A million dollars ain’t a million dollars… and other assumptions about money

This is about de-glamourizing the glamour around money. (BTW, the definition of the word “glamour” is “deception”).

The less gullible we are about the illusions that come with money-talk and materialism, the more likely we are to value ourselves and what truly matters. If we can see through the smoke and mirrors, we’re less likely to play the comparison game — because: If you measure your success against someone else’s results, you will never be free – ever.

And because…

What looks like success isn’t always success – same goes for failure.

(Pause: I’m not addressing issues of poverty and the disenfranchised here, or mega wealth for that matter. This is just an attempt to poke some holes in first world, middle class problems in order to shake up some perceptions.)

Everybody these days seems to wanna make their first million(s). And that’s a fine intention. Maybe it’s even a goal with soul. And then when you make your first million, you might want to tell everyone that you made your first million.

But a million dollars ain’t a million dollars. It can be 40% less after you pay personal taxes, or about 15% less when you pay corporate taxes, and then there’s the cost of actually making that money. After you’ve paid your team and your government, hopefully you’ve got a decent year’s salary in the bank — if you haven’t blown it along the way because you got glamoured by your own money glamour.

Keep this in mind when all the new internet millionaires talk about making their first seven figs. Because either a) It doesn’t add up to as much as you might think, and/or b) There’s still a long way to go to sustainable dollars, or c) The new millionaires who manage to hold on to what they make — practice simplicity and efficiency in every possible way.

A great book advance doesn’t mean you can quit your day job. Fifteen to 20 percent goes to the agent, and then it gets paid out to you in three installments over a two to three year period, and it’s taxed of course. So not many authors can live off their book advances let alone live it up.

Keep this in mind when you’re feeling overly conservative for keeping your day job.

It’s about profit, not revenue; net, not gross. If you get inside enough business studies and know a few start ups that tanked (especially if you’ve tanked one of your own) you become a healthy kind of skeptical when you hear about a company’s earnings. And you habitually ask one of two questions: What did it cost them to make that money? and/or How much did they get to keep?

My general practice with money impressions is this:

Don’t make any assumptions about someone’s money situation. Leave room for mystery, and get the facts — which are usually difficult to get.

Just because someone’s got it, doesn’t mean it’s paid for. You never know if that BMW is part of a huge debt load, if the house was inherited, if someone’s shiny lifestyle is backed by credit cards. Gross can be far, far from net. And that scrappy looking guy driving the beater, ya, he could be a millionaire.

Some money costs more than other money to make.
Earnings are not profit.
Stuff does not equal wealth,
and wealth does not always equal success.

So, as ever, it’s best to define wealth for yourself.


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