Aiming to Become a Millionaire? These Steps Could Help

By Samuel Becker · February 28, 2024 · 10 minute read

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Aiming to Become a Millionaire? These Steps Could Help

Do you find yourself dreaming about what you would do if you were a millionaire? Maybe you fantasize about retiring early and traveling the world. Or perhaps what excites you is the thought of being able to donate to causes you care about.

But, you might be wondering, how to become a millionaire? You may suspect the only way you’ll ever be that rich is if you win the lottery.

Fortunately, the road to wealth isn’t that narrow — there are many ways to become a millionaire. For instance, some individuals retire with over a million dollars in savings because they made good financial decisions.

Others may have started businesses that brought them success, advanced their careers so that they made enough to save seven figures, or made smart investments.

Read on to learn more about how to become a millionaire, and strategies that could help get you there.

Introduction to the Millionaire Mindset and Goals

You may have a certain image of a millionaire in your mind. Maybe it’s a jetsetter or a celebrity. But many millionaires are not born into wealthy families or individuals who suddenly struck it rich. In fact, many millionaires are people who work for a living every day. In general, what tends to set them apart is that they have a millionaire mindset. They are smart and disciplined when it comes to their money. And they stay focused on their financial goals.

Defining What it Means to be a Millionaire

The true definition of a millionaire is someone with a net worth of at least $1 million. That means that their assets, minus any debt, is $1 million or more.

So, if you have $500,000 in savings and investments, plus a house that’s worth at least $500,000, are you a millionaire? Yes, if you own the house outright and don’t have a lot of debt such as car loans, student loans, or credit cards to pay off. But if you still owe money on your house and you’ve got a fair amount of debt to repay, you probably aren’t a millionaire. At least, not yet.

To do the math for your situation, total up your assets. Then subtract your debts from that amount. This will show you how close you are to reaching millionaire status, and possibly give you a sense of what you might have to do to get there.

Following these eight strategies can help when it comes to how to become a millionaire.

💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that opening a brokerage account typically doesn’t come with any setup costs? Often, the only requirement to open a brokerage account — aside from providing personal details — is making an initial deposit.

Step 1: Stay Away From Debt

As we just saw in the example above, one thing that could be holding you back from becoming a millionaire is debt — especially if that debt is “bad debt,” a term often used for high-interest debt. Eliminating your debt is key because it’s difficult to build wealth if you’re paying a significant portion of your income toward interest.

Paying off debt could help free up money to invest and build wealth. One way to repay debt is to use the debt avalanche method. With this technique, you pay off your debts with the highest interest rates first and then focus on debts with the next highest interest rates (while still making minimum payments on all of your debt, of course).

Eliminating debt isn’t just about paying off existing debt, though, it’s also about avoiding the chances of going into debt in the future. Part of a debt payoff strategy could involve spending less so that you don’t need to rely on credit. You can also set a strict budget and pay with cash whenever possible.

In addition, you may want to create an emergency fund by setting aside a certain amount of money every month. That way, if you have a financial setback, you don’t have to go into credit card debt.

Recommended: Ready to build your emergency fund? Use our emergency fund calculator to determine the right amount.

Step 2: Invest Early and Consistently

Investing successfully doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. That’s why you need to start early. There are a few rules to know that could help you improve your chances of becoming a millionaire.

Benefits of Compounding Returns

First, compounding returns can make all the difference. They can help your money grow, as long as the returns are reinvested.

Here’s how they work: Compounding returns depend on how much an investment gains or loses over time, which is known as the rate of return. The longer your money is invested, the more compounding it can do. That’s why some individuals start saving aggressively when they’re young.

Saving $100,000 by the time you’re 30 might not be possible for everyone, but the more you save early on, the greater impact it could have on your net worth.

And here’s the thing: Even if you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s now, it’s never too late to start saving. The important thing is that you start, period. And that you keep saving.

There are other investing strategies that could help as you work on how to become a millionaire. For instance, you could reduce the amount you spend on investment fees. High investment fees can have a big impact on your returns, so you might want to look into low-fee investments.

Also, you should make sure that you invest in a way that’s right for you throughout your life. That may mean investing more aggressively when you’re younger and gradually becoming more conservative in your investments as you get older and closer to retirement.

Step 3: Make Saving a Priority

Your savings is the amount of money you have left after paying taxes and spending money.

Many Americans aren’t saving enough to become a millionaire — in October 2023, the average personal savings rate was 3.8%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. You’ll likely need to save more than three times that amount to become a millionaire.

Effective Saving Strategies for Long-term Wealth

To save for your goals, start by investing in your company’s 401(k). Max out your 401(k) if you can. At the very least, invest at least enough to earn the employer match, if there is one. That way your employer is contributing to your savings.

