Here’s our latest interview with a millionaire as we seek to learn from those who have grown their wealth to high heights.
If you’d like to be considered for an interview, drop me a note and we can chat about specifics.
This interview took place in October.
My questions are in bold italics and her responses follow in black.
Let’s get started…
How old are you (and spouse if applicable, plus how long you’ve been married)?
I’m divorced, female, age 55.
I have no children.
What area of the country do you live in (and urban or rural)?
I live in an affluent rural suburb of a major metropolitan city in the Midwest.
What is your current net worth?
About 14M, without considering the valuation of my businesses.
What are the main assets that make up your net worth (stocks, real estate, business, home, retirement accounts, etc.) and any debt that offsets part of these?
- Cash 2.2 M
- Equities/bonds: 2.1M
- Solo 401k plan: 225k
- Inherited IRA 15k
- Crypto: 1.2M (this has generated the highest rate of return for me in 2020)
- Private real estate investments with partners: 4M
- Total value of my homes is $4M+. I live in a relatively low cost area where you get a lot of bang for the buck in real estate. (My primary residence is conservatively valued at $2.5M and my secondary residence is valued at $1.25M. I own two other homes that I do not rent out. One is my parents house that I inherited worth about $200k and the other is a tiny bungalow that I paid cash for to live in after my divorce. It’s worth at least 100k. I can’t bring myself to sell my parents’ home just yet. I may sell the bungalow because I don’t live there in that area anymore.)
- I have no debt at all. All my properties, cars, furniture, jewelry were paid for with cash. I don’t consider vehicles, art, jewelry part of my net worth but probably have $500k in these.
I am not quite sure to how come up with a valuation of my businesses. They typically generate 12-15M annually in gross profits.
I would say they are worth $25M on the low end if I sold them. I could be wrong; this is not something I think much about.
What is your job?
One of my companies does cloud based app development.
I also own online businesses for tech products geared to specific interests.
I create brands/products/services/communities that target millennials as well as people who are looking to save money.
My latest venture is real estate development.
What is your annual income?
In 2019 I earned $2.6M in personal income.
It’s embarrassing to write that because I fear ESI readers can’t relate to that, but I’m just like everyone else.
Tell us about your income performance over time. What was the starting salary of your first job, how did it grow from there (and what you did to make it grow), and where are you now?
My first job was delivering newspapers in our small town. Can’t remember what I made since money didn’t interest me then, but I made enough to buy my own clothes and snacks.
My next job was as a dispatcher for a local police department where I made minimum wage. I worked 3-11 pm or 11-7 am while I was going to college. This was a terrific opportunity because I could do my homework as long as I answered the radio when calls came in. It also opened my eyes to the real world.
I eventually became a nurse and earned about $60k a year.
I left the hospital environment and started a very small home health care business. This was the beginning of my fascination with running businesses.
After my divorce I wanted to start fresh. I didn’t want to jump into another relationship right away nor did I want to stay in the same area as my ex. So I bought a tiny bungalow with cash I had saved and quit my job and started teaching myself how to code.
I also spent time making connections on social media that would pay off later when I launched my next business.
What tips do you have for others who want to grow their career-related income?
I didn’t work my way up a corporate ladder, so my advice is not for everyone.
I took calculated risks. Some of it is just plain dumb luck. You can perfectly plan a business venture out and if your timing isn’t right, it’s all for naught. If you are like me, you will keep trying.
I’d like to think I made some smart decisions along the way, but the fact is we all think we are better at prediction than we really are.
You can’t go wrong by investing in yourself and your talents, whether it be through self learning or formal education.
Tune out others (even family) who aren’t as motivated as you. Only you know what you really want to achieve in life and you’re the only one who can put in motion what will be achieved. I’ve found that listening to what others need then delivering what they need plus a bit extra can really pay off.
What’s your work-life balance look like?
Ha, I love what I do, but I usually work 7 days a week and often 12-16 hours a day. Not many would do this, and it won’t always be this way.
I am NOT complaining. This is why I make what I make. Thank goodness for grocery delivery, Uber eats, and my employees! I haven’t met anyone who works as much as I do but I am sure there are people out there who do.
Do you have any sources of income besides your career? If so, can you list them, give us a feel for how much you earn with each, and offer some insight into how you developed them?
I do but I have not included or calculated the income for my real estate investments as we haven’t done taxes for 2020.
I also receive a modest amount of royalties annually from books I have written.
What is your annual spending?
My personal spending is about $125-150k a year but can vary significantly.
What are the main categories (expenses) this spending breaks into?
Most of this is for property taxes, insurance, utilities, landscaping and other maintenance of my 4 homes. (Mind you these are a rough estimate of averages for last year.)
- Property taxes: 47k a year
- Insurance: 7k a year
- Landscaping: 15k a year
- Utilities: 30k a year
- Indoor pool and pond maintenance: 7k a year
- Food and misc personal: 12k a year
- Household staff/security part time: $20k a year
My expenses can vary significantly because I may decide to landscape, remodel, etc, and this year I have about 100k in landscaping alone.
My vehicles are mainly business expenses, I don’t dress up for work, and I don’t go on vacation. My biggest luxury is my primary residence which is in excess of 10,000 sq ft and it has literally everything I need on site including an elevator and a workshop in excess of 1500 sq ft.
