Yes, you can turn $3,000 into $50 million dollars. What's the catch? It takes a long time. So, unfortunately, you won't be around to spend it. But this is a great way to think about setting up your kids or grandkids for long-term financial success.
It's really simple math that relies on compound interest to generate significant growth over many years. The basics:
- Invest $3k into a Small Cap Value Index Fund when your child is born.
- Assume 12% growth of that fund (which is the historical average for the last 100 years for SCV funds)
- As your child has earned income, slowly transfer the account balance to her Roth IRA to grow tax-free forever.
- At age 65, your child now has a balance of $4.75m.
- She starts taking out 5% / year from the account and it continues to grow at 12% / year.
- When she dies at age 95, over the last 30 years she has taken out and spent roughly $20m (5% / year) and the balance is $30m = $50m
Ok, does that seem far-fetched? Well, it could have easily happened over the last 95 years (if there had been a small-cap value index fund in 1926!
There are a number of ways to think about this for your own life:
- Invest some amount, whatever you can afford, for your child or grandchild. Let it ride for a long, long time.
- This could be for their retirement, or for a home down-payment or something else.
- Think about setting aside a small amount each month for something "down the road" for your kids, or grandkids.
- Invest in a single stock when a child is born for their high school or college graduation gift (whatever it grows to!)
The point is the earlier you can invest, the more compounding kicks in. The longer the child can stay invested, the more compounding works for them.
Mike: [00:00:00] Welcome to financial planning for entrepreneurs and tech professionals. I'm your host, Mike Morton, charter financial counselor and financial advisor. And today with me is Julie. Julie. Welcome back to the show.
Julie: [00:00:15] thanks so much. It's one of my favorite places to be now.
Mike: [00:00:18] That's great. Thanks for saying that. I have a question for you, Julie. Would you like to turn $3,000 into $50 million?
Julie: [00:00:34] What kind of question is that.
Mike: [00:00:35] It, so I've got good news and bad news for you, Julie. The good news is today on today's podcast. I am going to explain to you exactly how you can turn $3,000 into $50 million. And I can't say it's guaranteed, or I can't say anything is guaranteed, but it's a pretty foolproof method. Let's say that. All right.
That's the good news.
Julie: [00:00:57] No lottery tickets involved.
Mike: [00:00:59] No lottery tickets involved. Like I said, fair, not guaranteed, but fairly full-proof all right, but there's some bad news. That the 50 million it's going to take some time. And it's going to take some time that you might not be around to end up spending it. So this where's the fun of that. So this is going to be more for a child or a grandchild that we can turn $3,000 into $50 million for that child.
Julie: [00:01:30] Well, here's the real question, Mike, will that $50 million be more like $3,000 for that grandchild?
Mike: [00:01:36] good question. That's a good quote. We are definitely going to tackle that as well, because yeah, when you start throwing these numbers around, especially with time and the longevity of time, that's the perfect comeback question. Is it really $50 million? Come on. I remember buying a pack of gum for like 5 cents, Mike, and now it's three bucks.
Right. Okay. Good question. This is one of my favorite topics. . I've been following this topic for quite a few years by good friend, Paul Merriman. I will link to his articles and podcasts in the show notes. He has fantastic content and I love this article $3,000 into 50 million. All right. So we're going to go through that today for our listeners, how that works and there'll be some questions along the way, of course, but let's just dive into it.
All right. This relies on time and compounding. Might've already figured that out. And Einstein says compounding is one of the wonders of the world and I couldn't agree more. It's one of the things that our mind is very challenged to wrap itself around. Okay. I just mentioned that the pack of gum, it was literally 5 cents.
When I was growing up, I'd go to the corner store and get, five or 10 pieces for, less than a quarter. And now it's a couple of dollars I have to give my, I have to might get a couple of dollars to get like a bag of gum. So these things that are slow, it's like the frog boiling in the water so slow that you don't even realize it until
20 years later. Okay. So it does rely on compounding and we're going to get into the numbers, how this works. All right. You ready to go? Julie? All right. Let's give her a hypothetical child or grandchild named Brandon. When Brandon is born, we're going to take $3,000. . And invest it on Brandon's behalf.
