#EK – What does it feel like to be a self-made millionaire under the age of 25?
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I’ve been featured on the homepage of Yahoo! as a millionaire, offered 3 separate reality TV shows – including that terrible Millionaire Dating one on Bravo. I bought a luxury car with cash on my 16th birthday, owned a house a few years later.
Hitting $1m was a non-event, I don’t even know the exact date it happened. The dividends just all of a sudden added up, and it was there. I celebrated by buying myself a used Rolex. A few years later I also did a vacation where I “tried to spend as much money as possible” – but I still found myself gravitating towards “values” on the wine list rather than blowing it all out by spending thousands on a bottle, which I thought was silly.
Hitting 8-figures was a bit more substantial, I knew it meant I’d never, ever have to work again unless something went terribly wrong. The closing call with the law firm was one of the biggest anti-climaxes of my life. I had already “owned” the money in my head years before hand, so seeing it crystallize on my bank statement didn’t make a huge difference, except that it freed me up to start tackling bucket-list items.
I had been postponing so many experiences with the idea of “doing it at some point in the future when I made it” that I just started tackling them one by one. Superbowl. Sundance. SobeFest. Africa. A month around Europe. 3-Star Michelin dining.
The only “awkward” thing I keep running into repeatedly, is other people’s comments about wealth or money. Whether it’s a tour guide pointing out a hotel that costs $1000/night and everybody in the tour bus gasps (and it’s where I’m staying) or taxi drivers making snarky comments about millionaires, or people suggesting it’s my “lucky day and I should buy a lotto ticket” – I run into it repeatedly and predictably, but I always tend to keep my mouth shut and not say anything.
Along the way, the most interesting phenomenon has been “adaptation”. Moving from a $300K apartment to a $1m one barely made a difference after the first month.
Jumping from that to something 60% bigger, and oceanfront (on the beach) that was worth over $2m barely made a blip after the first few weeks.
Buying a fancy, fast sports car – yes, I did it, but again people tend to massively overestimate the “joy” or “happiness” that a particular item will give them vs. reality. After a few weeks, it just sits there. The anticipation, wait and planning is almost better than the realization of the event itself.
When they say “it’s all about the journey, rather than the destination” that’s absolutely true. The part that I’ve most enjoyed is hanging out, meeting and become friends with amazing, successful, smart and ambitious entrepreneurs. It’s inspiring, invigorating, and just plain fun.
I still don’t have a private plane or NetJets card, I fly economy-class around North America most of the time, I don’t even have a maid to do my cleaning. I prefer to buy clothes when they go on sale, and I cringe at people who waste thousands on Gucci-this or Prada-that. I upgrade my MacBook every few years, not every model. I still use an original iPad. I’ve never bought a new car (except for my parents). The biggest TV in my apartment is 42″.
Experiences, even when they cost thousands of dollars a day, so far have been my best investments. I’ve stopped postponing as much as I used to. The best time is “now”, but to be honest, I could have done many of these things much earlier, and on a lower-budget, and probably still had a great time.
Try this as a test–
Make a list of all physical things you would buy if you had $10 million. Let your mind roam free. Don’t limit yourself to the reasonable.
It’s not that long, is it?
And if you worked a decade or more to earn that money, you’d cross 90% of the items off that list anyway. There’s amazingly few physical things that are worth spending money on once you’ve covered the basics. If I gave you $100K in cash and told you to spend it in a day, you’d be hard pressed unless you bought jewelry, or a car.
Gadgets? Clothes? A bigger TV? Unless money fell from the sky into your lap, you’re probably going to be quite pragmatic about what you invest in. There’s a reason why most lottery winners end up bankrupt within a few years.
The utility of money once you get past a certain threshold is very limited. And I honestly think that most people who want to be “rich” don’t really mean it. What they are really saying is that they’d like someone to hand them a check.
But when push comes to shove, and there’s hard work, sacrifices, and tears involved, they’d rather spend 4-hours a day watching TV along with the rest of America.