Do you have a budget? If so, how do you implement it?
I don’t have a budget.
I grew up poor so I watch the bottom line. I am very grateful for what I have.
As I made more money I got a little lazy in this department.
What percentage of your gross income do you save and how has that changed over time?
I realize that my annual expenses may seem high to most people, yet I save over 90% of my income.
When you earn a lot of money, it’s much easier to save. It may help to know I also pay over a million in federal taxes a year. Still shocks me to write those estimated quarterly checks. I remember well when if I had $25 left over in my checking, it was a good month.
What’s your best tip for saving (accumulating) money?
Focus on earning it!
Work hard even when no one is looking.
It’s much easier to save when you have your immediate needs met.
Take calculated risks.
What’s your best tip for spending less money?
Delay immediate gratification.
Wait a week and if you still want it, it may be a good purchase and not one you’ll regret. Buyer’s remorse usually comes after impulse purchases.
What is your favorite thing to spend money on/your secret splurge?
When I didn’t have money, I wanted so much dumb stuff. Now that I can afford most things, I don’t want them. Material things don’t seem to matter as much now.
When I look at my bank accounts, I do so mainly to set goals for myself, like how to beat my own sales/profit records. Sometimes it just seems like play money and not really mine.
I know many ESI readers love travel, but I got the travel bug out of my system when I was younger.
If I had to pick one thing, it would be real estate. Always looking on Zillow.
I also like original art and the latest tech gadgets.
What is your investment philosophy/plan?
I’m going to disappoint most of your readers here because I am still learning about investing; this is what mainly attracted me to your blog.
My “philosophy” is to squirrel away as much as I can for retirement.
I’ve picked up a little knowledge along the way, I used to keep everything in cash. Some of you will be laughing at that, I know, but no one hands you a manual for what to do when you start making serious money. Almost all the advice I got was geared to sell you something (financial service products) which made me take a step back.
I really had no clue so I just dumped it in a money market account at first. Now I diversify in equities, bonds, real estate and crypto. However I don’t think I’ll ever get over the need to see a significant amount in cash, even if it doesn’t earn much, I know it’s there and I can access it quickly if necessary.
What has been your best investment?
Real estate and crypto have been my best investments to date.
What has been your worst investment?
Ugh. FANG aka Diamondback, XOM and a few others.
Other than stocks I would have to say cars, because driving them off the lot results in instant depreciation. Good thing there is that 1079 credit for business vehicles over 6000 lbs. which helps lessen the blow.
What’s been your overall return?
10-12% is my estimate but only because of crypto this year.
How often do you monitor/review your portfolio?
Daily now that I manage it most of it myself.
I only keep a small amount with my main bank in their investments division. I also use a roboadviser, Betterment, for a small amount ($100k) just to see what it does compared to what I select.
I use Personal Capital to track everything cause it’s free.
How did you accumulate your net worth?
I made a lot of money by creating one successful business and then I replicated what worked for me when making subsequent businesses. Some of the businesses came about organically because I listened to what customers wanted and tried to provide “one stop shopping” if you will.
I also tried to own everything that my business was dependent on. I’ll give you an example so I can retain my anonymity but say if you were a landscaper, it would be a good idea to own your own resources like nursery, tree removal business, quarry, sod, and anything you needed so you are not totally dependent on suppliers.
This is what I did. I created businesses and bought out my suppliers eventually or absorbed competitors.
I did inherit a modest house and about $100k but this was after I had become a millionaire.
What would you say is your greatest strength in the ESI wealth-building model (Earn, Save or Invest) and why would you say it’s tops?
There is no doubt at all that earning has been what I am best at. I am a very cautious investor and I know I likely keep too much in cash. This may be partly because we were so poor when I was younger.
I should point out I saved enough to buy my bungalow with cash when I didn’t earn nearly as much as I do now. So my saving skills weren’t all that terrible.
Investing in the stock market was very scary to me, it’s not something that came naturally to me at first. Investing in crypto was actually easier for me because of my conviction that digital assets are the future.
I would love to know what readers think I should do as far as investments.
All ESI elements are important if people want security. Diversification is paramount.
What road bumps did you face along the way to becoming a millionaire and how did you handle them?
The bumps have been many. Chaotic childhood, no good role models in my family, spent time in juvenile home, etc. Had a few kind mentors along the way who believed in me and told me I wasn’t stupid, that I was smart, and they encouraged me to work hard and tune out the noise.
Got married mainly because I thought I should. 12 years later I was divorced and thinking, who am I? What do I really want to do?
I am one of few women in my main business. I had to learn to be direct, (ok well blunt) to deal with suppliers who think they can pull one over on me, and to deal with competitors/imposters who try to take my customers.
Employees can be awesome or living breathing nightmares, lol. Ditto for customers. Ever had someone hijack your websites or try to direct traffic to their domain instead of yours? I’ve had to refund $100k because of merchant software mishaps. Equipment failures, you name it. All kinds of things go wrong all the time and I’ve had to learn to adapt on the fly.
I actually love the thrill of it all. Somehow, and I attribute this mostly to sheer luck, I became a millionaire. No one is more surprised than me.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your net worth?
I am investing in private equity and developing real estate with partners.
Do you have a target net worth you are trying to attain?
No. Originally I set my target as 5M.
