think security guard or exam invigilator — I could be earning twice the pay for the same hours! In just one week of November, I was able to bill a startup $225 for three short blog posts. I’m looking at developing this as one of my main sources of income in the next few months. My last gig is a questionable one, but it technically counts as investing. This one deserves its own paragraph.

Early in November, I started dabbling with cryptocurrency. I now own small slices of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and IOTA. In just six weeks of casual trading, I’ve put in $800 and I’m somehow $500 ahead. Before you drop everything and throw your life savings into Bitcoin though, you need to understand the technology and the risks. This is why I consider my cryptocurrency investing a “gig”. I read this and this in the past month, and I stay up-to-date on trends. It’s a job. I don’t advise you getting into cryptocurrency blindly. Everyone thinks they can time the market, and people have lost their life savings believing that. I’m fully aware I could lose my entire investment at any time. If you try this, proceed with extreme caution. I know friends of friends who have lost $10,000. Know the risks. This, as a hobby, is my fifth and final gig.

You’ve heard of “fuck you money” (FU$), but I love the idea of my multiple “fuck you jobs”. Liquor store lays me off? That’s fine. I can replace a whole month of clerk income with a single wedding shoot. Roommates moving out? A little extra writing, and I’ll still make my strata payments on time. When new roommates move in, rent will actually go up because of the shiny bathrooms! If I lose my entire crypto investment? My index funds are still making profit, and I’m sure I can come up with something to make up the loss, like renting out my camera gear. I truly believe YOU CAN ALWAYS MAKE A BUCK. With full-time employment becoming less and less stable, diversifying your streams of income is just as important as diversifying your investments. It’s just the smart thing to do!

Remember: “65% of self-made millionaires had three streams of income”.

How’d you like to be part of that statistic?

Let’s Check Back In With Our Artist Friend, or Why Inflation Sucks

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Those of you who have been following us for over a year might remember “A”, our mysterious artist friend who made only $700/month, but who also found a way to set herself up for a luxurious retirement in the future. When that article came out, some people were understandably pissed. It “isn’t applicable or attainable for everyone, and is really more based on fortune than hard work”, one reader said. Well, she’s not wrong. Living like we do isn’t attainable for anyone not willing to put in the work to optimize their lifestyle. And “hard work”? Please. Smart work is where it’s at, and being frugal is the result of a lot of that smart work.

“A” is still out there plugging away, and two things have happened since we last spoke with her: 1) She makes more now, and 2) some modest lifestyle inflation has crept in! Let’s take a look at her numbers.

A year later, her art is still her main source of income, but “A” is also knee-deep in side hustles. She now teaches art a few times a week, and professionally walks dogs on the side. Her monthly income is now $1,000. Rent is now $300, up from $200 last year. (She started making more, so felt it was only fair she contributed more to her household.) She eats well, though frugally. Her personal spending budget went up to $75 from last year’s $50. Her vacation fund is currently $100/month, and that all goes into planning future trips. As if that wasn’t enough, she also donates 10% of her income to charity – apparently, you don’t need to be a billionaire to pull a Jim Pattison – and somehow, through ALL THESE ADDED COSTS, she HASN’T tapped her $14,000 emergency fund, and she’s actually ADDED $5,000 to her savings and investments! With roughly $60,000 in the bank and her investments churning away at 7% return, she’s now on track to have $839,000+ by 65!

Now, for some people, this might all seem pretty extreme, but what if I told you a lot of math is actually working against her, and us as well? What if I told you WE SHOULD ALL BE SAVING LIKE THIS IF WE WANT TO RETIRE? Unfortunately, because inflation is a key concern for retirement, we should all be aiming for close to $1M in 30-40 years! (Here’s a post to help you with that.) Assuming an average of 2% inflation per year, “A’s” future $839,000 is worth only $387,000 of today’s buying power when she turns 65 in 2056! Because “A” is somewhat of a genius though, she’s accounted for this. Assuming even that she spends all $12,000 of her annual income to support her current lifestyle, her “$387,000” is enough for 65-year-old her to live on FOREVER as long as it’s invested in something generating just 3.1% interest, which could be a VERY real number for someone investing conservatively in old age! For “A”, the math checks out! For the rest of us, we need to save and be frugal AT LEAST as much as “A” is doing!

