The Secret to Having $1 million for Retirement

by Mike Lester

Mar 2, 2022

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Announcer (00:02):

Welcome to the Retirement Wealth Podcast. Our goal is to help those retired or soon to be retired investors make more informed financial decisions and live an enjoyable retirement. Our host, Mike Lester, is the founder and CEO of Talon Wealth Management Mike is an investment advisor representative of Retirement Wealth Advisors Inc, an SEC registered investment advisor. Thanks for joining us today and let’s get started.

Kristen (00:30):

Many of us are still fixated on becoming millionaires by the time we retire. Mike, you and the team you’ve put together at Talon Wealth Management work with quite a few millionaires, even multimillionaires, who’ve already accomplished this. I’d love to hear some stories of how real people got there.

Mike Lester (00:49):

It’s really, really boring, Kristen. Here’s the secret.

Kristen (00:52):

Boring? What?

Mike Lester (00:54):

If you work really hard.

Kristen (00:57):

I’m writing this down.

Mike Lester (00:58):

Write it down.

Kristen (00:59):

Work hard.

Kristen (00:59):

Hard work.

Mike Lester (01:01):

Live within your means, actually below them. Save, right? Make sacrifices along the way and just let your money grow long-term in investment accounts at work. That would be your typical you’ve got an employer and that’s your 401(k), or work as hard, if not harder. Start your own business. Become an entrepreneur. Put your blood, sweat, and tears into that business, have it grow and be successful over time, then you have the opportunity to sell your business at the end. Either way, there’s a nest egg and you have to find a way to make it work for yourself.

Mike Lester (01:35):

But there is no shortcut apart from like the lottery, part of it. We’ve been down that road with clients before. For of them, it works out well, but that’s not your typical scenario. And I’m going to be honest, Kristen, our ideal client is not the person that is scratching lottery tickets at 65 hoping everything works out. Because if it doesn’t on the lottery ticket, it’s a sad place to be. I mean, we’re working with people that have worked hard to get to where they’re at and they’re not willing to make a mistake at this point.

Mike Lester (02:11):

They’re looking for a partner and somebody that’s going to help them, not somebody that’s going to sell a product. There are way too many financial products out there. I’ve got a million horror stories about people that have been hurt. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably. Our job isn’t to promote products. Our job is to help people become more informed investors. The reason I like to walk people through a planning process is frankly, Kristen, a lot of people haven’t been through that process.

Mike Lester (02:37):

They haven’t had the opportunity to take a look at how their money is likely to work for them moving forward, how much money they can out, what about taxes, what about inflation. Typically, their retirement plan work. Isn’t going to do that for them. And if it can, it’s a generic sort of computer program where you plug in some numbers and it kicks out a result and that’s hard to trust. Outside of that, having your money work for you can’t just be a invest and forget. It can’t be hang in there.

Mike Lester (03:05):

Most of these hang in their strategies are based on investment results that are historic. Historical investment results look fantastic on paper. But when you take a look at where we are in government right now, where we are in the economy, where we are with a deficit, where we potentially are with taxes, it’s not that I don’t believe the stock market long-term is going to go up, it’s just that I believe it’s going to be really, really difficult for people to derive an investment income from a portfolio without active management moving forward.

Mike Lester (03:37):

I don’t think you can just settle on, “Well, I’m diversified so things should be okay,” because that’s what’s being pitched to a lot of people and they just don’t have as much confidence in it. I don’t want to say as they should. They don’t have a lot of confidence in it because it’s hard to trust that. We’re talking to people every week where they’ve got cash in the sidelines and they’re looking at markets at or near all time highs. For somebody to come to you and say, “Well, you should put that money in the stock market right now,” that’s not a great answer.

Mike Lester (04:06):

You’re probably looking for an alternative, not somebody to say, “Well, hey, why don’t you put your money to work for you in the market? Don’t worry. If it gets real bad in a year, eventually it’ll come back.” There are plenty of great financial advisors out there, Kristen. I think what’s difficult for those people is finding them. We just offer the opportunity to come have a conversation with us and kick the tires. And if you think we’re right for you, great. We’ll be happy to help you as a fee-based fiduciary advisor.

Mike Lester (04:30):

If not, you’re going to walk out of our office with a complete financial plan.

Kristen (04:34):

Again, There’s no secret to becoming a millionaire or multimillionaire, and there’s no secret to stay paying that way in retirement and using that money to pay yourself when you stop working. It’s about hard work, being nimble, and making sure that you are paying attention and that you’ve got someone on your side, an advocate, when it comes to your financial life. Unless you’re an expert on finances already, you may be listening today. And sometimes those of you that are DIY investors appreciate that second opinion as well.

Kristen (05:05):

Find out more at Mike, you’re always teasing me about my play money in cryptocurrency and I see why. It’s so talked about. One would think everybody’s in it. No. As of the end of 2021, about 16% of the population held or holds cryptocurrencies, and this is according to the Pew Research Center. That’s up just 1% from 2015. It’s not as popular as I thought.

Mike Lester (05:37):

Well, in certain circles it’s popular. I certainly get calls about it all the time. Questions. Hey, do you think I should? Do you think I shouldn’t? And then you and I have talked about it on the program. Here we are talking about it again on the program.

Kristen (05:47):

But it’s because I thought more people were into it, meaning investing in it.

Mike Lester (05:52):

Yeah. If you look at most of the money that’s out there invested, it’s through retirement plans, not individual accounts.

Kristen (05:57):

I see.

