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How to visualize being a millionaire?

I'll be honest.  In 1994, when I got my first corporate job after graduation, all I could think of was building a cushion of savings so that I would not feel stressed if I got laid off or needed to pay for an emergency for me or my loved ones.  In a few years, my girlfriend and I were living together and while we together brought in about $100K a year, between apartment rent and paying for two cars, we were left with little.  

How smart of me to make the maximum 401(K) contribution!

That said, the only thing I was definitely doing was making the maximum contribution of $12,000 to my 401(K) because I did not want miss out on the match from my employer.  At that time, I did not think it was a big deal, but in retrospect, it was the wisest decision of my life.  While I have strong roots in Math and understand the concept of compounding, trust me, it was difficult to visualize that it will eventually work and one day at some point of time in the distant future I will be a millionaire.

During those days in the 1990s while driving around in the beautiful towns of Connecticut, we would look at all those people who lived in single family homes around lakes, beaches, hills, etc. and we wondered how millionaires spend their money or if they were multi millionaires, but we could never envision belonging to that group.  In fact, one time we went to look at a new condominium development and the units were selling for just $200,000, we only fantasized about moving into one of those, but could never gather the courage to even ask the realtor if it was possible for us to buy one of those, since we did not have the down payment amount.

Savings do add up and compounding works

Let me just say that we continued to save as much as we could mainly by maximizing our 401(K) and IRA and making addition investments, and gradually the portfolio started to look bigger and bigger.  As we approached a million dollars in our investment account, we became more and more comfortable with the idea.

Wish we had visualized this earlier and saved even more during early years

The major takeaway that we have is that we wish we were smart enough in the 1990s that what we were reading in magazines like Fortune, Money, Barron's and Forbes at the time was correct and as they kept asking us to maximize our tax free retirement contributions, we would actually become wealthy one day.  I get it -- it is just hard to imagine what life could be 20 or 30 years from now, but the Math works.  The stock market, despite its swings, goes up over time.

Secondly, we wish we had saved even more.  Maybe we should have eaten out less often or traveled less or got second jobs.  Well, you can learn from us and not make these mistakes.

Good luck with your million dollar journey.