At 26, “A” has saved and invested enough that no further contributions are needed to support her lifestyle in old age. She could just blow all her work income until 2056, then sit back and relax. I want this for you too!

If you’re a millennial, you NEED to account for inflation in your retirement plan. Here’s a handy calculator. The reality is becoming a millionaire in our lifetimes is no longer an unattainable dream, but PRACTICALLY A REQUIREMENT to Retire For Good someday! How well prepared are you?

If you need help running your numbers, message us on our Facebook. We’re already helping followers plan for their future, and it’s a lot of fun for us! Seriously, we just want to help.

Is full-on retirement seeming unattainable now? It’s not the end of the world. In our next post, we break down MY plan for the future. I expect it to seriously annoy the naysayers.

So You Want to Be a Millionaire…

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No 18-year-old has $41,600, but that’s pretty much the only thing standing between a high school grad and them becoming a millionaire in their lifetime. Yep, through the magic of compound interest, that’s all it takes to get to seven digits. Here’s how much money you’ll need to become a millionaire by retirement depending on your age. This data assumes you’ll retire at 65 and have your money invested in something that generates 7% interest. (You can find my justification for that number here and here.) It also assumes that: 1) You make no further contributions toward your nest egg, and 2) you make no withdrawals until you’re 65. This is presented as data ONLY. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

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All of these equal $1M:
18 – $41,600 x 47 years of 7% growth
19 – $44,500 x 46 years of 7% growth
20 – $47,700 x 45 years of 7% growth
21 – $51,000 x 44 years of 7% growth
22 – $54,600 x 43 years of 7% growth
23 – $58,400 x 42 years of 7% growth
24 – $62,500 x 41 years of 7% growth
25 – $66,800 x 40 years of 7% growth
26 – $71,500 x 39 years of 7% growth
27 – $76,500 x 38 years of 7% growth
28 – $81,900 x 37 years of 7% growth
29 – $87,600 x 36 years of 7% growth
30 – $93,700 x 35 years of 7% growth
31 – $100,300 x 34 years of 7% growth
32 – $107,300 x 33 years of 7% growth
33 – $114,800 x 32 years of 7% growth
34 – $122,800 x 31 years of 7% growth
35 – $131,400 x 30 years of 7% growth
36 – $140,600 x 29 years of 7% growth
37 – $150,500 x 28 years of 7% growth
38 – $161,000 x 27 years of 7% growth
39 – $172,200 x 26 years of 7% growth
40 – $184,300 x 25 years of 7% growth
41 – $197,200 x 24 years of 7% growth
42 – $211,000 x 23 years of 7% growth
43 – $225,800 x 22 years of 7% growth
44 – $241,600 x 21 years of 7% growth
45 – $258,500 x 20 years of 7% growth
46 – $276,600 x 19 years of 7% growth
47 – $295,900 x 18 years of 7% growth
48 – $316,600 x 17 years of 7% growth
49 – $338,800 x 16 years of 7% growth
50 – $362,500 x 15 years of 7% growth
51 – $387,900 x 14 years of 7% growth
52 – $415,000 x 13 years of 7% growth
53 – $444,100 x 12 years of 7% growth
54 – $475,100 x 11 years of 7% growth
55 – $508,400 x 10 years of 7% growth
56 – $544,000 x 9 years of 7% growth
57 – $582,100 x 8 years of 7% growth
58 – $622,800 x 7 years of 7% growth
59 – $666,400 x 6 years of 7% growth
60 – $713,000 x 5 years of 7% growth
61 – $762,900 x 4 years of 7% growth
62 – $816,300 x 3 years of 7% growth
63 – $873,500 x 2 years of 7% growth
64 – $934,600 x 1 year of 7% growth
65 – $1,000,000

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Well, how’d you do? Don’t worry if you fell short. Remember, THIS IS IF YOU MAKE NO FURTHER CONTRIBUTIONS. You could be 35 with only $80,000, and you’d still hit $1M if you put in $4,000 every year until you’re 65. Also, $1M IS AN ARBITRARY NUMBER. Here’s why I’ll never need a $1M net worth. For more proof that $1M is arbitrary, consider inflation. If I have $1M when I’m 65, that’s only a buying power of today’s $480,610!

Whaddaya think? Does this make you want to become a millionaire more or less? Does this seem doable now? Are you now dreaming of yachts and underwear models? Let us know.

