I am evil and pathetic.
December 15, 2006 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Evil MeFites: The day you have been dreaming of! Please, rip my dream/goal apart.

I am 20 years old, I will be turning 21 in January, so I'm nearly 21. I intend to make 10 million dollars by the age of 31, in other words, 10 million in 10 years. In order to do this, I would have to put my other dreams on hold. I would like to become a much better artist, this is something that would have to be put off. (Unless someone here knows the ultimate secret to becoming a famous artist?) I woulds not have a lot of time for friends or family during this time either. The benefit to this though, is once I make the 10 million, I'll have all of the free time I want (I can retire).

Why shouldn't I do this? Tell me what Jesus said about money, tell me I'm greedy and evil capitalist scum, tell me I'm putting money before things that are more important. Tear me down however you can. Tell me its not possible as well, and tell me why. Be as harsh as you can be please. First, its more fun for you that way, and second, If I cant take negative responses from people online that I don't know and I asked to give me negative responses I don't wee how I'm going to be able to achieve my goal.

I have an escape plan too: I will work towards my goal is if its my ultimate goal for the next five years, at which time, I will re-evaluate my goal. If i continue, nothing will change. If I decide not to try for the 10 million (in ten years anyways) ill cut back, but at least I will be financially literate, especially for your average 26 year old. This way, I wont be wishy washy in my going for my goal, but at the same time I can give up with out being a failure.

Any positive suggestions are welcome as well. With all that said, rip me to shreds, and make me cry!
posted by JokingClown to Work & Money (68 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: please do not waste the time and the good will of the community on your adolescent jokes and experiments.

Is ten million really enough for you to retire?
posted by caddis at 6:45 AM on December 15, 2006

Why not go for it? Get an MBA and a blood pressure monitor, and good luck!
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:45 AM on December 15, 2006

If you would like to be a better artist, is there something in your personality that values creativity and beauty over wealth? Will you be losing out by narrowing your field of endeavour to wealth creation?

Oh and I heard that the really rich ones, they're not rich because they planned it that, they're rich because whatever it was that they were passionate about, was ripe for someone with their skills and ideas. Or in other words, you can't get rich if that's your only goal. Wealth is a byproduct of another desire.

I wouldn't know, I stuck with the simple life, and different choices that made me feel fulfilled.

Oh, and what if you get to age 31, and through chance, poor skill, genetic limitations etc, you have only made enough for a deposit on a nice house, and paid off your car. Are you going to be desperately depressed because your life's goal is unattainable, or cheered that you have more assets than 95% of the rest of the world (not put together though.)
posted by b33j at 6:52 AM on December 15, 2006

Life is not a destination, it is a journey.
posted by HuronBob at 6:55 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

I often wish I had done this. I do okay for myself, but I would love to be able to "retire" and work full time as an artist, and I can't do that. But I think I could have done it, had I made different choices when I was younger.

Here are some additional thoughts:

-- I think it's fine to put your art on hold, but not your family/friends. You will deeply regret this later. And they won't be understanding of the fact that you have to cut them off so that you can make 10 million dollars. And I don't blame them. Lots of people have made money without ditching all of their loved ones.

-- Have you heard the expression "art is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration"? I don't know if you're a typical 21-year-old artist, but most people that age -- including me when I was in my early 20s -- don't understand that or don't believe it. But it's true. To be a good artists, you have to work really hard at it -- at least as hard as you'll have to work in order to make your fortune. And if you don't keep at it, you'll get rusty. It takes most people at least 10 years to learn how to create worthwhile art.

So note that once you've reached 31 and have all your money, you probably won't start producing worthwhile art until you're 41. That's not necessarily a problem -- unless you feel it's a problem. But don't fall prey to the illusion that at 31, you'll suddenly morph into an artistic genius after spending years away from your craft.

-- Many people loose their spark when they get older. I hate writing that, because I don't think it needs to happen. But people let it happen. For one thing, people tend to get married and have kids, and that takes a lot of energy.

I went to school with a ton of artists, and now that we're all in our 40s (or thereabouts), the majority have traded art for a more traditional life. And, hey, if they're happy, I don't see a problem.

-- Maybe you can make it work, but I see your escape plan as a problem. I think it's hard to be successful -- especially as successful as you want to be -- with one eye on the exit. I think you have to go for broke.

None of this is meant to stop you from your plan. These are just thinks to be cautious about.

Good luck.
posted by grumblebee at 6:57 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

What if you die in a year?

Although to reply to caddis, $10m at 5% interest (that's very modest return at that level of investment) is $500,000. If you can't retire off that, you ain't too smart.

Back to answering the OP's question....

Do you really think that 10 years of pursuing nothing but money will not change you?

Have you ever heard of anyone successfully doing what you plan to do, with the same original intention? Don't you think it's funny that you can't think of a single person? (By succesful here I mean starting with the intention of sacrificing some period of their life to gain vast wealth, attaining that wealth, and then dropping out and pursuing their real dreams afterward)
posted by zhivota at 6:59 AM on December 15, 2006

Impossible is nothing.

One thing to keep in mind is that the process of earning $10 million will change you. I'm not saying that every 23 year old who gets a job as an investment banker making $750,000/yr. turns into a dipshit, but I have seen it happen.
posted by MarkAnd at 7:01 AM on December 15, 2006

This is all really great until you fall in love and your world changes.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:07 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

I don't know, I guess making money isn't the worst possible goal, but what if life happens and gets in the way of it? For example you get sick, or you end up having kids, or your house burns down setting you back a mil? Will that mean you have to work 15 years to reach your goal, or it all "will have been for nothing?" 20? That seems like a lot of pressure to me-- to have sold-out my youth for a set number, and then it's like you can't give up until you reach it or you'd have to realize you haven't been happy for over ten years AND you didn't reach your goal. Regret is a pretty frightening motivator sometimes.

Then again, if you can find some form of happiness in whatever you're doing to get rich (banking, stocks, whatever) if you can find something in it that does your soul some good on some level, then I think it's not as huge a travesty as people are saying.
posted by np312 at 7:10 AM on December 15, 2006

Please, rip my dream/goal apart.

