You’re Eating a Million Dollars
The average American spends $3,008 per year eating out. Add to that the average $1556 spent on food delivery apps, and more than $4500 per year, or $380 per month, is going straight to your stomach.
That’s the average across all Americans. Through years of speaking with people struggling with money I’ve learned that most of the time those numbers are much, much higher.
But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you fall right into the average. $380 a month leaves your hands, turns into orange chicken, and disappears into your stomach in ten minutes. You’re happy. You’re full. There are no dishes to clean up. But what did that “small” indulgence actually cost you?
Instead of putting your money into Chinese food, you had the option to invest it in the stock market. A simple, no effort S&P500 index fund has historically averaged a 10% per year rate of return. If we factor in inflation (the fact that things get more expensive over time, so the same money you have today doesn’t buy as much in ten years), which has averaged 3% over modern history, we can guess that we’ll get an effective 7% rate of return on any money we invest today. (This is approximate math, but it’s good enough for most decisions like this).
$380 invested every month for 10 years becomes $65,772. Let that sink in. $65,000 will buy you a Tesla model 3, round trip flights for two on a private jet from NYC to the Bahamas, send a family of 4 to Disney World, and STILL leave you enough money left over to buy everyone you ever knew orange chicken.
Do that for 20 years, and you’ll have $198,000.
Do that for 40 years, the typical length of a full working career, and you’ll have $1 million.
Millionaire status just by deciding to not eat out or order takeout.
You weren’t picking stocks, you weren’t paying attention to the economy, or who was at war with who, or whether to buy crypto or not. Simple. So easy, anyone could do it - but most don’t.
So before you complain that “you don’t make enough money to invest” or “I didn’t grow up rich with parents who could give me everything”, ask yourself, are you eating your million dollars?