31+ Comments • Share (27) • Embed • Thank • 27 Aug
272 votes by Kevin Lin, Jordan Staniscia, Jason Shen, (more)
I sold my company for >$100 million at age 24.
1. The most interesting effect is that I thought consciously about my personal goals. I never did that before. Now I thought…. well, I can basically do anything I want. So what do I want? Not such an easy question. Surprisingly, the goals I identified were mostly goals that don’t require much money, such as: learn to photograph landscapes like a pro, become a good salsa dancer, learn Italian, learn to cook Thai food. Now I am working more consciously towards my goals. I found myself a private Italian teacher (whilst before I would have joined a course) but the most striking realization was that I could basically have done all these things with just a modest salary… and I didn’t, because I imagined I needed to work so hard and make money.
2. I still feel uncomfortable with spending money unnecessarily. I am from a poor family and the way I was raised, I always made sure not to spend more than necessary. The weird thing now is that I CAN spend more and it doesn’t really make a difference financially, but it still does psychologically. For example I booked a really nice (and somewhat expensive) hotel, and then I caught myself being reluctant to use the mini bar because some voice deep inside my head told me that mini-bars in hotel rooms are a ripoff.
3. Some people react very strangely when they find out you have money. My guitar teacher started with little comments that soon turned into monologues about how the rich exploit the working class and it became more and more clear to me that he perceived me as being from another planet, although I don’t live, dress or act any different from anybody else. It got so bad that I had to find a new teacher.
4. As they say, money can’t buy happiness, and that is true. I have tried some of the typical ways to spend money on convenience, and my key learning is that the effect doesn’t last. The first few times it’s really nice to fly business class. Then you get used to it. Then it’s nothing special anymore, but suddenly economy class (which was fine before) feels like crap. This adaption is dangerous because if you indulge, you won’t be any more satisfied in the long-run, but your standards will go up and you become incompatible with what’s normal for everybody else. I think that this is the #1 reason why some rich people have become assholes. If you don’t want to become like that, take the bus more often.
7+ Comments • Share • Embed • Thank • 5 Sep
102 votes by Julie Prentice, Luca Hammer, Nils Ververs Lübke, (more)
By the age of 25 I was worth many millions “on paper” thanks to some great fortune with a company I had started four years earlier. When I did eventually “cash out” a few years later I had (and still have) tens of millions to my name.
Making millions at a young age is, in my opinion, a total privilege–and no matter how you did it, full of lucky twists and turns. It is absolutely true that it is an amazing feeling to know that unless you are an idiot you will never have to worry about things like retirement, being able to send your kids to college, paying for catastrophic medical problems, working if you don’t want to. It is also great to never have to sweat any moderate splurges like nice meals out, pricey bottles of wine, choosing which hotel to stay at on a vacation, or paying for friends who can’t afford something you want to do together. If you, like most people, spend a lot of your free time worrying about these items on a daily basis, you are correct to be feeling envious. This part is completely awesome.
However, the human brain is not wired to just stop worrying about things, if that’s the kind of brain you have. And most people who are in my situation got there because they have an intense focus on living, working hard, being competitive, trying to achieve “above and beyond,” not to mention a pretty healthy sense of self worth.
So your brain replaces worrying about the critical items above with other items which may seem less critical to the reader but are just as important to the meglomaniac young millionaire who thinks they deserve what they have received. The rest of these answers reveal exactly this phenomenon. The urge is to turn your attention towards your own perceived “greatness,” how to build your legacy, how to protect your millions and your lifestyle, how to defend yourself from gold-diggers and hi-jackers, how to not lose what you have. This mindset is a curse, not only because it turns you into a total asshole, but because you end up wasting what should be seen as a total gift: independence to completely ignore financial gain as a motivating factor.
I know because I’ve been tempted by all of these thoughts, and they are repeated again and again by your family and the army of “wealth advisors” and “estate planners” and “potential business partners” who approach you after the word is out about your newfound wealth.
