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!

It’s Your Duty to Educate Your Family About Money

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Money is an insanely sensitive topic, especially when it comes to family. Even now, I don’t let my mom in on my finances. There are things I can justify on my Visa bill that she’d lose her mind over, like the $15 PS4 game I’ll spend 60 hours on. To me, I’m spending $0.25 for each hour of entertainment but to her, I’m throwing money into a pit. I guess we’re both right, depending on what values you grew up with. That’s why most families don’t talk about money. It’s polarizing.

To be fair, my mom raised me to be frugal, but since I was a rebellious teenager, I grew up to be the opposite, eventually plunking my sorry ass into deep debt not once, but twice. These days though, I worry –I– may need to step up to the plate and offer some guidance with the family finances. It hasn’t been a pleasant conversation.

My brother has money. When our dad passed away, life insurance kicked in and made sure he was okay. Mom took control of his finances because he’d never read a personal finance book in his life, and he assumed she knew what she was doing. He was wrong. She locked down a chunk of his money into 1.x% bonds. That doesn’t even keep up with Canadian inflation and is about as dumb as stashing cash in a mattress. Since then, I’ve explained index funds to my brother and why investing in equity is preferable at his age due to the compound gains. This conversation would be impossible with my mother, but I’m trying. She doesn’t take ANY financial risks at all, and suffers for it. Due to stubbornness alone, she’ll most likely stay poor. She also doesn’t believe he needs a credit card, even though he’s 23. Don’t get me started. It’s been infuriating.

Now, this is a HUGE problem for our family. One day, we’ll need to take care of Mom, and our only asset will be the family home, which will hit the market around $550,000 if we ever get around to renovating it. If, in her old age, shit gets squirrelly, that money won’t last long. We may need to sell the house. Potential solutions involve investing NOW with what money we have. Without divulging too many numbers, if my brother invests properly now, he’s looking at $500,000+ by the time he’s 65. Even without the house, he’ll be okay. I will be too, thanks to my 99-year leasehold, BUT HE NEEDS TO INVEST PROPERLY. None of this 1.x% bond crap our mother recommends. We’re also trying to convince her to take in a student because at the moment, she lives in a 4-bedroom townhome alone, which is just about the most wasteful thing I’m currently aware of. Let’s say she has a renter for just one room in the house at $600/month. That’s $7,200/year, and if she invests it all properly, she’ll have $100,000 more in the bank by the time she’s 65. WHY ISN’T SHE DOING THIS? Well, her values don’t allow it. Unless I can change her mind, her belief that family homes are for family only WILL KEEP HER POOR FOREVER. This is terrible because if she’s poor, my brother and I will have to pick up the slack. We’ll have to work harder and longer to take care of the family. Don’t get me wrong; taking care of my mom is a burden I’m happy to bear. I JUST WANT TO TAKE CARE OF HER NOW THROUGH FINANCIAL EDUCATION INSTEAD OF WAITING FOR THE DEBT SHITSTORM TO HIT US WHEN SHE’S 80.

It’s one thing to be financially secure on your own. It’s equally important to make sure your loved ones are financially secure. If your finances are directly affected by someone, GET THEM ON BOARD WITH PERSONAL FINANCE. This blog is a good start. Make sure they understand saving, investment, credit, interest, and retirement. Trust me on this. And if you don’t? Well, you’re gonna be stuck paying for it. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Don’t Count On An Inheritance

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This summer, I visited Kamloops, BC and went on a hike with “Ben and Barbara”. We didn’t start out talking about personal finance, but when I bought a used copy of “Your Money or Your Life” at a local bookstore, we ended up in a deep conversation about cash, happy living, and planning for end-of-life care. It was the most enlightening conversation I’d had all year.

We were driving back to their place from Salmon Arm when I started talking about my retirement plan. Foolishly, I expected a small inheritance from my family someday. After all, we had a townhome in the family I estimated to be worth $450,000. My brother might decide to start a family there, but I reasoned I could at least rent out the basement to a student for $800/month. My brother and his family could take the top two floors and live just fine. Obviously, I wouldn’t move in because I don’t have rent in Richmond anyway, so I’d just hang out at my current place and pocket the rent. Easy peasy. We drove on, and I took in the scenery. Then, she dropped the bomb.

“Have you considered end-of-life care for your mother?” Barbara asked.

“No,” I admitted.

“Well, you should. End-of-life care can get expensive, especially when it comes to memory care. There may be money in your family, but it’s your mother’s money first. You may need to liquidate the home to pay for that. Don’t count on an inheritance.”

