Millionaire by 30

benjirivers's picture
Rank: Monkey | 31

Hey there wolves. I recently set a goal for myself to be have a million dollars sitting in my savings account before mid-age crisis blows me across the face like a metal baseball bat. If there's any of you young bucks out there on the street with a similar goal. Matter of fact, if you're a veteran reading this. Even better... I'm just jotting down my spur of the moment goal here to not only see if it's achievable by climbing the hierarchy of an investment bank or a PE firm, but also see I'm undermining my abilities here. I know it all comes down to performance and impact on the firm (all about of bonus). But my gut feeling is telling me that as a 20 year old, I can be doing something else other than studying for my history and CIS midterm tomorrow.

Until next time,

Benji

Comments (93)

Oct 9, 2017

Honestly, if you want to be a millionaire by 30, you're probably better served to try your hand at entrepreneurship rather than. Like you might as well try starting a business while you're in college, while still preparing for banking internships. That's what I'm doing, at least.

    • 6
Oct 10, 2017

Okay, here's my question. Between Banking and Entrepreneurship, Whats plan A and whats plan B. In other words, what are you putting more time and energy into?

Oct 10, 2017

Good question. For me, I picked up the modeling aspects of banking pretty easily, and so it's just applying for internships. I'm going to network come junior year, but I'm not really putting that much time into preparing for banking, yet. So put time and energy into both, but banking is plan A and entrepreneurship is plan B, for me at least, just because entrepreneurship probably won't pan out, but hey, it's worth trying, especially in college.

    • 3
Oct 20, 2017

Much easier to go from banking to entrepreneurship than vice-versa... not to mention IB shows your intellect, financial knowledge, and pain tolerance. I'm putting my energy up front into banking with the plan of starting something after. Or, if what im trying to get started in college works out well, I'll continue to roll with that (because I'd be an idiot not to if a startup/venture starts doing really well)

    • 1
    • 7
Oct 9, 2017

i wonder if people have achieved this solely through savings and low risk investments after 10 years in finance

"Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry."

    • 1
Oct 10, 2017

try 401K calculator

Oct 25, 2017

It's certainly possible depending how much you end up owing out of college, how much you ended up saving throughout HS/College as well as how much you will make in the future. From working from HS-College (No debt). I was able to invest a hefty amount. I graduate next may and I already have around 150k saved up in a different investments (the ETF market is what is interesting me right now). That was only 7 years. It really all depends on your lifestyle choices as well as how well you did when you networked and what your base salary is when you get out. My goal is a bit different than his, I hope to reach 5 million in investments by the age of 40-45.

    • 1
Oct 28, 2017

Jeezus man

Nov 25, 2019

Honestly if you climb the IB ladder it's definitely doable. At the current pace you can reach VP by 28. By 30 you'll have After-tax savings well over 1 million as long as you don't spend recklessly

Oct 10, 2017

If you assume you save $50k when you're 22 and (1) each year you save $10k more and (2) you invest at 10%, you can get pretty close to $1 million.

    • 4
Oct 10, 2017

How's the math on this work? I just ran 50k growing at 10% for 10 years with an additional $10k infusion each year and came up under $300k. What am I missing?

    • 1
Oct 10, 2017

$50k growing at 0% for 10 years is $500k without saving any more in future years...

We're really talking an 8 year period though assuming most people graduate at 22.

So if you have $50k growing at $10k a year for 8 years, the average is $90k a year. $90k a year for 8 years is $720k. Add in 10%/year growth and you get to 960k (using midyear convention on interest).

    • 1
Best Response
Oct 10, 2017

You're going to struggle to get there working for someone else. Full stop.

Even under the rosiest assumptions (best firms [the EBs that pay higher], best ranking each year and corresponding bonus bucket, best placement to the best PE role, partner-track role with no MBA required, earliest possible inclusion in the carry pool), you'd be lucky to crack one-half of that by 30 unless you lived a very frugal lifestyle.

Let's run the numbers. Assuming that you graduate college at the typical age of 22, these are your years and corresponding titles in the eight years you have until 30, along with the all-in pre-tax income with each (again, in the rosiest projections):

  • Analyst 1: $210 ($50k signing bonus, $85k base, $75k bonus)
  • Analyst 2: $185 ($95k base, $90k bonus)
  • Associate 1: $385 ($75k bonus, $160k base, $150k bonus)
  • Associate 2: $400 ($180k base, $220k bonus)
  • Associate 3: $440 ($200k base, $240k bonus)
  • Associate 4: $545 ($225k base, $320k bonus)
  • Vice President 1: $600 ($300k base, $300k bonus)
  • Vice President 2: $675 ($325k base, $350k bonus)

Note that for your VP years you may be lucky enough to sit in a carry pool, but read @AmoryBlaine's comment in another thread he and I had some good posts in to see the math for how long it takes for this to bear fruit.

For anyone questioning the numbers, these are all anecdotal from friends I know personally. Your mileage surely may vary, but this is live comp from offers or bonuses that people ask me for advice on or just discuss. For those wondering, the associate comp is coming from places like Apollo/Sankaty/Baupost (which are obviously not the norm).

Also note that for the overwhelming majority of that slim group of people fortunate enough to crack this narrow path of elite banking to elite private equity, you're going to lose those VP years before you're 30 thanks to the b-school force-out after your first two associate years.

So, let's assume a simple 30% tax rate (not realistic, thanks to how bonuses are taxed, but easy math here). Your total pre-tax earnings here are $3.44m, so $2.408m post-tax.

You're going to spend at least one-third of that on rent ($795) across eight years (seriously; four years out of school you're not going to be scrabbling over a $4k per person 2BR unit). Now you're down at $1.6.

No firm idea how much you'll spend on lifestyle, but travel, clothes, dinners, gifts, and blowing-off-steam type stuff like summer/winter weekend house rentals in the Hamptons/Vail with your friends will eat into it too. If your personal 'burn' rate averaged at $75/year, you're now down to your $1m flat.

Again, these numbers are way above average and do not reflect b-school (which nearly every one of these elite funds is going to push you out the door for) and its associated (a) sticker and (b) opportunity cost of foregone income.