So we're going to put it a hundred percent into the stock market. Now we're going to use a small cap value fund. All right. And that means it's invested in a diversified portfolio of small companies, more on the value side, not going to get into value and growth, but the point is historically when we look at small cap value over the last hundred years, researchers and academics love to look back in time and slice and dice the market because we all want to know how to beat the market.
And so they do tons of research on companies and past performance. And so small cap value stocks, which you can own thousands of them. So it's not just investing in a couple of companies that has one of the highest returns historically over 12% a year.
Julie: [00:04:00] Wow.
Mike: [00:04:01] Exactly. Now when I say 12% a year and be like, Oh, I want to get that.
Of course you do. I do too. It comes with a lot of volatility. You could invest in that today and it might go down and you will not be breakeven for 10 years. That could happen. And then it goes on a tear at 25% a year for another decade. Okay. So it does go up and down a lot. But when you look at the last hundred years of history, the average is 12% a year.
All right. So Brandon is just born put in $3,000. We're hoping to get 12% a year of interest of growth, both interest dividends, reinvest in it and growth. . So we're going to let that ride for many years.
Julie: [00:04:40] Now is this fund in his name?
Mike: [00:04:42] Okay. All right. Let's get into the technicals. So first I would say it could be.
For sure you could use an account UGMA or UTMA these are for minors. So you could do that. I would say in this case, just keep it in your own name, keep it simple. In your brokerage account, just take $3000 bucks, put it in this fund. Boom. You could just do that and then just not even think about it for five, 10 years.
No problem. Just let it sit there. That works fine too. Now, when Brandon gets old enough that he starts having earned income. . He's teenager now mowing the lawns or getting the job and making pizzas down at the general store. Then he's got earned income. As soon as you have earned income, you can open up a Roth IRA and you can put that up to a hundred percent of that earned income up to a hundred percent or $6,000
whichever is less into that Roth IRA. Now you think Brandon's going to take his lawn mowing money and put it into a Roth IRA?
Julie: [00:05:38] No, he's going to spend it on video games and pizza that he makes.
Mike: [00:05:42] That's exactly right. So what we're going to do is we're going to put that in there for him. All right. So we're going to give it to him and say to the IRS, Oh, Brandon put in his $1,500 into the Roth IRA and I just gave him $1,500 to spend. Okay. And you could do that. You just looked at the gifting rules.
By the time he's 15, it was 15 years from now. So the rules will change, but right now you can give $15,000 a year to anybody tax-free under the gifting tax laws. And so he can put that money into Roth IRA. So over time, say teenage years through the twenties, we're going to take whatever that fund is now grown to and slowly shifted into his Roth IRA.
All right. So that's technically the best way. That we have today, laws might change of doing this because now we had that money growing tax-free
Julie: [00:06:31] And now the Roth is in his name.
Mike: [00:06:33] yes, the Roth is that's correct. Yeah. Individual retirement account. It's his account in his name. He puts in the 1500. He earned you reimburse him 1500, so he can spend it on video games and pizza.
. And you do that each year until this whole fund, is now in his Roth IRA. So that's technically how it's going to work, but the math works out basically the same. All right. So that's a great question. So now we got 12% a year. I'm going to spare you the details of the math, of course, but 12% a year over 65 years.
So now Brandon's gone through his whole career. All right. And it's 65 years later and that $3,000 has grown to $4.75 million.
Julie: [00:07:15] All right. That's not $50 million.
Mike: [00:07:19] I did come on, Julie it's pretty exciting for almost $5 million from $3000. It's pretty good. All right. All right. Fair enough. I promise you 50. Okay. But Brandon is pretty excited. He's thanking,
He's thanking his late great Julie from 65 years later for this four, four and three quarter million dollars that is now in his Roth IRA that has grown tax-free and it's tax-free forever.
And it's great, but I promised them 50 million. So let's see how we're going to get there. He starts taking out at age 65. 5% of the value of the portfolio to spend on fun stuff for his family. Okay. And so then the first year he takes out 5% of that almost 5 million. So it's about $237,000 that he gets to take out of the account.
Now, the account is still growing at 12%. We're just assuming that straight line 12%, again, we know that some years will be down. Some years will be up. It takes out 5%, $237,000. It continues to grow. At age 70, he still takes out 5% a year. So that $237,000 has grown to $323,000. So at age 70, he takes out over 300,000 and it's still continues to grow at that point.