I am now content as long as I have enough money for the rest of my life to live on without worrying where my next meal is coming from or if I have a roof over my head.
How old were you when you made your first million and have you had any significant behavior shifts since then?
I was 49. I don’t have time for behavioral shifts. lol
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from?
I don’t like to call them mistakes, but rather learning experiences.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is nobody cares as much about your money as you do, and that financial advisors are overrated. You have to oversee anyone who manages your money from your accountant to your bank.
Don’t loan money to friends and family and expect to get it back. Just gift them and then no one is uncomfortable. Don’t enable them either, or they will never be motivated to help themselves.
Also, everyone has an agenda when you buy/need something. That general contractor is getting kickbacks from the appliances/windows/lights you are purchasing, and your interior decorator is getting a sign up bonus for recommending the general contractor. Most people aren’t open about disclosing affiliate or kickback relationships. I prefer to deal with the ones who are upfront on this.
What advice do you have for ESI Money readers on how to become wealthy?
Earn-Save-Invest of course!
The earlier you start the easier it is, but never give up hope. I am proof that success is not immediate and can be attained later in life.
I always knew I would be successful, though it seemed absolutely impossible at times, so my heartfelt advice is to never lose sight of your goal. Maintain your focus, expect to conquer a very bumpy road, and remember it’s not too late to start today.
Only invest in what you feel comfortable with, and always save more than you are comfortable with.
What are your plans for the future regarding lifestyle?
I would like to write that I plan to retire and play pickle ball and snorkel in the Caymans, it really sounds awesome, but the truth is I love to work. I love business.
I wake up in the morning and I’m still excited about what I am doing. I plan on working (maybe not quite so hard) as long as my health permits me.
Check with me in a few years and we will see!
What are your retirement plans?
I don’t have plans to retire at this time. But if I did, I would be okay barring any world catastrophe.
If I had to retire I would be depressed until I figured out ways to stay productive and contribute meaningfully to society. I can see myself volunteering perhaps mentoring younger entrepreneurs if I didn’t work. I will likely stay in the home I have now and not downsize if and when I do retire.
Are there any issues in retirement that concern you? If so, how are you planning to address them?
Health care is always a concern. Whether it be the affordability of medications, access to quality providers and insurance coverage at reasonable rates.
I would like to stay healthy and have a good quality of life. This is why I purchased a home with an indoor pool, spa, sauna and gym.
I also made sure the home was accessible for the future older and less agile me.
How did you learn about finances and at what age did it “click”?
Can’t state a specific age, because every single year I learn something new.
When I started my first business, my banker recommended an accountant. Then the accountant recommended an attorney who specialized in taxes and business formation. However helpful these folks have been to me, they have not actually guided me on what to do with my finances so I had to basically give myself a crash course by reading online and watching YouTube videos. Two of my favorite YouTubers are Andrei Jikh and Graham Stephen.
Who inspired you to excel in life? Who are your heroes?
I read a lot of biographies as a kid. I knew that one day I wanted to contribute the way those people did, making the world a better place either by invention, serving others or living an exemplary life. I wanted to excel because so many people told me I couldn’t.
My aunt told me once, the saddest thing about being an adult is that you can see how children will turn out. She meant me, in a very negative way, and that made an impact on me. I was determined to prove her wrong.
Lots of people are smart and have significant wealth but we always remember the ones who have been the kindest to us when we needed that in our lives. Those are my heroes.
Do you have any favorite money books you like/recommend? If so, can you share with us your top three and why you like them?
I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. This book helped me understand why I needed to invest.
I mostly read blogs, like ESI as well as the reader comments, Reddit, and follow YouTube as mentioned earlier.
Do you give to charity? Why or why not? If you do, what percent of time/money do you give?
Yes I do. I typically donate money to charities that I have a personal interest in.
I also have created scholarships at schools I attended and support my local community.
The amount varies and I haven’t calculated a percentage.
Do you plan to leave an inheritance for your heirs (how do you plan to distribute your wealth at your death)? What are your reasons behind this plan?
This is something I have been thinking about quite a bit for the last few months. I have no heirs and most of my family has passed away, so it’s something that I need to consider differently than most folks.
I plan on taking care of the people who have been loyal to me whether they are my friends or my employees, and I will also be sure to provide for any pets that survive me.
Ultimately I would like to make our world a better place in some small way.
The Millennial Money Woman says
You are such a role model to young women – and men – out there. Thank you for sharing your story. One theme that is very apparent to me is that if you really love what you do, the universe is the limit. Your situation sounds like what Confucius once said – “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” And it shows. When you monetize your passion, you can earn a lot of money.
I thought it was interesting to read how your aunt inspired you to prove her wrong – and clearly, you did (Congrats!). My driving inspiration to become successful (or at least move in the direction of becoming financially successful, since I am currently a pre-millionaire) was my grandparents. I saw my grandparents, who built a small family business together, lose everything and more due to poor financial planning just before retirement. I saw how they struggled daily, how they were concerned affording health care, and how they couldn’t live out their retirement dreams they once shared. I vowed to myself that I would never go through that when I grew older – and that I would try and help as many people as possible with my personal finance blog to move into the right financial direction. To date, I would classify myself as being successful with my mission, and I know this is just the beginning.
Keep up the incredible work – and I look forward to reading another update from you soon.
