I can almost hear the question: “So, just who the heck are you, and what makes you some kind of authority on wealth?”
Specifically who I am is unimportant. This site isn’t about me, really.
I’m certainly no authority. Far from it, actually. I’m just a guy that got lucky. Really, really lucky.
I consider myself an “accidental millionaire”, and what this site is really about is sharing some of my observations and lessons learned before, during and after that “accidental income”. It’s not about me specifically, though I’ll naturally be using examples from my own life to illustrate and explain what I’m talking about.
The site’s really about paying attention and not taking your good fortune for granted. It’s about not screwing it up.
“OK, but … just who the heck are you?”
Like I said, I’m just a lucky guy.
Yes, I’m a millionaire. Unfortunately in our society saying that is often considered bragging or somehow inappropriate boasting. I don’t want that to detract from the content here so I’m choosing to stay relatively anonymous. (Yes, you can find out, but if that’s important to you then you’re really missing the point.)
I think it was my estate planning attorney that coined the term “accidental income” after listening to the more recent chapters of my life. It’s a phrase that I identified with since it feels like an accurate description of several things that brought my wife and I to where we are.
Even though I’ve had others tell me otherwise, I feel came into wealth by accident.
I certainly wasn’t born into money. My parents were working class immigrants who did well for themselves and taught me the importance of hard work, education and just generally gave to me a good set of core values.
I went to school, studied, got a degree, got married, got a job – all very standard stuff. My first industry job lasted a few years after which I joined another medium-sized company. Though I didn’t know it when I joined, that company was to become perhaps my industry’s largest and most influential player. I was there for 18 and a half years, and then retired.
At the age of 44.
My salary was ok, probably industry average or a little below. What I failed to take into account was something else I got when I hired on: stock options. Over the course of my career with those options, and more options granted later, went from being a few thousand dollars in value to a few million.
I call that an accident. It’s certainly nothing I planned on.
We won the “stock option lottery”.
So, some years into my career my wife and I found ourselves millionaires. No training, no real expectations, just “here’s the deep end of the pool, and by the way, there’s money in it”.
“Oh, and don’t screw it up.”
So just what do I mean by “screwing up”?
You probably know already. You’ve heard of actual lottery winners that within just a few years have squandered their new found wealth. Or families that are torn apart by it. Or individuals who “let money change them”, and not for the better.
I do recall other “stock option lottery winners” who took their newfound wealth and disappeared for a couple of years only to return after having spent it all. They returned because they needed the money. I also saw those who used their fortune to play the social ladder climbing game: transforming, or trying to transform themselves into society’s upper crust. Sometimes it worked, more frequently it didn’t.
In my opinion they screwed it up.
But on the flip side I’ve also seen people survive wealth. Folks who remained true to themselves and their values. People who look and act pretty much the same “before and after money”. People who use their wealth wisely.
People who continue to teach their children and their community valuable lessons in what it means to have the responsibility of wealth.
It’s that later group my wife and I strive to be part of.
So far, I hope, so good. I don’t think we’ve screwed up. At least not yet.
But that’s just me.
This is really about you. And it doesn’t matter how you came to be here: fortunate accident or years of hard work finally paying off.
You’re here because you have wealth, or you see it coming.
You’re here because you don’t want to screw it up.
You don’t have to agree with anything I say or do. The goal here is to think for yourself and make conscious, intentional choices, rather than letting what you’ve accomplished slip away through inattention or destroy things that are even more important to you.
I’m hopeful that the experiences I’ll relate, the lessons I’ve learned and that opinions I’ll share will help you to make good choices of your own.
I’m hopeful that we can all prevent what we have, accidental or not, from turning into an “accidental expense”.