If you want to bet on yourself, you need to own something. Whether you start it or invest in something someone started, wealth is generated from ownership. The fact that you're already optimizing your life for banking says a lot about your risk aversion, so this may be too hard or intolerable a path for you.

But, illustratively, if you built a simple ecommerce business and bootstrapped it to $100k MRR by the end of its second year (eminently doable if you find a niche, understand SEM and SMM, and find good manufacturing relationships), simple growth of 6% monthly across five years after that gets you to $3.298m MRR or $39.6 in ARR. That's entirely doable. I've seen it, invested in it, advised people on how to do it. At that point you get to decide whether you want to sell it or just reap whatever cash dividends it's throwing off based on your product margins.

Or you could start a SaaS business. If you build something in an emerging space and demonstrate quick enough traction, you can get acquired early for relatively absurd sums. I know two guys who sold their <2-year-old startup for $88m with under $1.5m in ARR. They were just figuring out product-market fit but already had gangbusters traction, had term sheets in hand from leading VCs for a jumbo "seed" that was going to be $6m to really build out the product horizontally, and decided it was nicer to take the quick payday (all cash deal) and build the thing out inside the safety of a BigCo that would give them all the resources in the world and eliminate the heart-pounding-at-night stress of being an entrepreneur.

You could also start a consulting business. If you can convince someone somewhere that what you know is worth paying for, you can get $500k contracts pretty easily. Do a couple of those and your cash earnings alone (after business expenses like sub-consultants, travel, etc.) get you there.

My point is there are countless ways to unlock real wealth for yourself, but very few of them fit inside the "I work for X-company" bucket. I hope the illustration of IBD > PE > "Greatness?" and associated comp helped illustrate that.

    • 64
    • 1
Oct 10, 2017
APAE:

You're going to struggle to get there working for someone else. Full stop.

Even under the rosiest assumptions (best firms [the EBs that pay higher], best ranking each year and corresponding bonus bucket, best placement to the best PE role, partner-track role with no MBA required, earliest possible inclusion in the carry pool), you'd be lucky to crack one-half of that by 30 unless you lived a very frugal lifestyle.

Let's run the numbers. Assuming that you graduate college at the typical age of 22, these are your years and corresponding titles in the eight years you have until 30, along with the all-in pre-tax income with each (again, in the rosiest projections):
- Analyst 1: $210 ($50k signing bonus, $85k base, $75k bonus)
- Analyst 2: $185 ($95k base, $90k bonus)
- Associate 1: $385 ($75k bonus, $160k base, $150k bonus)
- Associate 2: $400 ($180k base, $220k bonus)
- Associate 3: $440 ($200k base, $240k bonus)
- Associate 4: $545 ($225k base, $320k bonus)
- Vice President 1: $600 ($300k base, $300k bonus)
- Vice President 2: $675 ($325k base, $350k bonus)

Note that for your VP years you may be lucky enough to sit in a carry pool, but read @AmoryBlaine's comment in another thread he and I had some good posts in to see the math for how long it takes for this to bear fruit.

For anyone questioning the numbers, these are all anecdotal from friends I know personally. Your mileage surely may vary, but this is live comp from offers or bonuses that people ask me for advice on or just discuss. For those wondering, the associate comp is coming from places like Apollo/Sankaty/Baupost (which are obviously not the norm).

Also note that for the overwhelming majority of that slim group of people fortunate enough to crack this narrow path of elite banking to elite private equity, you're going to lose those VP years before you're 30 thanks to the b-school force-out after your first two associate years.

So, let's assume a simple 30% tax rate (not realistic, thanks to how bonuses are taxed, but easy math here). Your total pre-tax earnings here are $3.44m, so $2.408m post-tax.

You're going to spend at least one-third of that on rent ($795) across eight years (seriously; four years out of school you're not going to be scrabbling over a $4k per person 2BR unit). Now you're down at $1.6.

No firm idea how much you'll spend on lifestyle, but travel, clothes, dinners, gifts, and blowing-off-steam type stuff like summer/winter weekend house rentals in the Hamptons/Vail with your friends will eat into it too. If your personal 'burn' rate averaged at $75/year, you're now down to your $1m flat.

Again, these numbers are way above average and do not reflect b-school (which nearly every one of these elite funds is going to push you out the door for) and its associated (a) sticker and (b) opportunity cost of foregone income.

If you want to bet on yourself, you need to own something. Whether you start it or invest in something someone started, wealth is generated from ownership. The fact that you're already optimizing your life for banking says a lot about your risk aversion, so this may be too hard or intolerable a path for you.

But, illustratively, if you built a simple ecommerce business and bootstrapped it to $100k MRR by the end of its second year (eminently doable if you find a niche, understand SEM and SMM, and find good manufacturing relationships), simple growth of 6% monthly across five years after that gets you to $3.298m MRR or $39.6 in ARR. That's entirely doable. I've seen it, invested in it, advised people on how to do it. At that point you get to decide whether you want to sell it or just reap whatever cash dividends it's throwing off based on your product margins.

Or you could start a SaaS business. If you build something in an emerging space and demonstrate quick enough traction, you can get acquired early for relatively absurd sums. I know two guys who sold their <2-year-old startup for $88m with under $1.5m in ARR. They were just figuring out product-market fit but already had gangbusters traction, had term sheets in hand from leading VCs for a jumbo "seed" that was going to be $6m to really build out the product horizontally, and decided it was nicer to take the quick payday (all cash deal) and build the thing out inside the safety of a BigCo that would give them all the resources in the world and eliminate the heart-pounding-at-night stress of being an entrepreneur.

You could also start a consulting business. If you can convince someone somewhere that what you know is worth paying for, you can get $500k contracts pretty easily. Do a couple of those and your cash earnings alone (after business expenses like sub-consultants, travel, etc.) get you there.

My point is there are countless ways to unlock real wealth for yourself, but very few of them fit inside the "I work for X-company" bucket. I hope the illustration of IBD > PE > "Greatness?" and associated comp helped illustrate that.

You're leaving out investment returns, which can add another 2-300k+ after tax especially if you work at one of the funds you listed with no-fee co-invest and only gets better over time.

Array

    • 2
Oct 10, 2017

I actually mentioned that carry meaningfully adds to the comp (see excerpt below). I think most people think of co-invest economics in the same breath as carry, given that they follow the exact same distribution schedule. You're right in that I could've been more explicit in mentioning them specifically.

