Self-made millionaires don’t build their fortunes by blowing cash on the road to wealth. That doesn’t mean they shun the good life that their fortunes can provide, though.
GOBankingRates spoke with two success stories who built seven-figure net worths. Both are consistently frugal across most spending categories, but when it comes to the things that bring them joy — money is no object. After all, why work, scrimp and save for outsized purchasing power if you can’t enjoy it every once in a while?
Maggie Tucker, host of the Inside Out Money podcast and former co-host of friends on FIRE, retired early in 2022 with her husband when she was 41 and he was 43. Both grew up in average, middle-class households, “and neither of our parents ever had the sort of money we’ve earned, saved and amassed,” she said.
But amidst all that earning, saving and amassing, the couple allowed themselves targeted opportunities to enjoy the fruits of their labor and frugality. Here’s what earns their splurges.
Tucker and her husband built their wealth by counting every dollar, but they recognize the value in exchanging those dollars for memories and personal enrichment when the moment calls for it.
“We personally splurge on luxuries like travel and other experiences,” she said. “And I know it can sound cliche to say spend on experiences over things, but we really do try to do this. When my husband and I early-retired in 2022, we took our three kids on a six-week trip around Europe, visited six countries and had an amazing experience that our kids still talk about. We still splurge and take longer vacations with our kids and also without our kids, and love having more flexibility being early-retired to do this.”
Common personal finance wisdom says to save money by forgoing the latest gadgets because they’re expensive, they require frequent and perpetual upgrades when the current version becomes obsolete and you’d be better served by saving the cash you don’t spend on pricey devices. Tucker disagrees.
“We both love and use the latest tech products and appreciate and value having a nice MacBook Pro, a newer iPhone for the photo quality and other nice features and to have a lot of smart-home tech around the house,” she said.
Tucker and her husband have structured their financial lifestyle in a way that affords them extraordinary flexibility to spend money on things that bring joy and add value to their lives. They earn this flexibly by practicing extreme frugality for the many things that don’t check those boxes. Then, when they encounter something that justifies the expense, they have the money and the mindset to spring for it without guilt — and not just on gadgets and travel.
The key is conscious, deliberate and targeted spending.
“We think it’s okay to splurge on whatever we want because we are intentional and values-based about our spending,” said Tucker. “We don’t splurge in every category and are very frugal and thoughtful in other spending categories. We have saved aggressively over the years, lived well below our means, and invested in low-cost index funds, and now we’re bearing the fruits of that approach, so we feel good splurging when we want to and value something.”
Greg Gaudet, owner of Maui Home Buyers in Makawao, Hawaii, is a self-made millionaire who earned his fortune through real estate. “My net worth is currently about $3.7 million, conservatively,” he said. Here’s what Greg doesn’t hesitate to spend his cash on.
Expensive Rides Can Be a Waste — But Not If You Do It Right
Fast, fancy and financially extravagant cars are a classic splurge for people who come into money. More often than not they’re status symbols — a way to preen and advertise your wealth.
For the pretenders, hot rides are an inadvisable investment because they’re depreciating assets that don’t really make you feel good. But for motorheads with a true passion for fine cars who can finally afford one, it’s hard to imagine spending money on anything else.
“I’m a major car guy, so that’s the main area I splurge on,” said Gaudet. “In fact, my cars are the only hint that I’m a millionaire. I wear a T-shirt, shorts and sandals every day — and sure, most people love my home because it has ocean and mountain views, but it’s far from fancy. It’s more of a cozy cottage than a lavish estate.”
Not only does Gaudet’s wealth allow him to relish in his passion, but he does it in a financially prudent way. He spends big money on the rare vehicles that hold their resale value over time.
“My cars typically do turn out to be good investments,” he said. “I’ll usually buy a high-end sports car, and after driving it for a couple of years I’ll sell it for what I paid for it, or nearly what I paid for it. I believe this ends up being cheaper than buying a normal car that suffers more depreciation, even if the sticker price seems cheaper upfront.”
More From GOBankingRates
- How Big Is the Average Social Security Check of a Middle-Class Retiree?
- These 10 Cars Could Drain Your Savings Through Constant Repairs
- 3 Ways to Recession Proof Your Retirement
- This Is the One Type of Debt That 'Terrifies' Dave Ramsey