Mike Lester (05:58):

I don’t know a 401(k) out there that offers it. I’m not saying there isn’t one, but I doubt it. It’s just too much volatility, Kristen. It doesn’t make sense for somebody who’s not a day trader who’s going to trade in and trade out of it. I mean, it’s not that I don’t think you can make money at it. It’s just that kind of volatility isn’t for everyone, so 16% makes sense.

Kristen (06:16):

It does make a lot of sense. The markets, they continue to hit new highs, and then we’re seeing dips. We’ve been hearing from a lot of listeners who are still concerned about these dips and volatility though. But does that mean that you listening today should sit on the sidelines in cash? Here’s well-known hedge fund manager Ray Dalio’s take on that recently on CNBC.

Ray Dalio (06:41):

What has to happen I think is investors have to realize two things. First that cash is not a safe investment, is not a safe place, because it will be taxed by inflation. There will not be an interest rate that will anywhere near compensate. It seems good because it’s not volatile, but you’re paying a tax of a few percent a year on that. A, stay out of that. And B, know how to balance a portfolio.

Kristen (07:09):

So how do we balance all of that with interest rates so low and the market risk so high, Mike?

Mike Lester (07:16):

Well, I think you have to play devil’s advocate a little bit to what he was saying. I agree with him 100% that cash is not the place to be in an inflationary environment. Because if inflation let’s just say is 6%, I mean, they’ve been talking about ranges near that here lately, but if it was 6% and you go to the bank and you’re earning less than 1%, unless you say you’re earning 1%, if inflation is 6% and you’re earning 1% on your cash, you’re losing 5% a year and that’s going to sting. I mean, on a million dollars, that’s $50,000, right?

Mike Lester (07:46):

It’s a lot of money that you’re losing on an annual basis to something that isn’t market volatility. But the devil’s advocate part of that is to say, “Well, where else could you invest your money?” That’s one of the struggles that people are dealing with right now. If you’re looking for conservative investments, if you’re looking to get away from the stock market because you’re afraid of it, frankly, right, just too much volatility, seems too high, too good to be true, this can’t keep going on, a lot of things that we talk about on the program, which is I just don’t think the stock market is sustainable.

Mike Lester (08:15):

When we sit down and we talk to clients about alternatives to that, we got to come to the table with some pretty significant alternatives and the alternative most of the time can’t be just a fixed account, like a money market account or a CD account that’s not paying anything, or one of these annuity accounts that people talk about where you just lock your money up for 10 years making almost nothing. I mean, we have to come up with a plan that’s going to help people.

Mike Lester (08:39):

Because frankly, if you’re making that transition into retirement or if you’re close to retirement and you’re looking at, well, it’s been a really good run, but I need solutions for 2022, it’s a new year, there don’t seem to be a lot of answers where money’s going to come from in the future. We know where it came from in the past. It was government stimulus. There’s no real appetite for that moving forward. So going throughout this year, where should money be placed?

Mike Lester (09:04):

Well, we don’t know exactly right now where it should be placed because we don’t have a crystal ball, but we have great ideas and solutions if markets go down, right? We can help people benefit from a market that’s doing poorly, or we have great ideas and solutions if the market continues to go up. Frankly, I think right now you just need to find out where you’re currently positioned, how that is likely to perform moving forward. If markets do well, what is it likely to do? Or if markets do poorly, what is it likely to do?

Mike Lester (09:33):

And then just work with somebody who can provide you with all of the investment options that are available. And Kristen, again, it can’t just be, hey, listen, you should be scared of the market, so just pull all your money in this insurance account, right, like an annuity or something. What we’ve seen time and time again is that sure, those types of accounts can provide protection for market volatility, but also you’ve locked your money up and you have very little participation to the upside.

Mike Lester (09:57):

It’s not an inflation protection, even if it’s a way to avoid market volatility. Market volatility is your friend as long as it’s on the way up, right?

Kristen (10:04):

That’s what’s funny to me. Volatility doesn’t necessarily mean something negative. It’s up and down.

Mike Lester (10:11):

When the market’s going up really fast, that’s still considered volatility. And if you’re on the sideline, you’re not too happy about missing out on it. It works both ways. I just think time and time again, investors are working with advisors or maybe they’re just working with their plan through work and they aren’t getting any guidance, right? Your 401(k) or your other retirement plan at work isn’t going to provide guidance.

Mike Lester (10:33):

But there are so many of these sort of big box store kind of advice who will say, “Hey, listen, I’ll manage your portfolio for you,” but then there’s no real follow through on the management. There’s no ideas. When things get bad, the advice is, “Well, just hang in there. Don’t worry. It’ll get better.” Our goal through our radio program and also Talon Wealth is to sit down. I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know what the market’s going to do all the time, but we can come up with ideas to help protect our clients.

Mike Lester (11:00):

And again, as a fiduciary, we have to help our clients make informed decisions, right? More information is going to help you make better decisions moving forward. It won’t be the right decision 100% of the time. But as long as you’re right the majority of the time and you can outperform the market overall, then we’re doing a good job for our client.

Announcer (11:21):

If you would like to have a comprehensive financial plan and an analysis of your current portfolio, go ahead and visit our website at and we can do that for you complimentary. Thanks so much for joining us on today’s show. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast. Visit our website at for more free retirement planning and investment resources. Thanks for tuning in to today’s show and we’ll see you next time on the Retirement Wealth Podcast.

Announcer (11:54):

Exposure to ideas and financial vehicles discussed should not be considered investment advice or recommendation to buy or sell any financial vehicle. This information should not be considered tax or legal advice. Individuals should consult with professionals specializing in the fields of tax, legal, accounting, or investments regarding the applicability of this information to their situation. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Investments may fluctuate and when redeemed may be worth more or less than originally invested.


Mike Lester

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The Secret to Having $1 million for Retirement