This is where having kids and some common sense comes in handy. Do you really want your kids to grow up never having seen their parents work, or worry about the cost of something? Do you really need five cars, and two or three houses? Is flying commercial really that inconvenient? Are your kids going to love you more if you give them everything? Answers: Hell no it makes them lazy brats, one semi-luxury car per licensed driver is totally sufficient, one sweet house plus a sweet vacation timeshare is more than adequate, private planes are only rarely worth it but business class is really nice on international flights, and no, they will actually love you less and be miserable grown ups.
Which leaves us with work. Working (or being productive at something) is a huge part of being happy, so having all the money in the world just means you can choose what you do independent of how much money it will make you. However, in my profession (entrepreneur) it turns out that making money is one of the by-products of being successful, so if I keep doing my job well it will likely result in making more money. Which I’m going to give away to charity, along with all of my extra millions (I’ve already given $5M and counting) after keeping enough to generate an “annuity” to support our very lovely lifestyle (around $250K a year after taxes) and saving for the kids’ college funds. If you don’t work, or produce something of value for our society, then you aren’t really living, and then the money has actually snuffed out an otherwise productive life.
So, my advice to those of you who are not young millionaires is that you should absolutely crave the feeling of financial security, knowing you can afford to retire, having enough to send all of your kids to private colleges, not worrying about going out to dinner a few times a week, collecting wine, travelling (within reason). Note: you don’t really need millions to achieve this feeling of security. But you should not crave the feeling of having anything you want any time you want it, or not having to work ever again. You don’t want it, and you don’t want to become the person that having unlimited resources will tempt you to become.
As for those of you out there who are young millionaires, please try hard to resist the temptation to believe you actually deserve it. None of us do, so enjoy it with restraint and respect for the ones out there who are just as smart (or smarter) and work just as hard (or harder) than we do but have a lot less (while arguably doing something better for the world).
5 Comments • Share • Embed • Thank • 5 Sep
833 votes by Anon User, Larry Lehky, Vicki Boykis, (more)
At age 22, nothing fazes you, not even making a million dollars. Making millions quickly becomes normal, and you realize you’ve achieved nothing relative to the tremendous riches in this world; the skew is so high in the upper echelons of wealth that your net worth is numerically closer to someone on welfare than to Mark Zuckerberg. Millions is the level where another bold kid with vision and drive could easily surpass you in a few years, the level where it’s unclear you wouldn’t be better off being one of his share holding employees than out taking risks on your own.
It only takes a few expensive toys for millions to become boring. Who wants overpriced versions of what everyone has? Fancy cars quickly reveal themselves to be huge pains in the ass: stick shift is senselessly annoying in the city and the wheels are constantly acquiring minute, infuriating blemishes. You can only drive one car at a time, live in one house at a time, be on one paradise island at a time. Objects drag you down; time is the only thing that matters. Private jets are not what you do because you want to have fun, they’re what you to do to save time (time = money). You do the math: a private jet makes sense if it saves you x amount of time and your time is valued at y. Surprisingly few people understand these calculations.
With a few million, you can’t afford the really cool stuff like the Bat Cave, or immortality, or a private island doubling as a giant research laboratory with a volcano in the shape of your skull. To really level up, you need at least billions. This ambition is something few understand. If you told them about it, they’d look at you with baffled disgust, “How much money do you need? Why would you want that?”
It’s a solitary journey. You’re the youngest and most underdressed person in any restaurant you go to. You give money to parents who can’t hope to offer you career advice. After achieving more than most people ever achieve financially, what are you supposed to do- retire for the next 50 years? Not an option- you are not, nor have you ever been, like most people. You can’t hold yourself to their standards or look to them for cues on goals to strive for- can people your age really be considered your peers when they are so different? For most, setting up 401K’s and avoiding credit card fees is gospel, whereas for you it’s almost not worth the time relative to what else you could be working on. Normal people are on a path containing marriage, babies, some career ladder. The comfort of a patterned route is barred from you: you alone must write your next act because no one can afford to hire you.
Most people dream of a house, a family, money for vacations. When you can have all of that at an age before you’re ready to get married, what else is there to reach for? People think you’re lucky because they imagine you share the same American dream, because they don’t know what really drives you. What would be so terrible about settling down, traveling the world, learning about wines, maybe writing a book?
