Every time I think of the term “one million dollars” I think of Dr. Evil and how he raises his pinky in thought. Dr. Evil had many plans for his million dollars, taking over the world and owning sharks with lasers are just the ones I remember off hand. What would you do with one million dollars? Would you buy a new car, a bigger house, better clothes, or more electronics? Today I’d like to share a humbling experience involving earning one million dollars.
A Little “Fall” Cleaning
Since fall officially started a few days ago, I figured it would be a great time to do some fall cleaning. I know everyone else in the world does “spring cleaning”, but I figure since I’m going to be in the house all weather it might as well be organized.
I decided to start with the filing cabinet; it has put on a few pounds over past couple of years. I figured the tax return folders would be a great place to begin. I sent the family out for ice cream so I’d have few minutes to spread everything out without two little ones making snow angels in the paper wasteland.
The process took about 30 minutes to complete and I was able to cut the documentation in half. I was feeling pretty proud of myself until I noticed a stack of papers that had the term “Social Security” stamped on the top. I’m sure you’ve received these in the mail too. They are the yearly mailings that the Social Security Administration sends out to inform you of the amount of benefits you will be receiving from the government once you are eligible.
The mailing includes a yearly listing of the amount of money you’ve made since you started paying social security and Medicare taxes. The yearly amounts are typically the amount of money you’ve earn during those years.
My Social Security Statement
As I looked through my numbers I began to wonder how much they added up to. I grabbed the calculator and started punching away. I was extremely shocked when I read the total. I’ve made over one million dollars since I’ve been in the work force. That sounds pretty cool when you say it or read it, but it had a completely different effect on me.
How could a person who works hard and has earned quite a bit of money be in such a shitty financial situation? My wife and I have changed our evil ways and are on the right path now, but what do I have to show for earning a million bucks? Not much. I’m underwater on a home I’m basically just renting, I’m still in debt, I own my cars - but they are nothing special, I only have $50,000 in my retirement accounts. As I reflected on these facts I began to feel sick.
How I’ll Keep More of My Next Million
The sick feeling only lasted little while. I began to think about the future. I began to understand that since I continue to earn money, I can make the next million dollar work for me. It will take planning and thought. It will take setting the right goals. It will take more work and sacrifice, but this time will be different. This time I’m much smarter. This time I understand my “money behaviors” and how they affect my life. I will win, and when I hit the next milestone it will be different.
Why am I disclosing this very personal story? Because I want to remind you to PLAN. Get a handle on your finances; understand the habits and behaviors you have with money. Live on less than you make. Don’t be like the old me, don’t work your butt off and have nothing to show for it.
Take a few minutes and add up your totals. Ask yourself if you’ve made the right choices. If you have, great. If not, ask yourself what you can change so that you’ll begin to make better choices. Take stock of your situation and make a plan. Don’t waste your biggest asset, your ability to earn money.