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Are you doubtful that you could ever be a millionaire? You may want to reconsider.
If you’re diligent with your savings, manage your spending, and stick with it for some time, even someone with modest earnings can become a millionaire. In fact, the 2021 Global Wealth Report from the Credit Suisse Research Institute found that the number of millionaires in the U.S. has reached nearly 22 million. Likewise, the number of the richest of the rich has increased by 24%.
Even though there are just over 21,951,000 millionaires in the U.S., we had the most millionaires within the country year-over-year of any nation. Globally, there are now 56.1 million millionaires, an increase from 50.8 million millionaires a year earlier.
So, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
But, can you become a millionaire and retire young? It’s definitely a challenge. But, it is possible with the ten strategies listed below.
Related: 20 Habits Holding Me Back From Being a Millionaire
1. Plan your financial future.
The path to financial freedom begins and ends with financial planning. But, what exactly should your finanical plan include?
You should at least list where you are now, your goal, and how you’re going to get there. Write your financial plan down with milestones for when and how much you want to save. After all, according to a study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, by writing down your goals and dreams every day, you become 42% more likely to achieve them.
By assessing your progress at each milestone, you will be able to make decisions based on your progress. Also, these factors can be adjusted as well:
- Your deadline for reaching your goal
- Amount of your goal
- Your monthly savings
- The level of risk in your investment portfolio
If you’re ahead of schedule, you can enjoy life a little more and reduce your savings. On the flip side, you might want to learn some ways to earn money and reduce your expenses if you’re behind.
2. Develop an abundance mindset.
“In 2012, I quit my job in finance and retired at 34 with $3 million,” writes Sam Dogan in a CNBC piece. “But it wasn’t penny-pinching that got me there; rather, it was in large part thanks to my abundance mindset,” he adds. “In the realm of abundance, everything — money, happiness, prestige — is plentiful.”
Those with an abundance mindset take into account the bigger picture when making decisions. “They know that wealth is a byproduct of what they do with their time and money, whether it’s investing in real estate or the stock market, working harder so they can get paid more, refinancing their mortgage, or starting a side hustle,” Dogan explains.
Conversely, super savers tend to have a scarcity mindset. As a consequence, they avoid any type of risky decision. In response, they move to cheaper cities, decide to rent rather than buy, etc. “In other words, they believe everything is limited and that extreme frugality is the only way to get rich,” he says.
That’s not an excuse to be wasteful or careless when it comes to your money. But, when you have a scarcity mindset you might get bored, lonely, or uncomfortable because you moved somewhere that isn’t exciting — or you refuse to go out. More importantly, you’re missing out on real estate gains. And, since you reside in a cheaper area, there just aren’t as many opportunities to grow your wealth.
3. Live below your means.
Living below your means does not necessarily mean being a “cheapskate.” Instead, it “simply means that you’re spending less than or equal to what you’re making each month,” explains Deanna Ritchie in a previous Due article. “As a result, you aren’t putting yourself into debt by living off of plastic. And more importantly, this will help you create a more stable financial future.”
“Of course, living within your means requires discipline and a little sacrifice,” continues Denna. “However, if you stick with it, you’ll reap the following rewards, in addition to avoiding debt:”
- Anxiety and stress are reduced.
- Your credit score won’t be the focus of your attention.
- Having the ability to build wealth.
- It will give you more freedom and financial security.
Is there a way to live within your means without restricting yourself? The following suggestions might help;
- Use the 50/30/20 rule to create a budget. 50% of your take-home income should be spent on essentials like food and housing, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings.
- Automate your savings. To put it simply, pay yourself first by setting aside a percentage of your paychecks for savings.
- Cut back on frivolous spending, like unused gym memberships.
- Don’t keep up with the Joneses. Their facade may be that they’re financially successful. Their debts, however, could be considerable.
- Delay gratification. When purchasing groceries, clothing, electronics, or travel, you might consider waiting for a sale or discount rather than paying full price.
- Take advantage of tax deductions. When you take tax deductions, you pay less federal and state taxes. It is often possible to set up a retirement plan, make a contribution to a charity, or fund a college education with tax savings.
- Streamline your debt repayment process. For example, negotiate a better interest rate with lenders or consolidate your debts.
4. Shake your moneymaker.
I don’t mean literally. That is, unless, you’re an incredible dancer. Rather, this means that if you want to become a millionaire and retire young, you have to, as Rihanna famously proclaimed, put in work.
The first place to start? Make even more money with your primary income source.
If you’re working a 9-to-5 position, maybe you could work overtime once or twice a month. Maybe you could earn a certification in order to land a raise or promotion. Or, you could even ask if there are any other responsibilities you could take on — ideally something that you’re already experienced or skilled at.
As for the self-employed? Well, this might be a bit easier. For example, let’s say that you own an ice cream shop. If you have the funds, you could invest in an ice cream cart or truck. If so, you could work events like birthdays or weddings. Or, hire someone to sell your products elsewhere while you’re running the actual business.
Another idea? Start a blog and monetize through affiliate links. Your blog could discuss anything from how to make ice cream to managing a small business. These topics could also be used to create an online course. And, you could even sell your swag online.
But, if you really want to hit it out of the park, you need to also find additional income streams. Some ideas would be listing a spare bedroom on Airbnb, ridesharing, freelancing, or dropshipping. Ideally, you want to hone in on passive income sources.
