Are You Cut Out to be a Millionaire?

Last updated on July 22nd, 2017

millionairePlease tell me I’m not the only one that remembers the year 1999.

You know, when the show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” was all the rage.

Apparently that show is still out in the cable network somewhere. Who knew, right?

The reason that show was so enthralling is because everyone wants to be a millionaire.

Admit it. Your life would be so much easier if you had a nice little nest egg of $1 million tucked under your wing.

You wouldn’t have to worry ‘bout a thing.

We’ve all thought about how nice it would be to have $1 million land in our lap like it’s no big deal.

And just a little while ago, having a million dollars was a really big deal. But now, there’s a millionaire in just about every neighborhood.

If you’ve ever read the book The Millionaire Next Door you know that most of the successful self made millionaires are not the ones that party with Jay-Z, own yachts, or spend their summers on the French Riviera.

They are the simple farmers who accumulate thousands of acres over a lifetime. The small business owners who produce a desired product or service. The high paid professionals who understand that saving is more important that spending. The professors who wear the same 4 Hawaiian shirts and penny loafers to class every week and drive a mediocre old car.

Your everyday millionaire is hiding in plain sight, and that’s just the way they like it.

But of course, this fact has become such a popular topic in the personal finance community, that it seems tedious to rehash it again.

Fear not, for I will no longer try to surprise you by describing the normal lives of millionaires. The shock and awe factor is long behind us.

Instead, I think I have something you’ll find a bit more interesting.

What does the retirement of a millionaire look like?

Have you ever wondered what financially independent millionaires do with their time?

I sure have.

I always picture them relaxing, traveling, and eating only the best food life has to offer.

However, I learned that millionaires often prefer to work in their retirement.

After taking a few years off, early retirees, self made millionaires, and the financially independent choose to go back to work.

Granted, it is not always in the same capacity. It can either be an offshoot of their previous occupation, or even a complete career change.

But what’s important to understand is that they often work. Not because they have to, but because they want to.

According to an article written on, Merrill Lynch and Age Wave conducted a survey which revealed that “Millionaires are twice as likely to keep working in retirement than the broader population…Because they enjoy it. Nearly all of the affluent retirees surveyed said they keep working because ‘they want to’” (1).

Are you fascinated? Me too. Let’s dive in deeper.

So what do most millionaires do in their working retirement?

Well, they of course have many options available to them.

However, “Half of wealthy retirees have transitioned to new lines of work that give them more ‘flexibility,’ ‘fun’ and ‘fulfillment.’ A former real estate developer, for instance, may turn to buying and restoring old homes for profit. A CEO may turn to career training or mentoring. And an entrepreneur may become an angel investor.”

This seems to make sense. Retired and working millionaires take the parts of their previous jobs that they enjoyed the most, and focus solely on that.

The survey reveals exactly what we’ve written about before; smart people get bored in retirement.

“Today’s boomer retirees are climbers and strivers, and sitting on a beach or playing shuffleboard can only satisfy their soul for so long…Wealthy retirees cite ‘staying mentally active’ as the top specific reason they continue to work… their work in retirement keeps them more youthful, fit and mentally sharp.”

Why does this matter?

The reason people are so interested in the lives of millionaires, is because they inherently want to know if they’re cut from the same cloth.

They are wondering, “Do I have what it takes to be in the same financial situation as them? Am I cut out to be a millionaire?”

If you’re like me, then you pictured retirement, especially with $1 million or more, as a permanent weekend or vacation.

But if we are to be the financially independent millionaires we’re aspiring to be, it’s probably necessary to to find an outlet for our intellect, creativity, and ambition.

All the smart individuals who are pursuing early retirement should think long and hard about what they want to do next. “Enjoying free time” probably isn’t enough.

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  4. You are right, most people think of millionaires living lavish lifestyles and they really aren’t except for a few (and they usually end up in bankruptcy). My dad retired 8 years ago in his 50’s and he still does things here or there. He helps out my sister and her store and loves to go fishing. He took on a part-time job since my mom is still finishing out her last year of work, but didn’t like the daily schedule. He loves the freedom. He works, but when he wants to work. Retirement is about freedom and not money. You have to plan for what to do in retirement as much as you do to save for retirement. Most neighbors I have that are retired have lots of hobbies with friends or something productive to fill their day.

  5. Reply

    Similarly to other people, when we reach financial independence and retire I think we will continue working, but it will be working on what we want. For my hubby that would probably mean keeping his day job since he loves it; for me it would probably mean devoting even more time to our real estate and business pursuits. And perhaps starting some new business pursuits!

  6. Reply

    My last girlfriend had over a million dollars. It wasn’t enough to live on just the interest. The principal just kept going down. To have a secure nest egg think, these days, you need more like $10 million. I’m working on that right now.

  7. Reply

    I think people have this idea of millionaires sitting on a cushion and doing nothing but sipping pina coladas all day. The truth is often different. I have known a few wealthy people and they don’t stop even in retirement. I don’t think I could just sit around all day even if I had the cash. I guess I am just too restless.

    • Reply

      It pretty much proves the idea that there is more to life than money. Often those that have lots of money tend to find fulfillment in other areas.

