For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

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FI4LIFE
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For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by FI4LIFE » Fri May 31, 2019 10:00 am

I chose a career where I knew I'd never make millions. It is stable with good benefits and higher than average pay. Sometimes I dream of chasing the big bucks and wonder what specific skills have lead to people earning ultra-high incomes. If you earn over $500k/year, what's your story?

cal91
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by cal91 » Fri May 31, 2019 10:03 am

I'd like to hear too... even if only over $200k.

I'm a structural engineer making $90k + benefits. Sounds decent but factor in 4 kids + wife, single income, and living in California it's lean living. Always thought in high school and college I wouldn't have to live this lean having my PE stamp. Even considering starting off on my own.

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LiveSimple
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by LiveSimple » Fri May 31, 2019 10:08 am

$200+ K is possible, if you are technology, either sales, consulting or premium coder, etc.

Physician is a known path... entrepreneurship is another path

Interested to know how to make $300 K in technology, apart from the bay area jobs... :D

rai
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by rai » Fri May 31, 2019 10:10 am

Two physicians couple fairly common.

Unusual for one physician to make $500K+
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" - John Lennon. | | "You say that money, isn't everything | But I'd like to see you live without it." - Silverchair

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Wellfleet » Fri May 31, 2019 10:15 am

Tough to do on one salary. How about technical sales? Selling those manufactured bridge components must be lucrative?

What I've seen in my limited experience:

1. Tech worker + tech worker.
2. Tech worker + civil engineer
3. Nurse + engineer
4. Teacher + tech worker
5. Police officer + engineer
6. Sales
7. MD + tech worker
8. Finance

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by corn18 » Fri May 31, 2019 10:20 am

Retired military fighter/test pilot ($100k). Transitioned to business development starting at the director level of $200M division ($150k). Moved up to VP of BD at the billion dollar level ($400k) then president of a division ($600k total comp). At the president level, comp is 1/3 salary, 1/3 bonus and 1/3 RSU's.
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stan1
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by stan1 » Fri May 31, 2019 10:22 am

Individual or household?

Here's several paths:
1. Went to professional school and chose a high paying specialty
2. Married someone who also went to professional school

OR
1. Got advanced technical degree
2. Working at FAANG or near peer, high frequency trading, etc. (skills in very high demand). Not everyone working at a tech company makes ultra high salaries. There are plenty of QA, test and sales staff who DO NOT make over $200K.
3. Married someone who did same (or close)

OR
1. Got elite MBA
2. Wall Street finance

OR
1. Worked way up in corporate America to top of Fortune 500 C level executive suite. Usually this takes 20+ years but I do know someone who got in on the ground floor in his 20s and became the CFO in his early 30s.

OR
1. Entrepreneur running your own business.

OR
1. More than one of the above
Last edited by stan1 on Fri May 31, 2019 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

supergrover2.0
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by supergrover2.0 » Fri May 31, 2019 10:22 am

It's possible as an attorney in a big law firm, once you've worked there for 8+ years (especially if you are a partner). First year lawyers start out at $190K plus a $15K bonus, and salary/bonus go up substantially every year.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by alpha88 » Fri May 31, 2019 10:23 am

Surgeon

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FlyAF
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by FlyAF » Fri May 31, 2019 10:27 am

My spouse makes that as a VP at a Mega Corp. Started as a level 1 engineer out of college and busted a$$ all the way up. Next promotion to a C-suite role is in discussions. You have to have the personality for that sort of thing which I most certainly do not have, but spouse has it in spades. Spouse never really set out to do this, but early on was getting promoted much faster than peers so we could see the writing on the walls.

The money is awesome and has allowed us to become FI pretty early on in life, but we both still work. Nothing about it has been glamorous outside of what money brings.
In our early 30's when everyone was having kids, we decided that would throw a wrench into the upward mobility. So no kids (I didn't really want them anyways) and the superstar peers that had them, their careers were never able to keep pace with my spouse's.
Spouse works 60 hours a week, 7 days a week, including while on vacations, and that would be considered a pretty light week.
Spouse travels 75+% of the time, we're rarely in the same state together, often not in the same country or time zone. We have averaged about 24-48 hours a week together (including sleep) over the last decade.

There's no magic bullet. IMO, having watched from the sidelines, it boils down to extremely hard work, flexibility, personality, and having good leadership. Spouse's mega corp is the best run company I've ever seen and remains wicked innovative. Spouse has had amazing mentors that picked up on the talent and really nurtured it. The company has invested heavily in my spouse over the years and you don't see that too often.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by groovy9 » Fri May 31, 2019 10:34 am

FI4LIFE wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:00 am
Sometimes I dream of chasing the big bucks
There's a mountain of evidence that earning more money beyond having your needs comfortably covered (think $60k to $100k range for a family of 4 in most areas of the US) doesn't make people happier.

