A million dollars isn’t what it used to be… That said, it’s a worthy goal for anyone to want to achieve.
As Jim Rohn said, the word “millionaire” has a nice ring to it, but ultimately its greatest value may not be the money, rather:
“…what it will make of you to achieve it.”
If you become a millionaire, the most valuable thing about that accomplishment will be the incremental disciplines that you have acquired along the way.
How Many Millionaires Are There in the U.S.?
As of 2018, over 11 million individuals in the United States count themselves as millionaires.
Most millionaires do not live flashy lifestyles.
Unlike the owner of the Ferraris above, most millionaires are frugal savers, they live modestly, spend less than what they earn, and they invest intelligently in cash flowing assets.
Most importantly, they invest in themselves by constantly reading and learning. They pick up new new concepts that can help them create new ideas.
How Can I Become a Millionaire?
Some simple concepts combined with a doable but disciplined plan:
- Acquire multiple streams of income
- Save aggressively
- Keep expenses low
- Avoid debt
- Invest, and invest in yourself
1) Acquire Multiple Streams of Income
A job is wonderful, but not all of us have a traditional job. Some of us are not sure where we fit into the job market or seek to create our own income in other ways.
Entrepreneurship is a key to wealth.
I have started restaurants and bars, e-commerce companies and real estate companies. Each of them have helped me to build wealth in ways that a job could never have done.
One of the challenges with a job, is that you are paid after taxes are taken out of your paycheck. The government gets paid before you do. The opposite is true if you own a business. You pay yourself first, then the government gets paid.
If you have a job, that is wonderful, and you are lucky to have one.
But what would happen if your job suddenly disappeared? Perhaps you can create a side hustle for passive income that can diversify your income. Starting a blog is a great way to start a side hustle.
A side hustle and a job means you have multiple streams of income. You are not exposed to a single source of money.
2) Save Aggressively
With the earnings from your job, or business invest a portion of it in dividend paying stocks and diversified index funds with a cash flowing return.
Put aside a portion of your income as savings. A rule of thumb is 15%.
3) Keep Expenses Low
Don’t buy anything you can’t afford.
Buy used everything… Even computer hardware or phones. If you love Apple and Macs, which I believe are superior by far to PCs, great… But buy the refurbished ones from Apple. Macs will last you forever, and save you a ton of time. 1
Most millionaires drive old, boring cars.
Warren Buffett famously drives his cars into the ground and lives in the same house he bought in 1958. I think Bill Gates has a Volvo.
Mark Cuban famously refers to his life of subsistence on Ramen Noodles before becoming a millionaire (er… billionaire).
He drove a Buick Le Sabre. He also had his credit cards cut up on him multiple times.
Live in a small house or apartment. Evaluate places with the best cost of living. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are two of the best places to live in terms of cost of living.
4) Avoid Debt
As Robert Kiyosake said, there’s good debt and bad debt.
Good debt puts money in your pocket… Bad debt takes money out of your pocket.
An example of good debt is money borrowed to purchase a cash flowing asset, such as a rental apartment, or a website with e-commerce customers, or advertising revenue or information products you can build and expand.
Bad debt is any debt that doesn’t put money in your pocket… Examples are mortgage debt, credit card debt, student loan debt, etc.
Remember, the environment in the United States is wonderful… God bless it. But it is designed to separate you from your money.
That’s what our capitalist democracy is all about.
When I was in my 20s I learned to never ever let a credit card go unpaid, in full, every month.
If you let yourself only pay the minimum credit card balance, the credit card company will start its process of using 20% interest to slowly own you and your income streams.
This is the equivalent of legalized, modern day slavery.
5) Invest, and Invest in Yourself
The book “The Richest Man in Babylon” is famous for its one takeaway rule: Invest 10% of every dollar you earn.
Throughout your life, invest your money, but also invest in yourself.
Acquire skills that can help you in your career and side hustle. There are many free business courses online from Ivy League schools such as MIT, Harvard and Cornell.
The local public library is one of the most underutilized resources in America. Chances are there are programs on business and personal improvement and development there.
Audible is an incredible resource as well. If you are lucky enough to have a job, but unlucky enough to have a long commute, you can take advantage of this time on the road by listening to audio books.
In 2008 I was laid off from my job in real estate. I was very depressed. I felt lost. As the sole bread winner I was responsible for supporting a beautiful wife and two small children.
One of the things that helped me through this time was reading Success Magazine. I loved listening to Darren Hardy interview successful people on the CDs that used to come with the magazine each month.2
I also listened to Audible audio books from Audible. I listened to Jim Rohn and Seth Godin and others over and over and over for hours.
I’m still not where I need to be.
But I am following these five steps because I know they are the best path for me to becoming a millionaire.
And I know when I get there I will value the habits I have acquired along the way, at least as much as the peace of mind of having at least a million dollar net worth.
- Time is money. You snooze you lose. I have used PCs and Macs. Personally, I believe PCs are a waste of your time because they constantly need updating and are slow as molasses compared to a Mac. It’s not unusual for a PC to steal an hour of productivity out of your day with booting, rebooting, updating and other slowness or issues. That is forty five 8 hour working days out of your year lost forever.
- Unfortunately Darren Hardy is no longer with Success Magazine and the interviews are digital downloads. For some reason the CDs I found very special and Darren was incredible as a legit hustler and hard working entrepreneur.