Dear Joking Clown:

Well, you asked for it. But I don't wee how you're going to be able to achieve your dream/goal, nor do I see how you'll achieve your dream/goal either . . . you've articulated nothing above that even resembles the barest of business plans.

IOW: how, pray tell, do you plan to earn $10m? Washing dishes? Selling bonds? Robbing banks? Encouraging rich relatives to die and leave you their fortunes? Building computers in your garages? Building garages on a computer?

In short, Joking Clown, I'm not sure if you haven't put the proverbial cart before the proverbial horse. I don't know how to assess your request, because, as it strikes me, you're writing to the green to say "tell me why I shouldn't want to make $10m in 10 years." And the reality is, no one can tell why you should or shouldn't do that without more information than you've provided. If you want us to really care, you must give us something to care about. And what you've got above, at least in my greedy and selfish mind, ain't it.

In short? Get a job, first. Start making some real money. Then, see how plausible your dream/goal actually is. What I'm saying is this: maybe your escape plan, sketchy as it is, is really your plan A.
posted by deejay jaydee at 7:13 AM on December 15, 2006

MarkAnd: if he wants to make $10M at the cost of ignoring friends and family, I would claim he's already a dipshit.

So go for it, Clown! What have you got left to lose, except what's left of your pathetic excuse for a soul?

(that about the teardown you had in mind?)
posted by stevis23 at 7:15 AM on December 15, 2006

Or in other words, you can't get rich if that's your only goal. Wealth is a byproduct of another desire.

Not exactly true. It all depends on how many bridges you're willing to burn and how clean you want come out the other side.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:15 AM on December 15, 2006

$10m at 5% interest (that's very modest return at that level of investment) is $500,000. If you can't retire off that, you ain't too smart.

You also ain't too smart if you forget about inflation. To maintain your standard of living you have to reinvest about the same amount as inflation degrades. For todays 3% inflation rate that would be $300,000 of the first years $500,000. $200,000 is still not too shabby, but I doubt most people would have the discipline to leave the principal alone, much less to continue to grow the principal.
posted by caddis at 7:19 AM on December 15, 2006

Do you really think that 10 years of pursuing nothing but money will not change you?

Exactly. But frankly I don't take this question very seriously. The poster isn't even 21; this is on the level of an eight-year-old wanting to be a fireman. A year from now he'll be dating someone new and painting like mad, or maybe drunk in a dive in the bad part of town, or maybe working 9-to-5 at a soul-destroying job, and he'll barely remember when he was seriously asking about making $10 million. But enjoy the dream while it lasts!
posted by languagehat at 7:37 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Why shouldn't I do this?

Huh? Do what? how are you so sure that "This" will get you $10 million?
posted by delmoi at 7:38 AM on December 15, 2006

OK, assuming you even manage to make the $10 million:

Do you honestly believe that you'll be happy once you've got the money? That you won't crave another $10 million? The thing about money (with very few exceptions, and $10M isn't going to make you into one) is that no matter how much you've got, there will be other people with more. As you accumulate money your standard of living will creep up no matter how hard you try to prevent it, and you will start comparing yourself and your life and your possessions to ever richer folk. There is no point of satisfaction to reach, no end to the wanting. Google "sudden wealth syndrome" for some interesting reading.

Regardless of what your goal is, be it money or love or a nice house or a different job or whatever, I think that a strategy of "once I get X, then life will finally be good" is doomed to failure on two counts: 1) The thing will not actually fix your life. 2) Once you get the thing, a bigger and better thing will appear for the wanting. The thing is, life is good now, just as it is. If you can't see that, you're not going to see it $10M later either.

And from a purely logical standpoint, why would you sacrifice so much for money when your real passion is art? If you're willing to give up so much in the quest for a goal, why in the world wouldn't you do it for the goal you actually care about?
posted by vytae at 7:44 AM on December 15, 2006

I want to point out that making $10 million in 10 years is not just something that happens, or that anyone can do if they work hard enough. You have to be both skilled and lucky, aside from working your ass off. To make that kind of money in that short a time, I think that you would be limited to either Wall Street or entrepreneurship. Wall Street is the "safer" route - but there is no guarantee that even if you work hard and get a good job at the right kind of firm that they will keep you around long enough for you to make your money.
posted by thewittyname at 7:46 AM on December 15, 2006

Seconding languagehat. The best way for you to acquire $10M in the next 10 years is to become an astronaut, marry Shakira, and write a fabulous memoir about banging Shakira all the way to Mars and back that earns you ONE BILLION DOLLARS. This would not require you to neglect friends and family, unless repeated vigorous boinking counts as neglect.

Unless you have a product already designed or are an exceedingly numerate financial analyst already (ie, have proven new theorems), this is a pipe dream. Don't fuck anything real up for a pipe dream.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:52 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Why shouldn't you do this? Better question: why SHOULD you do this? Do you have any foundation in any particular business or industry that leads you to believe it is possible for you to make 10 mil in 10 years?

Just guessing based on your previous questions, you don't really have much experience or direction, You've been looking to learn the basics of typical routes to wealth (real estate, finance, etc.) or possibly you would like an entry level position in politics (not a great route to the cool 10 mil, btw)? Without direction and experience or education, it is going to be hard to meet your goal. Especially considering that you'd have to make at least 1 million every year for the next 10 years. Every year you spend in the training/preparation cycle will mean that you'll have to make over a million the next year to make up.

Is it impossible? no. But you should give up any dreams of making the money through traditional career methods. You presently work in fast food. Work your way up, save money and buy a couple franchises. Or start your own business. Or invent something.

At the end of the day, 10 mil in 10 years is probably not a practical goal for you.
posted by necessitas at 7:52 AM on December 15, 2006

You will be miserable and hate yourself. As a cautionary tale, read Louis Auchincloss's "Diary of a Yuppie."

That said, you should become a hedge-fund manager and make your $10M in two or three years.
posted by mattbucher at 7:55 AM on December 15, 2006

Response by poster: Awesome replies so far, I love it.

deejay jaydee - I have a outline I am working on to achieve my goal. I did not post them here because ultimately I think it will detract from the question. I could post a 3 page outline and have people look at it, but then most people wont read it, and people will focus on critiquing the plan, which would be fine, but it isnt the question I asked. If I want a critique of my outline and goal itself, (which I do, later) Ill post a question asking specifically for improvements on my goal.