I've been in the $120k to $150k range (with at least that much again piling up in company value every year) in a reasonable cost of living area for the past few years and it really hasn't been much difference in the day-to-day vs the ~$75k range before. Bigger house, but bigger hassle to maintain (we're about to downsize again). Shouldn't have any trouble paying for the kids' college, that's really the biggest boon. But I also have the stress of running a business, worrying about the 50 "what-ifs" that could sink it and working to defend against them, etc.

Much like with investing, it's hard to find a free lunch when it comes to income (unless your company literally offers free lunches). I preach "do what you enjoy and don't sweat the money" to the kiddos.
Last edited by groovy9 on Fri May 31, 2019 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by FlyAF » Fri May 31, 2019 10:38 am

groovy9 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:34 am
FI4LIFE wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:00 am
Sometimes I dream of chasing the big bucks
There's a mountain of evidence that earning more money beyond having your needs comfortably covered (think $60k to $100k range for a family of 4 in most areas of the US) doesn't make people happier.

I've been in the $120k to $150k range in a reasonable cost of living area for the past few years and it really hasn't been much difference in the day-to-day vs the ~$75k range before. Bigger house, but bigger hassle to maintain (we're about to downsize again). Shouldn't have any trouble paying for the kids' college, that's really the biggest boon. But I also have the stress of running a business, worrying about the 50 "what-ifs" that could sink it and working to defend against them, etc.

Much like with investing, it's hard to find a free lunch when it comes to income. I preach "do what you enjoy and don't sweat the money" to the kiddos.
No offense, but there is a pretty big delta between 150k and 500k. While I'm not any happier per say, I don't really have to think about money ever again and that certainly has reduced stress in many many areas of our life.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by smitcat » Fri May 31, 2019 10:39 am

Your own business.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Stinky » Fri May 31, 2019 10:40 am

FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:27 am

Spouse works 60 hours a week, 7 days a week, including while on vacations, and that would be considered a pretty light week.

Spouse travels 75+% of the time, we're rarely in the same state together, often not in the same country or time zone. We have averaged about 24-48 hours a week together (including sleep) over the last decade.
Congratulations to you and your spouse for making this work.

I expect that the majority of folks on this Board wouldn’t be willing to make the sacrifices that you and spouse have made .....
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by groovy9 » Fri May 31, 2019 10:46 am

FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:38 am
No offense, but there is a pretty big delta between 150k and 500k. While I'm not any happier per say, I don't really have to think about money ever again and that certainly has reduced stress in many many areas of our life.
I was in the process of editing to include the company equity that's sitting there over and above the take-home pay I mentioned. If I were to cash out (which I might very soon), I'll have netted out around $300k/yr after taxes over the past 10 years.

The windfall from selling will be neat, but I'm still not convinced it was all worth it. If I could go back in time... I might choose to stick with the ~$100k/yr IT career I had before.
Last edited by groovy9 on Fri May 31, 2019 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by bampf » Fri May 31, 2019 10:48 am

Stinky wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:40 am
FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:27 am

Spouse works 60 hours a week, 7 days a week, including while on vacations, and that would be considered a pretty light week.

Spouse travels 75+% of the time, we're rarely in the same state together, often not in the same country or time zone. We have averaged about 24-48 hours a week together (including sleep) over the last decade.
Congratulations to you and your spouse for making this work.

I expect that the majority of folks on this Board wouldn’t be willing to make the sacrifices that you and spouse have made .....
I am not even sure that is a good deal. You can make $500K without having to work those kinds of hours. If you do the math, that's like $150 an hour. Its possible to work far less and make that money ($250 to $300 an hour). This doesn't sound like a good deal to me. And what is the point in accumulating that kind of money so you can literally spend most of your waking hours toiling for someone else? No thank you!

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by H-Town » Fri May 31, 2019 10:51 am

FI4LIFE wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:00 am
I chose a career where I knew I'd never make millions. It is stable with good benefits and higher than average pay. Sometimes I dream of chasing the big bucks and wonder what specific skills have lead to people earning ultra-high incomes. If you earn over $500k/year, what's your story?
Are you asking based on the average U.S. cost of living? The pay differs from state to state. For example: San Francisco vs. St. Louis, New York vs. Florida. Same exact job, totally different pay.

