So you want to be a millionaire, huh? That’s a great goal! But maybe it seems too far off in the distance or too impossible for you to reach. You’ve seen the success stories on TV, but those people inherited their money, had high-paying jobs, or hit it big with the lottery, right? Maybe you’re thinking, If only I was that lucky.
Well, we’ve got good news for you. You can become a millionaire—and it has nothing to do with your family’s money or where you got your degree from. It has everything to do with you.
8 Tips for Becoming a Millionaire
- Stay Away From Debt
- Invest Early and Consistently
- Make Savings a Priority
- Increase Your Income to Reach Your Goal Faster
- Cut Unnecessary Expenses
- Keep Your Millionaire Goal Front and Center
- Work With an Investing Professional
- Put Your Plan on Repeat
If you follow these eight principles, you’ll be on your way to becoming a millionaire. Are you ready?
1. Stay Away From Debt
From cars to clothes to houses to jewelry, you can get a loan for pretty much anything nowadays. There’s this idea floating around our culture that you should get what you want whenever you want it. Get it now, pay for it later. (Hint: You’ll actually be paying more later thanks to interest.)
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But here’s the thing: Debt is quicksand to your financial dreams. Every time you buy something on credit, you’re digging a deeper hole for yourself. That money you’re sending to lenders is money you could be putting toward your future!
Take the average car loan, which has a monthly payment of $577 and a term length of five years and nine months.1 If you invested $500 a month for five years instead, you could have $40,000. And look at this: If you invested that $40,000 for another 20 years, you could have over $293,000! Now, where’s that car 25 years from now? Probably rusting away in a junkyard somewhere.
2. Invest Early and Consistently
The earlier you start investing, the more likely you are to become a millionaire. Thanks, compound interest!
If you start putting away $300 a month beginning at age 25, assuming a 10% rate of return, you could reach millionaire status by age 60—and be sitting pretty on a $2.3 million nest egg come retirement (age 67). That’s just $300 a month! If you waited until age 35 to start investing, you’d have to put away $800 a month to hit the million-dollar mark by age 60.
Let’s look at it a different way.
If you invested $300 a month for 40 years (age 25 to age 65), assuming a 10% rate of return, you could have almost $1.9 million. But if you waited 10 years and then invested $300 each month, you’d only have $678,145 by the time you turned 65 . . . and you’d have to work an extra four to five years to hit $1 million. Do you want to wait until your 70th birthday to become a millionaire?
So, start investing as much as you can as soon as you can—once you’re debt-free except for your mortgage.
3. Make Savings a Priority
If you’ve already started investing (Baby Step 4), way to go! But keep in mind, if you want to become a millionaire, how much money you invest is just as important as the actual act of investing. We teach you to save 15% of your income for retirement. But let’s just say you decide to skimp on that and only save 5%. Here’s how things would shake out:
If we apply that 5% to the median household income of $69,000, it works out to $3,450 a year or around $288 a month.2 Invested over 30 years, assuming a 10% rate of return, that money could turn into $651,000. Not too shabby. That number looks pretty great on paper, right?
Yeah, it might—until you find out the average couple will need $300,000 for medical expenses in retirement, and that doesn’t even include any kind of long-term care.3 If you subtract that amount from your investment total, you’d only have about $351,000 left. Can you live off that for two decades? It ends up being only $17,550 a year. Yikes.
Here's a better scenario: If you invested 15% of that $69,000 income, you would be putting away $10,350 a year or around $863 a month. Over 30 years, that could grow to $1.9 million, assuming a 10% return. And if you waited just five more years, you’d be sitting on around $3.3 million. That sure beats $17,550 a year, huh?
4. Increase Your Income to Reach Your Goal Faster
You don’t need a six-figure salary to become a millionaire. But if you’re crunching the numbers and realize you still can’t put away the recommended 15% without being strapped—then you need to up your income so you can save that full 15%.
How do you do that? You can ask for a raise (gulp) or just get a job that pays more. You can take on a second job for a season or start a side hustle. Or you can get training to increase your skills and earning potential.
