Everyone wants to become a millionaire; it’s part of the American dream. Our culture celebrates the status of becoming a millionaire, and for good reason, it takes significant focus and long-term effort to get there. The reality is that with hard work and determination you too can become one.
According to Fidelity’s Millionaire Outlook survey, over 85% of millionaires are self-made. Although success is never guaranteed, if you want to join the ranks of the 18.6 million millionaire households in the US, there are certain proven steps to follow. Here are 10 steps, that over the long-term, will help you get there.
- If you want to be a millionaire, you must have a plan
- Employee-sponsored and self-employed retirement plans are terrific saving vehicles
- Avoid debt, stick to your plan, and let the drip of investing work to your advantage
1. Create A Goal
The goal is to become a millionaire. But not all millionaires get there by the same path or by the same stage in life. It is up to you to intelligently design your path. This requires you to be SMARTER than most about your goal setting.
Select a specific time by which you want to reach your goal, make your financial goal measurable, give yourself actionable steps to follow, take some risks, make your goal time-dependent with short check-in intervals, make it exciting, and finally make it relevant to your overarching life goals. Design your life for success.
2. Develop A Plan
To get from here to there, you need a path to follow. Reverse engineer your plan for success. Decide how much you are going to save on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. This all depends on how quickly you want to reach your goal of becoming a millionaire.
Money Tip: A great way to track your goals consistently is by journaling regularly. This allows for regular “check-ins” with yourself; it will keep you honest.
3. Get Rid of Debt
Debt of all kinds – credit card, student loans, consumer – will shackle your financial progress. Remember Millennial Money Makeover’s Principle of Success #5: Debt is Not A Necessary Evil. Avoid it at all costs.
Get rid of the debt in your life, forever. This will allow you to put even more money towards savings and investing in your future. Becoming debt-free will set you up with the financial base to support your goals.
4. Begin Saving
Once your debts are completely paid off, its time to start saving. Begin by saving a $3,000 emergency fund. You can do this by setting up a savings account dedicated to your emergency fund.
Money Tip: If you are looking for a place to park your emergency fund, take a look at some high yielding savings accounts. As a starting point, visit Personal Capital’s individual and joint saving accounts.
Once you have completed this step, build up your slush fund, or 3-6 months of your living expenses. By distancing yourself from the emergencies of life and giving yourself a nice 3-6 month cash saving cushion, you will create the mental bandwidth to concentrate on reaching your goals. As an added benefit, you will begin building your savings muscle. Success begets success.
5. Invest Your Money
Now that you are crushing your Millennial Money Milestones, it’s time to start accumulating your investments. Investing can be intimidating. But remember that because you are investing, that means you are winning. And your goal is to keep winning.
Investing is the single best way to grow your net worth over time and it puts you in alignment with the long-term growth necessary to reach millionaire status.
Money Tip: For some classic books on investing – check out two of my favorites, The Intelligent Investor and A Random Walk Down Wall Street. If you want to laugh and learn about how Wall Street works, then read Monkey Business too.
6. Ask A Professional
The best athletes in the world have coaches. It’s no different for world-class investors or business leaders. In fact, Gary Keller – founder of Keller Williams Realty – credits his coach for leading him to the idea for The ONE Thing.
If the best in the world have coaches, why not you? You should get professional advice about your financial plans; good advisors will hold you accountable. Financial professionals are there to help you in the process and accelerate your collision with success.
7. Diversify Your Portfolio
You have heard it a thousand times – diversify, diversity, diversity. Not all asset classes are created equal. When you are thinking about risk, spread it across different asset types, geographic regions, industries, sectors, and economies.
It’s one of the three things hedge fund manager Ray Dalio recommends to Millennials. Ray Dalio is one of the most successful investors of all time and the author of Principles. Take his advice.
8. Monitor Your Spending
Get a grip on your variable and fixed costs. Your spending is one of the most controllable features of your monthly and annual cash flow. Cut the nonessential expenses and make sure that your spending aligns with your saving goals.
Money Tip: As you become more successful in your career, fight lifestyle creep and honor your commitment to socioeconomic downsizing; it’s the easiest and fastest way to get rich quickly.
9. Be Smart With Taxes
No one likes paying taxes. The federal government knows this and so do you. There is a reason Uncle Sam takes your income taxes out of your paycheck before you get it. Avoiding costly tax mistakes can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Take advantage of tax-saving strategies, like tax-loss harvesting and avoiding capital gains, to bolster your after-tax returns. This type of preemptive thinking will help you avoid tax leaks in your portfolio and allow you to keep more of your hard-earned money.
10. Practice Patience
There are plenty of get-rich-quick schemes; this is not one of them. You can become a millionaire. How quickly that happens is completely up to you. It will take practice and patience for you to cross the finish line. Follow the advice of those that have gone before you, and adopt the habits of millionaires today. You can do this!
Building up a million-dollar portfolio is not easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Join the ranks of America’s millionaires, and decide on Turning Professional with your money. Begin your accent today.
Personal Capital is an awesome tool for tracking your progress to Millionaire status. This is the tool that I use to track my finances. As a side note, I highly recommend checking out the retirement savings projection tool and investment tracker.