A manager level in Big Four accounting firm can earn that level of income in San Francisco. But he or she might earn less than half of that in other cities.

This is a good exercise for your to think it through and do some research. I'd expect by the end, you'll find that happiness and quality of life trumps everything else. If you can learn to live below your means, you're already in a better shape than people who earn 200-500k but don't have that skill.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri May 31, 2019 10:51 am

FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:27 am
There's no magic bullet. IMO, having watched from the sidelines, it boils down to extremely hard work, flexibility, personality, and having good leadership.
I generally agree, although a few times my wife has had bad leaders.

I’ll add courage and the insistence on doing it right, even if there’s a lower friction path.

Giving credit where it’s due and enjoying a direct report’s recognition more than your own.

Hiring people that would intimidate a weaker leader and giving them leeway.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by FlyAF » Fri May 31, 2019 10:52 am

bampf wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:48 am
Stinky wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:40 am
FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:27 am

Spouse works 60 hours a week, 7 days a week, including while on vacations, and that would be considered a pretty light week.

Spouse travels 75+% of the time, we're rarely in the same state together, often not in the same country or time zone. We have averaged about 24-48 hours a week together (including sleep) over the last decade.
Congratulations to you and your spouse for making this work.

I expect that the majority of folks on this Board wouldn’t be willing to make the sacrifices that you and spouse have made .....
I am not even sure that is a good deal. You can make $500K without having to work those kinds of hours. If you do the math, that's like $150 an hour. Its possible to work far less and make that money ($250 to $300 an hour). This doesn't sound like a good deal to me. And what is the point in accumulating that kind of money so you can literally spend most of your waking hours toiling for someone else? No thank you!
Well I intentionally didn't specify the salary, but it is over 500k and not just by a dollar. The sacrifice has been huge, but we will ride off into the sunset at the ripe age of 45 and have the rest of our lives to do what we want.

It's definitely not for everyone.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Fri May 31, 2019 11:23 am

I'm at $325k as a software engineer in Colorado. It's entirely possible I could pass $500k in 5-7 years.

I never work more than 40 hours a week and don't work at all on weekends, evenings or when on vacation. When I go on vacation I delete my work email account from my phone.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by FlyAF » Fri May 31, 2019 11:25 am

HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:23 am
I'm at $325k as a software engineer in Colorado. It's entirely possible I could pass $500k in 5-7 years.

I never work more than 40 hours a week and don't work at all on weekends, evenings or when on vacation. When I go on vacation I delete my work email account from my phone.
Thread over, we have a winner.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Jayhawk11 » Fri May 31, 2019 11:29 am

Wife makes ~500k at a mega law firm (market bonuses move it around a bit). She did it by going to a top college and a top law school and working all the time. 100 hour weeks pretty regularly. She's a workaholic.

I followed the same path and bowed out before partnership and now make ~150k as a public servant (HHI of 650-700 depending on bonuses).

So, be really lucky to be born with the genetic intelligence in a country where such mobility is possible, be really lucky to be born into a family that cultivates and values education and hard work (and sacrifices for you), be really lucky to avoid fates like disease or abusive parents, then be both lucky and hardworking in your school career, then be lucky and extremely hardworking post-grad school (lots of smart and hardworking attorneys get the axe for things out of their control, i.e. Great Recession).

So extreme amounts of luck (macro and micro) peppered with uncommon work ethic and diligence. Easy peasy.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Thegame14 » Fri May 31, 2019 11:35 am

FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:27 am
My spouse makes that as a VP at a Mega Corp. Started as a level 1 engineer out of college and busted a$$ all the way up. Next promotion to a C-suite role is in discussions. You have to have the personality for that sort of thing which I most certainly do not have, but spouse has it in spades. Spouse never really set out to do this, but early on was getting promoted much faster than peers so we could see the writing on the walls.

The money is awesome and has allowed us to become FI pretty early on in life, but we both still work. Nothing about it has been glamorous outside of what money brings.
In our early 30's when everyone was having kids, we decided that would throw a wrench into the upward mobility. So no kids (I didn't really want them anyways) and the superstar peers that had them, their careers were never able to keep pace with my spouse's.
Spouse works 60 hours a week, 7 days a week, including while on vacations, and that would be considered a pretty light week.
Spouse travels 75+% of the time, we're rarely in the same state together, often not in the same country or time zone. We have averaged about 24-48 hours a week together (including sleep) over the last decade.