The answer to this question is a slow, slow terror. Your whole life you’ve monotonically increased in awesomeness. What if that trend has ended? What if you peaked in your 20’s? Will you ever be able to surpass your previous success? Or was your success due to your reckless youth, which is inevitably fleeting? What’s the difference between dying a millionaire at 25 and a millionaire at 75? What will it feel like to look back years from now and think you haven’t changed at all, instead of marveling at how far you’ve come? Shall you live and die like a beast, quiet, leaving no mark on the universe?
Luckily, you didn’t major in philosophy. It’s not your nature to be unhappy and you genuinely love life. Everywhere you turn, the world sparkles with distracting wonders, challenging problems, tantalizing mysteries. You work on projects, learn new skills and ideas, visit new places, love and understand yourself and others.
37+ Comments • Share (30) • Embed • Thank • 24 Aug
William Franceschine, designer/developer @ 82.io
65 votes by Katie Bremer, Richard Tsai, Casey Allen, (more)
I was 26 or 27 by the time I did it so I guess I’ll answer for people I know who did it before 25. Online poker created (and still creates) lots of young single-digit millionaires. Many (but not all) exhibit some of the same behaviors and thought patterns:
They tend to view almost anybody who isn’t making millions playing poker as less-intelligent, almost beneath them. This is very common and probably stems from poker being a hierarchical meritocracy where those at the top are often socially awkward nerds with genius-level IQ’s. I’ll leave it at that.
They treat money very similar to professional athletes. Meaning they mistake their current high-income for their permanent income and spend accordingly. They buy expensive watches and cars, stay in the nicest hotels, run up obscene tabs at nightclubs etc. etc. Poker culture celebrates this, perpetuating the cycle. Odd for a profession which requires high intelligence and excellent money management skills.
They feel like they’ve escaped the rat race. That they’ll be able to do whatever they want with the rest of their life. They also know they’ve mastered skills that translate well to other endeavors (investing, entrepreneurship etc). This is empowering and confidence building. It can also make them lazy and complacent.
They find it difficult to relate to and fit in with non-millionaires. This is exacerbated by the fact that everybody treats them differently. Some begin to have contempt for normal people and their hardships (see #1, “if they were smart like me they’d just click buttons and never have to worry about this stuff”)
3+ Comments • Share • Embed • Thank • 27 Aug
22 votes by Paul Stockley, Richard Tsai, Aaron Teng, (more)
1. Being retired at 26 is incredibly boring.
I came out of retirement after 2 weeks and started another company
2. It feels incredibly normal. I already had that money on paper for years… so the cashout was just a formality
3. Nobody knows about the money except for my former coworkers – not even my family. So people don’t treat me differently. Actually, because I live in an Asian country, people just think I’m an unemployed bum with family money (that’s the attitude towards entrepreneurs). I’m not sure how to react to this societal attitude.
4. I now suffer from the “fear of loss” mentality that I didn’t have before. I worry way more about my bank accounts, houses, etc. now than I ever did before.
5. “Retirement” and the craziness leading up to it had an adverse effect on my body. I’m still trying to get my sleep schedule back on track, eat regularly, and be healthy. Without the overloaded schedule to keep me going, I feel like I’m losing my former intensity.
1 Comment • Share • Embed • Thank • 7 Oct
38 votes by Will Wister, Richard Tsai, Charles Chen, (more)
A friend of mine invented a machine to warm hands at ski resorts at age 16, back in the early 70s. He had dropped out of school at age 13 after having been off for a year due to an operable brain tumor (his docs kept him in a coma for almost a year to keep brain swelling down after the operation; missing a year of middle school meant he could just never catch up). He had previously left home at 15 after years of beatings by his abusive parents.
He appeared on the Dick Cavett show, joined the Playboy Club and proceeded to run through the money as fast as he could. He then learned to drive truck, saved all his money, started a trucking company, remade the millions…but he’d started to drink heavily, and wound up losing it all.
