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What Is Your Magic Number?

by Ryan Guina

I remember when I was about 7 years old and my family and I were about move across the country. I overheard my parents talking about closing the savings accounts they had opened for me and my brothers and I overheard a magic number – $100!

I couldn’t believe what I just heard! I asked my parents, “Do you mean that’s my money? I have $100 dollars!” They answered, yes it was mine, and probably tried to explain to a young boy how savings worked and I wouldn’t be able to use the money until… I’m sure I didn’t hear the rest. At that young age, $100 was a magic number – and all I heard was that I had $100!

Thankfully, my parents instilled upon me the importance of saving and spending less than I earn. With my parent’s help, I opened a savings account and deposited money I saved from gifts and my allowance. Eventually, that $100 turned into a couple hundred dollars.

When I started my first high school job I started thinking about another magic number – $1,000. I didn’t work many hours then, but eventually, I hit my new magic number. It was a very nice feeling to open my statement every month and see 4 digits staring back at me.

What was my next magic number? Well, I didn’t have one. $10,000 was too far away to even think about and I didn’t really have any firm financial goals. I was concerned with doing everything a high schooler is supposed to do. The money just sat in my savings account while until I joined the USAF.

My first few months in the USAF I earned just over $1,000/month after taxes. Thankfully, my room and board were covered and I had few other expenses. Before long, I had my sights set on a new magic number – $10,000. It took a little over a year to reach $10,000 including an IRA I opened, and about 2 years to get to $10,000 in cash savings. It was one thing to know I had a total portfolio of $10,000 including the IRA, but another thing to see $10,000 in cash savings! Seeing 5 digits in one account was exciting and it felt wonderful. I accomplished another savings goal!

I think everyone has a number that, to them, has a magical aura surrounding it. When I was 7, $100 was an enormous sum of money. I was rich! When I started working, $1,000 and $10,000 were exciting and realistic benchmarks. Today, my magic number is $1,000,000. No, I haven’t passed all the other milestones in between $10,000 and $1,000,000 yet. In fact, I’m not even close to most of them! But $1,000,000 is the number that gives me the most excitement just thinking about it. I know that one day, I will be a millionaire.

Your magic number doesn’t have to be your definition of wealth, it could just be a number that has a special meaning to you or gives you a positive feeling when you think about it. Your magic number could be anything – $0 (yes, getting out of debt is a wonderful goal!), $10,000, $100,000, $500,000, or even a cool $1,000,000. (It’s a fun number to write. Go ahead, try it!). Everyone has a financial goal, and their magic number usually plays a big part in that goal.

What is your magic number?

Photo credit: apostolic.


Published or updated February 26, 2011.
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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Dividend Guy

I like to think of it in terms of smaller chunks – seems more attainable that way. Right now at this stage my magic number is $300,000 in dividend paying stocks. Once I hit that I will move it up to $700,000 and so on and so forth.

The Dividend Guy

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2 Ryan

Dividend Guy: I agree, smaller chunks are much better for setting goals because they are more attainable. It will be a looooong time before I have a net worth of a million dollars. I guess right now, that is the number that excites me to think about it.

In between $10,000 and $1,000,000 I would set benchmarks of $50k, $100k, $250k, $500k, $750, then $1M. But I promised my wife I wouldn’t disclose our net worth, so I will just say $1,000,000! ;)

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3 shadox

For me, it’s gotta be $10,000,000. We are not even close it. In fact, we are soooo far we cannot even see it with a good sized telescope. However, that number is like a beacon that is attainable with a lifetime of planning and savings. What it means to me is: absolute financial freedom (even in California). Now that’s a goal worth going after – even if it’s decades in the future.

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4 Ryan

Shadox,

I like how your magic number = absolute financial freedom. $10M is a lofty goal, but one that is achievable for many people in this lifetime.

For now, I’m going to stick with $1M as my personal number. I have a lot of benchmarks in between here and there, but the million dollar mark, and the term “millionaire” just have a special place in my mind.

My magic number is just a signpost on the way to absolute financial freedom. But I know that when I pass my signpost, I’m well on my way. :)

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5 Alex

Mine is 1.67 million. An odd number, but one that I calculate I could retire on no matter what my age (I’m 27 now). Its a long way off but it represents the number after which I never have to work.

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6 Ryan

Great goal, Alex. :)

Just make sure your calculations are correct! ;)

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7 Swim Upstream to Wealth

Has anyone read Lee Eisenberg’s great book, “The Number”. It defines that magic number that everyone needs to have true financial freedom. It looks as if Alex has done this with his 1.67 Million – nice job Alex – but most Americans haven’t. What is particularly useful about doing this is it simplifies the process for folks and it creates a concrete goal. Rather than worrying about various rates of returns or dealing with complex retirement tools, you can focus on one item. It makes it much easier and simple to do so.

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8 Ryan

I haven’t read The Number yet. Defining a goal is the first step toward achieving it, so it sounds like the book is on to something. I will have to check my library to see if they have it. Thanks for the recommendation!

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