2015 Hardcore Savings

My Trillionaire Plan

Somebody Has to Do It! Why Not Me?

Greetings to my dozens of readers out there.  Because of the surging stock market, our high savings rate, and our frugal lifestyle, we’re slowly approaching our goal of amassing a net worth of $1 million.  Currently, we have a net worth of approximately $900,000, so, barring a total meltdown of the U.S. economy, it looks like we’ll hit the 7-figure mark sometime over the next 18 to 24 months.

As I watch our net worth grow, my mind starts to race at a furious pace.  While a $1 million net worth is a lot of money to me, I know that it’s small change to the money elite.  So, after lots of thought, I have decided to (pardon the cliches) go for the gold and shoot for the moon.  My goal is to exceed the net worth of Bill Gates, Carlos Slim and Warren Buffett combined…I’m going to become a TRILLIONAIRE!

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How?  The Nuts and Bolts

How do I plan on achieving this lofty goal of $1,000,000,000,000?  First, I’m going to continue investing at least $25,000 every year until I die.  These new investment will go on top of our current net worth of $900,000.  Next, I’m going to have to really take great care of my health.  So far, so good.  I’ll be 52 in a few months and after five years of a low-carb lifestyle, I feel awesome…I honestly feel better than I did in my twenties.  (More about diet, exercise and lifestyle in another post.)  However, my trillionaire plan requires that I live 68.5 more years until the ripe, or decrepit, old age of 120 years and 3 months.


Okay, I know you’re having your doubts, but people have lived to the age of 120 before*.  Sure, reaching age 120 would put me among the oldest people in all of human history, but somebody has to do it.  Why not me?


The next part of my trillionaire plan requires that I match Warren Buffett’s compound rate of return of 22.3%.  Obviously, earning a rate of return of 22.3% is doable since Warren Buffett has already done it, right?  Now all I have to do is live to be 120 years old and invest like THE master investor himself. Here’s my grand plan:

My Trillionaire Plan:
Live to 120 with 22.3% Return
Present
Value (PV)
Years
Invested (N)
%
Return (I)
Annual
Contribution (PMT)
Future
Value (FV)
$900,000
68.5 Years
22.3%
$25,000
$1,010,499,434,103
We I should be worth over $1 trillion at age 120!
(I'll have to outlast my wife if I'm going to get all of her money.)

If you want to play along with me at home, plug the numbers into this financial calculator.

Let’s Face It…

Okay, it’s time for a reality check.  There are two facts that I can’t ignore even in my most deluded state of mind:

  1. It is almost certain that I will not earn 22.3% a year like Warren Buffet.
  2. It is also unlikely that I will live to the age of 120

Let’s look at a more realistic scenario. How much would I have if I lived to “only” 110 while earning a paltry return of 18% on my investments? In that case, I would die with a meager net worth of $15 billion. While it certainly wouldn’t elevate me to trillionaire status, $15 billion could be a good start for the Mills’ dynasty. Check out the numbers below:

Plan B:
Live to 110 with 18% Return
Present
Value (PV)
Years
Invested (N)
%
Return (I)
Annual
Contribution (PMT)
Future
Value (FV)
$900,000
58 Years
18
$25,000
$15,705,369,736
A net worth of $15 billion at age 110!

If you think 110 with a return of 18% is still too optimistic, let’s try a more realistic scenario: a life expectancy of 100 and a return of 14%. Wow, good-bye trillionaire dreams, but at least I’d still have a little under $600 million. I’m sure I could find a way to make ends meet in such a doomsday scenario. Hey, life’s not fair!

 
Plan C:
Live to 100 with 14% Return
Present
Value (PV)
Years
Invested (N)
%
Return (I)
Annual
Contribution (PMT)
Future
Value (FV)
$900,000
48 Years
14
$25,000
$594,407,939
A net worth of almost $600 million at age 100!
 