In addition, consider opening a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA and contribute as much as possible — up to the limit set by the IRS. These IRAs are tax-advantaged, so they’ll help with your tax bill, too.

And investigate other savings options as well. For instance, you could open a high-yield savings account rather than a regular savings account for a higher return.

Step 4: Increase Your Income

You can’t join the ranks of millionaires if you’re not bringing in more money than you need for your basic necessities. The more money you make, the more you can save and invest.

Tips for Boosting Earnings and Maximizing Income

Some ways to boost your income include asking for a raise or looking for a new higher-paying job. You could also go back to school to earn an advanced degree that could lead to a position with a higher income. Your current employer might even help you cover the cost; check with your HR department.

Another one of the ways to earn extra money is to take on a side hustle. You could tutor students on evenings or weekends, do freelance writing, or dog sit. And those are just some of the options to consider.

Step 5: Cut Unnecessary Expenses

Getting control of your spending is critical to building wealth. That doesn’t mean you have to cut back on everything that gives you pleasure, but you could consider the happiness return on investment you get from the money that you spend. How big of an apartment or home do you truly need to be content? What kind of car do you need? Do you have to buy lunch out every day or could you bring your own lunch from home?

Identifying and Eliminating Non-Essential Spending

You could find ways to cut back on the things that don’t matter so much, but not skimping to the point that you miss out on things you love. For example, maybe you need your gym sessions (and there are plenty of low-cost gyms out there), but you can do without a $5 latte every morning.

Also, you could focus on cutting back on big expenses instead of those that won’t have a huge impact on your budget. For example, dining out only once a month, adjusting your thermostat higher or lower depending on the season, or finding a less expensive, smaller home could help you save a significant amount of money over time.

💡 Quick Tip: Distributing your money across a range of assets — also known as diversification — can be beneficial for long-term investors. When you put your eggs in many baskets, it may be beneficial if a single asset class goes down.

Step 6: Keep Your Financial Goals in Focus

To become a millionaire, you’ll need to stay laser-focused on your financial goals. When everyone else around you is spending money, going on fancy vacations, and buying expensive cars, remind yourself what’s truly important to you. Keep your spending in check, continue to save and invest, and avoid taking on debt.

It takes discipline. But instead of thinking about the stuff you don’t have, appreciate all the good things in your life, like your family and friends. Remember that you’re saving for your future. You’ll be able to enjoy yourself then if you have the money you need to live comfortably and happily.

Think of it this way: You’re making yourself and your financial security the priority. Make that your mantra.

Step 7: Consult with Investment Professionals

Investing can be complicated because there are so many options to choose from. If you need help figuring out what investments are right for you, consider working with a qualified financial advisor.

Leveraging Advice for Wealth Building

A good financial advisor could help you select the right investments and the best investing strategies for your situation. They can also help you plan and budget to reach your goals. But be sure to be an active participant in the process. Ask questions, be involved. Why are they suggesting a specific investment? And if you don’t feel comfortable with something, say so.

Finally, be sure to check your investment performance regularly. Know what you are investing in, how much, and why.

Recommended: How to Find the Best Investment Advisor For You

Step 8: Repeat and Refine Your Financial Plan

The final step to becoming a millionaire is to stay committed to your goal and your plan. Keep saving and investing your money. Stay out of debt. Let time and the power of compounding returns kick in. Be patient.

But also, don’t be afraid to refine or change your plan if need be. For instance, as you get closer to retirement, you will likely want to choose safer, less aggressive investments. You can keep saving and growing money throughout different ages and stages, but your method for doing so can evolve to make sense for where you are in your life.

Additional Tips for Wealth Building

In addition to all of the strategies above, there are a few other techniques that may help you reach millionaire status.

Lifestyle Considerations and Spending Habits

As you work your way up the ladder and earn more money throughout your career, you may be tempted to increase your lifestyle spending, too. After all, you have more money now, so you may feel the urge to spend it.

But here’s the thing: Giving in to these temptations can be a slippery slope. It might start with a bigger house in a nice neighborhood, and then grow to taking extravagant vacations and driving a luxury car. Before you know it, you could be spending way more than you’re saving.

Try to avoid lifestyle splurging if you want to be a millionaire. Instead, take the extra money and save and invest it. That way, you’ll be able to reach your goal even faster.

The Takeaway

Becoming a millionaire is possible if you take the right approach. It involves saving and investing your money, spending wisely, and avoiding debt. You need to be disciplined and focused, and it won’t always be easy. But staying committed to your goals can reward you with financial security and success.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.

Photo credit: iStock/pixelfit

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