Related: Support Your Primary Business Venture with a Side Hustle
5. Don’t miss out on your 401(k).
When your company offers a 401(k) retirement plan, you should, without question, take advantage of it. Your employer often matches a certain percentage of funds that you contribute, before taxes are deducted. In addition, because the money is taken out before taxes, you save some money for retirement, and the amount of taxes you pay is reduced because the money grows over time. In short, a 401(k) plan is a no-brainer.
FYI, for 2022, the 401(k) contribution limit is $20,500.
6. Think beyond your 401(k).
In addition, to an employee-sponsored 401(k), open a traditional IRA. Here, a percentage of your income can be automatically deposited into a separate savings account. And, even better, it will not be taxed as long as you leave it there.
By the time you withdraw it, you will probably be in a lower tax bracket, so you will save money. An IRA fund can be deposited in a bank or invested in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.
Roth IRAs are also available, but they have more conditions than regular IRAs. The amount you qualify for depends on your income and is different for married couples and singles. During the first two years, you can contribute $3,000, and by the sixth year, $5,000. Earnings and withdrawals from Roth IRAs are not taxed; however, contributions to these accounts are not deductible.
But, are there any retirement savings plans tailored for entrepreneurs? Yep.
- Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA. Are you a sole proprietor? If so, then a SEP-IRA retirement plan is worth exploring. It’s easy to set up, flexible and has favorable contribution limits.
- Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA. Even though SIMPLE IRAs are available to sole proprietors, they are preferable for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. It’s kind of like a hybrid IRA/401k plan.
- Individual 401(k). This is similar to a traditional 401(k). However, your spouse will be able to participate as well. Additionally, you may contribute both as an employee and as an employer.
Other options include a profit-sharing plan or a money purchase plan.
7. Save it for a rainy day.
Are you familiar with Murphy’s law? If not, it’s a popular adage that states: “things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance.” Or, more succinctly, “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”
At some point, you will have to deal with a financial emergency. It could be needing a new roof on your home, replacing your vehicle after the transmission goes, or buying a new piece of equipment for your business. If you don’t have an emergency fund, then you’ll have to dip into your savings. Or, even worse, cover any unexpected expense using a high-interest credit card.
That may sound innocent enough. However, this can certainly derail your goal of becoming a millionaire. And, it will also delay your retirement.
The easiest solution? Have an emergency fund that covers at least three to six months of your expenses. And, make sure that you don’t keep this money in the bank. You want to stash it somewhere where it’s earning more interest like a high-yield savings account, REIT, or short-term note.
8. Invest in broadly diversified index funds.
“Broadly diversified index funds can be your investment vehicle for a ride to becoming a millionaire retiree if the stock market performs as it has in the past,” notes Bankrate’s senior reporter James F. Royal, Ph.D.
“If you know little about investing and have no desire to learn more, you still can be a successful investor,” he adds. The reason? Index funds.
An index fund is an investment grouping of assets, such as stocks or bonds. And, according to Royal, they should have the following attributes:
- Broadly diversified. Funds of this type invest in stocks from a broad range of industries.
- Invested in stocks. Despite being more volatile in the short term, stocks offer the best long-term gains.
- Low cost. The expense ratio of an index fund should be below 0.5 percent, so you can find a cheap, low-cost index fund.
- Good long-term track record. Choose funds with annual returns of at least 10 percent over the previous 10 years. In many cases, returns can reach 15 percent.
It is these characteristics that you should seek if you want to generate great long-term returns.
Among the most popular index funds are those linked to Standard & Poor’s 500 – which includes hundreds of America’s best companies. “The best S&P 500 funds are also among the cheapest funds and may cost just a few dollars a year for every $10,000 you have invested,” he states. For the longest periods, this index has provided about 10 percent annual returns.
The Nasdaq composite index, which includes some of the world’s largest tech companies, is another good option. In fact, it regularly tops Bankrate’s list of the best mutual funds.
9. Work with a financial advisor.
If you intend to retire early, you must deal with two major hurdles:
- Saving for retirement takes less time.
- Your retirement will give you more free time.
A financial advisor can assist you with developing an investment strategy that will help you meet your retirement goals. In addition, he or she can help you figure out how much you need to invest each month to reach your goals.
Together with your advisor, you can make sure you receive money that lasts after retirement. Income streams include dividends, required minimum distributions, Social Security, pensions, and investments in real estate.
Choosing an advisor that you are comfortable with and trust is imperative since you may be working with that person for decades. Furthermore, the cost of a financial advisor should be seen as not just their time, but as their expertise, as well. In the end, if you hire an advisor with the right expertise, they will more than cover the cost.
Related: 10 Tips to Stay Focused on Your Financial Goals
10. Don’t believe what discouraging people say.
“As soon as you accept that you’re not going to become a millionaire, you probably won’t – you’ll settle for the ordinary,” says Jeff Rose CFP® and founder of Good Financial Cents. “Your beliefs about your future matter a whole lot, and will – in part – help determine your future.”
“After all, your beliefs affect your actions, and your actions affect your outcomes,” Jeff adds. “When you listen to discouraging people, you’re letting them accomplish their goal – to drag you down and ensure you don’t surpass their success. No good.”
As an alternative, he suggests that you prove them wrong. But stay humble in your efforts. “Your results will speak louder than your words, I promise you.”
I would also add that instead of wasting your time with these types of people, you rub shoulders with other millionaires. Maybe you could join the board of a charitable organization or attend networking events. If you can’t meet them in person, then surround yourself with books like “The Millionaire Mind” by Thomas J. Stanley or “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” by T. Harv Eker.