APAE:

Note that for your VP years you may be lucky enough to sit in a carry pool, but read @AmoryBlaine's comment in another thread he and I had some good posts in to see the math for how long it takes for this to bear fruit.

    • 2
Oct 10, 2017

These "investment" numbers are crazy low - if all you did is save $50k each year as an analyst and invest it at 8% you'd have $175k in the market at 30. If your comp never went up and you just saved $50k a year for 8 years you would have $600k at 30. If you get into PE or HF early and start making decent money and investing in a fund that generates 20%+ IRRs (before fees) at 24 or 25 the numbers add up fast. The trick is just to not spend a decent bit of what you make.

Oct 10, 2017

Can you run a similar scenario with the example of starting a PE firm?

I'm in my first year of college so I have little clue on what's going on in PE, what would it take / how should one prepare the next years when the ultimate goal is to found a successful PE firm?

    • 1
    • 1
Oct 10, 2017
APAE:

You're going to struggle to get there working for someone else. Full stop.

Even under the rosiest assumptions (best firms [the EBs that pay higher], best ranking each year and corresponding bonus bucket, best placement to the best PE role, partner-track role with no MBA required, earliest possible inclusion in the carry pool), you'd be lucky to crack one-half of that by 30 unless you lived a very frugal lifestyle.

Let's run the numbers. Assuming that you graduate college at the typical age of 22, these are your years and corresponding titles in the eight years you have until 30, along with the all-in pre-tax income with each (again, in the rosiest projections):
- Analyst 1: $210 ($50k signing bonus, $85k base, $75k bonus)
- Analyst 2: $185 ($95k base, $90k bonus)
- Associate 1: $385 ($75k bonus, $160k base, $150k bonus)
- Associate 2: $400 ($180k base, $220k bonus)
- Associate 3: $440 ($200k base, $240k bonus)
- Associate 4: $545 ($225k base, $320k bonus)
- Vice President 1: $600 ($300k base, $300k bonus)
- Vice President 2: $675 ($325k base, $350k bonus)

Note that for your VP years you may be lucky enough to sit in a carry pool, but read @AmoryBlaine's comment in another thread he and I had some good posts in to see the math for how long it takes for this to bear fruit.

For anyone questioning the numbers, these are all anecdotal from friends I know personally. Your mileage surely may vary, but this is live comp from offers or bonuses that people ask me for advice on or just discuss. For those wondering, the associate comp is coming from places like Apollo/Sankaty/Baupost (which are obviously not the norm).

Also note that for the overwhelming majority of that slim group of people fortunate enough to crack this narrow path of elite banking to elite private equity, you're going to lose those VP years before you're 30 thanks to the b-school force-out after your first two associate years.

So, let's assume a simple 30% tax rate (not realistic, thanks to how bonuses are taxed, but easy math here). Your total pre-tax earnings here are $3.44m, so $2.408m post-tax.

You're going to spend at least one-third of that on rent ($795) across eight years (seriously; four years out of school you're not going to be scrabbling over a $4k per person 2BR unit). Now you're down at $1.6.

No firm idea how much you'll spend on lifestyle, but travel, clothes, dinners, gifts, and blowing-off-steam type stuff like summer/winter weekend house rentals in the Hamptons/Vail with your friends will eat into it too. If your personal 'burn' rate averaged at $75/year, you're now down to your $1m flat.

Again, these numbers are way above average and do not reflect b-school (which nearly every one of these elite funds is going to push you out the door for) and its associated (a) sticker and (b) opportunity cost of foregone income.

If you want to bet on yourself, you need to own something. Whether you start it or invest in something someone started, wealth is generated from ownership. The fact that you're already optimizing your life for banking says a lot about your risk aversion, so this may be too hard or intolerable a path for you.

But, illustratively, if you built a simple ecommerce business and bootstrapped it to $100k MRR by the end of its second year (eminently doable if you find a niche, understand SEM and SMM, and find good manufacturing relationships), simple growth of 6% monthly across five years after that gets you to $3.298m MRR or $39.6 in ARR. That's entirely doable. I've seen it, invested in it, advised people on how to do it. At that point you get to decide whether you want to sell it or just reap whatever cash dividends it's throwing off based on your product margins.

Or you could start a SaaS business. If you build something in an emerging space and demonstrate quick enough traction, you can get acquired early for relatively absurd sums. I know two guys who sold their <2-year-old startup for $88m with under $1.5m in ARR. They were just figuring out product-market fit but already had gangbusters traction, had term sheets in hand from leading VCs for a jumbo "seed" that was going to be $6m to really build out the product horizontally, and decided it was nicer to take the quick payday (all cash deal) and build the thing out inside the safety of a BigCo that would give them all the resources in the world and eliminate the heart-pounding-at-night stress of being an entrepreneur.

You could also start a consulting business. If you can convince someone somewhere that what you know is worth paying for, you can get $500k contracts pretty easily. Do a couple of those and your cash earnings alone (after business expenses like sub-consultants, travel, etc.) get you there.

My point is there are countless ways to unlock real wealth for yourself, but very few of them fit inside the "I work for X-company" bucket. I hope the illustration of IBD > PE > "Greatness?" and associated comp helped illustrate that.

800k in 8 years on rent is 8.5k/mo who lives like this?? most people i know pay 2.5-3k tops

    • 2
Oct 11, 2017

Lifestyle is highly variable. As long as you're living within your means, anything is okay. Do what suits you best.

Analyst:
Some guys will move out of college for their banking role and find a $6,000 3br in Murray Hill, flex it to a four, and spend $1,500 each living on top of each other for their analyst years. That's $18k/year gone on rent.

Other guys will go get a $2,500 large studio or a $3,000 1br in Soho or Gramercy. Maybe they prioritize having personal space to decompress and unwind while enduring a demanding job. Maybe they prefer a different neighborhood vibe. This is $36k/year gone in rent.

Associate:
Some guys now step up to a $5,000 2br with a buddy. It's still not a luxury building, but there's more space and it's so much better than the hole in the wall they had before and who cares anyway, you're going to live at work as it is, what's the point? This is $30k/year.