Okay, I know there are a few naysayers out there who still think I’m delusional, so let’s try a life expectancy of 90 with a return of 10%. (Come on, that’s possible, isn’t it?) I hope all you doubting dream-crushers are happy…by dying so young with such a low return, I’d only have about $44 million. I sure hope this end-of-the-world scenario never plays out:

 
Plan D:
Live to 90 with 10% Return
Present
Value (PV)
Years
Invested (N)
%
Return (I)
Annual
Contribution (PMT)
Future
Value (FV)
$900,000
38 Years
10
$25,000
$43,675,104
A net worth of almost $44 million at age 90!
 
Finally, let’s look at some absolute worst case scenarios. First, let’s assume that I die at my actual life expectancy of 84. Second, we’ll use modest return of 7% that John Bogle cites as a reasonable expectation**. Last, we’ll look at three annual contribution amounts: $25,000, $10,000, and $0.  After all, I might not be able to contribute more money to savings.  When the results are compared to my original goal of $1 trillion, it’s pretty pathetic. Depending on my annual contribution amounts, the final net worth amounts range from $8,000,000 to $11,000,000.
 
Plan E:
Live to 84 with 7% Return
Present
Value (PV)
Years
Invested (N)
%
Return (I)
Annual
Contribution (PMT)
Future
Value (FV)
$900,000
32 Years
7
$25,000
$10,792,079
$900,000
32 Years
7
$12,000
$9,258,945
$900,000
32 Years
7
$0
$7,843,744
At age 84 a net worth from $7 to $11 million!

Wow, now I’m really depressed. The thought of dying at age 84 with just a couple of million dollars is enough to dampen anyone’s mood, right?  How on earth will I get by?

What’s My Point?

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I don’t really plan on becoming a trillionaire.  I apologize for the titillating title.  I wrote this post to show readers the power of 1.) consistent savings, 2.) compound interest, and 3.) time in the market.  As the numbers illustrate, after a certain level of wealth the numbers just start mushrooming on their own.


The good news is that you don’t need to become a trillionaire or billionaire to retire early.  If you invest prudently and live frugally, a portfolio of $1 million is probably more than enough to retire and reclaim your life.  Count me among the pathetic losers who believe that you can retire with a net worth of “only $1 million.”


Anybody else out there have any crazy dreams of incomprehensible wealth?  If you were to attain money beyond your wildest dreams, what would you do with it?  Me, I’m not quite sure…


NOTES and LINKS

  1. * Did you think I was joking?  English /  Español
  2. ** 7% Return
 
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This Post Has 45 Comments

    1. Thanks Penny, I thought the post might drive home some key points. It was in draft form for about 10 months…I’m glad I finally got it out. Now, I’ve got to get on a couple of other “greatest-post-ever” posts to finish. Thanks for reading. Ed

      1. Yay! I’m lookong forward to yhe next “greatest post ever.”
        I loved this one too. I’m glad to know that if things should not go according to your trillinaire plan you still won’t starve or anything.
        Great post!

        1. Mrs. Hazlenut, thanks for the positive vibes! We are going to make it work one way or another…lots of the fun things that we do don’t cost that much anyway. Until the next awesome post…

        1. Hi Tiffany,
          Ha! I can’t say I’ve ever made a cent off that link. While every little bit helps, don’t get your heart set on becoming a trillionaire via that link. Best of luck on your trillionaire journey! Gerry

  1. The new “hot topic” is that real stock returns are going to be so much less in the future than what we historically have seen. Now I know that historical performance is not indicative of future performance, but I know predicting the future is just asking for a disaster. While those doomsdayers are busy finding alternative investments, complaining, and potentially avoiding equity markets, I’ll be plowing my money into Vanguard index funds, tempting them to prove me wrong 🙂 And I’ll most likely die a rich man!

  2. I turn 35 this week as an educator who has never had debt and has saved between 20-35% of my income and I just realized my networth is approaching $500,000! With my wife starting to work and banking her entire paycheck we figured some similar numbers for us. We could early retire in no time once our house is paid off or we could amass multiple millions. This site is great because most people don’t believe that saving your income is your best bet in accumulating wealth. Keep it up!! Great post!

    1. Josh, nice job…at 35 you’re well on the way to financial independence. It amazes me how so many people don’t understand that if you want to have some wealth, you have to save some money. Go forth and be an example because it’s obviously doable. Have fun coaching this year and good luck. Ed

  3. Aim for the stars and you might hit the moon! You never know, with all the medical advancements you might live to 120+ 🙂

    If you had a trillion dollars, you could make some serious waves in the stock market too. Think about how much fun that would be.