It's six and a half million dollars. That's just five years later, the compounding really starts kicking in down the road. Okay. So he keeps going until age 95 until his peaceful death at age 95. At that point, he's taken out 5% a year, which is total about $21 million he's taken out and spent. And the account balance is $30 million that he's leaving to his heirs.
So that's $50 million.
Julie: [00:09:03] 50 million. Alright.
Mike: [00:09:04] Yeah. Now
Julie: [00:09:06] we're talking generations
Mike: [00:09:08] were talking. Absolutely. So that is the caveat to this whole conversation, of course. All right. So we understand that's we're putting this into the future and it takes a long time to grow. And the other thing I want you to recognize from just hearing some of those numbers, the $3000 grows very slowly for the first 20 years.
First 40 years slowly chugging along. But notice from age 65, it had grown to 5 million and he starts taking money out and it grows over from 65 to 95. Those 30 years, it grows to over 30 million, even with money, even with taking out and spending 20 million. So compounding kicks in significantly down the road.
If you can stick with it for the longterm.
Julie: [00:09:50] So this is a good I think a lot of people can relate to the nefarious side of compounding. Because back when I started college, the MasterCard and Visa, or all over the campuses, giving kids credit cards and the interest rates were 22 something percent. And of course the kids had no idea what that meant and the compounding interest, all of a sudden that.
$50 pair of shoes that you bought a year later has now cost you $400 or something. Ridiculous. And so when you think about it, this is the flip side to that.
Mike: [00:10:21] Yes, absolutely. And that's exactly right. That's why people end up in credit card debt. You like, Oh, how did that happen? It doesn't take much,
Julie: [00:10:29] at all. Yeah.
Mike: [00:10:30] those percentages are so high that you can't get out from under it now.
Julie: [00:10:34] But that also means flip it and you can get ahead with it.
Mike: [00:10:37] that's right. And this takes me back to Warren Buffett's one of, one of my favorites, quotes. He hates getting haircuts. He doesn't want to spend $10,000 on a haircut. That's $10,000. We talked about like 50 bucks. Oh. Because that 50 bucks in 30 years it'll be $10,000. And I don't really want to spend that on a haircut.
Julie: [00:10:56] And that's why he has so much money.
Mike: [00:10:58] There Where'd you go, man. All right. So this is easy to understand. Yeah. Hard to wrap your head around, but like sure, Mike, I understand. Look, if I put in $3000 bucks and in a hundred years time, 50 million. Sure. You good? Thank you. But, so a couple of good things, you could do this for a child or grandchild, and I just think it's amazing, if you're at a point that you could, put in $3,000 when they're born and just say, yeah, I can afford that.
Oh my gosh. Just stick it in one fund and you don't have to think about it for a couple of decades. But, that's all the other great news Oh, they were just born and you just do it. And then it's over there, done with, and we'll check in and 10 or 20 years, when we can start doing that Roth IRA stuff or however the laws, might be at that point.
All right. But let's talk about some of the things that might go wrong with this strategy. All right. First and foremost, 12%, Mike, really? So we talked a little bit about that. That is the history. That's the last hundred years. If you had done this, at certain points now certain points in US history, depending on when you started, you're going to get different returns and they could be pretty wildly different.
But when you zoom out to. 50, 60, 70 years they start averaging out. And so I don't have any other way of looking at it then history, right? We could say this time is different. We've talked about in the other podcast. Oh, maybe this time is different. Maybe, but I don't know what else to go on other than history.
And that's what the history shows and the good news is. You can get into this with very low costs these days. I It used to be buying stocks, you had to spend quite a bit, and there was no index fund. 50 years ago, you couldn't buy this fund, but now you can. And so this is a great strategy and I think 12%, I don't know if it's realistic or not.
I can only tell you that's what history shows.
Julie: [00:12:42] Now
just because this sounds great. Let's look at different numbers cause you're talking about $3,000 one time deal when they're born. So let's come up with another strategy that might be more beneficial in the shorter term.