I always look forward to reading your comments on every interview. You are so kind to all.
I appreciate (as I know others do) that you shared about your grandparents, the struggle is real for many. I know you will be successful in your mission and I’m cheering you on. 🙂
You should maybe try not to comment first on every single interview though….
First million at 49, now 55 and sitting on 14 million with a business valued at 25 million – this is either silicon valley story or a gamestop stuff. Incredible either way. Wow.
GameStop has been a popular and entertaining topic in the Millionaire Money Mentors forum run by ESI Money for sure!
I don’t have any Silicon Valley experience and I’m not an overnight success by any means. I have had many entrepreneurial failures over the years (including selling Mary Kay and Avon which actually taught me a lot about people and branding).
When I look back it seems to me that everything I did before was a lesson for what to do differently moving forward. I know I will continue to make mistakes but it’s nice to have something finally get off the ground and flourish—-it motivates me to work hard each day. Thanks for commenting!
Bernd Doss says
Candidly written, and unabashedly honest. Refreshing to read a story such as this. I applaud your convictions. As to your seeking investment advice from the readership, do what you do best, for only you know what will satisfy your drive and ambitions. I learned the hard way, way too late, but never regretted the truth of my mistakes. Thanks for this reading, as it brings to mind, so many memories of the person I once was, until I really understood that there is more to life once you understand what life is.
Thanks and I agree there is so much more to life. May yours bring you happiness and joy always!
Charlie @ doginvestor.com says
That is incredible in terms of your business growth well done! – to go so quickly from $1m to $40m in the space of 5 years. I’d be interested to know what sort of industries the businesses are in and how the compounding worked? Did you acquire the other businesses from other owners or build each one? Especially since you seem to not use debt.
Correct, I don’t use debt, though I maintain lines of credits, I haven’t ever used them.
All are in niche tech areas. I created most of my businesses myself but have bought suppliers/competitors. Of the ones I purchased, all needed better infrastructure, better team development and management. Always a risk to purchase another business because you don’t know EVERYTHING about it, no matter how much due diligence you perform, there is always an unexpected surprise (and usually not a good one!)
So at the moment here are current projects we are working on:
Developing our own merchant software
Developing our own cyber security methods
Developing our own platforms for social media
This is addition to running my e-commerce sites and improving on those.
At this point it’s generally easier and less stressful for me to create rather than purchase and revamp someone else’s vision.
Forgot to add I will likely sell those solutions I am working on once I implement for my businesses because I see a vast need in these areas,
MI 160 says
Well done, especially the last 5 years or so! My mom was an ER nurse for years but always loved technology. What a great pivot on your part. Super curious to know about your businesses but that might be for a later time. In the meantime, keep up the great work.
I miss a lot of things about nursing, mainly patient contact and the energy in the hospital environment at times. My world is more insulated and virtual now.
At the time “the pivot” I made was widely criticized by my family and friends. They thought I lost my mind. I relied on social media communities for coders/techies to learn and to be honest, it was their encouragement and friendship that kept me going.
Hit me up in the MMM forum regarding general info on my businesses, I just can’t get too detailed here for my security and anonymity. Thanks for the kind support.
This is a great story and very rare here- a true entrepreneur who invests across all asset classes. Bravo ! You’re an example of what can happen when people are brave enough to step beyond the constraints of W-2 employment. I sense that some of this may have been motivated by possibility and maybe a little fear. It’s clear that you grew this organically and to your credit as a woman in a male dominated industry / industries.
This is the motivation I needed this morning as a face challenges in one of my businesses. Many thoughts but clearly you’ve bothered to dream on a larger scale and it’s paid off. While your net worth is impressive , you’re created a supply chain and systems that will probably allow you to step away (while your business continues to hum along.
Well done and thanks for the share.
Fear is indeed a great motivator but I try not to over react especially when facing a tough challenge. Some of my best months have followed very tough ones and vice versa. That’s business and probably why I like it, it’s an adventure like no other!
Thanks I so appreciate your comments and wishing you all the best. Go get em.
I am glad I read this interview! I am about the same age and find this very inspiring! Love your ability to take risks yet use logic to assess them.
Thanks Kat! 😃
[email protected] says
“I would like to write that I plan to retire and play pickle ball and snorkel in the Caymans, it really sounds awesome, but the truth is I love to work. I love business.”
Wait a sec, did she just zing ESI? Ha ha. Boy, I can’t wait to see the MMM site comments.
Kudos to you and your success. You are doing what you love. That is the key.
Hahahaha. It is a good life…
I definitely have pickle ball envy…maybe someday! See you in the MMM forum!
This has been my favourite interview. I love how you’ve taken your life into your own hands and left a good, stable job to create a business you knew the world needed. I also think it’s amazing that you bought a house in cash and left a marriage after 12 years which couldn’t have been easy. Your story is a real inspiration and I’m grateful that ESI Money is profiling a range of millionaires. Most of the stories seem to be really similar, but I really enjoyed yours because it really shows how far smart, talented women can go on their own if they believe in themselves, make calculated decisions and embrace their strengths. Thank you!
I was nervous about this interview being published but your comment really made my day.
MI227, what a great story. You are truly an inspiration. I will hit you up in MMM to learn more about your businesses.
What is mmm?
The Millionaire Money Mentors forums many of us are a part of.
