FIRE Milestones – Reaching Millionaire Status

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I’m going to start this post (part of a series of posts about retirement milestones), with the assumption that most early retirees in the developed world will reach millionaire status as a matter of course in achieving financial independence.  I know the FIRE community is filled with a good number of frugal-living devotees, but I think building toward a $1 million dollar net worth would represent most folks’ planning for 30-40 year retirement (live on $40K/year).

That being my assumption, I think getting into the millionaire ring is still a very significant milestone.  According to the Global Rich List, a million dollars in net worth puts you in the world’s top 0.56% of individuals. The kind that makes you think you are in some exclusive club with the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, JP Morgan, and Howard Hughes.  You’re not, of course – those people made their millions when being a millionaire meant a lot more (they would be billionaires today), but still you get to carry the same title and pretend you will see them at their place in Newport next summer.

For us, the millionaire milestone came the year we turned 40.  I was a pretty avid tracker of net worth by that point, so when the number hit six-digits, I knew it.  It didn’t seem like we had moved onto easy street, since most of that wealth was illiquid in our 401k savings or tied up in our house (with a significant mortgage).  All the same, I marked down the date and we celebrated by going to dinner with my parents at a very nice restaurant and picking up the bill. It was a moment worth commemorating and I’m happy we did.

Even in today’s post-gold standard inflationary world, being a millionaire seems to be something special.  I authored a post earlier this week about the sources of wealth that make people millionaires, and I would highly recommend the book The Millionaire Next Door, which gives a lot of insight into the relatively ‘ordinary’ lifestyles of millionaires.

For early retirement, more important than $1 million in total net worth is $1 million in invested assets (less your mortgage).  This is your nest egg for the future – assuming that you aren’t going to sell your house and live in a cardboard box.  It probably took us another two years to reach this number, although our financials grew pretty quickly.  While more ultimately more important, I couldn’t recollect now exactly when we got to $1 million in invested assets, but that is clearly the basis for our goal of FIRE (financially independent & retired early) before 50.

Fortunately, our success has continued (and without getting into specifics), more financial milestones followed.  They came quicker and were usually carried in by the winds of a strong stock market, paying off our house, increasingly aggressive savings rates, and steady promotions at work.  I think it’s fun to track financial milestones, and when times are good, and I still enjoy updating our numbers to see if we’ve cleared another goal.  It has also humbled me to see how blessed we are and encouraged us to build our charitable “One More Year Fund“.

How do you track & commemorate your financial milestones, like reaching millionaire status?

Image Credit: Pixabay; Marble House, Newport RI

23 thoughts on “FIRE Milestones – Reaching Millionaire Status

  1. We love milestones, and so keep track of them in a “history” tab on our massive savings/ER spreadsheet. We know the dates, for example, that we crossed certain net worth milestones, when we crossed over from having paid more on our mortgage than we owe, etc. Given that we’re trying so hard to save, we haven’t typically celebrated the milestones beyond noting them, but we have a big one coming up very soon that might just inspire us to celebrate a little. 🙂

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  3. What a tremendous accomplishment. I screen capped my first $100K in retirement savings as my celebration. That was at the beginning of August. It promptly plummeted the same day, but recovered by October. I can’t imagine having $1M in net worth by 40. My husband and I will likely be at about only $450K at that point, but mortgage-free at least. So much ground to catch up on! You are an inspiration.

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    • I kept a list of all of the milestone numbers we reached. We didn’t pay off our mortgage until we were in our mid-40s so you will build net worth quickly after paying off your house. A good move!

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      • Thank you! Looking forward to celebrating April 1 with you. It will also be the anniversary of when my husband and I started dating – 18 yrs ago, 10 of those now married. Best wishes! You are so close!

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  4. Love this post… Made me realize we haven’t tracked milestones at all 😦 Would’ve been cool to jot down the dates when we hit each $100K net worth, at least the $500K. Oh well! But it’s better late than never.. I’m going to add a milestones tab to my spreadsheet 🙂 like tomorrow!

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  5. Awesome post!! My first milestone I’m looking forward to is paying off our line of credit balance, if you can consider that a milestone. I wish I had marked the date our mortgage had crossed under $400k! It’ll be a few years before our liquid retirement assets even hit 100k but that’s definitely a milestone we’ll celebrate when we get there!

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    • Yes – I need to add to my milestone list some of the earlier moments. Paying off all of your short-term dad is a big one! That you can start working on the house…

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  6. congratulations on meeting a million dollar milestone in liquid assets!! that is pretty amazing. many people can only reach thay if they include the value of their homes. The fact that you were able to reach $1 million in liquid assets in just another 2 years is pretty sweet. looking forward to reading more posts of your journey.

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  9. Great post – glad to see you reach $1M, but unfortunately, $1 M really isn’t what it used to be Sure you can live on $40k per year, but do you really want to for 50 years? The good news is that, properly invested, you can often reach $2 M just 5-8 years after the first million. Then you’d have $80,000 per year and a bit more flexibility.

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    • Yes – Millionaire status was a milestone number for us, but that was more than 10 years ago now. As I said, without getting into specifics, the milestones have coming – each faster than the last. 🙂

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  10. I’ve always been a fan of goals. Writing down specific goals focuses the mind and will on what to achieve. The likelihood of achievement increases substantially and sustains despite adversity over time. Checking off the goal as achieved is immensely satisfying. Celebrating the achievement is inherently pleasing (and is an additive goal in and of itself). Personally, I did not set specific financial goals for income or assets. I viewed them as necessary resources to achieve written life-goals related to family, experiences, and giving to others. In a business context, this is all management-by-objectives. Critical, but in my opinion, not sufficient. I recommend knowing and writing down life-values. These are bedrock principles and purposes in life which guide all behaviors and attitudes. I have six essential life-values. They were true for me thirty years ago when I first wrote them. The are true for me now. They are a compass, not a destination. They cannot be achieved as completed, but they always inspire action to stay on course, especially when in stormy seas. Sail on!

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    • I would love to hear more about those 6 life goals! I’ve always had educational, career, and financial goals – but they were usually shorter term goals. I’ve never felt I could plan out beyond 3-5-10 years. Early retirement by 50 is probably as close as I’ve come to a long term goal.

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