My Life On $20,000 A Year is Better than My Previous Millionaire Lifestyle

My Life As A Millionaire vs My Life on $20,000 / Year A Riches To Rags Story of Success


Shane Lifeman

3/15/20237 min read

white porsche 911 parked in front of building
white porsche 911 parked in front of building
The Millionaire Illusion - A Riches To Rags Story

I always had the illusion of what a millionaire’s lifestyle would be like. Living in a big house, driving an expensive sports car, and eating at the finest restaurants… Then I became a millionaire, and this illusion was shattered.

I’m sitting on our balcony enjoying my morning coffee with the sound of the Pacific Ocean just out of sight. My wife was still sleeping when I started to reflect on things. My life now is so different compared to what it was like almost 5 years ago when on May 1st, 2018 I decided to pack it in and walk away from the rat race.

Before that date. I was living the American Dream as a Canadian. I owned my own business, lived in a nice house on the water, drove a really nice car, had investments, and several rental properties. I had worked very hard to get to this position in my life and I was working even harder just to maintain it.

Several weeks prior to May 1st, 2018. I had sat down with my accountant and went over everything looking at all of the numbers. My accountant looked at me from their computer, smiled, and congratulated me. I was now officially a millionaire, I had crossed that magical number that everyone strives to reach.

The funny thing was. It never felt like I was now in that club. The fact is, I didn’t like the feeling it gave me, it gave me a feeling of emptiness, and here is why. I was equity-rich, and cash poor. The money was going out just as fast as I was making it just to maintain everything and to keep things afloat

I basically ran a 1 person operation. I was hands-on in my business on every level. I had several employees that I looked after very well and made sure they had the best working environment that I could provide. My business would take anywhere from 50 to 60 hours a week to manage and run on average.

I also had 4 rental properties and a total of 7 units that I looked after in addition to my business responsibilities. Every time I turned around, there was either a problem with a building needing something or a problem with a tenant. I was doing it all myself as I couldn’t afford to have someone else manage it for me, and a property management company wanted 10% of the rent

My typical day would start at 7 am, and I would go until 8–9 pm at night, eating when I could, on the go. I did this from Monday — Saturday. Sunday, I would give myself the luxury of sleeping in until 8 am. I would then spend most of the morning catching up on things around the house. The afternoon was spent getting ready for the week ahead. I would then relax Sunday evenings for a few hours and watch some TV. That was basically my life as a Millionaire, all I did was work and literally not much else

That was my normal schedule for about 10 years. When my family went on vacation, unless it was a weekend trip. I stayed back. I had to work to keep everything afloat. It felt like I was always walking a tightrope. Everything was always on the verge of crumbling and then coming crashing down and my family would lose everything, and we would be out on the street, or so I thought

I viewed it as I was being a great provider for my loved ones. The stress and my health issues at the time, I felt were the price I had to pay to be this great provider. Honest truth. I was chasing the numbers in the bank account. No matter what the balance was, it was never enough. I was blind to my true net worth and felt like I could still do a bit more and, what I was already doing, just wasn’t enough in my mind

Back in 2015, at the height of all this, my wife was working right by my side, helping me. We sacrificed now to really be able to enjoy ourselves in retirement. Retirement was still 15 years away for us. Then she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she passed several months later. My response to this was just to work more. It took me until May 1st, 2018, to finally open my eyes. I looked around my empty house and simply asked myself, Why.

I had everything I wanted, Why couldn’t I enjoy it? I had family and friends, Why wasn’t I spending time with them, I had success, why wasn’t I enjoying the success I had worked so hard for and the best one, why wasn’t I just enjoying life?

All of these questions. I answered with just one word…work. That’s when I decided to call it quicks, put everything up for sale and start on a new life path. May 1st, 201, was also the day I gave up on trying to impress others with what I had

That was my life as a Millionaire, All I did was work just to maintain the illusion of a certain lifestyle of success. In doing this I made a lot of sacrifices and paid the price. Though I could afford to live that certain lifestyle, I put myself in a position where I wasn’t able to enjoy it as I always wanted more. Now, I live on just $12,000 per year

A lot has happened since that fateful date in 2018. The biggest thing is I realized there is a difference between wants and needs. I don’t need a 4000 sqft home. which comes with a large carrying cost for which I only used 15% of the living space but ate up 57% of my take-home income. I don’t need to work all of my waking hours, just so I can impress the neighbors…I can go on with other similar comparisons

After deciding to sell everything. I now live on literally $12,000 a year or less. This is how my life is after walking away from the rat race and chasing the American Dream as a Canadian.

We moved to a small beachside community located in Olon, Ecuador, with my now wife of 4 years. We live in a very comfortable apartment that provides us with everything we need, we literally use 100% of our living space, and no, it doesn’t have a dirt floor. It is modern and has all the conveniences we want and need. If a problem happens with our living space. I call the landlord and then head to the beach for beverages or to watch the sunset while he deals with the issue

I now wake up in the morning and ask myself, what do I want to do instead of waking up trying to figure out what I have to do? We pay cash for all of our living expenses which is now only 35% of our income. We have no debts or bills. The only thing we are obligated to pay is our rent which is $300 per month all-inclusive, this includes even the internet.

We stay home most evenings, not because we have to get up early in the morning for work. We stay home because we want to enjoy the evening together. It’s the same for when we dine at home instead of going to a restaurant every night. I uses to go to restaurants twice a day 6 days a week, because I didn’t have the time to cook. Now we cook because we have the time. It’s now the same for work. Yes, we both still work, but the difference is we now work because we want to and, when we want to, not because we have to or are obligated to do so by a company, boss, or customer. We also donate most of our work income to local charities.

I no longer have the health issues I had previously. I am no longer overweight and on meds for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I’m not on any meds at all. We now spend 60% of our income on things we want to do and enjoy. I feel we now live such a rich and full life on less than 10% of what I used to earn compared to my previous life where work was my life. I now sleep much better as my mind isn’t working on problems while I sleep. My life has literally done a 180-degree turnaround. I now enjoy the quality of life and the freedom to enjoy it


  • I work very little because due to activities, I don’t have the time for work

  • I do things when I want to, not when I have to or am obligated to

  • I live my life, not seeking other’s approval or judgment

  • I now have a life, compared to wishing I had a life

  • I now live a simpler life that isn’t complicated by a drive to over-achieve just to impress others with what I have but don’t have the time to enjoy

  • I now chase the richness of life, instead of the riches of working

  • I answer to myself and my wife, not to everyone around me

At the height of my working career, friends told me they envied me. They even mentioned to me it must be nice to have what I have. When I decided to drastically change my life, they couldn’t understand why and told me I was crazy and laughed and me. Now, most have told my wife and I that they live their life now through us.

  • If you find yourself

  • prioritizing work

  • putting friends and family aside to climb the corporate ladder

  • leaving your partner at home alone to stay late to finish that work assignment

  • missing family and social events

  • Working and not being properly compensated for it

  • priding yourself on being a company person

  • you go above and beyond to seek your coworker’s approval, more than your partners…

Just ask yourself this one-word question… WHY? Are you doing this for the better of the company, yourself, or your family? If you answer your family. I will tell you this, all your family wants and needs is just... you

If you want to be wealthy and enjoy the finer things in life, explore the riches that life can offer you. Stop being concerned with how others view your success and what you have and or don’t have, It’s all just a perception of how these things are viewed and perceived. In my opinion it's better to live simpler and larger, than not living at all

Shane Lifeman