Great story, I loved it. What route did you take for learning to code?
Thank you for the great interview!
I was just discussing this earlier in the MMM forum. I’’ll just copy and paste what I wrote there.
“My friends and family thought I had gone mental. Everyone was like, you just can’t quit your job, you don’t have a job to go to, etc. I had no idea what coding was, all I knew is I was done with hearing gossip at work and in social circles about my marriage (I was loyal, he was not but people love drama).
So I went to, wait for it…Books A Million and bought all the $5 guides in coding I could find. I still laugh at that because it was like reading Chinese.
Someone on Facebook took pity on me and introduced me to online communities and that’s when I began really learning.
Today I manage a team of developers who are so talented that anything i code myself is an embarrassment, but I loved learning it and I truly value and am amazed at the solutions they come up with.”
So you can see I clearly had no idea what I was doing. But today I know what a php shell is 😉 .
Amazing story! Such an interesting perspective. I was going to ask when you plan to retire but as I read on its clear that’s not on your horizon. You are lucky to love what you do! If you are having fun that’s all that matters.
I am in a very high income role but I hope to retire at 52, I don’t want to always work this hard, I want to spend time with my kids, my wife, family and friends.
I hope you meet your retirement goal and have lots of great experiences planned! Thanks for the kind comment.
Congrats on all your success.
Very interesting and very different path from the typical interview. Warp speed does not even seem to capture how one catapults from $1mm to $40mm in 5 years, but tech will do that if you’re in the right place at the right time. We’re close in age, but its taken me more like 20 years of grinding it out to go from that first million to a place where $10mm is within reach with 3-4 more work years (not sure I’m gonna want to do that though).
Nonetheless, I could identify with a great many of the things you said, especially about how growing up poor affects you, about learning from early failures, about excessively hard work, about enjoying the game o business and not yet wanting to retire, about taking calculated risks, etc. All stated in clear and plain language better than I could.
I could also relate to your desire to hold a lot of cash – I’m the same way. It’s a security blanket that comes from all the insecurity in childhood – not knowing if the adults in your life would be able to provide for you or keep you safe.
And I have lived by this advice: “I always knew I would be successful, though it seemed absolutely impossible at times, so my heartfelt advice is to never lose sight of your goal. Maintain your focus, expect to conquer a very bumpy road, and remember it’s not too late to start today.”
One other thing, I’ve also experienced this strange paradox: “when I didn’t have money, I wanted so much dumb stuff. Now that I can afford most things, I don’t want them. Material things don’t seem to matter as much now.”
Don’t get me wrong, I still check out fancy stuff, like nice new cars, but I just can’t bring myself to part with the money – I know that many luxury goods can bring as much headache (maintenance, upkeep, insurance, negative attention) as fun. Guess I’ve also kinda been there done that or know people who have on a lot of material things which makes for much less curiosity.
Great comments! I agree growing up poor has a big impact. In my late 30’s and early 40’s it was about stuff, now its about quality of life and experience!
Learning these things just in time!
Financial geek says
“when I didn’t have money, I wanted so much dumb stuff. Now that I can afford most things, I don’t want them. Material things don’t seem to matter as much now.” This is so true!
I once went through the exercise of keeping a list of big ticket items we wanted or needed – new couch, new TV, etc. I would check them off once we had made the purchase. The funny part is to look back at that list and think, I don’t even value or care about those things once they are in the rearview mirror. Great lesson for me on materialism.
Thanks for taking your valuable time to leave such personally meaningful comments, and congrats on your success MMiguel. I like your vibe. It is indeed a security blanket for me and you hit on exactly why it is. Wishing you only the best.
Thank you MI-227. I reread parts of your interview again, and I’m still just blown away by how much I can relate to. Your writing is deceptively simple at first glance, but actually it is densely packed with extraordinary advice for anyone who desires to achieve above and beyond. Some of this stuff I had an internal compass for, but much of it I had to learn by making many many mistakes and going down lots of blind alleys.
This part really resonated: “Tune out others (even family) who aren’t as motivated as you.” For me, this was crucial from the beginning. To reach this level of accomplishment I knew I was going to have to forge my own path. I was armed with ambition and some natural talents, for which I am grateful, but no one in my family or community had ever quite gone where I was planning to go.
When I think back on my life, though there were certainly key people, like my mom, my wife, a couple of important teachers/mentors, cheering me on, it really seemed like the vast majority didn’t really want me to exceed my preordained fate of mediocre expectations.
So many voices I recall asking “why does he wanna to go to college so far away, why is he working so (suspiciously) late… what you think you’re better than us…” As a kid, I often had to hide my academic/intellectual gifts, because where I grew up that earns you a good after-school beatdown. At least I was also fairly athletic, which no doubt saved me from the worst of the bullying. Even in the corporate/finance word, I endured so much hazing and competitive insanity I’m shaking my head as I type.
Was it worth it I ask myself. But truly, I don’t think I would have ever been able to settle. I was always a bit of a contrarian, thankfully as I really had to ignore a great many opinions and judgements that would have kept me in my place. I still do, only my “place” is somewhat more comfortable nowadays.
One would think that defying the odds would feel pretty good. It does on some level, but if I’m completely honest, I carry a resentment that it had to be this difficult. It’s not a level playing field, never has been. I have no doubt as a woman in the business world, you are acutely aware of that. This doesn’t necessarily keep all disadvantaged individuals from succeeding, but it sure makes the job a lot harder and the odds a lot longer.