If i was 31 and retired with 10 million, I would probably not entirely sell all of my income making assets. I would not necessarily retire immediately either. I could have real estate rentals giving me income, stocks/bonds/ whatever, books that were published by me giving me income, or whatever other assets I have. My goal is to have 10 million in assets by the way, not cold hard cash. I should have noted that, but again, for the question its not too important
posted by JokingClown at 7:58 AM on December 15, 2006

Best answer: First of all, you don't need ten million dollars. I was spitballing with a friend a couple years ago and we decided $2M in the bank was enough. With $2M, 5% interest gives you $100,000 a year, and you can make more than 5% just by sitting on your money. Anyway, it's no fun to be completely idle after you become rich; you can probably make another 20K-30K per year in whatever high-satisfaction job you pick after that. View the $100K/year as a supplement that allows you to take a fun job, not an early retirement package.

That said, it's STILL hard because getting $2M in the bank over 10 years isn't just $200K per year, it's more like $300+ because of taxes and living expenses in the meantime. Furthermore, what the HELL are you qualified to do right now that's going to make you $300K a year right off the bat? "If wishes were ponies, beggars would ride." You don't make mad bank by stating it as a goal; if it was that easy, everyone would be a millionaire.

So, you're going to have to go back to school to get qualified to make mad bank. Law school: if you have good grades and study your ass off to ace the LSAT, you'll come out in 3 years ready to make about $135K (maybe almost $150K by the time you finish). B school: you have to work at a bank for 2 years first (hope you majored in finance & math at an ivy league school and have the personality and connections for this!), then kick ass on the GMAT, get into another ivy league school, and come out ready to make something like $150-200K plus bonus.

Oh, and on either of these courses you have $80K+ in debt, maybe as much as $150K, and you've lost 3-4 years! So now you have to make something like $360K a year to finish by the time you're 31. And that's for the revised-down, $2M goal. To get to $10M, you'll have to be making more like $1.7M per year! I mean, banking that much, so add 50% for taxes and living expenses: your salary must be $540K-$2.4M pre-tax.

Remember that your starting salary, though, is somewhat south of 200K before bonuses. But that's not fair, you started late, and anyway, these positions get much sweeter in later years. So you push out the goal a few years, I mean shit, if you were gonna wait 'til you were 31 to have any fun anyway, why not wait 'til 35? Especially since those last 4 years are the juicy ones in terms of salary. So, to make sure you don't get weeded out in the meantime (only something like 12% of starting associates at big law firms make partner, maybe less, and you'd better be on track by your 3rd year!), you work your ass off, 60+ hours a week, and spend the rest of the time drinking to relieve the stress. It's SO worth it for that later-in-life art career, don't you know?

I mean, why can't your silly girlfriend UNDERSTAND that? This is all to make your later life easier! And it's only temporary! Meantime, you're getting fat because you have take-in at your desk every day and never have time to go to the gym, and you're balding (and drunk all the time), yadda yadda, she's out of the picture. So now you're 33 and alone, and fuck it, you don't really remember how to paint or play guitar or write or whatever the hell it was that you loved so much during college, because you've been staring at these technical trading charts, or U.S. Patent Quarterlies for going on 6 years now, and you're a shoe-in for partner in only 2 more years! And then you get the REAL money, like $2M-$4M a year, so fuck it, full speed ahead!

By this time you've racked up a huge mortgage and a Porsche or two (because the guys railed on you mercilessly when you kept driving that dumpy Honda after your second year bonus), and you're in the highest marginal tax bracket, so you're probably burning through $200K-300K a year, but still, if you make partner you're on track to get that $10M in the bank by the time you're 40. And that, plus a couple trips to Tiffany's, should be enough to get you at least a decent trophy wife even if you can't find anyone who really "loves" you. And I'm sure she'll be right onboard when you bail in 2 more years to return to art school.


So yeah, bon voyage!
posted by rkent at 7:58 AM on December 15, 2006 [36 favorites]

A free invitation to say what you really feel in the Green?? Oh man I LIVE for posts like this!

Clown... You sound incredibly young and naive, even though you're 20 years old. From what I see, you have no real concept of time and how much different a person you will be in 10 years - regardless of how much money you do or don't make.

You come from a modest background where you couldn't get everything you wanted but your mother has always told you you're good enough to get it. Consequently, you obsess over money.

To make matters worse, you're still in a life stage where you don't really see any self-consequences to your actions, you still believe you really can't get hurt (speeding bullet syndrome), your actions don't really hurt others, and life is full of wonder.

In a way, I envy you in that you have the ability to dream on such a grandiose scale. On the other hand, I'm thinking it's about time that 'my child is an honor student' bumper sticker that was on the back of your mom's minivan was peeled off. In other words, grow up.

What you REALLY need to consider doing is joining the military - as I suspect that at this point they're the only ones who are going to be able to talk some sense into you and bring you back to the real world... maybe show you how to give your life some actual direction.

You've been living on auto-pilot a LONG time...
posted by matty at 8:06 AM on December 15, 2006

In order to do this, I would have to put my other dreams on hold.

Isn't that enough reason right there? You're a goddamn artist, you only get BETTER as you age, as long as you work at it. You have a rare gift and want to piss it away to earn cash so you can settle down and then be an artist? You know how many people WISH for such talent?!

And you're willing to ignore friends and family to do this?! You idiot!

If there is a God, he outta take your ass out back, beat you senseless with a boring 9 to 5 job and then take your talent and give it to someone who would actually use it, because you don't deserve it.

Seriously, what the fuck? You got a money making talent and you want put it on hold until you can "retire"?! If you're even a medicore artist, you can make good money painting, drawing, doing graphic design, illustration, commercials, movies etc, the skies the limit.

Here, go read "How to be creative", realize it won't be easy, but it'll be rewarding in the end, then get your damn ass off metafilter and hit the canvas/drawing board whatever and quit masturbating to pile of money.