  8. Haha!A very good article here. Yes, I do believe that most wealthy people continue working in retirement and the closer I get to mine (October 2018, my firends) the more I’m thinking about the reasons. What I’m thinking is that these people are: 1) restless spirits to begin with; 2) they have got themselves in a position where they do what they are suited to; 3) hate the idea of a tacky candigan, worn out slippers, shiny armchair and a TV on. I intend toretire when I’m 55 and this is so that I have the freedom to contribute value without the restrictions of contemporary organisations. This is it! (Oh, and I probably was cut out to be a millionaire and am surrounded by them.)

  9. Reply

    LOVE this post! I loved the book and I work hard on having a millionaire mindset. I will say it’s harder than expected given my middleclass upbringing though.

    • Reply

      What do you mean? Like it’s hard not to spend it?

  10. Reply

    Love this, Vanessa! A few years ago, I would’ve likely blown a million if it were given to me. Now, I’d still just live here on the farm, doing what we do and continuing to help and serve others – only without debt. 🙂

    • Reply

      That’s awesome, Laurie. Keep it up! 🙂

  11. I am not a millionaire but the mindset of those who have millions in banks is what I have. I would still work even after retirement, invest, and save money. Having that mindset will lead me to being a millionaire in the future.

    • Kipp
    • September 2, 2014

    I guess my mentality is closer to that of the millionaires. Sure it will be nice to take a break, but I cannot imagine not doing something. It could be full time volunteering, working part time is something fulfilling. There are many options when the amount you get paid isn’t a major factor in the decision process.

  12. Reply

    Being a millionaire does definitely seem like the benchmark people immediately go to. While I think it will be a milestone in my life, I think having 1 million dollars in the bank would be a better on.e

  13. Reply

    Once you reach financial independence you could “work” on other projects to keep yourself occupied. To retire and lie in front of a pool drinking alcohol all year doesn’t sound too much fun to me.

  14. Reply

    Interesting! I fully intend to keep working, because I love it. For me, reaching FI is more about the freedom to make my own choices than freedom from work!

    • Reply

      Perfect. Sounds like you’ve got the millionaire mindset!

  15. Reply

    Debt-free financial independence is a goal for most driven, smart people. The Millionaire Next Door is a wonderful book, showing that common sense is better than flashiness. Don’t buy that fancy car or too big house.

    • Reply

      I couldn’t agree more. Well said.

    • Patrick
    • September 2, 2014

    A million dollars “ain’t what it used to be”. On the other hand, I see people every day who never save, never invest and spend 100% of everything they have. I cannot figure out why people do that. Of course, if these same people had a million, they would spend it the next day and the cycle would start all over again.

    • Uber Elder Dude
    • September 2, 2014

    My dad died in 1975 with $85 in the bank. I decided that poverty would not be my fate.
    Am 64 and have amassed more than million in liquid assets, mostly from staying invested in the market through thick and thin- rarely selling anything over the past 25 years.
    This souns harsh- but A million will not do what you may think. You can take $50,000 annually at 6% from a 60/40 portfolio and keep going forever with your Social Security pension at age 66. So you are living at the $75,000 level. Not bad, but budget your monthly expenses carefully. You really need – in 2014 dollars- about 2 million- giving you a $100,000 to take a cruise to Europe/ Asia annually. I retire next year and will do things to give back to humanity. There are spiritual rewards available.
    How much will $1,000,000 be worth in todays dollars to a person who is 25 years old when she is 65? Maybe 4 million? Whew!

  16. Reply

    I think that most successful people prefer to have at least some sort of work to do rather than sitting around watching TV or going on a cruise around the world. It’s usually the people who inherit millions that are fine wasting away in mediocrity.

  17. Reply

    This is a great question. Mr. FW and I don’t plan on not working post-FIRE, we plan on working on projects that we’re passionate about and that aren’t in a 9-5 office setting. Our plans to buy a rural homestead will ensure that we work even harder in early retirement, but it’ll be a fulfilling, self-sustaining type of work. I can’t wait!

    • Reply

      Awesome. When do you anticipate that coming to fruition?

    • Wade
    • September 2, 2014

    I read somewhere recently that you now need $1.7 million to “feel” like a millionaire. That makes sense to me. I also think having $1 million in investments earning 4-5% is different from a net worth of $1 million. Either and both are awesome goals. Your net worth usually has a bunch of not so hard working assets included. The interesting thing is you get to $1 million by saving $10 here, $100 there. It is very achievable for many, but it still takes some good planning and living below your means.

      • über elder dude
      • September 3, 2014

      Right. You can get a million plus with small amounts over time. Betterment is a good vehicle for that. Your IRA, 401K need to be maxed out always/ My secret, and I have a lot more than a million, has been to invest and stay invested. I never took my investments and spent them ( well once for a Corvette when I was 50). Now I am set. It only took 30 years ! Time flies and that it the way it is. Fun part, though grim, is selecting charities for my assets. The good the money can do to help others one day will be nice to think about while I am in Purgatory working in a Salt mine.

  18. Reply

    I’d love to get to the point with my finances where I felt I had the ability to pursue all my creative and intellectual interests without worrying about a paycheck. That’s what retirement means to me. Of course, to other people, my dreams probably seem like work– go back to grad school, write a book, do data visualization work full time, raise my kids, get more involved in my community– but to me they’re freedom.

    • Reply

      That’s awesome! I hope you reach your goals someday.


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