There's no magic bullet. IMO, having watched from the sidelines, it boils down to extremely hard work, flexibility, personality, and having good leadership. Spouse's mega corp is the best run company I've ever seen and remains wicked innovative. Spouse has had amazing mentors that picked up on the talent and really nurtured it. The company has invested heavily in my spouse over the years and you don't see that too often.
And this is why I will never "earn the big bucks", I make 101K because I took a lesser paying job to have more vacation and work life balance, turned down $140K because they told me expected hours were 9-8 every day. in my field accounting, it is just assumed you should work 50 plus hours a week and I wont do it anymore. time with my kids is more important than money as long as I can afford to pay the bills. Literally not seeing your spouse more than a day a week, isn't a life I would live. I get calls to work in NYC, and I say no immediately, if they press and say what salary would I need to work in NYC and I literally tell them it would have to be $1M a year, guaranteed, and I would quit after year 1. Work is supposed to be an 8 hour job, not something you are a slave to, but I guess we each have our priorities....

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by SevenBridgesRoad » Fri May 31, 2019 11:36 am

Effective physician executives who are willing to relocate are still uncommon enough to be in demand, and command base salaries of $400K and total comp over $500K. C-suite physician execs in large organizations can do even better. This was my path.

The 4 key words in the first sentence above are: effective (a proven track record of results), physician (practice-experienced MD or DO, and all that goes with that), executive (additional education, training, and demonstrated team leadership skills, MBA or similar), and willingness to relocate (many docs and their families don't want to move, thus decreasing the pool of candidates further).
Retired 2018 | Every day I choose how I spend my energy | One Vanguard TDF except for bunch of individual stocks...still recovering from my Fidelity AUM days years ago | Now sleeping well at night

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Traveler » Fri May 31, 2019 11:50 am

Jayhawk11 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:29 am
Wife makes ~500k at a mega law firm (market bonuses move it around a bit). She did it by going to a top college and a top law school and working all the time. 100 hour weeks pretty regularly. She's a workaholic.

I followed the same path and bowed out before partnership and now make ~150k as a public servant (HHI of 650-700 depending on bonuses).

So, be really lucky to be born with the genetic intelligence in a country where such mobility is possible, be really lucky to be born into a family that cultivates and values education and hard work (and sacrifices for you), be really lucky to avoid fates like disease or abusive parents, then be both lucky and hardworking in your school career, then be lucky and extremely hardworking post-grad school (lots of smart and hardworking attorneys get the axe for things out of their control, i.e. Great Recession).

So extreme amounts of luck (macro and micro) peppered with uncommon work ethic and diligence. Easy peasy.
Every so often I see someone say they (or in this case, the spouse) regularly work 100 hours a week. I simply don't believe it. This means that Every.Single.Day. the person works 14 hours and 17 minutes. There aren't enough hours in the day. Maybe a week here or there but I don't believe the "regularly".

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by 8foot7 » Fri May 31, 2019 11:51 am

6:30 am to 8:45 pm. I've seen it and been around it.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by ohai » Fri May 31, 2019 11:51 am

Finance/Investment banking is still the fastest route to say $500k. You can reasonably get there within ~5y experience. Some of those guys don't even have MBAs.

Doctor is another way, but you have to get a specialized field, like 8 years of extra education, and usually lots of debt. By the time you start earning money, similar people in other fields are millionaires.

Lawyer is an awful way to do it. 90% of associates burn out by the time they make say $300k, then leave for lower paying jobs. My friend said he went to a presentation by a partner and when someone asked about work/life, the guy cried because he missed the birth of his kid.

Entrepreneurship has lots of tails, so it is possible but inefficient. Maybe it is the way to go if you are top 0.001% though.

Tech salaries can get there if you are a middle manager type, but it doesn't seem that most people get there.

Outside of that, you can probably put in any field provided that you become the CEO or something. I don't think you can really predict that though.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by GT99 » Fri May 31, 2019 11:54 am

H-Town wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:51 am
FI4LIFE wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:00 am
I chose a career where I knew I'd never make millions. It is stable with good benefits and higher than average pay. Sometimes I dream of chasing the big bucks and wonder what specific skills have lead to people earning ultra-high incomes. If you earn over $500k/year, what's your story?