At almost 60, he’s drifting. He now has 20 years sobriety through AA. He can make a lot of money fairly easily (kind of amazing, really, the different things he’s done) but also spends it really easily.
He’s been married 5 times, has no children, doesn’t own a home, keeps few friends (I’m one of them), is easily irritated, knows an amazing number of jokes, can be generous to a fault (but can also be very selfish), and is up to going anywhere or trying anything new. He’s had some amazing adventures.
Frankly, I don’t know if the problems stemmed from the money, the early drop out, the brain tumor or his abusive parents.
4+ Comments • Share • Embed • Thank • 27 Aug
16 votes by John Clover, Emilya Burd, Jack Yu, (more)
I recognized lots of familiar things in the answers of the others (“dressing shitty”, “the whole private jet thing”, “fancy cars”, etc.) so I felt inspired to also share mine:
I guess I passed the million dollar barrier around the age of 19 in the music business (typicall one hit wonder)…its really hard for me to say how much money I actually made during that time, cause I just don’t care at all about it…it was just there, like a tool….so I made use of it. As you can imagine, being in that industry makes it really easy to spend the money too btw.
How does it feel? It feel’s like the most normal thing in the world! You don’t even think you made it or something…cause u just started!
So with about 20 I had not just reached zero again, but had more due’s that I ever had money before. It hit me hard…was I a failure, had I just been lucky!? It challenged me to find this out, so I worked hard to be succesfull again which worked out and got me into the 8 digits again…but guess what I spend it all again (plus the IRS had investigated against me we also didn’t turn out cheap). So I put my ass to work again to do it again…and succeeded a third time!
That was when I was around 24. And it teached me some important things:
Money is easy to make…really easy. You want lots of it, its all yours! Being successful (if you measure in how much money you made) is easy too.
As money comes and goes what stays are real friends, real relationships…they are the only thing you remember anyways or can u tell me what u spend a hundred dollars on the first Monday in 2003!? But I can still remember the first kiss with that girl I meet in june 2002….that great time I had with my buddy at the beach in 2010.
Don’t try to please anyone…be yourself! Avoids lots of trouble with fake friends, business partners, etc. and lots of hours at the psychologist.
Whenever I was successful in the past, it was with something I hated! Don’t get me wrong, I loved making music, I love tech…but I didn’t love the music/products that made me successful…I just figured out what works, what appeals the masses. Cause as it turns out there is a formula…not just in the music industry but in every field of endeavour. The pattern that always worked for me was to come as a outsider, look at a ecosystem, understand the rules and then play the game by my own new set of rules! And the other players usually quickly start hating me for that…which I kinda understand: They spend their whole life getting where they are by playing according the rules of their industry and then some nobody comes by and just flips them. (I have to admit it’s a lot of fun 🙂 )
But creating something you love that is successful (in terms of lots of people like/use/want it)…thats really hard. At least for me.
They just recently re-released some of my old stuff…and while I recognize the compliment, I hate them deeply for doing it. Cause I artistically dislike these records so much 😦
I will turn 32 in a couple of days and I still haven’t managed to create something that I love and is wildly successful…and maybe die trying. I somehow addicted to that leaving a ding in the universe idea…maybe that the whole problem with me…who knows.
Life is a interesting journey 🙂
3+ Comments • Share • Embed • Thank • 13 Sep
36 votes by Haralan Dobrev, Brady Chiu, Jake Robinson, (more)
I was a millionaire by about 23, primarily from my software company and buying real estate. It felt great to know I was financially on my way, but $1M isn’t a lot these days so I had (and have) my sights set on $100M+ and am currently working towards having that as my nett asset value but that’s just part of my journey and not the destination.
One thing I’ve learned is that a specific dollar amount in your bank account doesn’t really mean much, but if you’re learning, growing, employing people and are happy then as cliche as it sounds, the money will (and DOES) come.
