What would you do with a million dollars?
Would you use it for a cushy retirement? Would you catch up on bills, pay off your credit card debt, or put it toward your kid’s college fund?
You might think saving that much money is impossible. It’s not — but it is a dedicated effort. But, like many things, the rewards are great if you overcome the challenges.
Everybody’s situation is different, which means each person will encounter their own obstacles along the way. And while saving $1 million seems unreachable, you’re sure to reach it if you develop solid financial habits.
US News My Money offers 11 steps to grow your wealth, curb your spending, and achieve your financial goals.
1. Start Sooner, Not Later
When you start saving sooner, you don’t have to sock away as much per month. In addition, you can be more assertive with your investments.
For example, if you had an investment with an annualized return of 7%, you would need to set aside $900 every month for 30 years to reach $1 million, according to certified financial planner Jamie Ebersole. But if you give yourself 20 years, that jumps to $2,000 every month. As you can see, time makes a huge difference.
Use Bankrate’s savings calculator to experiment and see how different time frames affect your goal.
2. Be Smart About Your Financial Accounts
Find the best account for your goals and needs, such as different retirement vehicles, an emergency fund, or health savings accounts (HSAs). You may not have $1 million in one place, but you could across multiple accounts. Make sure to pay attention to each accounts’ tax and interest rate benefits and drawbacks.
3. Use A Tax-Advantaged Account
Tax-advantaged accounts let you grow your wealth through compound interest so you can reach your savings goals faster. For instance, money saved in a 401(k) or other retirement vehicle grows tax-free, while HSAs get three times the tax benefits and 529 accounts offer tax breaks for your child’s future tuition.
4. Get Started In Investments
Investing is the key to becoming a millionaire, so get ready for a little risk by making smart investment decisions and putting your money into lucrative financial products. “You need something that’s going to be able to give you returns above inflation to keep the portfolio growing,” Ebersole told US News My Money.
Your goals and timeframe will determine where you put your money. Concerning your retirement accounts (which most people keep most of their savings), Blue Ocean Global Wealth founder and certified financial planner Marguerita M. Cheng suggests the Goldilocks approach.
5. Lower Expenses
If you want to save more money, you need to spend less of it. That might be easier said than done, but the best way to “cut out the low-hanging fruit,” author and certified financial planner at lifelaidout LLC Roger Ma advised.
That means getting rid of subscriptions to services you don’t use or need, finding banks with more affordable fees, shopping for a better insurance rate, or downgrading your phone plan. You don’t have to live frugally, but Ma notes it helps to match your spending with your goals.
6. Reconsider Your Biggest Expenses
Lowering nominal costs here and there adds up, but you should also rethink your largest expenses, like your house and vehicle. If you want to save $1 million, consider finding a cheaper home, somewhere with a lower cost of living, or even getting a roommate.
7. Supplement Your Income
Making more money isn’t as easy as it sounds, but supplementing your current revenue stream with a side gig or part-time job can help you reach your dreams of becoming a millionaire.
See if your employer will cover the cost of continuing education or certification. Learn how to negotiate your salary and push for raises or bonuses. If you do take on extra work, make sure it doesn’t interfere with your main job or your quality of life.
8. Cover Yourself And Your Finances
Insurance isn’t only for your protection; it’s also for your finances. So make sure you are adequately covered by signing up for health insurance, disability insurance, and other policies. In the same vein, focus on building an emergency fund that you can tap in case of an unexpected expense. This will keep you from using long-term savings funds or relying on your credit card.
9. Review Your Progress Annually
Like your budget, you should review your progress on the road to $1 million every year (if not more). When you do this, look at your yearly spending and find areas where you can cut back or save more. This is also the time to rebalance your portfolio or reconsider smaller goals.
10. Take Advantage Of Employee Benefits
Making the most of your employer benefits will help you meet your goal more easily. Look for benefits such as:
- 401(k) and match
- Health insurance
- Disability insurance
- Education compensation
11. Eliminate Debt
High-interest debt is one of the biggest obstacles blocking you from your goals. So make sure to knock out credit card balances and other costly debt as soon as possible.
- Snider, Susannah. “How to Save $1 Million.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 27 Apr. 2020, money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/saving-and-budgeting/articles/how-to-save-1-million.