The Quitting Lawyer and the Despondent Millionaire
When it comes right down to it, this blog is really just here to change your perspective on things.
The exact same world can seem like an evil or beautiful place, based purely on how you choose to think about it. And paradoxically enough, changing the perspective (and thus the behavior) of enough people can even change the physical reality of the world for the better. That makes “just changing your perspective” into a pretty powerful tool.
My biggest secret to wealth is realizing just how little money it really takes to lead an extremely rich life. But the biggest battle I face in sharing it is the different perspective that is programmed into the modern rich-world consumer: the perspective that simplicity is deprivation, change is scary, and effort is something best paved over with convenience.
So this weekend, I thought we might review a pair of remarkable stories from readers about their own perspectives on their lives. In the first, a rich man wakes up to realize he has been sitting in a jail cell that was unlocked years ago. In the second, the awakening is yet to happen.
Love your inspiring blog, especially the January 29th piece on the insecure rich professor. I have a similar cautionary tale and you may use any of it (without my name).
Without realizing it, I have been financially independent for well over a decade and have now stupidly accumulated too much wealth, with way too many investable assets, zero debt and frugal spending habits.
How in the hell did I allow this to happen, you might ask. Simple: I foolishly listened to the voices of financial professionals, the financial media, and other useful idiots of the consumer/industrial complex. They discourage you from thinking on your own, but luckily, I finally woke up.
In the coming months, I will happily walk away from an extremely profitable and successful career just because it no longer interests me and I am tired of working only to pad my portfolio.
I am looking forward to my new great life, and hope this little message gives someone else the courage to escape from their self imposed bondage.
Pretty bold and happy moves, right? I offer the Quitting Laywer my heartiest congratulations. His perspective changed, and suddenly he was able to set himself free. Hopefully we can get this next man to feel the same way:
Hey Mr. Money Mustache,
I am a 50 soon to be 51 year old guy from Georgia.
At this point I have about $650k in cash, IRA Roll Overs, Roth, and outside of IRA holdings in stocks.
There is another $122K in cash, and I also own two houses free and clear.
I live in one and the other was inherited from my parents. I am fixing it up now to rent. I have never earned more than $95k from all combined jobs and sources of income.
So my total net worth is around 1.1 or 1.2 Million at this point. My wife has about 150K of savings in 401k roll over accounts.
However, I have been in and out of jobs for about the last ten years. I had a good steady job before for 20 years. Now however I cant seem to find anything.
Needless to say this has caused a lot of friction in my wife’s family. My brother in law is a very successful builder who lives in a million dollar plus home and has a very plush lifestyle which I am not used to or frankly even remotely able to provide. Plus he’s not even 40 yet. He got the business from his dad. I was adopted and we never had much money at all. My house of course is only worth about 150K on a good day. I wear thrift shop clothes and in general am invisible when it comes to others. No one seems to have any respect or consideration for me because I don’t appear to have a lot of money.
Unfortunately I have become the black sheep of my family due to this unemployment scene and the object of a lot of criticism.
I was wondering if you thought I was on the right track? I feel like I have done the right things but frankly I am so worried every day that I will not ever be able to work again that I fear I may lose it all or my wife might leave. I lost my parents and have no other family so I am really worried about this.
Maybe you can offer me some tips on coping with folks who don’t understand that I am thrifty and not just a loser who wears used clothes and has no job or career anymore?
Thank you very much for your webpage and the articles and posts. Some days it keeps me sane.
Dear Despondent (Millionaire),
I should first start with Congratulations! From a financial sense, you have done extremely well for yourself, putting yourself at the very top of a very tall pyramid even by US standards. With any reasonable management of that wealth, you and your wife are financially set for life, and any days of work for the rest of your life should be considered purely for the fun of it.
As a quick review, your $772,000 in stock assets can be invested in index funds to generate a relatively safe 4% withdrawal rate for the rest of your life (dividends plus a small amount of capital gains selling each year or even a managed payout fund), providing your first $31,000 of annual income. On top of that, your rental house will yield perhaps $10,000 more per year. Within the next fifteen years, you’ll also start seeing social security and medicare benefits to further pad your income and lower health insurance costs. Unless your living expenses are higher than $41,000 per year (which I would be surprised to hear, given your second mortgage-free home and your ability to save this much so far), you are more than set - for life!
But it’s time to begin an even bigger job, of changing your perspective on yourself and your life. The phrases you used to describe your own situation are the hallmarks of low self-esteem. “I can’t seem to find any work”. “I am unable to provide this lifestyle for my wife”. “Nobody seems to have any respect for me because I don’t appear to have a lot of money”.
Your story really jolted me awake, because in reality, our situations are similar, and yet our perspectives are completely different. We have similar levels of savings. I also haven’t worked much in the last eight years. I too might eventually run out of money if I suddenly moved into a $1M+ house to “provide a certain lifestyle for my wife”. And I wear old clothes most of the time, often building things in an old plaid shirt and ripped jeans that have been repaired with duct tape.
But yet somehow I am extremely happy about this turn of events! So excited that I started this blog to trumpet out the joy of a slightly-less-materialistic life to the entire world, which has turned into an entire movement. Millions of people are reading about it now, and they are excited about the lifestyle - our lifestyle – yours and mine!
It’s often difficult to get a job if you feel down on yourself or desperate for work. But if you don’t need a job, your options are wide open. You can create your own work, by doing what you love. For me, this has resulted in additional unnecessary money and even some job offers. But even if this had not happened, it wouldn’t matter, because money is not the issue for either of us. Meaningful work is a great thing, but you don’t need to go chasing after a traditional job to find it these days.
And people don’t deliver or withhold respect based on your clothing or other manufactured accessories. They unconsciously sense something much deeper – your self respect - and that is what determines your social ranking when you enter a new scene. The readers all around you here are saying “you’re doing just fine, so enjoy it!” I respect you, and you are very worthy of your own respect too, starting right now.
As for the critics: Due to this website, I am sure I get more public criticism than you do, and yet for me it is a big part of the fun. It means real mental comfort zones are being stretched. Meanwhile in my real life, nobody has ever told me to get nicer clothes or find myself a job. You too can learn to ignore and mock misguided critics, while learning from the more thoughtful ones. But more likely, you’ll find they change their tune once you start living your own life with the amount of poise you deserve.
That’s the thing about perspective: in reality, it’s everything. And given this new power over everything, are you willing to consider the possibility that you, too, might have more control than you previously assumed?
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