Let’s look at the field of nursing. You can become a certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN) or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Each of those jobs requires a different level of training and testing, and their salaries are all different. An LPN makes around $49,000 a year, while an RN makes around $75,000.4,5
When you increase your skills and expertise, you can boost your salary. Now, that could mean going back to school (but not always). If you’re worried about paying for continuing your education, apply for scholarships and grants. The money is out there—you just have to look for it. And no matter what, remember: Don’t ever take out student loans!
5. Cut Unnecessary Expenses
As you work toward becoming a millionaire, make sure you’re spending your money on purpose—and with a purpose. So, sit down on a regular basis and go over your expenses. Look at your budgets from previous months to see where money may be leaking or where you could cut expenses. That’s money you could be investing and putting toward your 15%!
Here are a few places to look:
- Insurance – Can you bundle car and homeowner’s insurance? Can you get better rates? Shop around and find out. Sit down with an independent agent who can show you areas where you can save.
- Cable/Satellite – Ever heard of streaming services like Hulu and Netflix (and about 50 others)? Of course you have. Give them a shot—you can probably get the shows you want without cable.
- Gifts – Don’t give in to the cultural pressure to buy over-the-top gifts for family or close friends. If you do, you’re putting pressure on them to return the favor!
- Restaurants – Here’s an experiment worth trying: For one month, eat every meal at home and skip that coffee you get every day on the way to work. You’ll be shocked at how much money you can save in 30 days!
- Subscriptions – Gym memberships, streaming music services, magazine subscriptions . . . honestly, how many of those do you really use? Try cutting a few of those monthly subscriptions from your budget.
If that run-of-the-mill stuff isn’t enough for you, there are some other options that are a bit more extreme: You could downsize to another home with a smaller mortgage payment and cheaper utility bills. Or you could move to another part of town or even to another city altogether where the cost of living is more affordable.
Just remember, whatever sacrifices you make now—big or small—will go a long way to help you reach your dreams of becoming a millionaire. And you know what? Once you’re a millionaire (yep, you’re going to be!), you might just stick with the money-saving habits you started. Get this: We found that 93% of millionaires still use coupons when they shop!6
6. Keep Your Millionaire Goal Front and Center
The steps to becoming a millionaire are the opposite of how most people act, which means you’ll see friends and family going places, doing things, and buying stuff. And if you spend too much time focusing on what they’re doing, you could be in big trouble with your own money.
Forty-nine percent of millennials say they’re influenced by social media to spend their money.7 That means they’re letting someone else’s highlight reel on their social media feed decide how they spend their own money. No thanks! Don’t get sucked into comparison culture. Fight tooth and nail against it. Let’s just be real here: It’s time to stop buying stuff we can’t afford to impress people we don’t even really like!
People who became millionaires didn’t get there by playing the comparison game. Nope. Instead, they stay focused on their own goals and didn’t worry about what other people were thinking or doing.
Instead of obsessing over what you don’t have, focus on stuff that really matters —family and friends, your church, your career goals, the legacy you’ll leave your children. Those will bring you much greater joy than a brand-new car or a destination vacation ever could.
7. Work With an Investing Professional
Here’s a question for you: If you needed to have heart surgery, would you try to operate on yourself? Of course not. That would be dumb! You’d look for the best heart surgeon you could find.
And when it comes to something as important as your retirement future, wouldn’t you want to work with someone who knows what they’re doing? Working with a financial professional is one of the smartest things you can do for your money. If you don’t have a pro yet, check out our SmartVestor service. It’s easy to use, and it’ll help you find investing pros in your area.
8. Put Your Plan on Repeat
To become a millionaire, you need to let time and compound interest work their magic. It’s a beautiful thing. And if you want to hit your big financial goals, you have to stay focused on the tiny details over the long haul.
What are we talking about? Staying out of debt. Investing continually. Avoiding the “I deserve” trap. Year after year after year. Wash, rinse, repeat. And guess what? You’ll keep doing those things even after you hit that million-dollar mark, because that’s what money-smart people do. You keep on going!
Ready to get started? Great! Set your sights on that millionaire status and connect with a SmartVestor Pro who can help you plan for your retirement future (and keep you laser focused along the way).