Others will move to the $4,500 1br or the $7,000 2br with a friend. It's spacious, modern, the building is newer and has some amenities. This is $54k/year gone.

Senior Associate:
Some guys just don't move. It's such a hassle in the city, and not that much in life is changing, so no need to change here either.

Other guys got engaged or even married (yes, it's not that common at this age, but it happens), so maybe there's a bump here as they look for a place that suits cohabitation.

Vice President:
Some guys are stepping up to get their first proper "I live alone" apartment. They may have lived alone before, but it wasn't a place they could call 'home' because it wasn't a place to personalize. They're thinking $5,000 is a decent target.

Others are expecting kids or already dealing with a stressed wife and young baby(ies). This may be a $10,000 3br in Tribeca that they're paying for alone. Goodbye $120k/year, and hello condo shopping (or the mental calculus over a move out of the city).

-

No judgment on anyone living how they choose to live. Life is a game of balancing priorities. I have friends at both extremes. One guy I know loosely is the equivalent of an extreme couponer. He called a dozen different barbershops every month trying to figure out who was cheapest. I don't know how but he found places in the $12-15 range (and his choice always changed). Hilarious seeing what Supercuts Special he walked in with every few Mondays was.

Another guy I know was living in a $6,000 1br as an analyst ... because it had a really big living room with a great view, it was a FiOS building, and he was able to rig a really solid home office in the living room that both he and his college best friend who he started an ecommerce site with could work out of. You wouldn't know it just looking at him, but when he got a really solid upper MM offer (think Thoma Bravo, Hellman & Friedman, Kelso), he laughed showing me the offer letter. "I made more last year myself, man."

Everything exists for a reason. You might not want or be able to afford the $12,000 2br in Soho, but it's leased, so someone does. You might not want the seven-seater Honda minivan, but someone does, so they sold several million of those ugly fuckers last year.

"Your mileage may vary" is one of my favorite sayings. It applies here too.

    • 12
    • 1
Oct 11, 2017

If you follow that salary progression and don't have $1mm saved by age 30, you are definitely doing something wrong. You should easily be able to crack at least $1.5mm, living a still decent life and splurging on a lot of things you enjoy.

Array
    • 2
Oct 11, 2017

One thing I think you are not accounting for is that you can buy a place instead of renting (assuming you don't live in NYC or SF). In that case, your rent expense isn't 100% cash out the door since you'll be building equity in your home. That doesn't necessarily get you to "a million dollars in your savings account", but it's still equity and having a million in your savings account is dumb anyway.

Also while it is true that a lot of "stuff" pops up during the PE path (such as biz school as you mention), that is not true for all buyside jobs, for example HF roles (again, assuming you can get a role and your firm doesn't shut down like so many have recently).

I actually think getting to $1 million in net worth following the IB to buyside path is quite doable, assuming (1) you live in a low COL city such as Chicago or Houston, and (2) you don't go to b-school, and also (3) you're not a spendthrift, but that's kind of a given.

    • 4
    • 1
Oct 11, 2017

A couple comments.

One, you're correct, although I did mention in the hypothetical Vice President scenario the calculus around continued rental vs. condo purchase in the city vs. home purchase in the suburbs.

Two, I don't think you can as easily gloss over the point that "you can buy a home as long as you're not in New York or SF". The overwhelming majority of people on the high-earning finance track are going to be in these two cities. Chicago PE does not really pay as well, and from what I can tell it's the best of all the other regional markets. It's a toss-up whether that's evened out by the COL adjustment.

Three, you're correct in your "I actually think" sentence, but again it feels like you're not giving adequate attention to the odds behind the second element (b-school) of your assumption. The way PE recruiting works now, if you go in that first wave, you're more likely to get only one offer than a plurality. If your luck of the draw is one of the firms that's the majority in that their partner-track positions require an MBA, you're sore outta luck.

So if we re-read my original post (8:28am), my point that it's not easily done working for someone else still stands in my book. There's a continuing series of 'it has to go right' outcomes, so the overlapping probability gets dramatically lower and lower.

Pair that with the comment that other posters are making that there's a difference between net worth and a liquid or near-liquid "savings" account (which was my core assumption), and I think it doubly stands.

    • 3
    • 1
Oct 16, 2017
APAE:

You're going to struggle to get there working for someone else. Full stop.

Even under the rosiest assumptions (best firms [the EBs that pay higher], best ranking each year and corresponding bonus bucket, best placement to the best PE role, partner-track role with no MBA required, earliest possible inclusion in the carry pool), you'd be lucky to crack one-half of that by 30 unless you lived a very frugal lifestyle.

Let's run the numbers. Assuming that you graduate college at the typical age of 22, these are your years and corresponding titles in the eight years you have until 30, along with the all-in pre-tax income with each (again, in the rosiest projections):
- Analyst 1: $210 ($50k signing bonus, $85k base, $75k bonus)
- Analyst 2: $185 ($95k base, $90k bonus)
- Associate 1: $385 ($75k bonus, $160k base, $150k bonus)
- Associate 2: $400 ($180k base, $220k bonus)
- Associate 3: $440 ($200k base, $240k bonus)
- Associate 4: $545 ($225k base, $320k bonus)
- Vice President 1: $600 ($300k base, $300k bonus)
- Vice President 2: $675 ($325k base, $350k bonus)

Note that for your VP years you may be lucky enough to sit in a carry pool, but read @AmoryBlaine's comment in another thread he and I had some good posts in to see the math for how long it takes for this to bear fruit.

For anyone questioning the numbers, these are all anecdotal from friends I know personally. Your mileage surely may vary, but this is live comp from offers or bonuses that people ask me for advice on or just discuss. For those wondering, the associate comp is coming from places like Apollo/Sankaty/Baupost (which are obviously not the norm).

Also note that for the overwhelming majority of that slim group of people fortunate enough to crack this narrow path of elite banking to elite private equity, you're going to lose those VP years before you're 30 thanks to the b-school force-out after your first two associate years.

So, let's assume a simple 30% tax rate (not realistic, thanks to how bonuses are taxed, but easy math here). Your total pre-tax earnings here are $3.44m, so $2.408m post-tax.

You're going to spend at least one-third of that on rent ($795) across eight years (seriously; four years out of school you're not going to be scrabbling over a $4k per person 2BR unit). Now you're down at $1.6.

