Unless you’re happy living in a hut in Borneo or a tent in the Grand Tetons, you’d probably like to become wealthy. Most of us dream of this. And some people make it. We learned the other day that our back yard neighbor is probably a millionaire despite the fact that he lives a quiet, middle-class type of life. The website CNBC recently reported that 500,000 new millionaires were created just in 2014.
And, of course, there’s the program Who Wants to be a Millionaire – without the question mark for some reason.
You can become a millionaire
If this is your goal, then believe it or not you can become a millionaire. It’s not extremely difficult, either. All it takes is time, money, discipline and, well, a little luck. Here’s a five-step guide to becoming wealthy that’s not terribly complicated or hard to follow.
Step one – Have a steady source of income
This might seem pretty basic but then there are people who inherited wealth or struck it rich in the lottery. If you’re not one of these lucky ones you need to have a source of income but you don’t have to earn a lot. What this boils down to is that what matters is what you do with the money and not what you earn. It’s also easy in today’s sharing economy to find ways to grow your earnings such as driving for Uber or renting out a room in your house. If no side gig appeals to you, you will need to find ways to trim your spending so you’ll have extra money you could save.
Step two – Learn to spend less than you earn
The fastest way to get into trouble with debt is to live beyond your means, which means spending more than you earn. If you want to become a millionaire you need to do the opposite of this, which is to spend less than you earn. You could do this by focusing on buying the things that make your happy and finding ways to cut what you spend on non-essentials and things that don’t have value. For example, is eating out a treat for your family? You could save a good deal of money by not doing this very often and by focusing on restaurants where your kids could eat free.
Non-essentials where you could likely save money include things like cable TV, clothing, leisure, education and entertainment. If you don’t already have a budget you really need to create one as that’s only way to determine your non-essentials and find areas where you could reduce your spending.
Step three – Save some of that income
A basic fact of life that some people never learn is that you’ll never become a millionaire if you spend all the money you earn. No matter how much you earn you need to save some of it. A good first step is to create an emergency fund. Having money available to cushion you is good as it prepares you for unexpected expenses, which then helps you avoid going into debt. Beyond this, there’s another good reason why saving money is important and that’s due to the fact that income taxes and some other factors make money that you save actually worth more than the money you earn. Plus, there’s another important advantage to having savings is that you could use the money for major purchases when you come across a great bargain or for investing. For example, you could use the money to buy a property as an investment or to save thousands of dollars on a major purchase when you run into a really good deal.
The number one way by far to grow your wealth is by investing. Albert Einstein may or may not have said that “Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe”. But it’s true and it’s a force everyone’s lying. It’s just what politicians do these days.1-+-+96 you definitely want to put to work.
One of the best ways to invest is through retirement accounts such as a 401(k) or traditional or Roth IRA that are tax advantaged. These accounts can help you increase your wealth quicker because they eliminate the drag of taxes on your investments. In addition, you could use your retirement accounts to structure your taxes now and also going forward, which gives you a powerful tool that will help grow your wealth.
If you have money left over after you’ve invested in a retirement account, you could invest in an index fund. Funds such as the Vanguard S&P, the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund and the Vanguard Total Bond Find offer low costs and are virtually guaranteed to increase in value over the years.
Step five – Monitor your spending and investments
Becoming a millionaire gets a lot easier when you start the process by making small changes in your lifestyle. This could include reducing your fixed monthly expenses as this will go a long way towards helping you spend less than you earn. In turn, this makes it much easier to save a little money every month. In addition, there are other things you could do to make things easier. For example, you could set up automatic savings or an automatic investment program so that you would no longer have to even think about saving money. You should definitely get money tracking software or an app so that you can monitor your spending and your spending patterns.
As an example of money tracking apps here is a short video demonstrating one of the most popular of them, Expense Tracker 2.0, which is available for use on both iPhones an Android phones.
Rinse and repeat
Is it really this easy to become a millionaire? It really is. Just earn money, spend less than you earn, invest, save and repeat the process. Do this and it just becomes a matter of time. One word of warning is that it could take years or even decades but it really is this simple. This is not a get rich quick scheme. As you have read, it will take time, planning and a bit of luck along the way but if you follow these five steps faithfully you will eventually become a millionaire. And how good would that feel?