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How to become a millionaire

So, you want to become a millionaire. You know your goal, but maybe it seems too far off in the distance, too improbable, too unattainable, for an everyday person like you to reach. You've seen the success stories on TV, but those people inherited their money, had high-paying jobs, or hit it big with the lottery. Maybe you find yourself thinking: If only I were that lucky.

Well, I've got good news for you. You can become a millionaire — and it has nothing to do with your family's money or your education. It has everything to do with you.

If you follow these principles, you'll be on your way to becoming a millionaire. Are you ready?

Steer clear of debt

From cars to clothes to houses to jewellery, you can get a loan for pretty much anything nowadays. There's this idea floating around our culture that you should get what you want the moment you want it. Get it now, pay for it later — and pay more later.

But hear me say this: debt is quicksand to your financial dreams. Every time you buy something on credit, you're digging a deeper hole for yourself. That money you're sending to lenders is money you could be putting towards your future!

Take the average car loan, which has a monthly payment of $523 and a term length of five years and nine months. If you were to invest $500 a month for five years instead, you could have $40,000. And look at this: if you invested that $40,000 for another 20 years, you could have almost $270,000! Now where's that car in 25 years? Most likely in a junkyard.

Invest early

In addition to steering clear of debt, investing early can help you become a millionaire.

If you start putting away $300 a month beginning at age 25, you could reach millionaire status by age 60 — and be sitting pretty on a $2 million nest egg come retirement (age 67). That's just $300 a month! If you waited until age 35 to start investing, you'd have to put away $800 a month to hit the million-dollar mark by age 60.

Let's look at it a different way.

If you invested $300 a month for 40 years (age 25 to age 65), you could have $1.75 million. If you invested that $300 a month for 30 years instead (age 35 to age 65), you'd only have $651,400. You'd have to work an extra ten years (to age 70) to hit $1 million. And you'd have to work until age 75 to hit $1.75 million.

Get serious about your savings

If you want to become a millionaire, the percentage you invest is just as important as the actual act of investing.

The average personal savings rate in the US, including retirement savings and emergency funds, is 5.5 per cent. If we apply that percentage to the US median household income of approximately $59,000, it works out to $3,245 a year or around $270 a month. Invested over 30 years, assuming a 10 per cent rate of return, that money could turn into $586,256. That number looks great, right?

It might, until you find out the average couple will need $280,000 for medical expenses in retirement, and that doesn't include long-term care. If you subtract that amount from your investment total, you'd only have about $306,000 left. Can you live off that for two decades? It ends up being only $15,300 a year.

Let me give you a much better scenario. If you invested 15 per cent of that $59,000 income, you would be putting away $8,850 a year or around $737 a month. Over 30 years, that could grow to $1.6 million, assuming a 10 per cent return. And if you waited just five more years, you'd be sitting on over $2.3 million. That beats $15,300 a year, don't you think?

Increase your income to reach your goal faster

When I talk about how to become a millionaire, people often say: “But Chris, I don't make that much money. I can't save enough.” Let's get something straight here: you don't need a six-figure salary to become a millionaire. However, if you're crunching the numbers and realise you still can't put away the recommended 15 per cent, you do need to increase your income so you can.

How do you do that? You can get a job that pays more. You can take on a second job temporarily. Or you can get training to increase your skills, demand, and earning potential.

For example, let's look at the field of nursing. You can become a Nursing Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse, or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. Each of those jobs requires a different level of training and testing, and their salaries all vary. An LPN makes around $45,000 a year, while an RN makes around $70,000.

When you increase your skills and expertise, you can increase your salary.

Cut unnecessary expenses

As you work towards becoming a millionaire, you also want to make sure your money is being spent with intention. So, sit down and evaluate your expenses regularly. Look at your budgets from previous months to see where money may be leaking or where you could cut expenses. That's money you could be investing and putting towards your 15 per cent.

Remember, you control your expenses. You may not dictate how much you're charged per watt of electricity, but you do control the thermostat!

Keep your millionaire goal front and centre

The steps to becoming a millionaire run counter to most people's behaviour, which means you'll see friends and family going places, doing things, and buying stuff. And if you focus on what they're doing, you could be in trouble financially. Just this year, a study showed that 57 per cent of millennials said they spent money they hadn't planned to because of what they saw on social media. And 88 per cent of them, along with 71 per cent of gen-Xers and 54 per cent of baby-boomers, believe social media creates a comparison problem.

We live in a comparison culture. We buy stuff we don't need to impress people we don't even know. Who are you trying to impress? Seriously. It's a good question to ask yourself when you're tempted to buy something you don't need. The people I know who have become millionaires didn't get there by playing the comparison game. They stayed focused on their own goals and didn't worry about what other people were thinking or doing.

Here's my challenge to you: instead of obsessing over what you don't have, focus on the valuable but intangible gifts in your life — family and friends; your church; work that matters; the legacy you'll leave your children. Those will bring you much greater and longer lasting joy than a new car or a destination vacation.

Know that it's okay to still enjoy stuff. Just make sure it doesn't derail your larger plan to become a millionaire!

Chris Hogan is a #1 national bestselling author, dynamic speaker and host of The Chris Hogan Show. For more than a decade, Hogan has served at Ramsey Solutions, equipping and challenging people to take control of their money and reach their financial goals. His second book, Everyday Millionaire: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth — And How You Can Too, releases in January 2019. You can follow Chris Hogan on Twitter and Instagram at@ChrisHogan360 and online at chrishogan360.com or facebook.com/chrishogan360

Chris Hogan: consistently good financial habits can make you a millionaire

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Published September 01, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated September 01, 2018 at 1:19 am)

How to become a millionaire

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