The Worst Things About Being a Millionaire

The Worst Things About Being a Millionaire

Kiplinger's Personal Finance | June 14, 2018 Updated for 2019

Who wants to be a millionaire? The more intriguing question would be, “Who doesn’t?” For most people, a million smackers conjures up images of vacations on the Riviera, Arabian racehorses and mattresses stuffed with freshly ironed $20 bills.

But being a millionaire today isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Low interest rates and high living costs mean a million bucks in the bank doesn’t necessarily allow you to retire at 35, 45, 55 or even 65.

 What’s worse, today’s million dollars comes with all the burdens of wealth: greedy relatives, rapacious lawyers and grasping investment advisers.

A Million Isn’t What It Used to Be

Financial advisers say a sustainable annual withdrawal from retirement savings is 4%. With a million-dollar nest egg, a 4% draw-down means annual income of $40,000. And that’s before taxes. If you stick with the 4% withdrawal rate and earn an average 8% on your money annually, you’ll be in good shape for the long run.

But can you really live on $40,000 a year? Most millionaires don’t want to. “If you are 45, 50, 55 years old and spend like a millionaire, then you are doing two things with your money that may well not work for you long term,” says Tom Davison, a financial planner in Columbus, Ohio.

“The first is not saving extra dollars now, and the second is establishing a lifestyle cost that, for most people, will be hard to cut back on later.”

That being the case, let’s say you pull $100,000 a year from your savings, you earn 8% a year, and you don’t adjust upward for inflation. Here’s how your account would fare: at the end of Year 1, you'd have $972,000 left; Year 5, $835,735; Year 10, $594,376; Year 15, $239,741; and Year 18, $0. Yup — broke in retirement.

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