Mike: [00:12:55] Yeah. So what if you can't afford that? I don't really have 3000 sitting around, right now. So let's throw out some other numbers the same way that you could get there. So you could get to the same situation with $365 dollar a day, $365 a year. For the first 60 years, 60 odd years.
All right. It's not going to matter too much at the end because you're adding so little, the portfolio would have compounded, but $365 a year for the first 60 odd years of Brandon's life would get you in the same boat. . Now the couple of things I noticed that right away is that's a long time.
365 is a lot less, one 10th. But I'm doing it for 60 odd years, rather than just like one time. So that's where you can really start noticing the compound effect. If you can get it in earlier, it's that much less money you need upfront two other scenarios. Just to drive home, the point of compounding, I don't have that much money.
I can't do that today. If you don't start until Brandon is 21, you have to add $3,600 a year until he's 64. So for 40 years, $3,600 a year. So instead of a one-time 3000, , if you wait 20 years, you got to do all over 3000 a year for the next 40 years. . And if you wait even a few more years, it turns into $5,500 a year.
Julie: [00:14:17] my gosh, she goes quick.
Mike: [00:14:19] It goes quick. So again, that first 20 years doesn't seem like it won't have grown though at 3000. Ah, it won't see seem super significant by the time he's 20 and be like, Oh, it's great. It's fantastic. It's not super significant. However, it that's when it's just starting to get going, that's when it's really starting to get going and start doubling and taking off from there.
Julie: [00:14:41] So I have a question for you. Then I have a four year old, I also have a nine-year-old and a 12 twelve-year-old
Mike: [00:14:47] We'll we'll ignore them for now. Let's focus on the four year old,
Julie: [00:14:50] focus on the little one, right? Because, so we've started 529 for the kids, and we're obviously putting more into the twelve-year-olds fund because his college is coming up sooner. Would it make more sense instead of setting up this 529 for the four year old say we're putting in, I don't know, two or $3,000 a year for the little one. Cause he has more time instead of a 529, should I be doing this strategy here and putting it into an SVC or no, because it's shorter term.
I guess if I'm looking at, between 18, 17, 14 years, I guess,
Mike: [00:15:23] Right to complete different things. Even though I know from your perspective, it's still a couple of thousand dollars a year and it's for your child. So you're like, Oh, should I do A or B, but remember A or B are completely different uses. So one is a 529 is for college expensive college expenses that you expect to pay for.
So you're setting yourself up. And saying I'm going to cover some of his college costs. I better start saving now so that I don't have massive bills. When I do have those massive bills, at least I have some money set aside. Whereas the strategy we're talking about today is really for your child when they're in retirement, giving them money. And so do you see the difference, even though you're still saving now, one is for yourself. To help cover that goal that you really value. And the other is simply to give money, to your child now, the other way. And I do this personally, where I've been putting in some money for my kids, both for some college, for myself, and also a small fund that I'll eventually give to them.
And it can be for different uses. It could be for retirement. So we're talking today, how do you turn it into $50 million, which is fantastic, but it could also just help them out with them after college costs. Maybe the down payment for a first home, you know, things like that. You can start early and say, Oh, my child is just born or they're four years old.
Now I can put in a few hundred bucks a year, not going to really miss it potentially. And so maybe you can put in a couple of hundred bucks, let it ride for a little while. And then when they're 25 35, got a little pile of money, that's going to really help them out.
Julie: [00:16:59] Now that 12%, I know we talked about how it can go up or down, but when you're looking at a 529, what are the average yields on that?
Mike: [00:17:08] so it'd be much less than that because you want to have that money available. So when your child's born and you put it in a 529, if you use an age based. Portfolio, which a lot of the five to nines use, it will be fairly aggressive. It'll be almost a hundred percent in the stock market because they're zero years old and you're going to use this money in 20 years.
It's like a target date fund, which we talked about last time. It automatically shifts when they're five years old and 10 years old and 13 years old, it's automatically shifting the portfolio to have more bonds, which will give you less return overall. But will mean that by the time they're 18, 19, and going to college, that the money is there, and won't drop by 40%
all of a sudden you're expected to have a hundred thousand and now it just turned into 70,000. That won't happen because there'll be invested more in fixed income, cash and bonds at that point. So your return will be less over those 20 years, then it will be in this strategy.