    Don’t like a publicly traded company? Buy it and shut it down. 🙂

    1. Jim, I’d love to live to 120 and beyond as long as I still have my zest for life. If it’s not in the cards, I’ll just have to flame out on Rio-Amsterdam-Bangkok bender at age 84. (Wow, that’s big talk from a guy who’s in bed by 9:30 every night!)

  4. My wife and I plan to retire on between $750,000 and $800,000, buy an RV and travel the country for the foreseeable future. You’re right, it doesn’t take much to retire so long as you’re living sensibly. With the right lifestyle, a $1m nest egg is more than enough to live out the rest of your days pleasantly job-free.

    1. Steve, I can’t wait to read about your adventures. I’m ready to create some of my own soon. As long as you keep a reasonable lifestyle with an eye on costs, travel doesn’t have to eat up your budget. We did an exploratory trip to Cancun and got by on $1,500 for the three of us. That included everything: rent, groceries, meals out, trips to the beach, etc.

      I enjoy your blog and thanks for visiting mine. Ed

  5. Great way to highlight the possibilities of compounding. So many investors (speculators?) have such a short term mindset, then 20 years pass and they wonder why their “investments” haven’t taken off. Definitely takes discipline and patience, but the rewards are worth it.

    -DP

    1. DP, that’s why old money gets so big. Can you imagine what a nest egg looks like after mushrooming for a couple of generations? It would be incomprehensible wealth for 99.99% of us.

  6. Love the post, Ed!

    I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m only 35 and I’ve got many more years of compounding before my time ends at 120. I too am optimistic I can replicate Buffett’s wizardry with a 22.3% return. After all, he has shared all of his secrets, right?

    So after starting with a similar net worth, 85 more years of compounding, and a 22.3% annual yield, my net worth will top out at $27,994,497,255,256 (that’s 27.994 trillion baby!).

    I think when I reach 22 trillion I’ll finally relax, go on a few trips, and feel secure:)

    1. Chad, that’s a great plan, but you would have even more financial security if you could get your net worth to $28,000,0000,000,000. I mean we could all use an extra $5.5 billion, right? Just a thought…

  7. Like (some) others, I think $1 million (or probably much less) is plenty enough to retire, as long as lifestyle is appropriately calibrated.

    And yep, consistent, aggressive saving and compounding is pretty much all it takes to meet any money goal, over time. With such a simple formula, why do you suppose so many seem not to grasp the concept?

    1. Kurt, that’s the trillion dollar question, right? I think the concepts of financial independence and extreme early retirement are new to most people. Many people view these concepts favorably when (and if) they learn of them. As more people use these concepts to gain control of their finances and lives, the idea that you control your life, money, time and retirement might spread to the general public. Everyone pursuing this path is leading by example. Thanks for the visit. Ed

    1. Rich, as the Wizard of Westwood used to say, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” What most people miss is that the plan doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to follow it exactly. A plan just gives some direction towards a goal, right? Thanks for checking out my blog. Cheers, Ed

  8. Spot on mate. The crazy dream I have is to be earning 1000inr every minute after age of 50. I will retire by 50 and i will be playing with my grand children and at the same time earning 1000inr per minute from return on investments made. The calculations involved was return on investment divided by no of days n so on to reach minute level. Then the reality strikes and final conclusion is , I need to earn 5000inr every hour. It is doable.. Cheers..

  9. I’ve thought about this a lot. We’re much more likely to end up with $5-10 million or more than we are with $0.

    Since we have $1.5 million in our 30’s and don’t spend much more than the dividend yield each year AND stumbled into some side hustles that are coming close to letting us not touch the portfolio at all, we might end up on one of those trajectories of 7-10% long term growth for the next 60+ years. 7% for 60 years would leave us with roughly $100,000,000. Them’s a lot of zeros. 🙂

    1. I just used my trusty hand to estimate that we could also hit the nine-digit club. Using the rule of 72 I estimate that our portfolio will double every 7 years. (I’m using a 10% return estimate in my uncertain, hand-math calculation.) Let see: 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128. Those are millions! Okay, so 7 cycles of 7 years equals 49 years. I’m 52 now + 49 years…so, at 101 years I’ll have a net worth of $100+ million.

