Is $5 Million Enough to Make You Rich?

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September 12, 2023

One of my favorite television series is Succession, which sadly ended in Season 4. If you haven’t seen it, the show’s premise is a recreation of Rupert Murdoch’s life and family succession issues, characterized by the fictional Roy family. The show is wildly entertaining but also contains some valuable lessons for entrepreneurs. 

In a scene during Season Two of the show, cousin Greg is chatting with Tom (married to Shiv Roy) and Connor Roy, the eldest son of the patriarch, Logan. Greg is trying to convince them that his $5 million inheritance is enough to make him “golden.” Tom and Connor both laugh in his face and proceed to tell him that he can’t do anything with $5 million. They tell him this money will make him the richest poor person in America – ha!

Here’s the scene –

Some thoughts on this scene:

  • It sounds ridiculous for anyone to say $5 million isn’t a lot of money. This sum of money would quickly put you in the top 1% of the U.S., according to Fortune magazine. When you consider how wealthy the U.S. is relative to most of the world—for instance, $57,000 of net worth would put you in the top 1% in the Philippines—$5 million is an enormous number.
  • In Oklahoma, where I live, $5 million is sufficient to live a lavish lifestyle. For instance, you could take $1 million to buy a home around 4,500 square feet with cash, according to Zillow’s average price per square foot. This would leave 4 million, which you could invest in one-year T-bills, yielding more than $200,000 in annual spending money. Not too shabby! 

Having said all of this, being rich is relative, as I know people who would say $5 million is not wealthy at all and strive to have multiples of this number. But I think there is something deeper going on here when it comes to what it means to be truly rich.

John Rockefeller, considered by many historians as the wealthiest person in the history of the world, was once asked by a reporter, “How much money is enough?” His response – “Just a little bit more.” Even Rockefeller wasn’t satisfied with his tremendous wealth!

To combat this struggle for some people who never seem to have “enough,” I have found two habits that routinely trip people up:

  1. We don’t take time to think about what we want money to do for us.
  2. We don’t always spend money on things that actually make us happy.

To counter these potential obstacles to acquiring enough, here are two practical suggestions for how you find your “enough” number:

  1. Create a financial purpose statement.
  2. Understand what types of purchases make you happy.

To get going with a financial purpose statement, a term coined by writer, Carl Richards, aim to determine how to align your capital with what’s most important to you.

To get started, try these self-discovery questions:

  • What brings you joy?
  • Why is money important to you?
    • And then keep asking why until you can no longer answer. This is a powerful exercise if you will keep going deeper.
  • Lastly, try the Dan Sullivan question – What has to happen in the next three years for you to feel happy with your progress with your money?

Taking the time to answer and reflect on these questions should give enough material to get to the heart of “enough” for you, and will start closing the gap between your spending and values.

Here’s my financial purpose statement: To have enough passive income so I have control over my time regardless of my earned income. 

The second thing you need to do is study your past large purchases and bifurcate between what made you happy for a long time and what brought only a short-term high. Most people consistently find there are two mindsets that drive spending decisions:

  • The use of money to buy time and autonomy.
  • A bias to use money for experiences rather than things.

Here are some examples of these principles:

  • I don’t pay my own bills any longer because I hired someone to do this.
    Although I’m a financial planner by trade, I abhor taking time to pay bills and balance my checkbook. I have redirected that time (usually was on Sunday evenings) into doing something fun with my family and trust a very capable person to do this for me. For me, this provides enjoyment and I will gladly pay the money to create more time in my schedule for things I want to do – usually involving being with my family.
  • Our family prioritizes vacation over “things.”
    I was much happier taking my family on an amazing trip to Maui than I was when I bought my most recent vehicle, one that I had been desiring for a long time. The vehicle was super cool for about a week or so, but the Maui vacation still pays memory dividends many years later. 

Ben Franklin said, “Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.

The goal shouldn’t be to mindlessly accumulate more money without any purpose. Instead, strive to have enough money to achieve your personal vision, keep the goalposts from moving, and bring lasting joy.

Just remember – your “enough” number is unique to you and should allow you to be clear on a predetermined figure that sets you up to live your defined dream life, not someone else’s.

The content of this article is developed from sources believed to provide accurate information. The information is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This content is distributed for informational purposes only, and is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products or services. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Index performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio.

Castlepoint Wealth Advisors | Oklahoma Wealth Advisors | Kendall King - Founder & CEO

Kendall King, CFP®, AEP®

Founder & CEO of Castlepoint Wealth Advisors

Kendall is the Founder and CEO of Castlepoint Wealth Advisors, an Independent Wealth Management firm in Oklahoma City. He is responsible for the strategic direction and vision of the firm, and serves as lead advisor to a diverse group of clients, with special focus on entrepreneurs. With more than 18 years experience in advising clients on a wide range of wealth management topics, Kendall possesses extensive expertise and specialized knowledge regarding IRA and retirement planning topics.

Read more Kendall’s Counsel blog posts and articles.