Photo: A view of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park. Photo taken in June of 2011.
Becoming a millionaire has always seemed like an impossible feat for someone growing up in middle america striving to become a teacher. I had never thought about even reaching one million dollars. I didn't even know it was possible. Most people in this boat, (maybe you are one of them) don't believe that becoming a millionaire is possible. If this is you, then let me be the first (or the tenth or the thirtieth person whichever it is) to tell you:
Everybody can become a MILLIONAIRE!
That's right, even a little 'ole middle school teacher can become a millionaire (and I'm not talking about winning 'Who wants to be a millionaire?'). I'm talking about a becoming a millionaire through hard work and savings.
Will it be easy? No, nothing worth having is easy.
Will it require some sacrifices? Of course it will!
If something is worth having, then it requires hard work. Most sports teams will tell you that their ability to win championships is based on their hard work in the summers. They just don't show up at the first game and expect to win. They show up in the summer to prepare their bodies for the championship run. They stay up late studying the playbook and studying the other teams tendencies. That's how you become successful as an athlete.
There are a ton of similarities with being successful in athletics and being successful in life. At work, you have to work hard to get the results that you want. At weight loss, you have to have the self-control to avoid the bad foods. At reaching financial independence, you have to plan for your future. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? Does it matter to you?
The people who continue to struggle financially, don't have a goal. All they care about is living for Friday. People striving for financial security and that illustrious million dollars set goals and save their money. They live for the future and avoid the unnecessary costs of the present.
Millionaires have goals and visions. They don't give up and they definitely don't waste their money. In my opinion, a millionaire is made up of the following items:
- Getting out of Debt, Today! (Or As Soon as Feasibly Possible: Shoot for less than 2 years)
- Saving Like a Crazy Person (Average Savers don't become Millionaires)
- Making sure that Savings is going to Investments (Don't leave your savings in dinky CDs)
- Avoiding Lottery Tickets and Slot Machines
- Avoiding Wasteful Spending
- Having a Dream and putting some goals to those dreams!
- Becoming a Better Person (Listening to Podcasts and Reading Non-Fiction)
- Going from Average to Awesome in all things!
- Becoming somebody that everybody wants to be around.
- Being Compassionate.
- Being Honest.
- Having Integrity.
- Having a Caring Heart.
- Finding a Good Mentor.
- And most of all: Having a Plan.
Some people will tell you that becoming a millionaire is wrong. Some people will tell you that there is such a thing as too much money. Some people believe that all millionaires are crooks and only have their millions because they inherited their wealth. According to Thomas Stanley, author of "The Millionaire Next Door," 80% to 86% of the millionaires in America are self-made millionaires. Self-made millionaires are first generation millionaires, which means that they were the first in their family to reach a million dollars. That means that they did it on their own. That means that you can do it on your own also. Can wealth cause people to do some despicable things? Of course it could, that's why I added in compassion, honesty, integrity and a caring heart to the list above. All of the things listed above are required for you to be able to reach a million dollars, without becoming a jerk.
Becoming a millionaire is not inherently bad, it depends on your attitude towards money. If its because you love money, you will never be satisfied with your bank account. You will never be satisfied with what your stuff. Instead, I strive for a million dollars, because of security. I want to be able to leave my wife in a financially stable position if I die. I want to be able to pay for my kids college. I want to be able to give money to cancer research and to underprivaleged kids in the inner cities. I want to be able to do great things for our country with our money. I want to be able to dictate my work schedule. I want my wife to have the option to stay home with our kids.
When wealth is accrued for noble reasons, there is no shame in that. God tells us to take care of our family and leave an inheritance to our children's children in Proverbs 13:22. Not only should we all strive for financial security, but we are called to reach great levels of wealth to take care of our family today and in the future.
Michael Phelps summed it up the best in his quote, "You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get." What are your goals for this level of wealth? What are your reasons for reaching financial independence? Why do you save money? Why do you drive around in an old car? Only you can answer these questions, but remember achieving wealth is not wrong. It is actually necessary to support your family.