Super impressed by your story MI227!!!!!! You showed everyone! Congratulations & well done.
What type of real estate investment / development do you do? I personally love commercial real estate. Buying land has been one of my best investments but the one I enjoy the most is my boat & rv storage facility!!!
Hi Lance! Commercial here too, thinking of grabbing more land when real estate prices dip. I think you have a gold mine there, Hmmm. Great idea, thanks for the inspiration to research that a bit more!!
She blew me away with her level of wealth and common sense savvy. I really like her story, and how flippant she is about some things people lose sleep over. I love it! Can’t say I plan to follow her footsteps into business owning, but she is another example of the great American dream if you do it right and luck is on your side. She even inspired me to throw some money at Bitcoin or COINBASE when they IPO. My favorite quote: “When I didn’t have money, I wanted so much dumb stuff. Now that I can afford most things, I don’t want them. Material things don’t seem to matter as much now.” Amen.
Thank you. HODL that BTC when you get it! 😊
What a unique and inspiring interview! Congratulations on your success and happy life! There can’t be enough single women stories as far as I’m concerned. Question: You mentioned using Betterment. Are you able to cite any learnings from comparing vs. self-investinng?
First disclaimer: This is not investment advice. I am not a financial advisor, I’m not an expert, I’m not Roaring Kitty of Wall Street Bets fame.
But I do self manage 130 individual stocks. This is not what most people will advise. I have never followed the crowd and that has gotten me in trouble many times.
I am up 27.89% YTD. That’s 20% more than Betterment has done, Now that being said, I could be just lucky and lose it all next week. I dunno. We shall see. Many people have seen increased gains since the time of this interview in October.
I don’t think it’s necessary to own as many stocks as I do, I just like picking what I believe in. I enjoy the process. I like to be actively involved.
Betterment is perfect for those who want to set and forget it according to their own risk assessment level. It’s the safer way to invest just like index funds at another brokerage, just in the roboadviser format. I think It’s a great way to test to see if investing is right for you.
Never invest more than what you can afford to lose.
Thanks so much for your kind comments about my interview.
No worries, I self-manage my investments as well, a mix of stocks, bonds and mutual fund/ETFs. I totally get risk tolerance and personal preference. Based on your comments, I guess one of your takeaways with having Betterment as a comparison is that you do a much better job managing your money directly. Best wishes for continued success!
Great interview. It is hard sometimes with 7 figure incomes and/or 8 figure net worth’s to open up, I know I went back and forth before doing my interview. Hoping it’s inspirational for others to believe in their potential.
I have the same amount of cash reserves as you and have been scrutinized for that in the past (not on this site). Is it dry powder waiting for an opportunity or cash flow for the business?
How do you feel about your real estate ventures? I too have invested $4M+ into commercial RE and am poised to inherit another 10 properties in the next 5 years worth about $2M (residential rentals). Going well, but with almost another 2 decades to full retirement age considering hitting the brakes here on RE. Not too thrilled about managing residential at some point but we’ll see. I do however expect a strong decade for RE so I’m torn.
Crypto’s been good. But my entire IRA retirement account portfolio was up 50% in 2020 including cash drag (good for about $1.4M in unrealized appreciation). How do you feel about 2021? I’m very concerned for a major correction by the end of 2022, but unemployment keeps dropping and treasury spreads are widening not narrowing. Shifting portfolio from tech to small cap, banks and (alternative) energy and avoiding new leveraged fund purchases to mitigate risk. Managing to skirt the dotcom bust, 9/11, the Great Recession and the COVID recession hoping to pull it off again.
With a 90% savings rate and no children, what do plan to do with the estate? More charity? Nieces/nephews/siblings? If you’re like me, you probably don’t long too much for more assets. I’m now preferring to keep life simple (as can be as a business owner too) just enjoy experiences with the family. My favorite investment now is buying myself free time.
Thanks again for the valuable interview.
It’s dry powder, not cash flow for business. I didn’t include those assets of the businesses (like money market accounts). Just want to be ready if I see an opportunity.
As far as real estate, I think the market is wild right now. I am way more comfortable with commercial RE investments than residential. I’ll wait for a correction/dip before invest more.
Awesome to hear how well you’ve done with your IRA! I agree we will likely have a major correction; there only so much money you flood the country with. Is all that just delaying the inevitable correction?
Crypto turned out be my best investment in 2020. I now have 3M invested in BTC (appreciation and purchasing more still on the dips).
I’m still thinking about what to do with estate planning. I’m probably somewhat in avoidance/procrastination mode because in the last 3 years I lost a lot of family members and I’m still processing those emotions.
Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate that.
Wow! What a great success story, and a great interview. I hope you continue to share your story, in particular what you decided to plan for your estate beyond your lifetime. As you noted you are in a very unique position and need to consider very differently than most folks. Hopefully you live so long you get to spend it all, however based on your interview it is predictable you will continue to you grow your wealth for many years to come. Having the challenge of determining how best to spend/donate your wealth is a great problem to have – well earned.
