Being a millionaire is a possibility for everyone. With hard work, smart decisions and a positive attitude, achieving your first million can be a reality whether you start in your 20s, 30s and even 40s.
In fact, there are already self-made millionaires before they even reach their 20s such as celebrity entrepreneur, philanthropist and bestselling author Farrah Gray, a millionaire at 14. Snap Caps founder, Maddie Bradshaw, is another teen millionaire who snagged early success.
Yet, it’s never too late to be a millionaire. Remember that many of the founders of multi-dollar companies we know these days started their road to success in their 40s and even 50s such as Sam Walton of Walmart (44), Adi Dassler of Adidas (49), Gordon Bowker of Starbucks (51) and Harland David Sanders of KFC (62).
Becoming a self-made millionaire is not an overnight success story. You must have the willingness to invest your time, energy and money into activities that will help you achieve your financial goals.
Your first million in your 20s
In your 20s, you have many opportunities to become a millionaire especially when you don’t have the financial responsibilities of a family or your parents are generally still active and young enough to take care of themselves.
The greatest challenge is overcoming peer envy and resisting the temptation to spend your income on luxuries as a fresh-faced graduate enjoying the perks of your hard-earned income.
When it comes to personal finance, “Like all other goals, achieving financial independence requires self-awareness, self-discipline and personal finance strategies to develop good habits permanently.” Here are a few strategies:
Pay yourself first
If possible, make it a habit to put 10% of your monthly income into a savings account. It’s wise to start your savings plan early. As an entrepreneur, it’s even more important to start, even if you feel stretched at times. When it comes to savings, “According to a survey from TD Ameritrade, 70% of entrepreneurs aren’t contributing to a retirement plan. 40% of self-employed individuals aren’t saving regularly, and 28% aren’t saving at all.”
If you fall into one of these categories, make it a priority to shift gears and consider a Traditional or Roth IRA, Solo 401(k), Sep IRA or a Simple IRA; these retirement savings plans have their pros and cons, so do your research first. Make the most of the money you receive at this stage.
Live below your means
As a college student you were likely living well below your means. Now that you’re out in the business world, don’t stop — especially if you want to start building wealth. “The media likes to paint a certain picture of what it means to be rich — huge mansions, expensive cars, high-powered Wall Street or tech-startup-type jobs. If you buy into that image, being rich may feel like an impossible dream,” according to Time magazine.
“But the truth is that most ‘rich’ people live very normal lives [… and] don’t fit the stereotype.” “If you want to be rich, you need to stop acting like you have money in the bank and start living beneath your means,” says Thomas J. Stanley, author of “The Millionaire Mind” and the “The Millionaire Next Door”.
Some recommendations include: ditching big monthly bills, switching to a low-cost cellphone company, getting rid of cable and automating saving by transferring money out of checking and into savings at the beginning of every month.
Learn how to invest
Whether it’s the stock market or a pooled fund (e.g. mutual funds or UITFs), you can take advantage of compounding your investments when you start early. Technology has leveled the online brokerage firm playing field, making it simple for real people to invest.
For example, Stash let’s you invest with as little as $5 and a $1 per month subscription fee, with no commissions or surprises. Meanwhile, Betterment takes the guesswork out of investing by letting you enter your age and one of five general investment goals. It then invests the money in a combination of stocks and bonds: a fully diversified investment portfolio of 12 global asset classes.
The path to millions in your 30s
Allocate a portion of your income into your portfolio each month and invest smart. Continue to learn more about money management with helpful investing and money blogs like Oblivious Investor, Budgets Are Sexy, Get Rich Slowly, Afford Anything and Kiplinger for solid and accurate business forecasts.
Start a business
If you haven’t done so in your 20s, now is the right time to start a business. If you’ve been an employee in the last decade, you have likely gained the knowledge, skills and experience to branch out on your own.
Manage debts wisely
Also by now, you’ve probably incurred financial liabilities from various sources such as car loans and credit card debt. Make it a goal to bring them all down to zero while you’re still in your 30s. Use free budgeting apps like EveryDollar.com, created by personal finance expert Dave Ramsey to get started.
This is the first step, because without a solid budget, paying down debt is nearly impossible. You’ll have no idea how much you have left over (after your other expenses) to put toward your debt.
Never too late to be a millionaire in your 40s
Continue to decrease debt
Hopefully by now, you’re only facing financial obligations with zero or minimal interest rates. Making the right money moves at this stage of the game is key. “If you have student loan debt, then you should first look to see if it’s tax-deductible based on your tax bracket,” and “[…] check the interest rates on your credit cards and student loans to see if you can find lower rates,” according to Bankrate.com.
Keep expenses to a minimum
Keeping your expenses low can help you save more and make your money work for you (instead of the other way around). Even if you have varied income sources by now such as profits from your business or real estate income, consider living a frugal lifestyle or even a minimalist life and let go of material things that you can live without.
Continue investing and diversify
Keep investing in solid long-term opportunities. Also keep an eye on (and test) emerging investment opportunities, like peer-to-peer (P2P) lending a great opportunity for income-seeking investors. While P2P lending doesn’t stack up in comparison to the stock market and there is a learning curve, it does have its benefits. Also having a mentor or joining a club for investors can help you gain investment insights and build a stronger portfolio.
It’s never too late to take the first steps toward being a millionaire. As personal success expert Brian Tracy explains, “First, make a decision, right now, that you are going to be financially independent, no matter what obstacles you face in the short term. Then write it down, make a plan and start to work on it every single day.”
This article has been edited.
Maricor Bunal writes for Loansolutions to help educate people in making informed-decisions on taking out loans and becoming responsible borrowers. Being the COO, she feels it is her social responsibility to do so. Learn more from her as she shares tips, advice and stories on finance. Connect with @maricorbunal on Twitter.
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