The odds of being a millionaire are still in your favour in your golden years!
Tevye, the main character in the classic movie ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, dreams of (and sings about) being a rich man in one of the songs in the movie, titled ‘If I were a rich man’:
“…If I were a rich man,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn't have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy rich,
I'd build a big tall house with rooms by the dozen,
Right in the middle of the town.
A fine tin roof with real wooden floors below.
There would be one long staircase just going up,
And one even longer coming down,
And one more leading nowhere, just for show….”
Like Tevye, many of us dream of being rich; of being a millionaire. Young, ‘dot com’ millionaires such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and rich young celebrities such as Justin Bieber have rekindled these dreams among youngsters who are looking for that ‘big break’ to become the next ‘rich kid millionaire’. While there are those entrepreneurs get rich quick, these youngsters have made their first million well before they reached the legal age for drinking or obtaining a drivers’ license!
Does this mean that if you have missed the millionaire boat before you reach middle age (around 40 years of age) you can never be a millionaire? Definitely not! There are plenty of examples of millionaires in their golden years, most of whom spent their youth on learning and growing from their mistakes rather than waiting for ‘Lady Luck’ to lead them to the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Indeed, thanks to the maturity of these ‘late bloomers’ , they make better decisions and can often enjoy their fortunes longer than many of their younger counterparts.
Thanks to a vast number of tools as well as information that is available on the Internet free of charge, you can use these resources to start building your wealth early on. Indeed, the Internet has made building your own wealth more accessible than it ever was, and it’s literally in the palm of your hand!
Consider the following examples of a few well-known individuals who became millionaires for the first time in their golden years:
Harland Sanders, the real ‘colonel’ behind Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), started his career as a restaurateur at the ripe age of 62 years old! By this time, he had already been a fireman, sold insurance and had worked at gas (fuel) stations. It was during his tenure at Shell when he traded his cooking skills in exchange for free rent. News about his tasty chicken spread fast and, as they say, the rest is history!
Even the President of the United States of America (USA), Barack Obama, is a millionaire. Of course, you would say, he must be earning a substantial amount to be at the helm of one of the leading countries (economies) in the modern world. True, but President Obama was a millionaire before he became President – he earned his first million as a writer. This was no quick road to success as it is said that the very President Obama struggled to pay his student loans for as long as ten years after graduating…
Martha Stewart got her first big break at the ripe age of 40 years, also earning her first million by writing a book, which was published in the 1980’s. However, this former model already became an entrepreneur in the 1970s when she opened her own catering business. As soon as clients and celebrities started flowing into the business, she sold the business for $1 million dollar. It is estimated that Martha Stewart’s net worth today sits around $300 million.
There is a school of thought that says that most millionaires are entrepreneurs that found unique solutions to a problem and made millions from turning it into a business. Some entrepreneurs, like Wally Amos, the boss of Famous Amos cookies, built their hobby (in this case baking) into a successful business. It is also said that a millionaire is unlikely to come from a permanently employed background, as being a salaried employee means you are contributing to making your bosses millionaires. While there is some truth in this statement, making wise investment choices and starting to save early in life might reward you with your first million in your golden years.
Simple and not easy steps to becoming a millionaire in your golden years
If salaried employees take heed of a few basic principles, becoming a millionaire in their golden years is not only possible, but quite simple. While it’s simple, it’s definitely not easy and those who find themselves in middle age but haven’t heeded these simple principles early on in their lives, are unlikely to reap the benefits of a comfortable lifestyle in their golden years. These individuals would be largely dependent on ‘Lady Luck’ to have the odds of becoming a millionaire in their golden years work in their favour.
There are a few common characteristics that all millionaires have in common, so individuals who want to be millionaires should start cultivating these (if they don’t have them already) as a necessary first step. These include believing you can be wealthy, saving, having discipline, persevering (keeping going in the face of adversity, even if the proverbial finish line is still very far away) and only then will a little bit of luck (often being in the right place at the right time) and an X factor contribute to success. It is much easier to achieve something if you don’t even realise what you are doing.
Get rid of bad habits and learn to budget!
If you are a salaried employee wanting to use time in your favour to earn your first million, it only makes sense to eliminate a few bad habits from the outset. The right attitude is important. Do not try to impress others with your possessions, especially not if you have to incur credit card debt, buy a new car or buy that ‘big tall house with rooms by the dozen’ if you cannot really afford it. While there is nothing wrong with financing big purchases such as a car or a house, the secret lies in paying these off sooner rather than later. Millionaires-in-the-making use their experience to minimise debt and create their wealth.
Always spend less than you earn. The first step to this is to keep track of all your expenses and to learn how to budget. Make sure your budget is realistic but not rich, as not having a budget as well as budgeting too low amounts will result in overspending. If you don’t know how to set up a budget or you are not particularly fond of engaging in spread sheet activity, get some help, as knowing how much you spend, as well as how much you have to spend, is critical, also if you want to become a millionaire!