No firm idea how much you'll spend on lifestyle, but travel, clothes, dinners, gifts, and blowing-off-steam type stuff like summer/winter weekend house rentals in the Hamptons/Vail with your friends will eat into it too. If your personal 'burn' rate averaged at $75/year, you're now down to your $1m flat.

Again, these numbers are way above average and do not reflect b-school (which nearly every one of these elite funds is going to push you out the door for) and its associated (a) sticker and (b) opportunity cost of foregone income.

If you want to bet on yourself, you need to own something. Whether you start it or invest in something someone started, wealth is generated from ownership. The fact that you're already optimizing your life for banking says a lot about your risk aversion, so this may be too hard or intolerable a path for you.

But, illustratively, if you built a simple ecommerce business and bootstrapped it to $100k MRR by the end of its second year (eminently doable if you find a niche, understand SEM and SMM, and find good manufacturing relationships), simple growth of 6% monthly across five years after that gets you to $3.298m MRR or $39.6 in ARR. That's entirely doable. I've seen it, invested in it, advised people on how to do it. At that point you get to decide whether you want to sell it or just reap whatever cash dividends it's throwing off based on your product margins.

Or you could start a SaaS business. If you build something in an emerging space and demonstrate quick enough traction, you can get acquired early for relatively absurd sums. I know two guys who sold their <2-year-old startup for $88m with under $1.5m in ARR. They were just figuring out product-market fit but already had gangbusters traction, had term sheets in hand from leading VCs for a jumbo "seed" that was going to be $6m to really build out the product horizontally, and decided it was nicer to take the quick payday (all cash deal) and build the thing out inside the safety of a BigCo that would give them all the resources in the world and eliminate the heart-pounding-at-night stress of being an entrepreneur.

You could also start a consulting business. If you can convince someone somewhere that what you know is worth paying for, you can get $500k contracts pretty easily. Do a couple of those and your cash earnings alone (after business expenses like sub-consultants, travel, etc.) get you there.

My point is there are countless ways to unlock real wealth for yourself, but very few of them fit inside the "I work for X-company" bucket. I hope the illustration of IBD > PE > "Greatness?" and associated comp helped illustrate that.

I wish I could give you more than one SB

    • 4
Oct 17, 2017

please tell us as much as possible about the ecommerce businesses

Oct 20, 2017

In building a SaaS business composed of two people, would both need to know how to code or is one person sufficient?

Oct 21, 2017
APAE:

Or you could start a SaaS business. If you build something in an emerging space and demonstrate quick enough traction, you can get acquired early for relatively absurd sums. I know two guys who sold their <2-year-old startup for $88m with under $1.5m in ARR. They were just figuring out product-market fit but already had gangbusters traction, had term sheets in hand from leading VCs for a jumbo "seed" that was going to be $6m to really build out the product horizontally, and decided it was nicer to take the quick payday (all cash deal) and build the thing out inside the safety of a BigCo that would give them all the resources in the world and eliminate the heart-pounding-at-night stress of being an entrepreneur.

You make it sound like entrepreneurship is a lot easier than it is, although I think you know this based on your night stress comment.

I made it to $1M by 31 through a combination of saving 100% of every bonus and good public market investments following both the tech bust and 2009/10. I also hit the right cycles and got paid very well as an analyst, which helps, and I never got a MBA.

I then took my savings down to zero trying to get my company off the ground. Theoretically, I am much better on paper today, but liquidity is a lot less stressful than running a startup.

I don't regret it at all, but working so hard to build up that level of savings and then going through a startup valley of death is emotionally draining. Fortunately, things are going much better today.

Oct 29, 2017

Entrepreneurship is an awful pain I would never wish on my worst enemy.

The constant fear of being discovered as someone who knows way less than everyone seems to think you do. The unending nightmare of juggling things you know are both necessary to do and within your ability but that you don't have time for in that particular moment. The looming fear as you can count your months of remaining runway. The frantic racing of your mind every night that makes falling asleep so hard despite how exhausted you are.

It's no fun, except for those euphoric moments when someone says 'yes', you get a signature, your thing goes live, you're alive longer. Then after a few years hopefully 'oh shit, it's actually working' and that inexorable pressure behind your eyes lightens up.

I didn't mean to be glib describing entrepreneurial success stories I know anecdotally, I'm sorry if I gave that impression. It's similar to the way that it's statistically unlikely for someone to get the elite private equity job after securing an elite banking job, yet we discuss those placements really frequently here in a way that belies their statistical likelihood.

One of the biggest roles I play as an investor is helping entrepreneurs manage the psychological burden of the business resting on their shoulders. The buck stops somewhere, and whoever has it always feels how sharp that blade is.

That friend in the $6k apartment as a banking analyst? He gained 45 lbs. as an analyst because between his day job and his night job (the site) he never exercised or slept. I was in that apartment because after texting me for months asking to tag along to the gym but never actually taking me up on my repeated 'yes', he finally called me and said he was scared because he sat in the waiting room while his dad went through open-heart surgery and realized he was in worse shape thirty years younger. He did a serum test there and found his cortisol levels were worse than his dad's.

The two guys I know who had that $88m exit? One of them had his fiance leave him. Sure, you can joke that she's the real loser since she left the guy before he got a $30m payday, but try telling that to him - his heart got ripped out.

Entrepreneurship is rocky.

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Nov 21, 2017

damn must be nice making bb salary lmao

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Aug 24, 2018

hi! great post! can I pm you about ecommerce and saas businesses ? I'm interested in starting these. Thanks!

Mar 8, 2019

Must be some real top bucket shit to go Analyst 2 >> Associate and be getting a $75k bonus just for accepting your promotion

Oct 10, 2017

Other than starting your own business and going on Shark Tank, other great options include playing poker professionally and crime

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Oct 27, 2017
Going Concern:

Other than starting your own business and going on Shark Tank, other great options include playing poker professionally and crime

And it doesn't necessarily have to be a violent crime... everyone needs a good accountant on their team

Oct 10, 2017

This isn't that hard to accomplish - the secret is pretty simple. Its all about lifestyle (not living like a Jack Ass) and compound interest. If you save your after-tax bonus every-year, invest well and skip b-school you should comfortably have a million in net worth by 30. The truth is that by the time you are 5-years into a career in finance your personal investments should outperform. Mine did and I had over a million in net worth by the time I was 30 (including the equity in my home) with substantially less income than what was mentioned in the posts above. Getting a million in a savings account would be a harder because investing well is definitely part of the equation and that likely means not all liquid stuff.