A manager level in Big Four accounting firm can earn that level of income in San Francisco. But he or she might earn less than half of that in other cities.
Wait - are you saying a Big 4 manager in SF can make $500k/yr? Are you being literal (for those not familiar, the standard Big 4 career path is Associate, Senior, Manager, Senior Manager, then Partner or Director if you have no sales aptitude as Partners have to sell) or are you including Senior Managers? I can believe there might be handful of Senior Managers around in a place like SF making $500k, but I'd bet there's not a Manager level making that amount at any big 4 anywhere in the country. Average for a first year partner is more like $350k. DW is an experienced Big 4 Senior Manager, and she's just passed the $200k mark in the past year. We are not in a HCOL city - I'd expect she'd be around $300k in SF.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Thegame14 » Fri May 31, 2019 11:57 am

Traveler wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:50 am
Jayhawk11 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:29 am
Wife makes ~500k at a mega law firm (market bonuses move it around a bit). She did it by going to a top college and a top law school and working all the time. 100 hour weeks pretty regularly. She's a workaholic.

I followed the same path and bowed out before partnership and now make ~150k as a public servant (HHI of 650-700 depending on bonuses).

So, be really lucky to be born with the genetic intelligence in a country where such mobility is possible, be really lucky to be born into a family that cultivates and values education and hard work (and sacrifices for you), be really lucky to avoid fates like disease or abusive parents, then be both lucky and hardworking in your school career, then be lucky and extremely hardworking post-grad school (lots of smart and hardworking attorneys get the axe for things out of their control, i.e. Great Recession).

So extreme amounts of luck (macro and micro) peppered with uncommon work ethic and diligence. Easy peasy.
Every so often I see someone say they (or in this case, the spouse) regularly work 100 hours a week. I simply don't believe it. This means that Every.Single.Day. the person works 14 hours and 17 minutes. There aren't enough hours in the day. Maybe a week here or there but I don't believe the "regularly".
I did it once in public accounting, worked til 3 AM three days in a row, got pulled over for driving poorly, it cannot be don't regularly and be healthy.

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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by IMO » Fri May 31, 2019 11:59 am

Jayhawk11 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:29 am
Wife makes ~500k at a mega law firm (market bonuses move it around a bit). She did it by going to a top college and a top law school and working all the time. 100 hour weeks pretty regularly. She's a workaholic.
How exactly does one work a 100 hr week on a regular basis?

100/7 = 14.28 hrs/day if working 7 days per week
100/6 = 16.7 hrs/day if working 6 days per week
100/5 = 20 hrs/day if working 5 days per week

How much time per day is the commute, getting ready for work, eating, going to bathroom per day? No kids/time with kids? Take a dog for a walk? Any exercise time? Edit: forgot sleeping

I'm not talking about someone "working" 24 hr shifts like at a firehouse, someone counting their time on-call as work hours, or some job where sleeping or doing other things at the same time are allowed.

This may be considered a financial success, but in my book that would hardly be a goal to strive for in life.
Last edited by IMO on Fri May 31, 2019 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jayhawk11
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Jayhawk11 » Fri May 31, 2019 12:00 pm

[/quote]

Every so often I see someone say they (or in this case, the spouse) regularly work 100 hours a week. I simply don't believe it. This means that Every.Single.Day. the person works 14 hours and 17 minutes. There aren't enough hours in the day. Maybe a week here or there but I don't believe the "regularly".
[/quote]

"Regularly" doesn't mean every week, it means like once every six weeks (I didn't say "all the time" or usually). She's in the office from 9 until 2 in the morning. Sure, she's not billing that entire time, but it's not time at home. And that doesn't account for reading emails in the cab to and from home, thinking about it in the shower, or taking calls while walking the dog. She's also in a billable hour profession, so we know, in great detail, the time she's spending (and billing) - thank you very much.

You speak like someone who has not, and is not married to someone who works at a Vault 10 law firm.
Last edited by Jayhawk11 on Fri May 31, 2019 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thegame14
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Thegame14 » Fri May 31, 2019 12:01 pm

FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:25 am
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:23 am
I'm at $325k as a software engineer in Colorado. It's entirely possible I could pass $500k in 5-7 years.

I never work more than 40 hours a week and don't work at all on weekends, evenings or when on vacation. When I go on vacation I delete my work email account from my phone.
Thread over, we have a winner.
This is absolutely the winner. I don't see the point in making more money If you have to give up having a family, then what are you working for, to retire early, do then do what, die alone? Id love to get to the point where DW and I make $200K, she makes 60K and I think moving out of non-profit I can get 125K right now, so almost there, with bonuses might be close, but after $200K, what more can I do, just buy a bigger house to pay more taxes, to pay more maintenance, to have to hire a maid and a lawn service to buy more stuff, it is just stuff, what matters is family and spending time with them.

Glockenspiel
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Glockenspiel » Fri May 31, 2019 12:05 pm

FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:25 am
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:23 am
I'm at $325k as a software engineer in Colorado. It's entirely possible I could pass $500k in 5-7 years.

