So just who the heck are you?

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”.

4 thoughts on “So just who the heck are you?”

  1. What an interesting website. I got a link to it from Randy Cassingham’s This is True e-mail. I’ve always been interested in this, not the least reason of course being that I’m a CPA and a Registered Investment Advisor. But I’m not writing about that.
    I occasionally play the lottery – all the while knowing there isn’t a chance in the world I’d actually win. On the flip side, my husband and I work hard to raise our financial fortunes. But back to the lottery. I find it occasionally fun to try to figure out just what exactly I’d do if I won the “big” prize. I don’t think quitting is high on my list. I love my work. Besides, I think I’d be full time just trying to take care of my own money. But the point here is that I agree you need to think things through. I’ve only read a couple of your posts but from what I’ve read I hope others read and listen.
    One of the things I would be concerned about is making sure that I didn’t turn into one of those “lucky” people who won and 5 years later were claiming bankruptcy not having any idea where it all went. I would want to make sure that I had completed my share of giving to those causes I felt were important. I would want to make sure my family was taken care of – first by making full contributions to children’s college funds.
    I agree that it isn’t realistic or even right to blythely think that you’d continue working and would save every penny. You just need a plan. Hopefully your website will generate some thought – maybe before that accidental income becomes a reality.
    Thanks,
    Kristi

  2. Like Kristi, I just learned of your site. Haven’t read much of it yet but intend to as it’s a subject that has interested me for a while.
    One comment in response to Kristi: you obviously understand better than most that if you really need money a lottery ticket is not the way to get it, but that’s not really the point is it? What most people get is the opportunity to wonder, to dream, to have a little fun with your friends and maybe even to gain a little insight. Not a lot but for a couple of bucks that’s probably a fair return.

  3. Hi, LG (Lucky Guy – can we “name” you LG?)
    I am inspired by your site and the comments of those who have visited. I am not in the category of wealthy, accidental or otherwise, but am always hopeful. Fortunately, I am married to a very level-headed and down-to-earth woman who would curb my potential spontaneous and otherwise unwise spending and/or actions were I to happen upon wealth.
    In spite of not being wealthy, I do want to echo the comments about tipping/giving to those who serve us in our daily lives. I’ll never forget the time that my wife and I, newly married, went out to breakfast with my folks and were served by one of the best waiters we have ever had. He was extremely friendly and helpful, and came across in a true “I care about you and your meal” fashion. This was a “hole in the wall” cafe where the good food didn’t even come to $20 for all four of us. My folks paid, and my wife and I tipped $10. Even though we couldn’t “afford” it, it felt so good! It was awesome to show our gratefulness in a way that we knew he would appreciate. We’ve continued to do this from time to time in our venture through life. Even if you’re not “well off”, you can bless others as you can and it will mean a lot to them!
    I know that if I do become wealthy someday, I will continue to commit RAK’s (Random acts of Kindness). There’s no feeling that compares with the good feeling you get by giving to others…It’s a Biblical principle, and I’ve always found it to be true.
    PS – by the appearance of your website header, it looks as though you’re familiar with the Seattle area – even the Elephant Car Wash on Battery Street. Love to see a fellow Puget Sounder making a difference!

  4. I also got here through Randy Cassingham’s This is True. I’ve only seen this site for about 15 minutes, but I love it. I think I’ll use parts of it in my conversations with friends, which usually go this way:

    • What would you do with eighty million euros? – I ask
    • Well, a lot fo things. First of all, finish my mortgage – my friend replies.
    • OK, that would be 80,000 euros, wouldn’t it?. You pay that and you have 79,920,000 euros left. What next?
    • Lots of things! Say, buy a new car.
    • OK, which car? A 60,000-euro Mercedes? That leaves you with 79,860,000 euros. Would you also like a Ferrari and a Porsche?
    • No, no Ferraris. But I would buy a nice house with a nice garage for the Mercedes, instead of the flat I’ll be paying for the next 20 years.
    • Nice house, how much would that be? Say, two million euros? Let’s say three to be on the safe side, you have 76,860,000 euros left. And now, after you have your nice house, nice car, nice everything, what do you do now with 76 million euros left?
    • Well, they don’t annoy me anyhow, do they?
    • Wouldn’t it annoy you to have 76 million euros in a regular bank account?
    • Well, not in a regular bank account, of course. I would invest them.
    • Exactly how would you invest 76 million euros? You probably know how to invest 76 thousand euros, but what do you know about millions-of-euros investments?
    • I’d hire a consultant.
    • Which consultant do you know that you trust enough to give him/her power to invest your 76 million dollars?
    • etc. etc. etc.

    I’ve had this conversation with about a dozen of my friends. Yes, I still owe the bank 25,000 euros for my mortgage. Yes, I’d like to buy things that I cant’t afford. But no, I don’t want to win the lottery!

    My quote: A sudden large sum of money will replace your old well-known problems with brand-new problems you have no idea about.

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