Think about what you spent your money on this past week. How many times did you eat out instead of cooking at home? How many trips did you make to Starbucks? Did you buy that new pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on?
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend roughly $150 every week on entertainment, clothing, and eating out at restaurants (that starts to add up really fast).1
Listen, these aren’t bad things. It’s okay to have fun with money once in a while—whether that means treating yourself to a vanilla latte or getting tickets to that Jonas Brothers concert—as long as it’s in the budget! But with so many Americans behind on retirement, is it possible some of this stuff is keeping you from saving money for your future?
The truth is, anyone living and working in America today can retire a millionaire. It’s not an impossible fantasy—not if you’re willing to put in the work. It’s actually pretty doable.
Is It Really Possible to Retire a Millionaire With $35 a Week?
First, let’s take a harder look at some of that extra spending you’re doing. Let’s say you make one small change and give up one dinner out every week (or skip the lattes and make coffee at home)—and cut your spending by about $35. What would happen if you invested that money instead? How could just $35 a week affect your future? Would that really be enough to retire a millionaire?
Let’s run the numbers! If you invested $35 a week in good growth stock mutual funds with a 10–12% rate of return, here’s what your nest egg could look like over time:
- In 20 years, you could retire with $115,000 to $150,000.
- In 30 years, you could retire with $343,000 to $530,000.
- In 40 years, you could retire with $960,000 to $1.7 million!
See? It is possible to reach millionaire status by investing as little as $35 a week . . . but it’ll probably take you a long time to get there—think 40 years (or more).
Look, saving something is always better than saving nothing. One of the main reasons why so many Americans are behind on saving for retirement is simply that they’re not saving.2 When time and compound growth are on your side, even a little bit of money saved can go a long way!
But here’s the deal: For most people, $35 a week isn’t even scratching the surface of what they could do to save for the future. It’s actually less than 3% of the median household income!3 If you can become a millionaire by investing a few spare bucks a month, what could your retirement look like if you actually had a real plan to build wealth?
5 Key Steps to Retire a Millionaire
In Dave Ramsey's new book, Baby Steps Millionaires, he talks about the proven path that millions of Americans have taken to become millionaires—and it isn’t as complicated as you think! It’s actually quite simple: They stayed out of debt. They lived within their means. They put money in their 401(k)s every month for years.
And then one day they looked up and saw that they had a seven-figure net worth. These are ordinary folks just like you who followed the 7 Baby Steps on their way to building wealth so they could live and give like no one else—and so can you!
Here are five things you can do right now to get on track:
1. Start saving ASAP.
It’s never too early (or too late!) to start saving for retirement. The sooner you start investing, the harder your money is going to work for you.
How much will you need for retirement? Find out with this free tool!
Your goal should be to invest 15% of your gross income for retirement. That’s your baseline! Just imagine how much your nest egg could grow if you increase your contributions as your income grows. You could retire a millionaire a lot faster if you throw more money into these accounts sooner.
But it’s important to remember this: You shouldn’t invest anything if you’re still in debt. No exceptions! You’re not truly building wealth if you still owe money to someone else. As soon as you’re debt-free (except for your mortgage) and have a fully funded emergency fund in place, then you can start saving money for retirement.
2. Take advantage of your company’s 401(k) match.
Choosing the right type of retirement account to park your money in is just as important as how much you invest. Think of it like the difference between parking your car in a high-security garage versus parking it on a busy street full of reckless drivers. One is a smart move, the other is a huge gamble.
If you have an employer-sponsored retirement account—like a 401(k) or a 403(b)—with a company match, take advantage of it. That’s free money!
3. Add a Roth IRA to your investing portfolio.
We’re huge fans of the Roth IRA (which stands for individual retirement account) because the money inside grows tax-free. That means when it’s time for you to retire, you get to keep all of the money in it. Yep, that’s right—you don’t have to share it with Uncle Sam!
The Roth IRA also lets you choose from thousands of mutual funds so you can diversify your portfolio—that’s fancy investing talk for spreading your money into different types of investments. You should split your investment dollars evenly across four types of mutual funds: growth, growth and income, aggressive growth, and international.
4. Don’t touch it.
The secret to retiring a millionaire is to invest early and often and then leave it alone. Seriously, don’t touch it! Your retirement fund is not a short-term investment. It’s likely the only money you’ll have when you leave the workforce—so be careful with it! (Psst—if you’re thinking Social Security will be enough to get you through retirement, think again.)
Consider your retirement money off-limits until you retire and not a day before. And don’t let a temporary downturn in the market scare you into making a poor decision that could hurt you in the long run (like cashing out your retirement account—trust us, the early withdrawal penalty alone will put a dent in your retirement dreams).
5. Work with an investment professional.
You don’t have to bring in big bucks to win with money, but you do need to know what you’re doing. No matter what your income looks like, talking to an investing expert can make a huge difference in reaching your retirement goals.
So, sit down with an investment professional and look at your options. It's never too late to start saving for retirement, and an investing pro can help you form a game plan to keep you focused on your savings goals.
Don’t know where to start? Our SmartVestor program can help you find investment professionals in your area who can help you get started.
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This article provides general guidelines about investing topics. Your situation may be unique. If you have questions, connect with a SmartVestor Pro. Ramsey Solutions is a paid, non-client promoter of participating Pros.