Oct 10, 2017

My first job out of college guy in the next cubicle throws $10k into bitcoin.
Was the laughing stock of the entire floor. One BTC was $23 at the time.
Today his $10k is more than $2 million.

To say I'm not jealous / hitting myself (he tried to convince me) would be a lie.

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Oct 10, 2017

Didn't read the other comments. It's impossible to have that in a savings account by 30. Possible to have it in total net worth by 30.

Source: I did it.

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Oct 21, 2017
DickFuld:

Didn't read the other comments. It's impossible to have that in a savings account by 30. Possible to have it in total net worth by 30.

Source: I did it.

I don't look at it as a savings account...why would anyone keep $1M in zero interest savings? It's a combination of savings plus investment account. The real target is what's your liquidity? I do know that may not be your strong suit given your past history. ;)

Oct 22, 2017
TechBanking:
DickFuld:

Didn't read the other comments. It's impossible to have that in a savings account by 30. Possible to have it in total net worth by 30.

Source: I did it.

I don't look at it as a savings account...why would anyone keep $1M in zero interest savinI recently set a goal for myself to be have a million dollars sitting in my savings accountgs? It's a combination of savings plus investment account. The real target is what's your liquidity? I do know that may not be your strong suit given your past history. ;)

If you're curious why I mentioned the savings account, I was answering the OP's second sentence:

"I recently set a goal for myself to be have a million dollars sitting in my savings account"

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Oct 10, 2017

If you're working for a company, then having $1M in your savings is likely not going to happen unless you work for a hedge fund and get paid out some ridiculous bonus.

Oct 11, 2017

Agreed, cash in savings account of $1M? Highly unlikely. But 401k + home equity + cash + investments, its doable for sure.

Oct 11, 2017

Who has a mid-age crisis at 30?

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Oct 12, 2017

This is stupid and nothing more than mental masturbation in your flight from adulthood. Money is relatively easy to accumulate without your absurd fantasy. Build the life you actually want to live.

Oct 26, 2017

This is the best post on this thread by far

Oct 16, 2017

go get laid Benji

You killed the Greece spread goes up, spread goes down, from Wall Street they all play like a freak, Goldman Sachs 'o beat.

Oct 16, 2017

Fuck all this trash about 401Ks and entrepreneurship. Unless you're going to start a Finance Startup with experience, don't try to start making t-shirts out of your garage with a secondhand silk printer for some bullshit website you dreamt of. I can name one hundred kids from high school that wanted to do that and only ONE did. That mofo drives a senata and still lives at home with mum and pa.

If you want to be rich, you need to OWN something. (Ever seen shameless on Netflix? Bitch flipped a retail investment and straight latteralled into MF!) but seriously. I own a bag of ETH and that shit will be worth 500K within the next 10 years and I won't even be 30 then. Start owning something with value and take a risk and throw 5K at a wall and if it sticks, it sticks.

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Oct 27, 2017

.

Aug 6, 2018

That last bit is funny in retrospect

"one for the money two for the better green 3 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine" - M.F. Doom

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Oct 16, 2017

@APAE nailed the thread. Here is my quick take

APAE nailed the thread. The comp numbers he outline are probably in line with somebody starting in the last 2 years. For people that did banking before the switch from 70k-85k this is what the trajectory kind of looked like. Disclaimer: I never did banking but have enough friends, headhunter references, etc etc to know this is what it would like for someone that started in 2009-2012.

A1: 10k signing, 70k base, 45k bonus
A2: 70k base, 70k bonus
PE 1: 125k base, 125k bonus (maybe a signing bonus)
PE 2: 125k base, 175k-200k bonus
HF 1: 150k base, 325k bonus (maybe a signing bonus)
HF 2: 150k base, 400k bonus
HF 3: 150k base, 450k bonus

Again, this is somebody that did top banking group - to MF PE - to a top HF. It is also assuming the HF is having decent performance. There are definitely less than 100 guys that do this each year in NYC. There are lots of other random paths to get these types of numbers but it is rare.

That's 2.4mm in pre-tax comp, with over 2/3rds of it coming in the last three years. It is just hard to accumulate a lot of savings in years 1 and 2 particularly if bonuses are used to pay down student loans. A 70k base in NYC works out to 4k/month after tax. $1500-$1800/month in rent, $200 utilities, plane tickets home for the holidays, bar tabs, occasional meals out, etc etc add up. If you are leading a pretty Spartan life style maybe you're saving 1k/month as an analyst off the base salary. Even at "lower" income brackets in NYC roughly 40% of the bonus goes to the tax man. The later years bonuses essentially have an effective tax rate of 50%.

Having roommates the first 2-3 years in NYC is great. You're not home enough to ever get annoyed by them, it helps save money, and it is a built-in support/social network. At 26-27 it gets tougher to justify. It is nice to have your own place if you are dating someone or have friends that like to visit. A decent 1br in the city is $4k. In Year 5 of the outline above that works out to rent being 10% of your annual pre-tax income. $4k for a 1br sounds egregious, but at 10% of income its not that bad. Saving 50%-70% of post-tax income in years 5/6/7 is definitely doable and allows for a nice apartment, travel, good restaurants, nice gifts for family etc.

All of this really means that you need an extra $200k-$400k in capital gains to get $1mm depending on lifestyle. In a 7 year bull market that has not been rocket science.

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Oct 16, 2017
Gray Fox:

@APAE nailed the thread. Here is my quick take

APAE nailed the thread. The comp numbers he outline are probably in line with somebody starting in the last 2 years. For people that did banking before the switch from 70k-85k this is what the trajectory kind of looked like. Disclaimer: I never did banking but have enough friends, headhunter references, etc etc to know this is what it would like for someone that started in 2009-2012.