I never work more than 40 hours a week and don't work at all on weekends, evenings or when on vacation. When I go on vacation I delete my work email account from my phone.
Thread over, we have a winner.
You sir, have achieved the best of every world. MHCOL. Work-life balance, $150/hr. Lower stress than 99% of ppl earning your income.

masonstone
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by masonstone » Fri May 31, 2019 12:06 pm

I’m a Physician sub-specialist making 800K. My wife makes 900k as a generalist who owns multiple practices and employs doctors.

ohai
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by ohai » Fri May 31, 2019 12:07 pm

IMO wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:59 am
Jayhawk11 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:29 am
Wife makes ~500k at a mega law firm (market bonuses move it around a bit). She did it by going to a top college and a top law school and working all the time. 100 hour weeks pretty regularly. She's a workaholic.
How exactly does one work a 100 hr week on a regular basis?

100/7 = 14.28 hrs/day if working 7 days per week
100/6 = 16.7 hrs/day if working 6 days per week
100/5 = 20 hrs/day if working 5 days per week

How much time per day is the commute, getting ready for work, eating, going to bathroom per day? No kids/time with kids? Take a dog for a walk? Any exercise time?

I'm not talking about someone "working" 24 hr shifts like at a firehouse, someone counting their time on-call as work hours, or some job where sleeping or doing other things at the same time are allowed.

This may be considered a financial success, but in my book that would hardly be a goal to strive for in life.
100 hours/week can happen in bursts, especially in litigation or M&A when you have deadlines. I do not know a single lawyer who averages 100 hours a week though. More like 60-70 on average I'd say.

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simplesimon
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by simplesimon » Fri May 31, 2019 12:07 pm

I don't understand the judgement against people who spend most of their time working. Unless you're an ascetic, most of your favorite products and services as well as all the profits in your portfolio are produced by companies led by such people.

groovy9
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by groovy9 » Fri May 31, 2019 12:08 pm

IMO wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:59 am
How exactly does one work a 100 hr week on a regular basis?
It's hard for us mere mortals to relate to, but there's a type of person that is just always driven to work, for better or worse. For an extreme example, look at Elon Musk, a guy who could retire today with 1000 lifetimes worth of money, and yet he's the CEO of 3 companies and has a litany of stories of sleeping at the office, driving himself and his workforce to the breaking point, etc.

I'm not sure there's any way for most of us to really get "how" or "why."

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corn18
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by corn18 » Fri May 31, 2019 12:08 pm

One piece of advice I will offer is if you are not making $500k a year, please LBYM and save like a good BH so if you do hit $500k a year, you have options. We were debt ridden (like a LOT) always spending more than we made. Even when we were making $300k / year. We looked rich and were dead broke. Then we got a clue (read The Millionaire Next Door) and got our spending under control. Then out of debt. Then found ourselves at age 48 with no savings at all. Luckily, that's when the $600k / year started and we are saving like crazy. We should be ok.

But I always imagine what today would be like had we just managed to save 10% of our income up to age 48 and stayed out of consumer debt. We could either retire way early or splurge on some stuff. As it is, we are spending $120k / year and saving $300k. It is what it is.
Don't do something, just stand there!

HawkeyePierce
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Location: New Zealand

Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Fri May 31, 2019 12:10 pm

FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:25 am
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:23 am
I'm at $325k as a software engineer in Colorado. It's entirely possible I could pass $500k in 5-7 years.

I never work more than 40 hours a week and don't work at all on weekends, evenings or when on vacation. When I go on vacation I delete my work email account from my phone.
Thread over, we have a winner.
I've been extremely lucky. I joined a big tech company during a very rough patch in the firm's history—pundits weren't sure if we'd even survive. I landed in one of the few revenue-generating bright spots of the company and was able to climb the ladder very quickly. Since our department was thriving in the midst of chaos we were getting showered in bonuses and stock grants to keep us from leaving. I'm also in a position where my projects are an excellent fit for my skillset and I've been able to build a strong network across the company.

Now the company is healthy and profitable, leading our stock to gain >200% over the last two years. All those retention grants are paying off handsomely now since I stuck around.
Last edited by HawkeyePierce on Fri May 31, 2019 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Fri May 31, 2019 12:10 pm

It's relatively straightforward to be in your mid-30s, you and spouse making $250k a piece and working 40 hours a week as Managers / Sr. Managers in MegaCorp.

Describes my household at least.

Jayhawk11
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Jayhawk11 » Fri May 31, 2019 12:11 pm

Geez, people very offended that my wife works like a dog or implying that I like to lie about how much my wife works on an investing blog(?)