Her words hit me like a freight train. She was right. It was only days ago I was talking with a coworker about HER mother’s end-of-life care. We were considering using Nurse Next Door, so I’d researched the cost. Estimates were between $550/month for basic care to $4,000/month for “vital care”. Senior housing was even worse, with assisted living in BC at an average of $2,747/month, and memory care at $5,720/month! If your mom has Alzheimer’s, expect to pay $68,640/year while she’s living in a home. My family’s $450,000 townhome suddenly becomes 6.5 years of memory care in a retirement facility! Well… fuck.

Listen, I know you care about your parents. I do too. I’m not writing this to scare you, but I want to prepare you for the reality of end-of-life care. If you thought you were getting an inheritance, you probably aren’t. Your parents’ money is theirs first. Instead, prepare for your own financial future by investing appropriately, and not spending all your money buying shiny shit. The wealth your parents built up is for them to use, not you. Also, did you know average life expectancy in Canada is now 80-84? Let’s not mince words: If you were counting on an inheritance and you’re not already ridiculously rich, YOU’RE FUCKED. Start saving. Prepare, not just for your future, but also your parents’. Invest wisely, and maybe you’ll come out okay. You have been warned.

Sorry to ruin your day. Here’s a picture of a cute cat.

The Super Boring Post on Normal Retirement

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Normal Retirement at 65 is basic personal finance, which is why it boggles my mind that Most People haven’t figured this shit out yet. Up until yesterday, I hadn’t figured it out either. After all, it wasn’t too long ago I said Retiring at any age wasn’t likely. The truth is I was just lazy and hadn’t run my numbers yet. I just got back from the bank, and I’m now 100% set for Normal Retirement (NR). Here’s how I did it.

I have $13,174.09 in my RRSP right now. $8,605.79 is invested in a Select Growth mutual fund and $4,568.30 is in US Index. I plan to go even more aggressive in my investment strategy and put 80% into US Index. I expect that to return 7% annually. I’m only 27, so I have 38 years of growth to look forward to before I’m an old sack of shit who won’t want to work anymore. If I do, I’ll have even more money, but let’s just pretend I’m useless at 65. Using our trusty Compound Interest Calculator, let’s see what happens if I maintain 7% growth for 38 years without further RRSP contributions: $172,307.50! Not bad, but I can’t Retire on that. What if I put in $100/month, or $1,200/year? Holy assballs, we’re looking at $393,875.85! THAT’S ONLY ADDING $100/MONTH! That’s enough to Retire on. I’ll still have my Home inflating my Net Worth to $500,000+ and I’ll most likely still be Working instead of being 100% Retired. I’ll be even richer! And all it took was $100/month. Go, me.

Are you in your 20s? Right now is the absolute most crucial time to save. Did you know investing just $15,000 from the time you’re 20-34 means more than investing $35,000 from the time you’re 30-64? WHAT THE FUCK. If, at 20, you start saving $100/month and invest it in US index funds with a 7% annual return, you’ll have $366,902.12 by 65! Are you an overachiever? $200/month gives you a whopping $733,804.23! HOW ARE YOU NOT ALREADY DOING THIS? ARE YOU NOT AWARE THAT BANKS ARE MONEY MACHINES DESIGNED TO MAKE YOU RICH?

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a Millennial with no hope of Retiring. I’m here to tell you Retiring is possible. NR can be yours for less than $200/month. That’s approximately the cost of NOT buying a $5 latte every day. It’s also approximately the cost of NOT going to a club filled with douchebags and racking up a one-night bar tab every month.

Your Future is in your hands. What means more to you? The Retirement you never thought was possible, or the soy-mocha-frap-fuckdrink you “can’t live without”? Buy a coffeemaker. Go to shitty clubs less. Treat yourself still, but not in a way that costs money. Go for a goddamn jog. Eat well. Read a book. You’ll be Rich in no time.

If you need me, I’ll be over here mathing how to put an extra $100/month into my TFSA. Maybe I can try for EARLY Retirement. I can’t believe how simple Getting Rich is…

Shiny Things Are Stupid

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I own many shiny things. There’s a long list, but the main items up for debate are my Canon 1D X and my admittedly ridiculous collection of PlayStations (3 PS4s, 2 PS3s and 1 PS2). While the 1D can be written off as a business expense, the gaming expenses are pretty nuts. With all the screens, controllers and games added in, we’re looking at roughly $5,000+ I’ve spent on video games. Crazy, right? Or is it? Let us know in the comments, but let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of today’s post: Why are shiny things dumb, and how can omitting them from your life improve it?

I don’t drive a nice car. I’m actually driving my mom’s shitbox Corolla and don’t tell her this, but putting a few dents in it from time to time isn’t something that worries me. I get basic insurance, and MPG is something that matters to me. I crave efficiency and practicality. On the other side of the spectrum, I see all sorts of ridiculous cars in Richmond, BC where I live: Maseratis, BMWs and miscellaneous other expensive vehicles being driven by 20-year-olds. I admit flaunting wealth can be kinda fun, but when you’re 20 with an N on the back, you just look like an idiot trying to fit in. It’s obvious you didn’t earn the money to buy said vehicle, and it’s obvious you care more about appearance than substance. Don’t be a dipshit.