  10. You are right. Consistent saving through frugal living is the key to become financially independent. Let the compounding do the work for you!

    Thanks for sharing!

    BSR

  11. interesting thoughts,
    hope you going to make it, I am modest, I don’t set up my goals like that, I don’t care about amount which I will have or could have, I am trying to live in this moment, I am investing in shares by some rational taught,
    for example: I think clean energy sectors will be high growth sector in next decade, so I invest in reputable companies in that sector,
    Until now for 20 years of career, I managed to have portfolio net worth $650K and don’t care if in next 20 years I have 2% income raise

    1. Gandolfo, in all honesty I don’t think I’ll hit my $1 trillion goal, but it doesn’t cost anything to dream. The good news is we need far less than that amount to have a great life and enjoy ourselves. My main goal of the post was to illustrate the power of time in the market and steady growth. Good luck hitting your goals and Happy New Year. Ed

  12. Great post! I like the optimistic start that you make to become a billionaire…why not, it might happen…

    The points you make are very valid. More people should know about this AND practice it.

    I look forward to read about your FIRE stories and experiences

    AT

    1. Amber Tree, the underlying personal finance principles are simple, but their implementation isn’t always so easy. As soon as you change a few behaviors, the results are amazing. In our case, the shift to hardcore savings has greatly accelerated our net worth. It’s much easier to save 70%+ of our salaries than to generate a 20% return on our investments. Thanks for checking out my site. Ed

  13. Nice adventure you will have on you journey to become trillionaire hope you are going to make it. I will continue trying to win power-ball, for me chances to win power-ball are little bigger than your method 🙂
    If I use your method, I would need about 400yrs according to my income 🙂

  14. hilarious and true post. time and compounding are very important. and so is eating right!! I wrote a couple posts about how I thought it was silly that so many people are only focused on attaining a net worth of $1M. Why not $10M or $100M. Indeed, why not $1 Trillion!?! love it.

    1. I’m with you PatientWealthBuilder: Why stop at a crummy $1 million? Come on people, dream a little! I imagine the journey from $1 million to $2 million will be much easier since the portfolio will be doing most of the heavy lifting. I look forward to checking out your blog…thanks for the visit. Ed

  15. Hi Ed,
    I enjoy your posts as well as your podcast interviews. Very interesting to think through all the possibilities. I know you are in retirement accounts for much of your investments. Have you calculated the RMD (required minimum distribution) on that Trillion dollars at age 120? Could be an interesting number.

    1. Jeff, thanks for the punch to the stomach! Unless I find a way to pull off a Roth IRA conversion ladder at $100 billion a year for 10 years, it looks like I’ll have to pay Uncle Sam something. An RMD calculation is too frightening to contemplate. This year I plan on beginning my first Roth IRA conversion to reduce Uncle Sam’s portion of my retirement check. Ed

  16. Hi Ed,

    I think one point that is often overlooked is the potential change in ones family tree that lifestyles such as these can affect. You may not live to be 120 years old in 2084 (sorry) nor make 22.3% (sorry, again), but the legacy that you may leave has the potential to outlive all of us. Teaching our children, and the generations to come, how to manage life is more valuable than most people realize.

    For fun, think about your own family and what happens if you leave your resources to your son and his family. He can manage his life, start to contribute to the “net-worth,” and watch it grow. Then his children (your grand-children) …. Someone will be around in 2084 and beyond, and they CAN become trillionaires.

    Just don’t blame your ancestors for not starting this for you!

    1. Hi Jeffrey, great food for thought. We are teaching our son the ins-and-outs of money: needs vs. wants, consumption, savings, and investing. He know a lot more than most kids; he’s 10. I would be nice if our lineage continued the path of wealth building AND life maximization, but you know how we human are. It’s always so easy to spend money, especially in your youth, that you didn’t earn or save. Getting your children and their children established financially is problematic, but it’s a good problem to have.

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