I’ve seen one too many blogs talk about 5 or 10 steps that people can take to become a millionaire. Well, I want to do something different and share with you ten steps I’m taking to reach my first million.
Instead of giving you another list of general steps you can take, the steps I’m making are going to be personal and much more specific than what you’re probably expecting. I really believe that sharing my story and specific events will impact you far greater than a general article about “becoming a millionaire.”
If you want general steps, I highly recommend my 7 day e-course “Retire a Millionaire” (yes, you should subscribe!). I know not everyone is going to want to know my more specific steps related to my personal life, so this course might be right up your alley.
Before I get started, I want to make it clear that I’m young (23) and have no debt. These two things alone are on my side. Now, I’m not saying that if you’re 40 it’s impossible to become a millionaire. It’s very possible, just much, much harder.
Let’s dig in, here are ten specific decisions I’ve made or plan on making to become a millionaire and retire early:
1. Create Multiple Streams of Income
This one is huge. Unless you’re a doctor, lawyer, or work in the government, it’s going to be hard for you to become a millionaire. With salaries freezing, skyrocketing inflation, and a US economy that is headed nowhere, one income is not going to be enough. I came to realize this living in San Diego.
I make an above average salary and I still feel pinched for money! All the more reason to be frugal I guess. However, that’s not the life I want, constantly worrying about the cost of coffee or buying the cheapo toilet paper. Not me, no thanks! I’d rather increase my income and live comfortably.
So, what is my second income stream? Well, this blog of course! After graduating college, I wanted to start a business that could go with me where-ever I traveled and it had to be something that I was interested in. A personal finance website just made sense. Since starting in December of 2010, this site has grown exponentially and it has made a huge impact on my finances. As the income from this blog grows, the sooner I can retire and the sooner I will be a millionaire.
2. Investing 20% of my Income
Twenty percent might seem high to the average American, but guess what, it’s a reality! We don’t know what taxes are going to do in the coming years and we don’t know where inflation is headed. Save tons of money and start saving now. For me, 20% is a nice chunk of change that I invest regularly through Vanguard. I also recommend brokers like Options House and Betterment. Money is automatically taken out of my paycheck so I don’t even think about it. If you don’t know what automating you finances is, go here for a great resource.
Although I invest a large percentage of my income, don’t be turned off if you can’t do that! You have to start somewhere. Whether that is 2% or 7%, start investing now because compound interest is powerful. Do make it a goal to invest 20% of your income at some point. You really need to ask yourself how bad you want to retire. Do you really want to be working the rest of your life?
3. Building up a $10,000 Emergency Fund
I’m half way there and I’ll hit this goal by the end of next year. Having a hefty emergency fund is critical in times of distress. If you lose your job, what are you going to do about income? If your car is totaled, what now? These are events that are more common than not. You need an emergency fund to protect yourself from debt during these times. Avoid debt and making your first million will come easy.
4. Living as a Minimalist
I’ve only been a minimalist for about a year now. I graduated college and realized I had tons of useless junk and things I kept “just cuz.” Well I decided to become a minimalist and own very little! I’m 23 and all my personal belongings still fit in my car! It really does feel good but I have a feeling that’s going to change when I get married next year haha.
Living as a minimalist will help me avoid unnecessary purchases and free op more of my money for investments. I’ve already seen this lifestyle save my butt a couple times. I’m sure it will save me many more times. If you aren’t a minimalist yet, what are you waiting for?
5. Cashing in on Credit Card Bonuses
Seriously, what is the scare with credit cards these days? I place part of the blame on Dave Ramsey. The rest of the blame goes on people’s ignorance. Credits cards are not of the devil and shouldn’t ruin people’s lives?
I believe the opposite. I enjoy playing a game called the “credit card shuffle.” Basically, what I do is open a couple credits cards in a year and space them in intervals. I hand pick certain credit cards with the highest bonuses. For example, I will be singing up for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card. Earn up to 25K bonus points ” 10K with your first purchase and another 15K when you spend $5K within the first 6 months of Cardmembership“ enough for a weekend getaway to a Category 4 hotel like the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. This is one example of literally dozens of cards that offer similar bonuses.
I typically over four cards over the course of a year and just keep doing that every year. My credit score stays high and I make close to $5,000/year using this money scheming strategy. Credit card companies may hate me, but I love them.
6. Driving my Car into the Ground
If you don’t know my story about paying my Acura TL off 52 months early, check out the article here. Looking back, I shouldn’t have taken out that loan, but I did anyways.
Thankfully it all worked out and I was back to living debt free again. I originally purchased that car to be my ride for years to come. I wanted something reliable, powerful, and fuel efficient. The TL provided that. And guess what? I’m going to ride it into the ground!
I plan on taking care of the paint and always doing regular maintenance on it. The plan is to baby this car and drive it until it dies. By avoiding expensive car purchases, I avoid taking on debt and a reduction in my cash flow. Instead of money going towards a new car I can invest it towards retirement.
7. Living Debt Free Until I Die
This never seems to be a hard one for me. I don’t know if it comes from the way I grew up or something that has developed over time, but living in debt is not something I’m personally fond of. I will steer clear of situations where I could get into financial trouble.
I’m always looking out for deals and shopping at discount retailers. To be honest, the word “debt” is not in my vocabulary. You also won’t see any stories about me getting out of debt, I really do hate it that much. I hate it so much that I refused to graduate college with debt. Please feel free to check out how I did it.
With a positive cash flow being a benefit of living a debt free life, more of my money will be available to be invested and multiplied. I believe this is a critical component to my long term goal of reaching my first million.
8. Marrying a Frugal Wife
I don’t know if this is politically correct or not, but I’m marrying the most beautiful, amazing, and frugal woman in the world. You can see a picture of us on my about page. If you are reading this and searching for that special someone, I would recommend you finding someone frugal!
Not so frugal wives can wreak havoc on your finances and destroy your dreams of retiring early. You have to find someone who shares your passion and vision for the future. If you’re worried, just ask to see her wallet. One glance will tell you what her spending habits are like.
Because I’m marrying someone who is just as frugal as me, not only is it easy to save money but we both have fun doing it!
9. Reading Financial Blogs and Publications
Like anything in life, you never want to stop learning. I’m always on the lookout for new information and money saving tips. I choose to read various personal finance blogs and publications. For finance blogs, my “go to” sites are ChristianPF, Bible Money Matters, and Consumerism Commentary. When I’m in need of something more in depth or more numbers based, I always head over to Morning Star.
I would never want to be in a position where my goal of retiring a millionaire was in jeopardy. Being “in the know” not only protects my investments but helps me make better financial decisions.
10. Living Below my Means in Every Area of my Life
This is just common sense. Take housing for example. I would say most Americans choose to live beyond their means and live in luxurious apartments or homes. Why not take it down a notch and live somewhere humble? Yes, it will hit your pride, but your wallet will be super happy.
I could have followed the crowd and chose to live in a condo requiring two paychecks a month. Instead, I found a modest house and found some roommates. I ended up paying 3/4 of a weekly paycheck. It’s not the nicest place or the nicest neighborhood, but I’m definitely living below my means.
This type of mentality will make a huge impact on how soon I reach my first million. If you ever see me straying from this, shoot me and email and tell me to shape up! Let’s keep each other accountable.
Join the Millionaire Club
Join me on this journey! Hopefully my ten steps above will help you on the way to reaching YOUR first million. I know that your steps will be different, so comment below with your top tip. Sharing is caring 😉