But wait! What if you’re NOT a dipshit and you still buy a car you can’t afford? I sat down with my friend Mike in the UK and prices are just a wee bit crazier over there. This is the story of his Toyota GT86. In his words:

“Toyota Gt86 list price in U.K is £28000. I pay £460 a month for the car, then i have to pay car tax and insurance plus budget for fuel which has been high in proce over here. around £1.20 per liter. ($2.45)”

UH, WHAT?!? Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t £28,000 about $52,723.06 in Canadian dollars? His £460/month payments are like $866.16! That’s like Vancouver rent, just for a tiny room with wheels! He also pays twice what we do for gas: £1.20 is about $2.26. WHAT. My immediate question is whom he’s trying to impress. If it’s women, I’d like to point out financial stability is far sexier in the long run than an overpriced sports car. But hey, I get it; I have toys too. IT’S JUST THAT MINE ARE 10X LESS COSTLY. But wait, it gets worse.

“as part of my contract, i have to have my car serviced by the dealer every year and there are different grades of service. my first was around £180 for oil and filter change basically which should be classed as fucking thef because i could do it myself for 1/4 the price.”

Don’t even get me started.

“year 2 was supposed to cost around £450 at toyota for the more detailed service. i found out i could get it done at any vat registered dealer. my friend has his own garage, he basically charged me for parts and a little labour. It cost me £190”

In short: Fuck you, Toyota.

I may be $22,535.05 in debt, but that was a series of hundreds and hundreds of minor mistakes. Mike made One Big Mistake and fucked his financial future in colossal ways. Luckily, he’s getting rid of it soon, and for good reason. The last time I saw him, a massive hailstorm had just hit Newcastle. His shiny GT86 was suddenly peppered with tiny dents. He lost his shit. Why put so much money into something that only causes you stress? That seems like a shitty investment! But wait, you wanna see numbers, right? Let’s run ‘em: $52,723.06, if I invested it now at 27 averaging 7% interest, IS $689,579.21 BY RETIREMENT AT 65!

Mike, sell the goddamn car. I know you’re reading this. Sell the goddamn car. Your future depends on it.

That’s just one example, but if you’re ever gonna succeed in life, you need to stop being so precious about the shit you like to keep pristine. Your shiny car is bullshit. The $1.2M mansion you’re pulling 70 hours a week for is bullshit. My PlayStation collection is bullshit. None of it matters. If it’ll cause you stress when it’s inevitably compromised in a way that WILL COST YOU EVEN MORE MONEY, it’s a poor investment. However, if it SAVES you money, or GENERATES money, you’re in the clear. That’s why my Canon 1D X isn’t stupid. That camera can make me thousands in a day. That can stay.

Here’s a Compound Interest Calculator. The next time you’re considering a Large Purchase, figure out the Real Cost and how much Money you’d have if you invest it instead. I calculate for 7% because I invest in US index funds. Literally NEVER skip this step. If you follow this advice, you’ll be richer than you ever dreamed.

See you when you’re Retired. Fancy some PlayStation?

The Bens Conquer North America!

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Ben and I started this blog with the best of intentions, but month after month, we’re proving to be better examples of what NOT to do instead of being the personal finance wizards we like people to think we are. Since you’re already aware of my Questionable Spending Habits, maybe it’s time to update you on The Other Ben – pictured above – who recently moved to NYC to participate in a three-month programming retreat…

Ben is one of the smartest people I know. He’s so close to a six-figure salary, I freak out and flip tables every time I think about it. Before his move, he was averaging an estimated monthly expenditure of $1,750, or $21,000 a year. When you take a step back and remember how much he makes on average, it’s mind-blowing how fast he’ll reach Retirement. He’s 27 and had he stayed on course, he would’ve reached his Retirement Number of $525,000 by 38 like he planned. (Many of us in the personal finance community use The 4% Rule when mathing our Retirement Numbers.) Well, Ben quit his job recently to go to New York, so his current salary is actually $0.

This won’t set him back though. If anything, the things he’ll learn and the people he’ll meet at his programming retreat will help him reach his six-figure salary even sooner. In the long run, as long as Ben returns to his high-earning and thrifty ways, he’ll still be able to Retire by 40.

