Most people make a lot more money than you think. When you see headlines from the media about people making poor financial decisions, this is just media schadenfreude.
The reality is, people not only make more money than you think, people are also wealthier than you think too. We've been a huge bull market since 2009. Therefore, the investor class has gotten a lot wealthier.
The reason why there are so many negative articles out there is simply because there are a lot more people making a lot more money and doing much greater things than one realizes. If you can't make it on your own, it's easier to just try and bring others down. Don't do that!
You know from a previous article that $75,000 is such a silly low range for what researchers and the media think is the ideal income level where happiness rises no more. It's so silly because that is clearly not the case if you ask anybody who has ever made more.
Is it a coincidence that researchers and reporters make on average not much more than $75,000? Of course not and therefore it helps makes them feel better about their wages. It's perfectly rational.
People Make A Lot More Money Than You Think
Ever since the tech bubble downturn in 2000 there's been a secret movement to hide one's wealth and be more understated. I call it the Stealth Wealth Movement. So many people killed it during the dotcom boom that they have no choice but to hide their wealth because the media went on and on about how so many people lost so much money. It's just not true, speaking from experience and the experience of others.
As a result of so much wealth creation during the dotcom days, juxtaposed by the disconnected reality of what the media was peddling, the wealthy had no choice but to start pretending they too suffered.
It's so ingrained in people's minds that most people lost so much money in the downturn it's just not true. Are people stupid enough to think that everybody bought at the top and sold at the bottom? Don't be silly.
The stock market and real estate markets have had strong runs since 2009. Heck, even during a global pandemic, the S&P 500 closed up 16% and the national median home price went up 8.5% in 2020!
A lot of people killed it during this time period and are hiding their wealth. Again, not everybody bought at the peak and sold at the bottom and the markets have now recovered fiercely since.
People Are Agitated And Jealous
People who do well are afraid of the government, the media, and bitter people all around. They are afraid they will be hunted down by organizations who will tie you up and burn you at the stake.
You don't know how many conversations I've had with people who are just so agitated they can't spend 1/10th their income on a car because that would mean they'd be spending $50,000-$150,000, which is fancy by “normal” standards but is absolutely whatever by their standards!
Instead, they spend 1/20th to 1/50th of their income on a car because anything more than a $28,000 Honda Accord will be frowned upon.
Just the other day, I got a ride home from a tennis buddy who works at a hedge fund. Jack drives a common Ford Explorer and on our way back we started talking about real estate.
He mentioned he and his wife are looking for a new house having recently relocated from Florida. He mentioned his house in Florida costs just under a million, but is nicer than so many $3-4 million dollar houses in San Francisco. So then I suggested instead of spending $3-4 million on a house in San Francisco to perhaps rent for a while.
He responded, “Actually Sam, I'm seriously looking at buying this unlisted house asking $8 million. $8 million just seems like a lot though. I'm thinking it's worth no more than $6 million. I haven't rented since I was 25, so renting feels foreign to me.“
Boy were my price estimates wrong, I thought to myself. “Yeah, I wouldn't spend more than $1,200 a square feet on the house either. Take your time! Houses are like stocks. If you miss one, there's always another that comes along.“
“Yeah, you're probably right Sam. But I wonder though, b/c I bid on a smaller house at $1,200/sqft and got outbid. I wonder if there is just that much money out there?“, my buddy vented in frustration.
“There definitely seems to be. Just wait until Facebook goes public!” I responded.
Making More Money Is Straightforward
If you guys want to make money, know that it is very straightforward. There's no magic formula. You just simply have to want to do it and create enough scale. Don't settle if you don't have to.
The following are conservative examples of what people make in their respective occupations according to an article I read on Bloomberg, and knowledge from my own conversations. Many make more.
29 year old MBA student from a top 10 school: $150,000.
Oakland dockworker (Longshoreman): $120,000.
Policeman with 20 years experience: $150,000 with a 6-figure pension.
Cancer researcher 10 yrs experience: $150,000.
4 Star General: $185,000 with 6-figure pension.
Bond trader with 10 years experience: $1,000,000.
Law partner $600,000.
More People Making More Money Than You Think
Professional blogger with 5 years experience: $50,000-$200,000. Anybody can start their own website for next to nothing nowadays compared to before. Here's a step-by-step tutorial on how you can brand yourself online and leverage the 3 billion+ people on the web.
Software sales rep at Oracle, Salesforce.com and the like with 5 years of experience: $300,000 +.
Strategy consultant 5 years out of undergrad: $100,000+.
Hedge fund manager partner: $500,000-$20 million depending on performance and assets.
Google / Facebook employee with 5 years experience out of undergrad: $100,000+ with potentially millions in stock.
The list goes on and on. As you can see, practically everybody makes over $100,000 a year with enough experience and many make much, much more.
The Economy Is Recovering
Have you ever wondered why the roads are still so busy during a pandemic? It's because more people make a lot more money than you think! There is a serious amount of under-reporting of income, and an obsequious amount of over-reporting of how bad things are.
Just look at the stock prices of massive companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, JP Morgan and so many more. Millions of people work at our largest companies and they have all done well since the pandemic began.
It's important as a Financial Samurai reader you aren't brainwashed by negativity and the media. I want you to know that things are actually much better than they seem, and I'd like you guys to stay away from pessimists and those who delight in the suffering of others. Focus on what you can do to make yourself better. Be happy for those who are doing great because when they do great, we all do great.
At the same time please stay humble and follow the movement. Keep your success under wraps. You will have people trying to come after you, and you don't want that. There's absolutely no need to brag about how much you make and what you've done. It's just going to backfire.
The most successful people are ones who have no need to talk about their success. They let their success speak for itself because they're out doing something more.
Make More Money With Real Estate
In addition to investing in stocks and bonds, I'm a big proponent of real estate investing. Real estate is a core asset class that has proven to build long-term wealth for Americans. Real estate is a tangible asset that provides utility and a steady stream of income if you own rental properties.
Given interest rates have come way down, the value of rental income has gone way up. The reason is because it now takes a lot more capital to generate the same amount of risk-adjusted income. Yet, real estate prices have not reflected this reality yet, hence the opportunity.
My favorite two real estate crowdfunding platforms are:
Fundrise: A way for accredited and non-accredited investors to diversify into real estate through private eFunds. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and has consistently generated steady returns, no matter what the stock market is doing.
CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations, higher rental yields, and potentially higher growth due to job growth and demographic trends.
Both platforms are free to sign up and explore. I've personally invested $810,000 in real estate crowdfunding across 18 projects to take advantage of lower valuations in the heartland of America.
There is a strong demographic shift towards lower cost areas of the country thanks to technology and the pandemic.
Manage Your Finances In One Place
One of the best way to become financially independent and protect yourself is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize your money.
Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 25+ difference accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to manage my finances on an Excel spreadsheet. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how all my accounts are doing, including my net worth. I can also see how much I’m spending and saving every month through their cash flow tool.
The best feature is their Portfolio Fee Analyzer, which runs your investment portfolio(s) through its software in a click of a button to see what you are paying. I found out I was paying $1,700 a year in portfolio fees I had no idea I was hemorrhaging! There is no better financial tool online that has helped me more to achieve financial freedom. It only takes a minute to sign up.
Updated for 2022 and beyond.