I often write on Quora.com, where I am the most viewed writer on financial matters, with over 660.8 million views in recent years.
In the answers below I focused on the following topics and issues:
- What is the most common job for millionaires?
- What do millionaires do with their first million dollars?
- What makes someone successful financially?
- How much money do you need per month for a comfortable life abroad as an expat or digital nomad living outside of your home country?
- Is time the most valuable asset?
- Is a university necessary for financial success?
- The S&P 500 is down 24% so far this year. Should I be buying the dip, or considering other options?
- How much is 10 million USD worth? Can I live off it for 20 years without working, but not a luxurious life, just to eat and study?
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Table of Contents
What is the most common job for millionaires?
Considering my day business, and the research I have done on this matter, I can answer pretty definitively.
Firstly, we have distinguish between:
- A high-net-worth (HNWI) individual
- An ultra-high-net-worth individual (UHWI individual).
The first kind of people has $ 1 million or more in investable assets, meaning assets which can be sold relatively quickly.
Examples of this are cash, stocks, bonds, ETFs and investment funds.
A UHWI individual has $ 30 million in investable assets.
For UHNIs, the most common “job” is being your own boss or some hybrid position. By hybrid I mean some top executives are paid partly on salary and some in stock options.
Likewise, some sports and entertainment stars have their own company for image rights but also get paid a salary from their clubs.
Jamie Dimon is a billionaire but has a base salary.
That is probably not a surprise.
What might surprise you is that for HNWIs, one of the more common jobs is being a teacher.
The top schools, especially international ones overseas, pay well.
Some statistics show that 14% of the world’s millionaires are teachers, with other middle and upper-middle-income jobs like accountants, engineers and managers also high up on the list.
It is a numbers game.
Of course, most teachers or accountants aren’t wealthy, but there are tens of millions of them worldwide.
A small percentage invest from a young age into assets, which compounds and/or are earning much more than the average wage in society.
Over long periods of time, people can become HNWIs in their late 30s, 40s or 50s without earning incredible amounts of money.
In comparison, above the $ 10 million mark, you don’t see many people like that.
What makes someone successful financially?
This is a subjective issue.
Obviously, success itself goes beyond financial success.
Caring about your health, family, and true friends should matter.
Your question mentions financial success.
For this, there are some basic rules of thumb:
1. Can you quit your job or business tomorrow?
That doesn’t mean that if you quit, you will be living a life of luxury.
It might mean making some big lifestyle changes.
But if you can quit and meet your basic needs, that is a sign of financial success.
At least you have freedom and choices.
This is important if something unexpected happens, such as a health scare.
2. What don’t I have to do in the morning?
What do you have to do in the morning to earn money?
However, more importantly, what don’t you have to do?
Do you have assets (financial assets, people in your business or other assets) working for you?
If you can earn a lot of money and only work one or two hours a day, that is a sure sign that you are doing well, even if you prefer to work more than that.
Money is a tool.
Best to avoid this issue mentioned below, because it is one of the biggest reasons even high-income people end up struggling.
Quote from Quote Fancy.
Best to define your own financial success, which for most people means being able to do the things they want to do, and having more options.
Is time the most valuable asset?
If you go to work every day and sleep, would you eventually get fired?
You aren’t paid for your time. You are paid on results.
Therefore, focus is often more important than time.
Both Gates and Buffett list it as the most vital thing:
Let’s give a simple example.
If you put money in the bank for decades, you leverage compound interest and time, assuming that the currency doesn’t collapse.
In comparison, if you invest productively for decades, you will likely have many multiples of that money.
Is a university necessary for financial success?
It isn’t necessary, but increasingly it is becoming more difficult to thrive without one, at least in many developed countries.
The reason is simple. The opportunities for non-degree holders have narrowed over time.
Decades ago in the UK, teachers didn’t have to attend university.
Until recently, nurses didn’t have to go to university.
I have also noticed that even people with high technical skills often do better after university.
Some people in my network are very good at IT-related jobs.
They can, therefore, demonstrate their technical knowledge quite easily.
Many could earn well without a degree, but once they went to university as mature students (meaning over 25 in many countries), they got offered better positions within days.
The number of recruiters calling them went through the roof, especially if they were on LinkedIn.
That isn’t to mention that you often need a degree if you want to emigrate to some countries.
With that being said, education is a tool.
Where it works is when you have technical or soft skills and add them to your work experience and qualifications.
For example, speaking two languages perfectly and getting a degree in another language, isn’t as helpful as somebody who can market, sell, negotiate and do many critical roles in numerous languages.
The same is true for education. Many 21–22-year-olds have no work experience and study subjects that aren’t useful, which isn’t the same as getting good at IT or some other subjects and then adding qualifications.
So, it isn’t necessary. It makes financial success easier and helps you learn how to learn effectively.
Many careers still pay well, such as the trades and sports and entertainment, that don’t require degrees.
How much is 10 million USD worth? Can I live off it for 20 years without working, but not a luxurious life, just to eat and study?
From 10 million, you can live off $300,000-$400,000 a year, assuming you invest in a low-risk portfolio.
You can get more than that, but often it involves risk.
Remember, if you get 6% and inflation is at 3%, you should only withdraw 3% per year.
300k-400k is luxury living in most parts of the world.
It isn’t if you are living in the most expensive places.
That is why many retirees, including those with much less than $ 10 million, retire to cheaper places.
How much money do you need per month for a comfortable life abroad as an expat or digital nomad living outside of your home country?
It depends on where you live and your lifestyle.
There are some excellent tools where you can see basic rules of thumb.
Tools like Numbeo are suitable for an average cost of living.
However, if you go to live in a developing country as, say, an executive or high-net-worth individual, your costs won’t be average.
You will likely want to send your kids to international school and get private medical insurance.
For that kind of cost of living, things like the ECA International’s Cost of Living is better.
The two ways of calculating cost of living make a massive difference.
For example, if you live in some of the cheaper places in South East Asia, you can live well on just $2,000-$3,000 a month.
This is assuming you don’t have kids. If you want to put kids through international school, the costs could increase to $5,000 a month.
A luxury lifestyle could cost double that.
The same thing is true in places like Mexico and Eastern Europe.
Basics and living like the average local is cheap. Living well without kids is pretty good as well, but a luxury lifestyle isn’t always cheap.
The S&P 500 is down 24% so far this year. Should I be buying the dip, or considering other options?
This question was asked last year.
The market has since skyrocketed.
Nobody could have foreseen the future when this question was asked.
What we always know is that markets do have a tendency to bounce back, and always hit record highs again.
The red numbers show how seldom bear markets are in the broader scheme of things:
So, we know in advance that if markets behave as they have done for hundreds of years, there will be many falls, but the overall trend will be good.
Nobody can guarantee the future, but it does mean that it is rational to expect markets to bounce back after a fall.
What do millionaires do with their first million dollars?
Some reinvest back into businesses.
Others invest in more liquid investments like stocks and ETFs, considering liquidity is important for a founder and business owner.
The biggest mistake is when people go crazy and just spend the money.
I was having a conversation last week with a guy who invested in many high-risk venture capital businesses.
He said that once a founder gets founded by $1m-$2m, even though it isn’t his or her money, fraud is more likely.
Some have never made that kind of money before, so go crazy on personal spending.
I have seen several people make that mistake with their own money as well.
The major reason is most people who make their first million aren’t used to having that amount of money.
If they are pretty young, they are more likely to just waste it, even though in theory going from $1m to multi-millions should be easy, as the first million is the hardest to get.
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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 668.8 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.