Goddamn young people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:17 AM on December 15, 2006

Please mark the answer by rkent as the best - this is what will truly happen.

Do what you love. I can't guarantee that money will follow - but if you go the $$$ route, it will always be another 5, 10 years that it drags ahead of you.

If you don't do what you love, you will hate yourself, despise what you are doing - perhaps not consciously, but it will cycle into your sub-conscious and you WILL NOT end up where you want to be. You will most likely be bitter, regretful and as rkent said - forget why you wanted this path in the first place.

One other thing, perhaps many will disagree with me - but you are going to be in your creative peak NOW - while you are young. Things change as you get older. Some people can maintain their energy and vitality - but others can't, and you honestly won't know for another 10-15 years which of them you are.
posted by jkaczor at 8:18 AM on December 15, 2006

This isn't a question of how much money, how to make it, how to save it, or how to spend it. It's a question about being happy. Really this is a question that only JokingClown can answer. What about the $10M will make you happy? To what end is the $10M? Will that money be enough to make any problems (physical or emotional) that you have or will have to go through to get there be worth it?

I know people say money can buy you happiness. But it sure as shit makes things a whole helluva lot easier.

I assume that because you have a plan of action to have $10M in assests in 10 years that you are reasonably smart enough to come up with a plan that would allow you to make enough money to be reasonably comfortable *and* be able to actually live life enjoyably.

Don't sacrafice something you can enjoy now for the *potential* of being able to enjoy it in the future. Make enough money to be comfortable and enjoy what you have. It's not worth the chance of being miserable for some of the best years of your life just to have money.

Also, wouldn't this plan work just as well a few years down the road if you decide you reget this choice?
posted by Numenorian at 8:23 AM on December 15, 2006

I just wanted to chime in about the huge role that luck and the hand you've already been dealt in will play in all this, both of which really can't be planned.

I'd agree that some sort of investment banking is probably the only realistic way to do this, but you can't just walk onto Wall Street. Unless you can take advantage of some serious nepotism, you'd better have a degree in finance from a highly reputable school (Ivy League, probably) and be at the top of your class in order to get a position where you'd have the potential to make the kind of money you need. That in itself is no small feat: the education is expensive and the programs are cutthroat. It's much harder than you'd think: there are lots of kids will dollar signs in their eyes willing to work as hard as they can to get that plum job with Goldman Sachs (or whoever). And there is a very good chance that they can drive themselves harder than you.

Additionally, even if you manage to achieve that, you still have to be a good investment banker. Like art, that's a skill you either have or don't have (at least on the level where you'd be able to profit $1M a year for ten years, starting in January). You have to consider the possibility that finance just isn't where your brain is oriented; and even if it is, you're looking at very long hours and hard work.

Note also that I mentioned profit: if you do go the Wall Street route, you'll have to live in absurdly expensive NYC. You'll have student loans to pay off, an executive appearance to maintain (the clients have to trust you), and the temptation of the lavish lifestyle your coworkers are living (which is several degrees more tempting when you're mired in a soul-sucking job with nothing to come home to).

A better plan would be to live as frugally as possible while working at a well-paying job which you can tolerate, invest wisely, and plan your spending very carefully for when you 'retire.' There are several self-help books on this IIRC (in the vein of Your Money Or Your Life), I'm sure some other people can point you to them.

Also, remember that life gets in the way. You fall in love with someone and all of the sudden you can't spend eighty hours a week at the office. A relative gets sick and you have to fly across the country to be with them in their final weeks. The reality of abandoning your family and friends for ten years sinks in when they finally begin to write you off and you realize they won't all be waiting there on your thirty-first birthday.

Finally (since you asked us to be harsh) I just don't see, reading between the lines in your post, the kind of critical thinking and planning you need to make this work. You have presented us with the underpants gnome plan, which really isn't a plan at all. Additionally, your style is somewhat rambling and myopic: you're focused on what you want, but not at all on what it will take, specifically, to get it. You need to be very linear and driven in order to do what you propose, and from what little you've given us to go on, I don't see it in you.

I'm guessing that many of the responses here will take the same tone as mine. We're not talking you down out of jealousy or spite, and if this inspires you then it's all for the better. But you really need to plan, a lot, and to consider carefully exactly what sacrifices your plan involves.

I were you, I'd just focus on my art. You have a gift; why let it lay fallow for ten years? In either case, I wish you the best of luck.
posted by AV at 8:31 AM on December 15, 2006

One last thing: rkent said what I wanted to say, only better.

The only thing I would change is not to recommend law school as a plan. Not only is it expensive and even more cutthroat than business school, for the hours you put into the job you simply don't get paid enough to make your goal -- even if you do manage to somehow get hired at one of the big Wall Street firms (who recruit almost exclusively out of the top five schools, which are incredibly hard to get into in the first place).
posted by AV at 8:39 AM on December 15, 2006

Best answer: If I were to try to work like a dog, with little to no free time for vacation, friends, family, etc., I would burn out long before I reached 10 years. Probably in less than 3.

But then, you're not me, and there are lots of people who do work like that with little to no free time and are apparently capable of doing so indefinitely. If you're one of those people, more power to you. Go for it!

Only thing I would change would be, rather than re-evaluating whether that's still your goal only at the five-year point, do a re-evaluation at least once a year. You don't want to suffer a nervous breakdown because you feel locked in and unable to change until you hit that 5-year mark. Heck, everyone should do that, regardless of whether they plan to retire at 31 or at 70.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:40 AM on December 15, 2006

I wonder if there are some things that you can only really learn well while you're young. Also, making art (among other things) requires a certain amount of physical stamina.
posted by amtho at 8:46 AM on December 15, 2006

as long as you don't forget that you should live every day as it is your last, this sounds like a perfect plan for a twenty year old.
posted by ouke at 9:04 AM on December 15, 2006

mattbucher:That said, you should become a hedge-fund manager and make your $10M in two or three years.

Mere mortals don't get jobs like that. That's about as realistic as saying that the poster should put in an application to be a Fortune 500 CEO.
posted by dr_dank at 9:10 AM on December 15, 2006

Life is not always as simple as "do what you love and the money will follow." Sometimes it is that simple, if you love doing something that pays well, but that's not always the case.