1 Comment • Share • Embed • Thank • 8 Apr
Daniel Latch, Social Entrepreneur, Personal Develop… (more)
21 votes by Anon User, Tri Nguyen, Carlos Tobin, (more)
For a touch of reality – I did it by 30 and can tell you there is no such thing as a self-made millionaire. Each and every one of them had a lot of help along the way. Fantasy vs reality. It’s pure hubris to suggest you made it on your own unless you created something in your closet and got no help from anyone in development, marketing, financing, etc. Get real. Everybody gets help. No one is self-made.
I made mine in gold because someone told me it would be a good investment. I have that person to thank and all the factors that made the market take off. Does that make me a self-made millionaire? Hardly! Could say that I lucked out. Bringing together a group of people with great skills who work together to produce a product or service that makes you a milllionaire: Does that make you self-made? Hardly – your team did it and probably they kept you from f’ing it up time and time again.
Want to be a millionaire? Stop believing it’s all about you. Put together a vision and a team to make it happen and get into the right current of possibilities. Then, if you produce something that makes a difference for people you might become a millionaire but you certainly won’t be self-made.
3 Comments • Share • Embed • Thank • 20 Sep
5 votes by Samuel Faith, Lu Smal, Bhashkar Sharma, (more)
I was a milionaire by about 22 and my net worth now is around 600 million. But it was never my aim to be a multi millionaire or a billionaire. It all depends on your life goal. Do you want to become just rich? Or you want to do something that will be remembered by people thousands of year from now? Or for that matter, Do you want to live forever?There are thousands of millionaires and billionaires who are using their money for living their life in mind-warping luxury. But they forget that all the things they use their money for and even their life are just for a fleet of time in the never ending universe.We are just a random creation in this random world. So if you want to make your money matters, just invest in researching how to prolong your life and creation of new technologies. Because, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, you can enjoy only those things which are available at present. Rich people from 1500 A.D were stuck in one place because they don’t had airplanes. Although they were richest of their era, they will never know how it feels to fly or how it feels to talk to your relatives through a phone. So, if you are a multimillionaire or billionaire, make sure to invest a decent percentage of your money in researching for the wonders of life and universe, because if you wait for someone to come with new technologies or a magic drug to prolong your life, chances are you will not be alive for that.day.
1 Comment • Share • Embed • Thank • 7h ago
On paper I was worth a million at about 22 (was probably worth $300k at 17 and then lost it all when the dotcom bubble burst) and now 6 years later am worth about $30m. The thing is, those are just numbers. They can be used to “keep score” but that is all it seems to be at this point. To me, they don’t really matter as I love what I do and what I do isn’t changed by money (ok, there are some more opportunities). Sure, it is nice to not really have to worry about spending money, but I don’t buy anything extravagant. The main things I spend money on are things that save me time, a maid, going to restaurants instead of cooking at home, etc. In reality, I don’t spend much differently at all, though that is largely because most of my money is tied up in assets, businesses, and other investments. To me, the fun part is building businesses and changing their lives and to do that, the money needs to always be working, not getting spent.
The only time it really strikes me is when things get frustrating with one of my businesses and I just think, “Why am I still doing this, I could just retire!” THere is the realization I could retire, that I really am lucky to have that option at such a young age, but that fades quickly, as what else would I do?
Overall, I think it changes you as much as you let it. Everyone is different and everyone treats it differently. One thing I can say is, always remember the people that were there before you were a millionaire, the people that helped you to get where you are. The biggest change I’ve noticed is the people around me (general acquaintances, not close friends/family), when they find out I’m well off, they just try to flatter me, blowing smoke up my rear. Some people might like that, I can’t stand it and it has lead to me being wary of anyone who gives me a compliment, though I still have a group of people I know I can trust.
Figure out what makes you happy. For me, it is the community and friendships made when creating and building a company, all the learning and experiences involved in that, then looking over everything and seeing the people I’ve helped. I wouldn’t be where I am without the help of others, thus I try to take every opportunity to give others the same help. I know for others it is that they want to see the world, some want to change the world, and some just want a comfortable life with their family. Those things that make you happy are rarely changed by money, the money just makes them easier to accomplish. If what makes you happy is accumulating money, well, then I feel sorry for you.
From – http://www.quora.com