Julie: [00:18:05] Okay. Yeah, I just, it brings up a lot of questions because so many of us have younger kids and we think, when you look at compounding interests, now I'm thinking it seems like a, give my kid a lot more money with this strategy versus, another one and I'd love to be able to give it to them before I'm dead.
Cause by the time my last one retires I'm not going to say how old I'll be, but I won't be here. I can tell you that.
Mike: [00:18:29] so this and this strategy, let's talk about it a little bit. You will be giving them the money. We talked about that right up front. Where does this money actually sit? When they're born, I recommend just put it in your own portfolio somewhere in brokerage account. But as they have that earned income, let's get it into the Roth IRA.
So that is their money and you need to start having conversations with them. Hey, this is $1,500. Hey, there's $2,500, from your end in earned income, we're putting in a Roth IRA. What's this Roth IRA. You have lots of great conversations with that teenager, around this is what the money is and why it's here.
And it's about investing and growing. Let's talk about some of the other downsides, right? We said, where are you really going to get 12%? The other thing is that Brandon has to stick with this strategy, staying invested for the longterm, not start to rebalance. Not bring in those bonds, even in retirement with this portion.
Okay. Of what they've been given in their portfolio. If you want that 12%, you have to be, committed to a hundred percent in the stock market. It's going to go through its ups and downs, which is different than a general retirement. Portfolio, I'm not going to recommend being a hundred percent invested in the stock market necessarily.
But for this, that's what this strategy is all about. It's the supplement, obviously Brandon hopefully is working and saving and investing in his own 401k and doing all those smart things as well.
Julie: [00:19:43] Now, what do you tell them? Is there a downside to just not saying or, does he have to claim the income or how does that work later
Mike: [00:19:52] You'd have to have all those conversations. Yeah. I would have all those conversations through teenage years and twenties reinforcing. Smart, good habits. This is a great opportunity to say, to show them the math, right? Make it a math problem. Show, say, this is, guess what? This is tax-free you don't have to pay that 20% in taxes every year or whatever it is.
So going through the math, going through investing, going through the gifting, Hey, this is for you because we really care about you. All those kinds of conversations is just a great opportunity for education and support of a child.
Julie: [00:20:26] And now, but okay. Just of course my children are spectacular. This would never happen to us, but other people's kids, sometimes they go down a wrong path. Maybe you don't want them to get access to that money. Is it? Once they turn 18, once they turned is there a. Time at which all that money becomes theirs and they can do whatever they want with it.
Mike: [00:20:44] Yes in the Roth IRA, all the money is theirs and they can basically do whatever they want with it. Under current Roth IRA rules. So that is definitely a concern and there are other ways of doing this. Like I said, you could use different account types for minors, different trusts when they get older that have, you can literally do it any way you want, Hey, they get the money when they're 30, they get it
when they're 45, as long as they're drug and alcohol free, you can put in all kinds of rules, the downside of that is you're going to be paying taxes. All right, is not an a tax-free account. And so the income and growth will be taxed whatever the laws are then, but that is a different kind of account type.
But again, there's pros and cons. Maybe that's a better way of going it's safeguarding the money. So it won't be squandered, in ways that you don't think are appropriate. And you're the one ultimately giving this money to a child or grandchild.
Julie: [00:21:36] Yeah, no, it's a really, this is a great topic because it joked about the lottery ticket, but this is sort of, win-win lottery ticket, you know that you're still, there's still a gamble. But it's, it's not a, If you come out on top, no matter what.
Mike: [00:21:49] Yeah. And that's why I started this whole thing. This is not guaranteed of course, but. The math is fairly full-proof of course we don't 12%, maybe it's 10, maybe, we don't know, but it does compound and grow as long as capitalism prevails and people still want to spend money on products and services, then these companies will continue to make money.
Now you had mentioned at the start to inflation. So let me just mention that briefly. All right. Historically we've had about 3% inflation. So I mentioned yes. Yeah. When you look historically over the longterm, it averages out to about 3%. Now that's wildly all over the place. Right now we're less than 2% and it's been like that for a long time.
We really haven't seen goods and services go up significantly. In the seventies, it was 10, 12, 17%. And we could have a whole conversation around bonds. Man we're Mike, we're not getting any interest on our US treasury bonds. It's half a percent, 1%. Yes. I know that. But inflation is low.