Listen to your elders’ advice
Youngsters often won’t listen to their elders because they want to make their own mistakes. Coming to terms with the fact - already at a young age - that there is not enough time for you to repeat the mistakes that some of your elders have already made, will see youngsters paying more heed to advice given by their parents and other elders. Another quick-win in terms of attitude is to stop thinking that the world owes you something – it doesn’t!
Hard workers reap the rewards
Another attribute that will stand you in good stead if you are planning to become a millionaire is working harder and smarter. Who are your competitors and what do they look like? If it is a colleague or colleagues at the office of your workplace, what differentiates you from them? Use this key differentiator together with working harder and smarter and you are sure to be recognised for it. Yes, never be afraid of hard work – it’s not necessarily the hours you put in, but the professionalism with which you start, follow through and complete a project is what will count in your favour. Volunteer to participate in projects that will add a new skill to your portfolio and that will require you to push your personal boundaries.
Never believe people who are discouraging you if you have set yourself the goal of becoming a millionaire! Actions speak louder than words and when you achieve your goal, you will prove them wrong. However, choose a lofty ideal for wanting to become a millionaire as this will assist in keeping you humble in the face of adversity.
Leverage the energy of youth
Now that the right attitude is in place, it is time to leverage the energy of being young. Once you’ve completed your secondary and tertiary education, you would want to prove your worth to yourself, as well as those that assisted you financially and emotionally. Channel the energy positively and use it to kick-start your career in the direction of study you chose.
There’s a lot to be said for graduating from your tertiary education without having any dependants. You can then focus all your energy on creating wealth, which you will not be able to do when school fees and other necessities that dependants demand come into the fray.
When you are ‘committed’ in terms of your assets (home, investments, etc.) you have quite a lot to lose when the world economy takes a knock and things go pear-shaped. Upon graduation, you are unlikely to have a lot of assets, which means you can take some additional risks that those of us who have significant ‘financial commitments’ cannot do. So, start a company, invest in shares or take a new job opportunity – you literally have nothing to lose! Investments don’t need to be big. Start with a small amount and reap the rewards of a long-term focus.
Save, save, save, save – and then some for a rainy day
Considering the issue of saving, as said before, millionaires always pay themselves first. You are likely to have a 40-year working career. If you save just 20% of your after-tax salary in a year and invest this amount wisely so that compound interest over a long period works in your favour, you could be a millionaire at the end of the 40-year period.
Individuals who want to become millionaires know that life is what happens when you are making other plans. You should have an emergency fund to provide for an unexpected illness, a natural disaster or job loss. Putting an amount of money away monthly to get to an emergency fund that is equal to three or six months’ expenses is crucial. Better still, make it eight months’ expenses then you know you are home and dry in case of an emergency.
Admit to you mistakes, but move on swiftly
Make peace with the fact that you are human and that you are going to make mistakes. However, don’t use this as an excuse. Instead, learn from it and make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice. Admit that you have made a mistake and then move on. Carrying the baggage of your mistakes will hamper your progress, so throw it off so that you can travel lightly into the future.
If you love it, they will come!
As mentioned above about the boss of Famous Amos cookies, Wally Amos transformed his love for baking into a successful business. It was most probably ‘love made visible’, as the easiest way to get someone to love something is for you to love it first, because if you create something you love and would use, chances are others will, too! More often than not, extensive and expensive scientific research is not what creates millionaires. Millionaires are indeed more often created from their passion to make the world a better place. Find or build something that you would love to have, as excitement about a project increases your chances of success.
Adopt the thought patterns and actions of a millionaire
Learning to think and act like a millionaire is an important step to becoming one. Commonly held perceptions would have it that millionaires are all about ‘all work and no play’. On the contrary, millionaires know how to balance work and play. Learn from an early age to work hard, but know when to call it quits to spend some time with friends and family.
Are millionaires rich because they are stingy, or are they stingy because they are rich?
Neither of these is correct, as millionaires are not stingy and genuine millionaires are not flashy – they live below their means.
Millionaires have many acquaintances and business associates. They regularly interact with individuals as part of networking to advance their company’s profitability. They look well after their health and do not allow stress, fatigue, doubt, resentment and other negative thoughts and emotions to overwhelm them. They follow a healthy diet, keep active and sleep well, knowing that these habits will free up the energy they will require for good management, sensible thinking and taking occasional risks.
It is clear that dreaming about being rich or relying on ‘Lady Luck’ to lead you to (King Solomon’s) goldmines will not make you a millionaire. If you are considering ‘marrying rich’ because you don’t want to adopt the attitude and behaviours of a millionaire, consider for a moment the sacrifices that you would have to make to be at the beck and call of a rich husband or wife. As far as inheriting a million is concerned, if whoever you stand to inherit from didn’t make wise decisions, your chances of an inheritance worth a million are gone with the wind. Relying on winning the lottery to transform you into an instant millionaire? Don’t bargain on it, as it is said the odds of you being the ‘top dog’ is 1 in 14 million!
With that said, the words of Tevye’s song in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ should rather read ‘when I become a rich man’ than ‘if I were a rich man’, but only if you are ready to make the mind shift required to make a million, and call yourself a millionaire, in your golden years.