WoW! One of THE most impressive interviews I have read — here and elsewhere! At first, when I saw your net worth, I thought “H–eck! This won’t be relatable …” but I was beyond wrong! Your story is fascinating; your personality, drive and integrity – exemplary! I sincerely hope you do do some mentoring eventually. I am confident you can inspire/guide others to better futures, perhaps youths who themselves need that support and kindness you mentioned. Thank you for taking the effort for this interview.
Thanks DC, I hope so too!
I have read at least 80% of the millionaire interviews and I find them all fascinating (and inspiring), but this one is easily in the top 2% – and not just because of her net worth or income. I have had many conversations with my son about different paths for education and the less traveled path that can be taken to learn skills critical to success in achieving financial success and this interview reinforces that view.
When you go from working for a company to running your own company, the degree is only worth what it taught you.
I wish I had the intestinal fortitude to do what this woman has done, but I must simply applaud her success. Simply amazing.
Your son is very fortunate to have a dad who very obviously cares about his future. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment, thank you!
Mike H says
This is a great interview. Thanks for sharing your story MI-227. You have many great years ahead of you and I am sure you will make some very nice contributions into the world.
Thanks Mike! I’m going to try 😊
Great interview thoroughly enjoyed it. One day after I’ve paid my medical bills i hope to make millions. Hopefully south Africa will be better then.
Thank you, I hope you do. The best to your success.
Cool story. I’m an ICU nurse and love it, but I’m also interested in business…just haven’t had an idea work out yet. Your story is inspiring..you have nothing to be embarrassed or nervous about!
Thank you and a special shout out to you for working ICU. ❤️
David @ Filled With Money says
FASCINATING story. Two of my favorite Youtubers are Andrei Jikh and Graham Stephan as well, ha. They’ve taught me a lot and it’s pretty entertaining watching them.
May I ask if you have plans to get back into dating? If you didn’t have a life partner, would you be OK with that?
I haven’t thought about it recently. I am busy from the time I open my eyes generally until I close my eyes. That wouldn’t be exactly conducive to a relationship. I wouldn’t rule it out but someone would be crazy to start a relationship with me right now. I think I came to the realization after my divorce that I was not Cinderella and Prince Charming was never going to save me, that I had to save myself.
I don’t intend on working at this pace forever. At this time though, the business would probably fail if I weren’t personally involved in it. My employees depend on the income, although I don’t need any more myself.
It would take some time to groom a successor.
If I have to be brutally honest with myself, I would admit I am okay with not finding a life partner, maybe I knew that when I threw myself into this, not sure, 😊
David @ Filled With Money says
Understood, good for you!
Fascinating story! It’s awesome that you are a successful business owner in a field that is generally considered male dominated. I am personally an IT professional, currently working on Cloud migrations for companies large and small. I have also worked on Cloud migrations for federal civilian agencies.
At least in the US and in my experience >95% of tech workers are male. In India where I studied for my undergrad – 30% of my class was female and companies there had greater females in the workplace.
With your success you have created value. You enjoy some of the fruits of your success but I have to ask, what is the end game? Every successful enterprise has to have some notion of an end game, in the startup world they call it an exit strategy. Have you considered the giving pledge (https://givingpledge.org)?
I am also reminded of Forrest Gump –
“Though he did take care of my Bubba- Gump money. He got me invested in some kind of fruit company. And so then I got a call from him saying we don’t have to worry about money no more. And I Said, That’s Good! One Less Thing.”
“There’s only so much money a man really needs, the rest is just for showing off.”
I agree there is only so much money we need, and yes I am considering the Giving Pledge, or something of that nature. Thanks 😊
Awesome success story! Now before I get frank, I’ll share some major details. I’m very happily married. Just a few years older. No kids. Our net worth is a little under half of yours (but I don’t count the RE). Now for the very frank part. You had me ponder what I would do if I had a relationship with someone like you. You are extremely ambitious. Very successful. Driven. I’m similar, however, once I got to the point of having more than I could spend at my current spend rate over my lifetime, I quit the game. I wanted to spend more time with my wife. Travel and camping. Hiking and skiing. Work on DIY projects. I don’t believe I could live with someone who had more than enough and didn’t want to spend more time with me. Please consider that you only have one life to live. Don’t be reckless, but maybe you need some sole searching. I’d hate to hear that you had regrets later. FYI, I worked with a corporate director who is about your age and net worth and just passed away from health conditions. Enough of the depressing frank talk. Please go enjoy life! If that means continuing your present work, fine, enjoy that too. I just won’t understand.
You bring up an excellent point I tried to mention something similar but wasn’t willing to be as frank. I give MI-227 the benefit of the doubt she knows herself well enough to know what makes her happy.
I am 8 years younger than MI-227 with a net worth of about half of hers. My plan is to hit $12M or so by 52, that is winning. I tell my wife unless I am having the time of my life make me retire! I could easily see myself loving work and wanting to stay or deciding its not worth the hassle. The good news is I will very likely be in the position to decide for myself.
My goal now is not to wait for early retirement but enjoy the time I have with my kids now. I believe we have done that. Over the pandemic, we bought a vacation home with cash and it has already gone up 20%, now post pandemic I think prices will go back down. It was an amazing year for us. My goal is to really enjoy time with the kids while they are still home and transition with my wife to a nice retired life, problem is she loves her job and plans to work for many years.
All we can ever do is find what makes us happy and hope others are capable of the same.
