Anyone can become a millionaire just by investing over a long period of time. You don’t have to have a high income. For example, someone earning $40,000 a year can save 15% of his income ($6,000) every year. If it earns 10% per year, he will be a millionaire in just over 30 years.
But 30 years from now, $1 million won’t hold the same value as it does today. At a 2.5% inflation rate, it would be equivalent to $476,742 in today’s dollars.
How do you become a millionaire while $1 million still has value? Consider these six steps:
Find ways to increase your income.
Consider the example of someone earning $40,000 a year and saving 15%, or $6,000 per year. To be a “2020 millionaire” in 30 years, he needs to have saved $2,097,568. To do this, he needs to save $12,751 per year. That’s nearly 32% of his gross income.
It might be time to think about ways to increase your earnings. This could be adding a side gig, changing careers, or becoming an entrepreneur. My wife and I have done two things to try and increase our income over the years. As a full-time mom, my wife doesn’t have a regular income. She does, however, have a degree in photography. She uses her skills as a part-time photographer, bringing in extra income to help with our financial goals.
We also made the decision to start a business, Stewardship Financial, almost five years ago. Being a business owner is one of the best ways to build wealth. However, it takes time. Starting a business actually set us back financially. We sold our house and used our equity to bankroll ourselves for two years. I cashed in an IRA, and in my first full year as a business owner, my income was $10,702.
Thankfully, things have worked out! Owning a business has allowed the trajectory of my income to be higher than it was before. As an employee, you receive wages or commission for your work. As a business owner, you also receive profits from the business and have an asset that you can later sell or keep for future generations.
As income increases, cap your expenses.
Most financial rules of thumb recommend saving a specific percentage of your income, say 15%. As your income rises, you will naturally save more, give more, and have a larger lifestyle. However, there is a point where you should be able to cap your spending behaviors. This way, you will save much more than if you continued saving only a percentage of your income.
What is that number for you? It will depend on factors such as family size and where you live. For my family, we can live on $5,000 a month. We’ve committed to keeping our lifestyle the same, even as our income increases.
If you do this, you will see your savings rate snowball. Instead of saving 15%, eventually you could be saving 50% of your income.
Get the big things right.
You’ve heard the saying, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” In finance, this can be true, too. Buying a latte every day isn’t costing you the chance to be a millionaire. What is preventing you is not getting the big things right. This includes what home you buy, what cars you drive, and not being smart with debt.
Your primary home is a big purchase. It’s not, however, a high-return investment. Unless you bought at the bottom of the market, most people don’t become millionaires off buying and selling their primary homes. Since it’s not a great investment, overextending yourself and buying too much house can make it hard to invest cash flow elsewhere.
In the same manner, car purchases can siphon cash. But unlike a house, cars are depreciating assets. If you are spending too much on a car, that’s money that could be invested in appreciating assets.
Lastly, be smart with debt. Notice I didn’t say to stay away from debt. Debt can be a useful tool, but becoming too cozy with it can lead to funding a lifestyle you can’t afford. What about your mortgage? If you were smart and got a mortgage within your means, it may be wise to build wealth instead of paying off your mortgage quickly.
Buy the right type of assets.
It’s a no-brainer, right? To become a millionaire, you need to be consistently buying assets that grow in value or pay an income. Stocks, mutual funds, real estate—all of these are wise investments. Don’t rely on savings accounts or bonds to grow wealth.
A key to buying assets is to do it consistently—every paycheck, year after year. If you’re investing in the stock market, don’t pay attention to its daily performance. This is a distraction from the real goal of building wealth.
Additionally, limit your speculative investments. It may be tempting to try to strike it rich, but speculative investments carry a great deal of risk. Examples include cryptocurrencies, penny stocks, and commodity trading. And if there’s an investment opportunity that sounds too good to be true—it probably is.
Get rid of the victim mentality.
The victim mentality says that others are to blame for your life’s circumstances. With regards to money, this can be a roadblock to building wealth.
Are you playing the victim? Examples include:
- Not taking responsibility for your spending habits.
- Blaming your parents for not teaching you about money.
- Thinking the stock market is rigged.
If you think the world is conspiring against you, how can you take control of your finances? If you are pessimistic about the future, how can you invest in the stock market? I’m not saying bad things don’t happen. However, you are in control of your financial situation. This includes your career, your income, and your expenses.
Have a financial plan.
Do you have a written financial plan? A plan will serve as a roadmap to help guide your financial decision making. Chances are, you have a good grasp on your day-to-day finances. You might even be well versed in investing and are tracking your net worth. But you could use a wise advisor to help with the big picture. This is where working with a financial planner can give you the nudge you need to take your finances to the next level.
Having a goal to become a millionaire sooner than later is doable for a lot of people—especially if you’ve already jump-started your savings.
But some people don’t have the margin to be able to save significantly. That’s okay! You don’t have to be wealthy. But be encouraged—you don’t have to be poor, either! Even if you can’t save a lot, saving what you can will make a big difference over time.
Lastly, remember that wealth is a tool—not an end in itself, nor a measure of happiness. King Solomon, who was one of the wealthiest people to ever live, said this in Ecclesiastes 5:10—“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income.”
As we set goals and build wealth, let’s remember that it’s God that gives the ability to produce wealth. Let’s live generously as good stewards of his money!