(1) regularly=does not mean usually. It means it's not out of the ordinary, i.e., more than once a quarter. And it's really common for attorneys in trial, closing a merger, etc. to work every day, over 12 hours a day.

(2) The question was "how'd you do that?" not "is that the right way to live?" I was just responding to the OPs question.

(3) The answer to "how does she function?" Is that she has a public servant for a husband, who takes care of everything, the house, the kids, the finances, the dog, the chores. She doesn't sleep much. She doesn't have time to socialize during those jags.

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FlyAF
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by FlyAF » Fri May 31, 2019 12:15 pm

Thegame14 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:01 pm
FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:25 am
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:23 am
I'm at $325k as a software engineer in Colorado. It's entirely possible I could pass $500k in 5-7 years.

I never work more than 40 hours a week and don't work at all on weekends, evenings or when on vacation. When I go on vacation I delete my work email account from my phone.
Thread over, we have a winner.
This is absolutely the winner. I don't see the point in making more money If you have to give up having a family, then what are you working for, to retire early, do then do what, die alone? Id love to get to the point where DW and I make $200K, she makes 60K and I think moving out of non-profit I can get 125K right now, so almost there, with bonuses might be close, but after $200K, what more can I do, just buy a bigger house to pay more taxes, to pay more maintenance, to have to hire a maid and a lawn service to buy more stuff, it is just stuff, what matters is family and spending time with them.
We've never owned a home over 2500 sf and I'm a huge neat freak so we don't buy "stuff." I do have a maid and a lawn service I freely admit. The time we do get to spend together, I'm not going to waste it cleaning the house or mowing the yard, that's just silly. Our motivation once my spouse started making considerable money was to retire early. What will we do? That's the beauty, whatever the heck we want. Travel, visit family, work out, pursue hobbies, or like Peter Gibbons once said, "I'd relax, I would sit on my ass all day, I would do nothing" if that's what I felt like. We live on like 1/10th of what we bring in and bank the rest. Just because you make a bunch of money, doesn't mean you're required to spend it. If spending time with your family is what is important to you, then you should do exactly that. For us, not working into our 60's is what is important to us, so we're doing exactly what we need to do to not have to do that.

Bacchus01
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Bacchus01 » Fri May 31, 2019 12:15 pm

President of a $1B division of a megacorp at 39.

stan1
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by stan1 » Fri May 31, 2019 12:21 pm

HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:10 pm
FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:25 am
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:23 am
I'm at $325k as a software engineer in Colorado. It's entirely possible I could pass $500k in 5-7 years.

I never work more than 40 hours a week and don't work at all on weekends, evenings or when on vacation. When I go on vacation I delete my work email account from my phone.
Thread over, we have a winner.
I've been extremely lucky. I joined a big tech company during a very rough patch in the firm's history—pundits weren't sure if we'd even survive. I landed in one of the few revenue-generating bright spots of the company and was able to climb the ladder very quickly. Since our department was thriving in the midst of chaos we were getting showered in bonuses and stock grants to keep us from leaving. I'm also in a position where my projects are an excellent fit for my skillset and I've been able to build a strong network across the company.

Now the company is healthy and profitable, leading our stock to gain >200% over the last two years. All those retention grants are paying off handsomely now since I stuck around.
So not just salary? That's a big difference.

Thegame14
Posts: 1084
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Thegame14 » Fri May 31, 2019 12:22 pm

Jayhawk11 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:11 pm
Geez, people very offended that my wife works like a dog or implying that I like to lie about how much my wife works on an investing blog(?)

(1) regularly=does not mean usually. It means it's not out of the ordinary, i.e., more than once a quarter. And it's really common for attorneys in trial, closing a merger, etc. to work every day, over 12 hours a day.

(2) The question was "how'd you do that?" not "is that the right way to live?" I was just responding to the OPs question.

(3) The answer to "how does she function?" Is that she has a public servant for a husband, who takes care of everything, the house, the kids, the finances, the dog, the chores. She doesn't sleep much. She doesn't have time to socialize during those jags.
Actually regularly, means exactly the root word, regular, which means more often than not, meaning most of the time. once every six months is once in a blue moon.

HawkeyePierce
Posts: 321
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Location: New Zealand

Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Fri May 31, 2019 12:27 pm

stan1 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:21 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:10 pm
FlyAF wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:25 am
HawkeyePierce wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 11:23 am
I'm at $325k as a software engineer in Colorado. It's entirely possible I could pass $500k in 5-7 years.