Gtmoney, hope you and your family have many years of happiness enjoying your new vacation home!
I agree with you, I need to do some soul searching. I know I can’t keep this pace up forever, but my employees depend on me and I take that very seriously. I’m not really sure what the answer is. I would definitely break up with someone like me, no doubt about it!
Your comment was extremely considerate, I appreciate that. thanks!
Yep, you seem level headed MI-227. I’ll share one last data point that did it for me. My Engineering Technical Director on the project that I was working on about eight years ago came into work, and had a brain aneurism. He was found in the bathroom and was immediately rushed to the hospital and placed on life sustaining equipment. In about a week he was pronounced dead leaving behind a wife and two kids. He was always a hard working individual and well respected. It shocked many colleagues as he had no prior health history. This hit very close to home for me. I’m not sure exactly why, maybe because I was getting mature and while in good health, suddenly realized it won’t last forever. Once a lay-off was announced, I looked over the severance package, spoke with my wife and volunteered. That was seven years ago. I don’t regret a thing. Good luck in whatever your internal compass tells you to do.
Success Triangles says
Great story…no need to apologize after stating your income (LOL).
I can tell you this is 100% TRUTH:
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is nobody cares as much about your money as you do, and that financial advisors are overrated. You have to oversee anyone who manages your money from your accountant to your bank.
I used to be a financial advisor and all most of them care about is ‘gathering assets’ and annuitizing your portfolio with commissions. A good index fund will trounce whatever they sell you 99% of the time.
Success, While I agree wholeheartedly with much of your statement and I know commenters on this blog mostly seem to hate financial advisors with a passion, I would not paint them all with one brush.
FYI, I’m not a personal financial advisor (though I have advanced knowledge and skills when it comes to corporate finance). I am a numbers kind of guy who runs a worksheet with no less than 50 tabs to track and model my own finances, but I still use a financial advisor. In the realm of personal finance, I’m not an expert and there are some pockets of knowledge that are too intricate or mundane (or just plain boring) for me to spin my wheels figuring it out.
In particular, insurance (disability, LTC, life, annuities, etc.) are an area where my eyes glaze over pretty quickly. Taxes are another area where I get frustrated pretty quickly, though I do our own tax filings for family and family businesses because in the past I’ve found stupid mistakes occur way too often with the professionals (who I suspect are outsourcing the work to low cost regions).
The other big reason I use an advisor is my spouse who does not have my finance education – I need a referee between us so that it doesn’t seem like I’m trying to be a bully and call all the shots. My advisor has also been a huge help in assisting us with the financial issues of our elderly parents, including estate planning, budgeting, and ultimately settling the estate after they passed.
It goes without saying that any high net worth individual/family needs a team of professionals to call upon – accountant, lawyer(s), insurance/benefits, etc. and I believe financial planners/advisors can play an important role.
The key, as in so many aspects of life, is in selection!
Yes, there are more hacks out there than skilled professionals. God knows I get approached by enough of them and so often they are eager beavers half my age, barely old enough to have savings accounts themselves much less gain anyones trust to handle millions. If you walk into a bank branch and the banker tries to introduce you to one, run… bolt for the door as fast as you can. If you meet someone at a bar or cocktail party or networking event who tries to slip you a card, excuse yourself to go get a drink and slip out the back entrance. If they call and you have no idea how they got your name and number, hang up, do not engage. There is clearly a vast industry out there looking to separate you and your hard earned dollars… most of these folks are just salespeople with big commission targets and you look like nice juicy steak ready to be carved up.
Somewhere out there, though tiny needles in a giant haystack, there are true professionals. Really whip smart, sharp people who know what they are doing and have access to vast resources they can share with you.
Now, I’ll be the first to say that even though my advisor is also one of my best friends, and not only one of sharpest people I know, but also one of the most trustworthy people I have ever met, I don’t accept their recommendations blindly, and we have lots of areas of disagreement. You have to manage your professionals – always. If you do that effectively, they can make your life much easier and safer, and less worrisome.
Success Triangles says
We are definitely on the same page. The trick is finding the right professional. For people needing help, I would suggest a Certified Financial Planner that is paid by the hour. Interview several and go with the one your are most comfortable with.
One thing I would caution is never to buy insurance from a financial advisor (e.g., Merrill Lynch, other big brokerage houses) and never buy investments from an insurance professional (e.g., variable annuities from Mass Mutual or State Farm). It’s best to keep these professionals/products separate since many financial advisers are trying to be a jack-of-all-trades.
Charles @ That Charles Life says
First off, you are an absolute badass! Very cool story, was an enjoyable read.
Just a few questions;
1. As someone who is about to be reinventing themselves and looking for a career switch; would you still suggest learning to code as the best next move for someone?
2. And also how great of an investment is the MMM forum?
The most dangerous people in the world today write code, so besides that I would say if you think you’d enjoy it, YES! It definitely has its rewards.
The MMM forum is a smart investment for anyone who wants to discuss all things financial that you can’t really discuss anywhere else. Sometimes we can’t talk about money with family and friends and people who just don’t get it.
I haven’t seen another forum quite like it. The mentors and members are simply amazing. I’ve learned a lot in there myself. I can’t say enough good things about it!
I hope your reinvention brings you happiness and joy! Thanks for the awesome compliment.