Are you Rich, yet?

I like reading, and sometimes commenting on, other people’s blogs.

There are some really good ones out there (check out the Blogroll in the sidebar) … especially helpful to people still in the saving/debt cycle.

 One that I read is Pinyo’s very open blog; in one post he says:

 “From The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, you net worth should be:

Net worth (or Assets – Liabilities) = your age X your pre-tax income / 10

If you have twice that, you are indeed on your way to become wealthy! Stanley and Danko call them Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth or PAW

I did a quick calculation yesterday in my beat up 98 Ford Contour, and our net worth should be about $345,000 according to the formula. Right now, we have about $730,000 including home equity. This mean we are a pair of PAW!

 That got me thinking … when was the last time that I actually bothered calculating my own Net Worth?

 Why even bother? 

You see, the problem with all these external measures is just that … they are external.

If that’s what you want, Networth IQ has a free tool that helps you measure your own Net Worth … and then compare it to others.

But, the real definition of wealth is how much YOU need to live off each year (indexed with inflation) for the ‘life of your dreams’

… your real dreams (hint: for most people that does not require a Ferrari and a Lear Jet).

Multiply that annual amount by 20 – 40 (to be 99% sure your money will last as long as you do) … if you already have that, congratulations, you are RICH!

Simple and accurate … for you.

How to get a guaranteed retirement …

If you are planning for retirement, check out a book called Worry Free Investing by Zvi Bodie.

Then ask a Financial advisor if you can substitute INFLATION PROTECTED MUNI’s (a specific type of Municipal Bonds) for the TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities) that he recommends in his book …

… THEN you just may have ‘guaranteed protection’ against BOTH inflation and taxes, possibly for life.

Now, THAT’s a winner!

Let's not confuse 'saving' with 'investing' …

My point is simply this:
IF your retirement plan is on track, then keep doing what you’re doing.
But, the vast majority of people can’t simply SAVE themselves into their ideal retirement; they have to INVEST in their future.
I call it ‘investing’ – investing in our future – but, if starting a part-time, work-at-home business, experimenting with actively trading stocks or options [not my personal choice], renovating then holding an income-producing property, etc. is ‘speculation’ to you …
… I simply say:

Bring it on baby!

Where do you stand?

In a recent post, I shared one view (not mine) on what it takes to be considered rich

…it’s $5 million !

Now, here is an article by Bankrate that brings that number right down to the other end of the scale …

Check out this table showing the spread of annual income:

Income level (percentile)

Median income (rounded)
Level VI (90 to 100) $170,000
Level V (80 to 89.9) $99,000
Level IV (60 to 79.9) $65,000
Level III (40 to 59.9) $40,000
Level II (20 to 39.9) $24,000
Level I (less than 20) $10,000

Source: Before-Tax Family Income, 2001 Federal Reserve Board Survey 

First, let’s see where you stand in relation to this table?

If you aren’t in the top brackets (although, many of our readers are), it might be comforting to note (according to the Bankrate article): “if you are bringing in $40,000 a year, you’re doing better than half the households in America. Or, as a Washington think tank recently pointed out: If you’re a teacher married to a policeman, your combined household income puts you in the top 25 percent of all households in the nation.”

What intersted me most, was the relatively low income that it takes to be at the absolute middle of the top 10% of all income earners in the USA … ‘only’ $170,000.

This amount seems to correlate with a New York Times survey that said the ‘rich’ were bringing in between $100,000 and $200,000 per year …

… and, if you are like most Americans – earning less than $40,000 – this sounds like a king’s ransom … but, it’s not.

You see, there’s a big difference between what you might bring in as income and what some people call sustainable retirement income .

Take a look at what the Bankrate article tells us how much these same people currently have as their Net Worth:

Net worth (percentile)

Median net worth (rounded)
Level VI (90 to 100) $833,600
Level V (80 to 89.9) $263,100
Level IV (60 to 79.9) $141,500
Level III (40 to 59.9) $62,500
Level II (20 to 39.9) $37,200
Level I (less than 20) $7,900

Source: Family Net Worth, 2001 Federal Reserve Board Survey 

Look at the top level, the same ‘rich’ people who earned $170,000 a year in the first table, only have a median net worth of $833,000 according to the second table.