I think you should try to make the money. It sounds like you have a plan of some kind; aren't you curious whether you can make it work? If you don't try, you'll probably always wonder whether it would have worked.

As other people have pointed out, your priorities will change due to age and circumstance. Maybe after 10 years of making beaucoup bucks, you really won't care that you've lost your artistic abilities, so that ends up not mattering in the long run. And sure, maybe you'll lose your soul, or perspective, or whatever, but maybe not; maybe you'll have fun.

One warning I'd like to mention, just for you to keep in mind when you're an early retirement millionaire: once you've made your money and you're ready to enjoy the rest of what life offers, a prenuptial agreement will be very important, and the simple fact that it's important may make you question every serious relationship you enter.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 9:17 AM on December 15, 2006

Do you love making money? I mean, not just the idea of making money, and not just the idea of the outcome (retiring at 31) of making money, but are you Gordon-Gecko-passionate about it? It's much, much easier to stick with the program you've outlined for yourself if you really love making money.

I had a friend in high school who, I learned this fall, won a MacArthur "genius" grant ($500K). How so? He's a glass artist - he makes these unbelievable...things. Sculpture. Out of blown glass. He's probably not rich rich, but between the grant and his commissions, I imagine he's quite comfortable. He's gotten where he is by pursuing what he loves. This isn't true for everyone - lots of people do what they love and stay poor, or at least not-rich. But at least they've spent years doing what they really love.

Will you?
posted by rtha at 9:31 AM on December 15, 2006

Honestly, I'm so tired of seeing people push aside the things that make them happy for the sake of careers or making money that will, in their minds, enable them to be happier at some far off end date. The reason this irks me - too many of them have had life, or death, get in the way before that magical happy day. and end up living lives that are less than they should be. Do you really want to wake up when you're 31 and realize that you've spent 1/3 of your life doing something you didn't really want to be doing? Or worse, get into a fatal car accident when you're 29 and realize that you accomplished nothing that you really wanted to. I'm a big advocate of finding ways to accomodate the things that you're passionate about along the way, and at the risk of sounding like a total sap, making time everyday for something that makes you happy.
posted by scrute at 9:43 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

The only flaw in this plan is getting hit by a bus. No one can say what the outcome of any of your choices are. Fall in love, she gets cancer. Make lots of money, lose it to Enroning economy.

Do what you like, roll the dice.

But what if you make strategic sacrafices and life throws you a curve ball, or throws you out?

Pick a life you like an live it today. Right now. Don't assume a hypothetical future. Don't trade the present for options you really don't have until you have them.

That being said, money is good. Not spending it is as good as making more.
posted by ewkpates at 9:44 AM on December 15, 2006

What is your probability of success of this goal? Be honest ignore magical x factors. Look at your history. What kind of undergradschool did you go to? What did you get on the SATs. What kind of grades did you get. These are the best predictor of the future available to you. "But I didn't even study and got a B+" you'll tell yourself. You will treat your failure to apply yourself in the past as sign of latent apptitude when it is the opposite. This is foolish. Ok now of the people that went to the same level of school as you, same program as you, got the same test scores as you what percentage of them are 31 year old multi-millionares? This is the best reflection of your chances of being a 31 multi-millionare. But you have a plan right, that's got to be worth something. Sure, I guess, so if you want take that vanishingly small number and double it. I don't care.

Now you've got a probability. Far from perfect sure but better than whatever nonsense you get from sad airport pep talk books that sweating raincoat salesmen think will turn there life around. Take this number and multiply it by the amount of utility that would come from 10 million dollars this will be you positive expected value, I'll call it X. Lottery winners happiness boost tends to fade quickly to zero but since you earned the money you'll probably be happier. How much happier, not too much the very rich aren't much happier than the rest of us.

Now take 100 and subtract the success percentage you calculated. Take the this number and multiply it by the disutility you'll feel having wasted 10 (optimistically 1/10 of your life) years of your life, the loneliness and disconnect of having lost your friends alienated your family. You'll try and get back to art and you'll look at your work disappointed with it after 10 years of not doing a thing with it. Think how that will feel. Know that if you follow your plan this is likely. You'll have some money for having tried. Maybe low six figures. Which is a lot of money for a 30 yearold living alone. But you'll have to keep working like everyone else. This number, the chance of failure times the consequences we'll call Y.

Now add X to Y. If the result is positive you should definately make your millions.
posted by I Foody at 9:46 AM on December 15, 2006

Best answer: "If you work hard at being a bond trader for ten years, thinking that you'll quit and write novels when you have enough money, what happens when you quit and then discover that you don't actually like writing novels?

"Most people would say, I'd take that problem. Give me a million dollars and I'll figure out what to do. But it's harder than it looks. Constraints give your life shape. Remove them and most people have no idea what to do: look at what happens to those who win lotteries or inherit money. Much as everyone thinks they want financial security, the happiest people are not those who have it, but those who like what they do. So a plan that promises freedom at the expense of knowing what to do with it may not be as good as it seems."

– Paul Graham, How To Do What You Love
posted by weston at 9:51 AM on December 15, 2006 [4 favorites]

Just one addendum to my recommendation about doing a re-evaluation every year, instead of just at the five-year point in response to this:

but at the same time I can give up with out being a failure.

Changing your mind about your life goals is not being a failure. Let's say, just for the sake of having a concrete example, that your plan involves going to law school. If you get kicked out, or drop out, because you can't make the grades, that's a failure (even then, only in the technical sense, without implying anything about your worth as a person). But if you drop out because you change your mind after two years of law school and decide that you don't want to be a lawyer, that's not a failure in any sense. It's cutting your losses. If you're a financial whiz, you surely understand the principle of not throwing good money after bad; the same applies to your time.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:01 AM on December 15, 2006

You should put in an application to be a Fortune 500 CEO. Or else a detector of sarcasm--you could make millions with that.

The only flaw in this plan is getting hit by a bus.
That and REALITY.
posted by mattbucher at 10:01 AM on December 15, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you all very much for your input.