A1: 10k signing, 70k base, 45k bonus
A2: 70k base, 70k bonus
PE 1: 125k base, 125k bonus (maybe a signing bonus)
PE 2: 125k base, 175k-200k bonus
HF 1: 150k base, 325k bonus (maybe a signing bonus)
HF 2: 150k base, 400k bonus
HF 3: 150k base, 450k bonus

Again, this is somebody that did top banking group - to MF PE - to a top HF. It is also assuming the HF is having decent performance. There are definitely less than 100 guys that do this each year in NYC. There are lots of other random paths to get these types of numbers but it is rare.

That's 2.4mm in pre-tax comp, with over 2/3rds of it coming in the last three years. It is just hard to accumulate a lot of savings in years 1 and 2 particularly if bonuses are used to pay down student loans. A 70k base in NYC works out to 4k/month after tax. $1500-$1800/month in rent, $200 utilities, plane tickets home for the holidays, bar tabs, occasional meals out, etc etc add up. If you are leading a pretty Spartan life style maybe you're saving 1k/month as an analyst off the base salary. Even at "lower" income brackets in NYC roughly 40% of the bonus goes to the tax man. The later years bonuses essentially have an effective tax rate of 50%.

Having roommates the first 2-3 years in NYC is great. You're not home enough to ever get annoyed by them, it helps save money, and it is a built-in support/social network. At 26-27 it gets tougher to justify. It is nice to have your own place if you are dating someone or have friends that like to visit. A decent 1br in the city is $4k. In Year 5 of the outline above that works out to rent being 10% of your annual pre-tax income. $4k for a 1br sounds egregious, but at 10% of income its not that bad. Saving 50%-70% of post-tax income in years 5/6/7 is definitely doable and allows for a nice apartment, travel, good restaurants, nice gifts for family etc.

All of this really means that you need an extra $200k-$400k in capital gains to get $1mm depending on lifestyle. In a 7 year bull market that has not been rocket science.

@Gray Fox Yeah, those numbers are accurate for that time period. I remember everyone who was currently an analyst on that pay scheme being mindblown (and angry, if we're being honest) seeing the analyst payscale ratchet up so dramatically (to the numbers in my post).

Literal insult to injury, slaving your first year on a $70 base and mentally holding on for a top bucket bonus, only to see kids you knew as insecure freshmen on campus accepting $85 base and getting $15 (or $25, depending on the firm) in sign-on bonus. Sure, you got ratcheted upward to the higher second-year base, but that didn't make it sting any less.

In my first post I used the latest market numbers I was aware of (finally starting to get to the point I don't know banking analysts firsthand; will always know what the MF PE guys are getting).

Also, love the second voice on lifestyle scaling upward. When I wrote out the line item increase for housing it was easy to predict the comments ("who on earth does that") from people who aren't on the really narrow but cushy trajectory of compounded best-placement-possible. Nice to see someone else pointing out the relative expense factor.

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Oct 20, 2017

The above expense talk is just false. My peers and I are on the GS/MS -> large cap -> ???
path and I know no one paying north of 3.5k rent with 11 datapoints across Apollo, HF, CB, a few top hedge funds and some other market paying large cap PE firms.

I think people above are falling prey to availability heuristic and folks around them are clearly blowing cash. If you skip MBA on this path you can save 1m post tax by 30 (or at least incl. the bonus you receive when you are 30). Also discussing expenses is pointless since it's a choice and you either generated more utility by 30 by virtue of living in a sick place or have utility capacity in the form of cash in the bank. But $1m of utility potential will be realized either way.

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Mar 8, 2019

As one of the former, and having been on the street for the better part of a decade, re-reading this hurt... I know friends who found it hard some of the kids they recruited as interns / analysts lapping them title and comp due to a combination of timing and circumstance. That's why it's a long game.

Oct 21, 2017

I think you are also missing a year in here which would help close that gap to 1mm. Also - not sure if you are matching today's rent dollar's with 2009-12 comp but should be good enough.

Intuition says this do-able if its a goal where you save a little more, skip a few of the Vegas / AC weekends, stay conservative on your rent and your 401k cooperates.

Oct 16, 2017

Totally doable in banking, Just live like you earn below the poverty line for your first decade out of UG and save literally every other cent.

The plus side is if you learn how to pick up women without spending a dime you will be unstoppable as a 30 y/o millionaire.

Oct 16, 2017

@APAE

Most of the millionaires I have worked for when I was younger, and personally know, all own or had owned their own businesses. They never worked for anyone else.

You'd be surprised at the earnings those small nail shops owners make, having no college degree. It is doable though.

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Oct 20, 2017

Some have mentioned that you need to live below poverty line to save a million.

I'm a first year M&A Analyst at an EB and I know for a fact you don't. My father, who immigrated from China, had that much saved up after spending around 9 years working at a Wall Street firm. Today he has just over $10M saved. His trick? It wasn't esoteric 20%+ IRR investments and he didn't live like a hobo. Rather he married young, splitting the rent / mortgage, and critically, lived like a back office worker...because he was in the back office, specifically in the technology division at a BB. Today he's an MD in the technology division of a different BB.

Rather than me growing up in Westchester or Greenwich, I grew up in Jersey. And not in a fancy north jersey town 30 minutes away from Manhattan, but rather one that was 1+ hour from the city, where a new construction home could be bought for $200K in the early 2000's. My family drove Hondas right until last year, when my parents bought their first luxury car, a Tesla, in cash, after years of my mom's pleading; dad still drives a 2002 Honda.

Still had a great childhood: private schools, elite private university (I don't even know what a student loan is or how to apply for one), tennis lessons, piano lessons etc. European vacations every year, albeit staying in cheap hotels, always flying economy class. I could go on about the lifestyle but I'll cut to the chase.

I come home from graduation (Dad's 49 at this point), and my dad says that we need to talk finances, estate, rent deposit for me etc. We had never done this. I had always believed we were upper middle class. He opens up his computer and goes to Vanguard. Total assets including 401K and IRA were sitting at 10.4M.

I was stunned, my mouth gaping having never before known that parents were millionaires several times over. I asked him when he had his first million. He replied 2001, just 12 years after he came to this country. He was 32 at the time.

But I see how he did it. He was making 300-700K from '99 through to today since he was an ED / MD and roughly from $150-$250K from '95 to '99 (inflation adjusted). My mom went from making 50K to 150K in the same time period, so for she could cover 60-70% of household expenses and dad could save his check.