I never work more than 40 hours a week and don't work at all on weekends, evenings or when on vacation. When I go on vacation I delete my work email account from my phone.
Thread over, we have a winner.
I've been extremely lucky. I joined a big tech company during a very rough patch in the firm's history—pundits weren't sure if we'd even survive. I landed in one of the few revenue-generating bright spots of the company and was able to climb the ladder very quickly. Since our department was thriving in the midst of chaos we were getting showered in bonuses and stock grants to keep us from leaving. I'm also in a position where my projects are an excellent fit for my skillset and I've been able to build a strong network across the company.

Now the company is healthy and profitable, leading our stock to gain >200% over the last two years. All those retention grants are paying off handsomely now since I stuck around.
So not just salary? That's a big difference.
My salary is less than half of my total comp, which means my TC will definitely suffer in the next bear market. Fortunately I live on less than half my gross salary so my stock comp goes entirely into savings.

GuyFromGeorgia
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by GuyFromGeorgia » Fri May 31, 2019 12:30 pm

Colorado is a good place to be an engineer. I've seen steady increases in total comp and I'm in the same ballpark as HawkeyPierce (~bit over $300k). It is a good spot to be in.
Last edited by GuyFromGeorgia on Fri May 31, 2019 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

groovy9
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by groovy9 » Fri May 31, 2019 12:30 pm

Thegame14 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:22 pm
Jayhawk11 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:11 pm
(1) regularly
Actually regularly, means exactly the root word, regular, which means more often than not, meaning most of the time. once every six months is once in a blue moon.
If we're being pedantic, a blue moon only happens every 2 or 3 years. So Jayhawk's wife pulls a 100 hour week more like just-over-once per orbit of Venus. Or once per dental cleaning or komodo dragon molt.
Last edited by groovy9 on Fri May 31, 2019 12:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Jayhawk11
Posts: 78
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by Jayhawk11 » Fri May 31, 2019 12:30 pm

Thegame14 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:22 pm
Jayhawk11 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:11 pm
Geez, people very offended that my wife works like a dog or implying that I like to lie about how much my wife works on an investing blog(?)

(1) regularly=does not mean usually. It means it's not out of the ordinary, i.e., more than once a quarter. And it's really common for attorneys in trial, closing a merger, etc. to work every day, over 12 hours a day.

(2) The question was "how'd you do that?" not "is that the right way to live?" I was just responding to the OPs question.

(3) The answer to "how does she function?" Is that she has a public servant for a husband, who takes care of everything, the house, the kids, the finances, the dog, the chores. She doesn't sleep much. She doesn't have time to socialize during those jags.
Actually regularly, means exactly the root word, regular, which means more often than not, meaning most of the time. once every six months is once in a blue moon.
Actually regularly also means "recurring at uniform intervals" or "arranged in or constituting a constant or define pattern" - which is exactly what I was describing.

ausmatt
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Re: For those who earn $500k+ per year. How'd you do that?

Post by ausmatt » Fri May 31, 2019 12:31 pm

Engineering undergrad. MBA a few years later. Always been in tech. Made the move to the sales side several years ago. Steady progress to $300-400k target earnings. Build up RSU vests at larger tech company ($100k per year). Got external offer, resulted in another $100k per year in retention RSUs. (About $475-525k per year for last couple years there as Dir/Senior Director).

Made jump to preIPO startup at VP level. Startup acquired a couple years later. Salary was still in 300s. Exit was significant equity-wise.

The path for me was really about choosing in demand technologies with limited talent pools (think Big Data, Cybersecurity, SaaS sales, etc). Be willing to jump companies every 3-5 years as that will provide best salary jumps. Thinking back I went from $175 to $250 to $275 to $310 to $325 to $375k in salary (excluding equity instruments) over the past 9 years. With similar title changes every 2 years (sr Mgr to dir to sr dir to VP to global VP).

I probably work 50 hours per week when busy and 35 hours/week when not. Take all my vacation, live in MCOL area. (I don’t like saying this as it sounds conceited — but I’ve always been pretty smart (grades, scores, etc) and read everything I could in a particular area as I went into it ... I think that allows me to progress well without having to work 70 hours/week).

Also meant to add - don’t burn any bridges and try to stay in contact with your network. It’s amazing how paths collide again in the future and how important it is that you treat people well (subordinates and peers). For example, one of my previous bosses was a key partner at a VC and now runs one of Google’s startup businesses. Another is a very senior person at the company that acquired my last company. One previous peer is always recommending me for potential roles as she’s well connected and sought after. Having spent quality time outside of work with these people creates a long term bond in addition to doing good work together.

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