For those of you who pointed out I don't mention having a realistic linear plan, I do have one, and am continually working on it. But if I work to post the plan up here it would be too long, and I didn't think about linking it.

Reading my post, I sound pretty stupid if you assume I don't have some sort of realistic plan. I certainly sound idealistic, even with that in mind. But thats ok.

Thanks for the comments. Iw ould love to respond to each one, and thank each poster individually for their helpful input, but I dont have the time. But thanks to all, and please keep posting! :)
posted by JokingClown at 10:04 AM on December 15, 2006

Response by poster: In reply to: DevilsAdvocate

i agree completely. that's what i meant actually. If I gave up because I couldn't hack it, I would consider that failing, If I give u because I don't want to hack it, i don't consider that failure.
posted by JokingClown at 10:07 AM on December 15, 2006

While I personally think your ten year plan is a bit... much... the underlooked bit you added at the end of breaking it into fives isn't as daunting. I myself executed a modest-in-comparison five year plan post-college to get the good job, buy the house, and be reasonably financially secure -- with the thought that I'd make the next five year plan from there, and build it on a stable foundation. That first plan I finished a year early, the next one I made was so ambitious I was broken and giving it up after eight years... and now I find myself trying to gather the energy to try another one. Lesson learned about setting manageable goals.

So if you're serious about doing this kind of thing, great! Just be careful... put the finish line of your plan far enough out to be a challenge, but not so far out that you need divine intervention to accomplish it. Push yourself, not break yourself.

What many commenters above are saying above about enjoying life still applies, though -- if your idea is to punish yourself for a while and then learn to like life again afterward, you'll fail. You have to be the kind of person who -likes- running the long race, and only you know if you're wired that way. If you are, you'll do fine.
posted by Pufferish at 10:17 AM on December 15, 2006

Word to the wise: Money by itself is not a solution or a problem, or anything else. All that money does is magnify the experience you're already having.

If you are basically a happy and content person, money will help you be happier and more content.

If you are basically a driven, perpetually unhappy person, then money will make you even more driven and more unhappy.

Basically, money will not change your life. It will just intensify it.


With that warning, I would say go for it. Perhaps you'll succeed, perhaps you'll have a spectacular failure -- about the worst thing that could happen would be for it to sort of fizzle out. But even that is life experience, and that's what your 20s are all about.
posted by tkolar at 10:21 AM on December 15, 2006

For those of you who pointed out I don't mention having a realistic linear plan, I do have one, and am continually working on it.

Realistic? I hope that plan includes 1) a massive pile of start-up assets, 2) good connections in finance and/or real estate, 3) some specialized skill or knowledge that will allow you to parlay 1 & 2 into way, way, WAY above average annual returns, and 4) no bullet points inspired by Robert Kyosaki or Tony Robbins.

Anyway, your page title is "I am evil and pathetic," but it's not evil or even particularly selfish to want to be comfortably well-off. It is quite naive to believe that you can immediately jump into the top 0.01% of income earners in this country without the aforementioned advantages, and it would be quite pathetic (and tragic) to abandon all you currently care about in your effort to get there.
posted by rkent at 10:27 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Reading my post, I sound pretty stupid if you assume I don't have some sort of realistic plan.

If all it took were a good plan + smarts & determination, there'd be a lot more millionaires in the world. Make no mistake about it, it takes a lot of luck, too. Do you really want to invest years on a roll of the dice?
posted by juv3nal at 10:28 AM on December 15, 2006

If youre asking strangers on a website for 'reverse motivation' then you've already lost. Sorry.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:50 AM on December 15, 2006

I'll assume I'm one of the posters you're talking about in your reply, and since you asked for more posts, I'll elaborate:

First, I understand that you have "a plan," however you're not even giving us the gist of what it is. You claim it's realistic, but just because you think it is, doesn't mean it actually is. Your plan may be possible or even plausible, but that doesn't necessarily make it realistic.

This makes me wonder if you're really looking for constructive criticism, since you asked for it but gave us nothing to critique. It seems to me (especially since your original post listed mostly ideological critcism as examples of what you expected to hear) that you're excited about your idea and would like to reassure yourself that it stands up to criticism, but you secretly have your doubts, so you're protecting it from actually being scrutinized.

You briefly mentioned real estate, stocks and bonds, and publication; all of which are extremely risky ventures. If this is your plan, a little bit of googling is all it takes to learn that these are things you cannot realistically rely on as a plan, and furthermore they are things that are likely to lose more money than make it. Even people who are careful and smart about these things can lose a lot of money; that's just the way it works.

If you want to post your plan or give us a general idea of what it is, I'm sure people would be able to give you some pointers. If you can't at least summarize it in a few sentences, then it's not as well-planned as you think.

Really, I'm not trying to be contrarian or a jerk. (Really!) It's just that planning on ignoring your family and friends, not to mention your passion, for ten years is a pretty big risk to take. And unless your plan is watertight, you will probably find that it's not worth it -- and getting out and starting over once the wheels are in motion is much harder than you think it is.
posted by AV at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2006

Any positive suggestions are welcome as well.

As much as I like rkent's reply the main criticism is that overwork means no loving wife. That is absolutely not true. You could get married young, preferably to someone religious, live semi-modestly and continue to be a money maker. If you spice up your words with giving to charity and faith you can easily slide into a large and wealthy church community and extract rewards like networking, loans, etc. There's no real division between prosperity and religion. Many religions encourage doing well. Now you can continue your crazy money making scheme in the guise of doing it so you can not only become rich but also help the needy. Its cynical enough to work. Works for televangelists at least.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:01 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

All I can say is that life speeds by, and if you have time for Metafilter you probably aren't going to make a pile by the time you're 31.
posted by maxwelton at 11:11 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 10 million dollars can't buy back your youth.
But your youth can supply the enthusiasm to love something enough to learn to be so good at it that you become rich doing it.
posted by iurodivii at 12:39 PM on December 15, 2006

You shouldn't do it because everything you do changes you. And growing older (even a little) changes you. By the time you get that $10 mil, you'll no longer be the same person you are now. You won't be able to make the same art.