Now granted this was in the nineties / early 2000's and investment returns and finance salaries overall were higher. But point is, live like folk in the back office. Move to Long Island city, Jersey, wherever cheap these days (but yea you can't do my dads shit commute with front office hours). Fuck the Hamptons and Vail; take cheap trips to the gulf coast and Vermont instead. Stop dating gold diggers and get married; not to some bum with a gallery "job" at Sotheby's but instead some ex-MBB chick in a corporate role or a Deloitte accountant or someone similar pulling $150-200K by the time she is age 28.

That way, you've got a million by 30, and you'll be ready to hand several more to your spendthrift posterity, who will burn way quicker than you ever made it.

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Oct 20, 2017

Great post! From my point of view, I see where your dad is coming from and I've certainly had my fair share of friends calling me frugal from time to time. Over the past few years I realized that saving up all this money for a rainy day is important, but it's best to enjoy it while you still can. That's not to say that spending $500 on a bottle at a club is justified, but things like 5 star hotels (when bought right!) cost maybe $100-200$ more per night than a cheaper 3-star one, but make me a lot happier. Driving a rusty honda (in which you spend 10-15% of your entire day) may save you a few thousand per year, but the awesome feeling you get when driving a luxury car (CPO, mid-tier) is priceless and makes your drive more pleasant.

I guess this is also why I haven't saved up anywhere as much in the past 4 years as I had in the first 5 out of undergrad and I'm ok with it. If you are confident in your career path and know that just like a good cash-flow business you will earn more money in your career, it's ok to splurge a bit.

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Oct 23, 2017

Yes, was just going to point out a banker in Houston/ Dallas/ Charlotte/ Atlanta following the career path @APAE outlined can definitely save $1 million by 30. Your post on Jersey outlines this, of course Houston/ Dallas is much cheaper than Jersey.

Oct 23, 2017

Which MFs / top HFs are based in Houston/Dallas/Charlotte/Atlanta...?

Oct 21, 2017

How much has everyone saved up?

Oct 23, 2017

not enough brother, not enough.

Oct 21, 2017

Fun to read - why would you ever keep $1m at the bank blows my mind. To each his own. $1m in asset by 30 was doable for my generation, and that's the analyst during Lehman generation. The one that survived generally could have saved that.

Someone mentioned internet business etc... Yea, ok. So fucking easy to make 700K of ARR a year. I won't go into this.

Lifestyle is what it comes down to and who you marry, oh, and buy your house/condo. Even if that means living in a shit part of Brooklyn.

Oct 21, 2017

I had started investing hardcore towards the end of high school and through the early bachelor years. Thought for sure I'd be a millionaire by 30. Did very well investing, especially since I was throwing all my money into the market at the bottom of the cycle. Not 30 yet but I won't be anywhere near a millionaire. Student loans (mostly for the master's) and studying abroad threw me off track pretty bad. Fack.

Oct 22, 2017

You sound like you are much younger than 30, you still have quite a bit of time there cowboy.

Oct 23, 2017

I would echo APAE's sentiments. The quick answer is that you should build your own business from day 1 if you are driven solely by money. It never gets easier, and the more lifestyle expenses you accumulate the more difficult it will be to leave a well paying job - not to mention pressure from friends and family to maintain your "status." There is tremendous money in OWNING simple businesses, whereas, the highly lauded banking / PE track is a LOTTERY ticket. I'm assuming that you are smart, hard working, go to a great school, ambitious, etc. So is everyone else that is working towards your same goals. You need a tremendous amount of luck and correct timing to get a direct promote to VP after associate in PE, and still more luck to get the perfect spot after a stint at HBS. In most cases you're competing against three or four other competitive candidates for that spot. I'm surprised more people don't comment on the businesses (and founder's backgrounds) that private equity firms invest in. I've seen many $300MM dollar business that are painfully simple (rental businesses, delivery businesses, cleaning businesses). If you want the (short term) envy of your friends and the approval of your parents go IB/PE, if you want the REAL money and the freedom, you need to OWN whatever you do.

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Oct 25, 2017

I've heard the average age of an entrepreneur is 28-34.

Oct 28, 2017

I would caution against thinking of things in terms of age - and certainly never averages. I would suggest looking to history for a better perspective on what you can accomplish at a young age. Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were independent and successful at fifteen. Andrew Carnegie and Thomas Edison were twelve when they struck out to build their fortunes. If this forum was around in their day, there would be a bunch of eager young men, not yet teenagers, looking to find the quickest way to get an offer at one of the high-tech companies of the day, working with the telegraph. Ever heard of David Faragut? America's first Admiral was a midshipmen at nine, and commanded an enemy ship (with captive hostile crew below) at age twelve.

Oct 25, 2017

I made it half way before i lost interesting. Now i remember why i stopped posting here. You are all so caught up in the minutia and cant just ballpark it.

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

Oct 25, 2017

Miscer's 3.5k-4.0k rent numbers (as a top, for associates/senior associates) are consistent with my MF friends as well. The question was "Can I be a millionaire by 30?" and the leading answer currently assumes an average rent in your 20's of 8.5k/month? I think this is an overestimate by far. Of course, there are certain individuals who will do that but that's definitely far from the norm, even among this peer set.

The answer to this question should be yes, you can be a millionaire by 30 if your salary is anywhere close to the numbers in this thread. My back-of-the-envelope says you need to save, on average, ~$90K a year to get to $1M in real (2017) dollars by 30. If people have no desire to do so, great - to each their own - but it's blowing my mind that people are acting like you need to live like a pauper to do so. There's a very large middle-ground that shouldn't be ignored.

Can you be a millionaire by 30? Easily.
Will you? Up to you.

Oct 28, 2017

Could you please elaborate how exactly your life would change with $1m at 30 compared to $800k at 30 or $1m at 31?

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Oct 28, 2017

A million by 30 ? LOL you noobs need to think bigger. I know someone who did $30 million by 30. Unfortunately he's sentenced to jail for life now.

Look up Ross Ulbricht. This guy made more money by 30 than 99.99% of the people in their life can dream of seeing.

D.I.

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Nov 21, 2017

lmaooo

Nov 1, 2017

draftkings

Nov 14, 2017
Comment
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Nov 17, 2017