February was a spending disaster for Ben. He made it very clear I could only post these numbers if I made it obvious this wasn’t his usual spending. He’s renting in the US and Canada while he moves, and paying phone bills in both countries. Total expenses for February: $3,387.28. His Rent for both places was $1,650 of that. Food came to $750.20 as he explored his new neighbourhood. Honestly, I would’ve done the same. One surprise I noticed was he didn’t have an Alcohol category. Could he really have spent ONLY $750 on food AND booze? Holy shit. What kind of monster does that? I’m too embarrassed to even mention my Alcohol spending. It’s more than $750 and that’s all you need to know.

An interesting thing to note is Ben’s spending in February was almost exactly what I spent in January. The main difference is what he spent in Rent, I spent on Alcohol. At this point, I’m full on acknowledging I have a Drinking Problem, and March is already looking better. I’m keeping myself busy by taking on more photo clients, and my Alcohol consumption is way down. If you can believe it, we’re now seven days in, and my Alcohol spending is literally at $0. There’s hope for me yet.

What questions do you have about our spending? Any tips? What else would you like us to track? Let us know in the comments.

What I Learned by Retiring for 2 Years

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Realizing I didn’t need a day job anymore was pretty freaking cool. I figured this out in 2014.

2014 was a year of both awesomeness and shittiness. I lost my dad that year. I also inherited the money I needed to get out of my substantial debt – $25,000 at the time. Since I’m the Dumb Ben though, I wasted no time at racking up more debt. I owe $19,000 now. More on that later. I was also able to get my place sorted out. I’m now the owner of a 99-year leasehold property in Richmond, BC. For those of you unfamiliar with leaseholds, I basically own the property, just not the land underneath it. I have 72 years left before I get booted out. I’ll be homeless at 99. More on that later too.

The remaining 72 years are all paid off. It was $170,000. The strata fees and property taxes are 100% covered by the rent I charge my roommate. I’m super lucky, and as I type this, I can already hear the lynch mob forming. At 27, I don’t have rent.

That’s not to say I do nothing. I have a successful wedding photography business, and charge up to $4,400 for my packages. I hardly count it as Work though. I love every part of what I do, and outsource the stuff I don’t like, like editing. On my last $4,400 wedding, I outsourced virtually everything except the actual photography. Time investment: 1½ days. The lynch mob is banging on my door now.

So with my photo “work”, food was covered too, and then some. Now what? For me, the answer was Retire. Sure, I’m cheating a little bit, but I was “working” around 30 days a year, and was frugal enough that I could live off that. I don’t care what you say. I was fucking Retired.

No lies, it was great at first. I could get up at 4 PM, slam two beers, play Minecraft until 9, then hit the pub. I got to see my friends and family whenever I wanted. I’d go on adventures, disappearing into the US for weeks at a time. I even made it to the UK for my friend’s wedding, and made some great memories there. And then… I just sat on my ass a lot.

Like, A LOT. What I didn’t know was the first 40 hours of Minecraft are pretty fun. The next 200 hours are significantly less so. I started gaining weight. I developed a drinking problem. My mental health started to suffer. Getting together with my friends got more challenging, since they had work and families, and I just kind of had… nothing. My life, without Work, suddenly had zero Meaning. I was suddenly a depressed slob who couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a shower. Since I only ever worked at weddings, and was always too focused on taking pictures instead of interacting with people, I’d often go weeks without an actual conversation. I mean, it’s no wonder so many people die right after retiring. Read this. Without a purpose in life, even if that purpose is as silly as earning money, why go on?

I realize this sounds like the privileged whining of a 1%-er, and in many ways, you’re right. I have what a lot of people want. I thought I wanted this too. I want you to reconsider Retirement though. What would you REALLY do if money were simply not an issue? What would you do with your life if you had an extra 8 hours every day? If you’re the type of person who’s so hard-working that you can Retire early, what makes you think suddenly having NOTHING to do will make you feel good?

After two years of mild existential terror, I figured it out. Retirement wasn’t about doing nothing. It was about finding out what had Meaning to me. Meaningful employment is important, even if it doesn’t earn a bunch of money. I currently sell wine to people for $13/hour when I’m not shooting weddings. I don’t need the money, but it gets me out of the house. I don’t drink as much now. I shower more often. I have real conversations with people. I get to talk about fine beer, wine and spirits, which is a passion of mine. And to top it all off, the money I make goes into getting me out of debt, and profitable investments for the future. I had Meaning again. I was choosing to Work. Even though I’d “made it”, I needed Work to feel whole.

Rethink Retirement. You can Retire and work on something you love, and if it happens to make enough money for you to live on, guess what? You’re Retired! Get a job that doesn’t feel like Work. Get a job that gives you more Time. Get a job that has Meaning. I know it’s not as simple as all that, but make it a goal. All of this is better than the fantasy of never having to work again. Trust me, you’d probably hate it.

Oh, hey. That lynch mob is ringing the doorbell. I should probably let them in.