What happens to a dream deferred?
posted by salvia at 12:42 PM on December 15, 2006

Just my two cents, to add to the millions of dollars already posted here:

Go for it. By 2016, I imagine they'll have invented a way to buy being 25-year-old guy who is unfettered by ambition and can enjoy himself completely.
posted by koeselitz at 1:07 PM on December 15, 2006

For those of you suggesting that you can earn a 5% AFTER TAX rate of return just by "sitting" on your money, you have no clue what you are talking about. It's not the late 90s anymore. Triple Tax Free Municipal Bonds (about the closest thing you can find to a perfectly safe investment, though even they have some risk) yield a little over 2% these days. Good luck.

Do you have kids? Do they have to go to college? Do you plan to live for a while and maybe have a home to live in? Are you prepared to take care of your parents if they can't take care of themselves? Once you're used to the lifestyle you picked up while earning $10 mil are you prepared to let it go? And of course as someone mentioned above, inflation. $10 mil is nowhere near enough.
posted by The Bellman at 1:08 PM on December 15, 2006

This is an exact representation of what I've seen referred to as Deferred Happiness Syndrome - people work overlong hours in jobs they hate for years, piling on the stress, telling themselves that they're preparing for the time when they'll have enough money to stop working and fulfill all their dreams. It means people tend to neglect relationships with the notion that they'll make up for it in later years. But family and friends may not tend to stick around for 10 years waiting; some will leave and concentrate on relationships that give them some satisfaction, and others will die during that time. Others will just drift away and you'll find you have nothing in common 10 years later.

I know people who lived much of their working life with this idea and regret it, including someone in my family who went through two divorces largely due to his lifestyle and spent some years being medicated for anxiety and depression. He gave up his six figure executive job; he didn't have much to show for the income anyway because he was spending so much on alcohol, eating out, presents and heavy duty therapy. Now he works as a gardener for a fraction of the income and stress, and is calmer, easier to be around and infinitely more content.

Other friends still convinced they can work themselves into the ground and concentrate on relationships later are brittle and difficult people. So from my observations I'd say no, don't do it.
posted by andraste at 2:02 PM on December 15, 2006

if you sell your soul to the money maker, you can't buy your artistic talent or youth back with the money you've made.

and i'd like to nth the advice to live each day for what that day itself is worth. if you get hit by a bus next year, can you say that you had a good life? what kind of life is putting in 60-80hrs a week to make money (especially considering that you will probably hate the job and type of work that it'll take to make that money)?
posted by philomathoholic at 2:24 PM on December 15, 2006

books that were published by me giving me income

hee hee, hilarious.

My vote is don't do it. Even if you manage making the money, and manage keeping your artistic talent, and manage the desire to pursue that talent after you've made millions, and your friends and family manage to stay alive and healthy (thus not crippling you with 'Cat's in the Crade' guilt), you'll still wind up being that 31-year-old jackass who's trying to be creative and artistic and fresh, while sitting on a pile of money that you sacrificed your youth to make.

You'll be a Dabbler. You'll be The Man, attempting to co-opt a creative lifestyle to fulfill the desires and needs you silenced for ten years. People will see right through you.
posted by inging at 2:37 PM on December 15, 2006

To save $10M in 10 years, you'd need at least one of the following two (discounting unlikely possibilities such as winning the lottery or the death of a very rich relative):

a) Extraordinary returns on your investments
b) An extraordinary salary (after all, if you make ~$2M per year, it's almost trivial to save $10M in 10 years.)

Judging from this question, I hope you're not counting on extraordinary returns from your investments.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:00 PM on December 15, 2006

Here's a thought: doing this will make you a dumber human being.

There is still a very interesting debate on how the brain develops over time, but here are some facts:

A large part of your brain will literally die because
Beginning around the age of 20 your brain loses about 1 gram (.004 oz.) of weight every year. But the remaining neurons strengthen existing connections and form new ones.
However, by doing the exact opposite of these tips for healthy adult brain development, many of those connections will either weaken and die, or never be made at all.

Of course if you want a brain to match the name, clown, then by all means, go for it.
posted by pants tent at 4:45 PM on December 15, 2006

"Be as harsh as you can be please. "

No. But:

Grandiosity, narcissism, divorce, and self-medication are epidemic among the higher-earning professions, particularly finance, management consulting, and law. I agree with others that the tone of your questions suggests a possible temperamental fit. Oh, and creating art doesn't sound like something that really moves you.

Trying to make $10 million as a major focus of your life plan is a common but stupid goal. It's like dreaming about going to Harvard, but only imagining what shirt you're going to wear once you get there. Focusing on the wrong thing, in short. You need money in life, like you need a shirt. Beyond that, your attention should be on other things.

I'd add: you don't know what money is for, yet. Working in a self-reinforcing community like finance, surrounded by like-minded people, and making more money than you imagined, you lose perspective. But more important, you miss out on growth. I can't tell you how many people I know who worked 60-90 hours a week throughout their twenties and thirties and are stunted by the experience. The smarter ones begin to sense the meaninglessness and often have breakdowns, or midlife crises. The smartest find less demanding positons.

The few who became rich in excess of your goal did so as the result of a kind of free option, anyway. Among a business school graduating class, for example, it's very difficult to predict who will prosper. It's just something that happens to some people.

The relatively few people in finance who are both healthy and highly successful know that money is not the goal--as the philosopher said, it's like the ball in a game. After the game, the ball just sits there, no longer being fought over. Attaching value to money is like trying to score a goal after the game is over.

The 20s are vital formative years, you want to make sure you grow. Others have suggested that you seem to be immature, and thus already behind for your age. In addition, your questions, and the often negative comments your questions seem to draw, have consistent themes. This is because to people out of their twenties, the pattern is much easier to see.

You'd be better off doing something in which you weren't encouraged to see yourself as special or extraordinary. Something where effort and humility were rewarded and grandiosity and superiority are beaten out of you. If you're interested in becoming your best self, consider starting in the military, social services, or manual labor. They're not for everyone, but they might be good for you.