Did you know in the seventies? Yeah, you were getting 10%, but at 15% inflation, you're actually losing money. Okay. So it's all about being, in context, with these things. So what about 3% inflation, which is the historical average by the time Brandon reaches 65, I told you his account balance would be almost 5 million. . If you adjusted for inflation to think about in today's dollars, what does that really mean?
He'd have almost $700,000. So your $3,000 turns into $700,000. By the time he's 65 in real purchasing power. And that's pretty awesome. And in real dollars of the, I said 50 million with all that spend and taken out money and spending and the account balance at the end, the $3,000 turns into $3.6 million in todays
Julie: [00:23:36] today's dollars. Yeah. Which is, it's nice to think about that. Again. We talk about the flip side, when you take a mortgage out on a house and you paid $400,000 for your house 30 years from now, you've actually paid. I don't want even want to know
Mike: [00:23:50] Right.
Julie: [00:23:52] a lot more than that.
So this is a nice way to feel like you're winning on one end of that spectrum.
Mike: [00:23:59] Yup. Exactly. With that compounding, it's still tremendous growth and tremendous, who wouldn't want a few million dollars right. In the retirement portfolio.
It goes without saying, but this strategy you can tailor it as we've talked about into what makes sense for you, oh my kid's already 10. Okay. No problem.. I got help when I first put my down payment on a first home and I want to do that for my child. Fantastic. Great. If you do a little bit now, Then it means you won't have to do a big chunk later, so you can all be tailored to your unique situation, but I love putting this out there and getting people thinking about it because. I love the idea, especially when it comes to say grandchildren. So maybe well down the road for us, Julie, but just already thinking about this strategy. Oh, maybe I could afford, 3000 by then, there'll be like 30,000 Julie we'll have to put in like 30,000 inflation,
Julie: [00:24:51] save a hundred thousand of that for that pack of gum, we're going to buy them.
Mike: [00:24:54] That's exactly right. That's exactly right. All right. So what do you think, Julie you're going to do something like this.
Julie: [00:24:59] I think I am.
I mean, why not? You can't lose and it feels good to make some money on compounding interest versus losing it with all the other things we use it for, or it's used against us for, I should say.
Mike: [00:25:11] I love it. There's a on that note. Yeah. I shouldn't think about this, but there's a few places you can put this into practice. I told you, you could just take, a few hundred dollars and in your brokerage account, just buy a fund and just know like, Oh, I own this one. It's for you know, so-and-so, you can also do this.
I've done this personally at a place called M1 Finance. So you can look that up and they allow you to invest money automatically in a portfolio. That you can design and it automatically rebalances. So I have an automatic transfer of X dollars per month, maybe $50, $100 a month that you can take from your savings account into my M1 Finance brokerage account.
And it automatically gets invested into that small cap value fund or actually have three or four, 25% of this 50% of this little portfolio and it automatically is invested. So that's a great resource as well for putting this into action.
Julie: [00:26:01] cool. That would work for a child too. Yeah.
Mike: [00:26:04] yes. Now the same thing, like right now, that accounts in my name. . Now you could do it again. If you wanted to give the money to the child and you could do something like that as well. I just made it very easy for myself to get started and say, Oh, I'll just keep it in my name, knowing, you know what it's for?
Maybe it's for one kid, I do it for multiple kids, just in one account, all the money's there it's for all the kids. I'll figure out how to split it up later on, but just for now, just to get started.
Julie: [00:26:28] Cool.
Mike: [00:26:30] Well, Fantastic. Any other questions on this topic? I think we did pretty good. Done.
Julie: [00:26:33] I think so too. I was, that was a great topic and I love it.
Mike: [00:26:37] All right. Super well, if you have any questions, of course always feel free to reach out. Julie, great to have you as always. And we'll see you next time.
Julie: [00:26:45] Thanks so much.
Mike: [00:26:46] Thanks for joining us on financial planning for entrepreneurs. If you like, what you heard, please subscribe to and rate the podcast on Apple iTunes, Google play Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can connect with me on linkedin or mortonfinancialadvice.com. I'd love to get your feedback. If you have a comment or question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time thanks for tuning in