Now, if you take this $833,000 and apply the ‘safe’ annual withdrawal rate of 4% as advocated by most misinformed financial advisors (for me, the safe withdrawal rate is more like 2.5% p.a.), it seems like these so-called ‘rich guys’ can only afford to spin off $33,000 a year.

Now, that’s less than the teacher and the fireman! So, what’s wrong?

Well, for a start there are actually very few really Rich people in this country – so few that there should be another category in BOTH of the above tables: the top 1% of the USA population by Net Worth and Annual Income. 

Secondly, the so-called ‘rich guys’ earning $170,000 are just like the rest of the working population working at a JOB … Just Over Broke.

When their job stops, they stop being ‘rich’ … period.

So, where do you stand?

Save your way to a fortune? I don't think so …

You’ve read the blogs … you’ve bought the books … you’ve talked to your financial advisor (your wife).

They’ve all told you that you need to pay yourself first! So you are … 10% of your gross salary !

You’re putting some aside in your 401k (with some employer match) and you have a little change going into the cookie jar next to your bed.


You’re already doing two-and-a-half times better than what CBS News calls ‘most people who only save 4% of their salary”.

But …

… it won’t make you rich!

It will stop you from being poor and may even fund a retirement if you start early enough and are willing to take a 30% pay cut.

The problem is, you can’t just save yourself to the retirement of your dreams on the average salary … you have to at least earn more and save most of the extra.

Look at it this way … the amount you can save is limited …

… limited to less than 100% of your salary, and for most people, limited to something between 0% and 20% of their salary.

But, the amount you can earn is only limited by your imagination and your capacity for hard work.

Here are some examples of ways that you can increase your income:

– Change jobs (maybe)

– Work longer shifts (yuk)

– Ask for a payrise (why not?)

– Take on a second (third?) job (horrible)

– Join an MLM ‘opportunity’ (do your homework carefully!)

– Renovate some houses (now may be the time to get back in)

Start trading some stocks (better know what you’re doing?!)

Start a business ‘on the side’ (my favorite!!!)

Whatever you choose: Start Small … Finish Big!

The point is not how YOU should do it, the point is you CAN do it … if you are prepared for some hard work and sacrifice now for a better future. Are you?

If you keep paying yourself first at only 10% of your current salary in your day job, and 50% of the additional money that you earn (after paying off debts), THEN …

… you just may retire RICH!

Let me know if you think this can/can’t work for you …

A retirement dream – Australia

I read an article from the Epoch Times in Australia recently. Apparently, Australia is the country most people around the world would like to live in 20 years time (presumably, this means when they retire).

So, how well does the typical Aussie live in retirement?

AXA (the big French multinational insurance giant) questioned workers in 26 countries and here is how the Aussies perform:

The average retired Australian EARNS $1917 a month.

The average retired Australian SPENDS $1437 a month.

By my reckoning, that means that the average Aussie is living an idyllic retirement lifestyle of $17,000 a year (I couldn’t buy much more than a Big Mac and a Starbucks Latte a day for that!) …

… and, for the really big yearly shindig, they have a whopping $5,800 a year spare to spend on holidays, cars, boats, cigars! By the way, these are Aussie dollars, so take off 20% to convert to US.

The concept of an ‘idyllic retirement’ in Australia (or the US, or most Western countries) takes a lot more money than that … unless, your only passion is surfing every day!

So how do financially astute Americans compare ….

Average Monthly Retirement Income

… pretty similar: living off $27,000 a year in retirement, and somehow ‘saving’ $11,000 for all those fine things the Aussies are also chasing!

My question is this?

When you calculated your Number, was it anything like $30,000 or $40,000 a year? I bet it was MUCH MORE. And, that’s the problem with these surveys … they assume that you can (or want to) live off just 70% (or even 100% or 120%) of your current salary when you retire.

Do you?