Otherwise, you might consider therapy to ensure that you don't get in your own way.
posted by Phred182 at 5:03 PM on December 15, 2006

This is sort of silly, but here goes:

1) You're not going to make $10 million in 10 years, unless you're starting with $100 million in capital. I'm so sure of this I'd put a wager on it. Assuming you haven't just inherited $100 million, what have you got that every other 21 year old hasn't got? So you need to evaluate this plan in light of its certain failure.

Show me an anecdote to the contrary, like Jay-Z, and I will laugh in your face and double down my bet.

2) Let's assume that you're planning to make $10 million by working pretty hard. Is that a safe assumption? Or are we assuming someone is going to hand you $100 million for doing nothing?

If you don't actually like working hard, you'll soon find out, because you'll burn out and won't continue.

If you do like working hard - well, then, why on earth would you just stop when you are in the prime of your life? The kind of person who makes $10 million by age 31 would go on to make $100 million by age 41 and $10 billion by age $65. The fact that this isn't your plan renders the whole thing suspect.

3) If you have nothing better to do, definitely go for your plan. But if there's something that you really want - like taking some art classes or spending time on your artistic endeavors - you should know that all the money in the world can't buy back your youth.

4) $10 million ain't what it used to be. You can be worth that much in illiquid investments - real estate - and have the cost of liquidating be so high as to be prohibitive. Cash flow is king, and taxes and inflation are the dethroner.

In order to leverage yourself into a situation where you have $10 million liquid and are using it as income to support your lifestyle as well as reinvesting it to maintain its value in the face of inflation and cap gains taxes, you'd have to start by earning a great deal *more* than $10 million - maybe $20 million, depending on how you thought you were going to earn it - and then you'd have to settle for much less than 5% per annum to actually live on, if you didn't want it to shrink away to nothing by the time you're 80.

And if you were the kind of loser who throws away a $10 million fortune in a single lifetime, how did you manage to show the good sense needed to acquire it in the first place?

5) What about trying it the way everyone else does it? Is that really so bad?
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:24 PM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

This lyric (from a song by Primitive Radio Gods) just went through my head as I read over the replies. Had a huge impact on me when I was in my early 20's.

And if I die before I learn to speak
Can money pay for all the days I lived awake
But half asleep?

posted by treepour at 8:52 PM on December 15, 2006

If you're lucky, you can pull off $10M in 10 years. Unfortunately, you have no control over your luck.
posted by spiderskull at 2:55 AM on December 16, 2006

Why shouldn't I do this?

Because your twenties are your prime years to be young and beautiful and fit and magnificant - you don't get another chance to be young, or reach the physical pinnacle of humanity or find out how far you could have gone in terms of sports, or clubbing, or whatever else construes a misspent youth :) Whereas when it comes to making $10M in 10 years, it probably doesn't matter very much which 10 years you pick, so why not postpone the plan until you hit the thirties, by which time you may have a better plan for how to acheive it.

That said, sacrificing your only youth for money, while not likely to make your goal, is still likely to set you up a lot nicer financially than most people who enjoyed their youth.

Also, if you plan to marry at some point in life, and especially if you don't want a divorcee with kids, the pool of availible people will be somewhat smaller when you are in your 30's instead of 20's, and you will be competing against people who have more familiarity with the dating game than you. (Though the $10M may mitigate this if you achieve it :)
posted by -harlequin- at 8:48 PM on December 16, 2006

Since you gave us all permission to be jerks:

Okay, put down your aspirations and your 3-page outline and your 80-page detailed fiduciary analysis and business plan with supporting references (you have one, right?) and spend the rest of this month watching television. Go now. See you in January.

This will accomplish two things: First, it will give you a chance to put a bit of distance between you and your obsessions, and you'll be able to look at yourself with a new perspective afterward.

Second, you'll end up seeing about 8 different versions of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". It's about a gentleman named Scrooge who follows your exact plan. He does quite well for himself. It's a great way to see what the future holds.

Good luck. And Humbug.
posted by mmoncur at 3:09 AM on December 17, 2006

Response by poster: I have to make a bit of an apology to everyone. I lied. I didn't lie to trick anyone for any malicious reason, or to make anyone mad. Ill explain.

Im writing up multiple outlines of theoretical paths I could take with my life, as if I were going to go all out and take that path. Once I have several of my main goals in life outlined, and can see more clearly which ones are not "worth the effort" or more likely time I will have to spend. Also, It will lay out many things I could do to achieve my goal, and since each outline take up all my time, i can choose which I feel are important from each.

I wrote up my question quickly, the point of the question was what are the downsides of spending ten years of my life making as much money as I can? If I had the chance to rewrite it, that is what i would put. But I didn't think to ask it like that at the time. I didn't expect so much pessimism from the mefites, mainly because it wasn't the question, but thats my fault anyways.

I had no intention of trying to trick people, It was just the best way I though of to word my question. I wish I had the ability to redo it. I did get the answers I needed though, thank you all very much for the help.

For the record, 10 million was mainly a random umber, but I do feel its possible for me to make ten million in ten years, not through luck, if I really felt like it. Perhaps that is because I had the blessing of growing up around several people who were incredibly motivated and driven to achieve their goals and they did. One worked 14 hour days regularly for several years and retired at twety six (started in his early teen years). This had nothing to do with luck. He had a lawn mowing business that kept him as busy as a full time job during the summer as a 16 year old. Thats pure motivation. I have a friend who created a local tv show, which has interest from larger stations to make it national, hes 25 years old.

You should always higher than you think you can achieve, because 99% of the time you'll either hit your goal or lower. But I'm just a twenty year old that posts on MEFI, right? don't mind me, don't listen to what I say. Go pick up an autobiography of a self made several hundred millionaire or more. Tell me that they got it through luck.

Anyways, Sorry for lying, and getting people worked up, it wasn't my intention.
posted by JokingClown at 7:24 AM on December 17, 2006

But I'm just a twenty year old that posts on MEFI, right? don't mind me, don't listen to what I say.

Heh. This is the first thing you've said that actually makes sense.
posted by tkolar at 9:59 AM on December 17, 2006

Flagged as stupid bullshit. I wish Matt and/or Jessamyn would rip you to shreds and make you cry. Don't pull this crap again.
posted by languagehat at 1:16 PM on December 17, 2006

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