It’s not that difficult becoming rich. That’s why rich people are everywhere!

My Artist Friend, or How to Become a Millionaire While Making $700/Month

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My artist friend “A” has got it made. At only 25, she’s already invested enough in index funds to achieve $800,000+ at 65 with no further contributions. How, you ask? Here’s how someone earning less than $10,000/year will become a Millionaire in her lifetime.

“A” isn’t rich, but she’s Smart As Fuck. Her family was able to put away some money for her education, but she also did plenty of working and saving on her own. She ended up getting shitloads of scholarships though, so within a year of finishing school, she found herself sitting on $50,000! Well, fuck, I guess that money’s going into index funds! A longtime Mr. Money Mustache devotee, “A” figured index funds were the best place for her money, and at her age, IT IS. With the 7% return I talk about so much, her current $53,896 becomes $807,063 in 40 years! To make matters even more mindboggling, SHE EVEN HAS AN EMERGENCY FUND OF $14,000. We’re not even done yet, because SHE’S SO FRUGAL, THIS WOULD LAST HER 20 MONTHS. Not possible? Here’s her living sitch.

Income is a terrible indicator of success. “A” makes $700/month as a freelance artist. Over a year, that’s $8,400. Her monthly rent is only $200. That’s because she lives with three other people. She’s been with her boyfriend for over five years, and even if something terrible happens, she’s open to moving back in with family. She can live comfortably on $700/month. She spends $80 on groceries, about $45 on entertainment, and puts aside $40 for potential emergencies. Her phone costs $25, about $25 goes into dental, and stuff like clothing is practically negligible because she shops at thrift stores. She breaks even every month. WHAT ARE YOU AND I DOING WRONG.

“A” may be frugal, but she’s not living a small life. She’s already been to five countries including Japan and China, she’s done a road trip across the US, and she’s also seen several Canadian provinces. She also – like me – works at her dream job, so it really doesn’t feel like work at all. She’s practically retired already! What would YOU call it if you could do whatever the hell you wanted and just happened to make $700/month?

“A” also knows she can do better. In my interview with her, she talked about getting to $15,000/year reliably and aiming for $375,000 as her FI goal. If, right now, she puts aside just $100/month for her index funds, she’ll hit that number in 25 years! Mr. Money Mustache once said, “If You’re Not Getting Rich in your 20s, You’re Doing it Wrong”. Your twenties are the MOST IMPORTANT TIME TO SAVE because the compound interest gains are unreal. Being a Millionaire is within your reach.

“A” makes less than $10,000/year. What’s your excuse?

Ask us anything on Facebook.

Everything Actually Costs 10x More

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This one’s a quickie.

If you’re reading this, I’m gonna assume you’re around 30. You’re here because you care about Money and Retirement, but you’re also reading this because you haven’t figured it all out yet. You’re not a Millionaire yet. That’s okay. Neither am I… but I can help you get there more effectively. All you need to remember is the title of this post. Here’s why.

Assuming you’re 30, you’ve got 35 years left before a standard retirement age of 65. Every $1 you put into an investment now, generating 7% interest annually, will turn into – wait for it – $10.68 BY 65! Do you know what that means?!? EVERY $10,000 YOU’RE ABLE TO PUT AWAY NOW IS WORTH $106,765.81 BY RETIREMENT!

Before you all jump on me saying 7% annually is unrealistic, I’m obviously talking about index funds that sometimes go up, and sometimes go down. The idea is that 7% is the average growth over a number of years, and you’re not gonna be dumb enough to cash out your index funds entirely right after a crash like 2008. When you decide to cash out, you’ll already be swimming in hundreds of thousands, so you can wait a little bit for the market to recover. You only need to withdraw enough to live on anyway, which should only be about $100/day for maximum happiness! Even that’s kind of extravagant.

For me personally, the US index fund I invested in has gone up 8.2% in the past 10 years. My MER is oddly high (and I’m gonna look into that), but even after factoring that in, my projection for 10-year growth is still about 7%. I’m not just telling you what to do! I’m also doing it!

Just remember: Spending $1 today is costing you $10 in the future. Save it, and invest it. And if you suddenly come across a windfall of $100,000, put it aside so you can become a Millionaire through no effort at all.

$1 + Time = $10.

Simple, right? Even a millennial like you can do it.