This 42-Year-Old Will Retire Next Year With A Net Worth Close To $5M — Here’s How He Did It

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4 million net worth

Welcome to Money Talks, a millionaire interview series featuring anonymous millionaires to learn more about how people make money and accumulate wealth. If you would like to be featured, please email [email protected]

Today’s edition of Money Talks features a man who calls himself “LandShark” (follow him on Twitter @IAmLandShark) and is a self-proclaimed hater of debt and lover of saving aggressively and investing in index funds. Hopefully hearing about his journey to financial freedom can help you on yours. Let’s dive in.

1. How old are you? And how long have you been a millionaire?

I’m 42. We crossed the $1 million household net worth threshold in March 2013. It took us 5 more years (Jan. 2018) to get to $2 million. 2.5 years to get to $3 million (Sept. 2020). And 7 months to get $4 million (April 2021).

2. What is your current net worth?

$4.37 million.

3. A $4 million net worth is impressive! How did you make your first million?

Mr. & Mrs. Landshark both worked hard at our jobs. In the first five years of our marriage, we earned about $200k per year on average. We maxed out our 401k and Roth IRA accounts, saved in our taxable brokerage account, and aggressively paid down our mortgage.

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4. What do you do for a living? Is it something you wanted to do or just something that pays the bills?

The Landshark is a lawyer. If I’m being honest with myself, I went to law school after college because I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do with my life, but I wanted to have the ability to earn a high income. I succeeded in that regard — particularly in the last few years, but the job itself is extremely stressful and time-consuming. I’m really looking forward to not practicing law.

5. What is your typical work week like (i.e., hours / week, days / week, time management)?

Most lawyers that work at large law firms bill their time hourly. I’d say on average, I bill about 1900-2000 hours a year. When I was younger, I used to work at a firm where I had to bill more like 2200-2400 hours a year. I typically work from 8:30am until 6pm… but then am regularly back at it from 8pm-10pm or 11pm, once we’ve had dinner and put the kids to bed. I also typically work at least 4-5 hours each weekend. It’s a grind and I’m pretty burnt out and ready for a change.

6. Do you keep a detailed monthly budget? Why or why not?

We don’t do a budget, but after each month, we do download our transactions and track our expenses by category so we have a good idea what we spend each month. We’ve been doing this for about 1.5 years and it’s a really good practice. I’d recommend to anyone pursuing financial independence to track expenses. It’s only when you know what you spend that you can know (with any reasonable degree of certainty) how much you need to save to achieve financial independence and retire early (if you’re into that sort of thing).

7. What money mistake would you tell your kids and grandchildren to avoid?

To avoid mindless consumption. It drives so much unnecessary spending. And if you can avoid it, you will correspondingly “find” more money to save each month. When you control your wants and impulses, you’ll find it that much easier to save. And when you control your wants, you’ll learn that mindless consumer purchases really don’t drive happiness. They might give you a temporary dopamine hit, but that quickly fades and then you move onto the next want. Just avoid it altogether and build better self-control.

8. What characteristics or traits do you believe successful people have in common?

That’s a big question and one I don’t feel qualified to answer. That said, the successful people I know usually aren’t willing to take “no” for an answer. They figure out a way to lead themselves towards their goals. They read, learn new things, and are proactive in seeking out the life they want — rather than letting life happen to them.

9. You’re open about retiring in 2022. What are your plans for retirement? Will you have side hustle or just rely on passive income to fund your life?

After having a really stressful career for nearly two decades, I’m really looking forward to decompressing. Focusing on health, fitness, and wellness… and quality time with my wife and kids.

Mrs. Landshark is still planning on working for a couple more years, and my kids are in school, but we’ve already been planning some big trips for the future — there’s so much of the world that we want to see.

That said, I do already have a side hustle (it only brings in about $10k per year and requires about 30-40 hours per month in work). I don’t know if I’ll continue doing it, but it’s mainly a community service type thing that I find rewarding.

Mrs. Landshark and my side hustle should cover our expenses for the next 2-3 years, and then we’ll start drawing down on our savings.

As for my ideal day in retirement — I’m going to strive to make every single day have some combination of ECLP:

Exercise – weights, yoga, hiking, biking
Create – write, music, cook, garden, community service
Learn – read, piano, music production
Play – outdoors w/ kids, tennis, skiing, swimming, games

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10. What is the stupidest thing you spend your money on?

Although my kids will disagree, in-app video game purchases in Roblox, Fortnite, etc… but then again, maybe I’m just old.

11. What do you do daily that gives you the success you are looking for?

We really try to eat a healthy, whole foods based diet. Food is fuel and I find that when we stray from eating nourishing foods, I can really feel the difference. When we eat a lot of vegetables and quality fish and meats, my brain, body, and emotional state just feel so much better. That then drives everything else…

12. What are the top 3 investments (stocks, ETFs, real estate, etc) that you are currently most excited about?

I don’t get excited about any investments, I get excited about investing and compound interest. Most of our investments are in VTSAX and I’m pretty content with that. I need to think more about adding some bonds into our holdings (VBTLX) as we approach retirement, but right now, I’m happy riding the bull market and keeping our costs down. I fully believe that low-cost index funds like VTSAX are the best option for most people who are seeking to grow their wealth over the long term.

Many thanks to LandShark for his time. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter @IAmLandShark, you’re bound to see plenty of nuggets like this…

If you, or a millionaire you know, would like to be featured in our Money Talks column, please email [email protected] 

Author
C. James

C. James is the managing editor at Wealth Gang. He has a degree in finance and a passion for creating passive income streams and wealth management.

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