Your First Million Dollars
For most of us, becoming wealthy is not something that happens to us when we wake up one morning. In fact, a very small percentage of rich people in America got that way from inheritance or some other stroke of luck. According to Stanley’s, The Millionaire Next Door, some 80% of wealthy Americans are self-made millionaires that accumulated wealth one dollar at a time. And many of the people that fall into this group do not have a so-called high income. They are just good with money.To plan to be rich, it takes just that . . . planning. Becoming rich is hard work that requires a great deal of self discipline, basic money management skills, goal setting, focus and diligence. I believe the goal setting part is very important. If you are willing to hold yourself accountable to reaching those goals, the rest of the attributes will follow.
The great news is that making a million dollars is completely doable, and is a good place to start, and here’s why:
- Setting a goal “to become wealthy” is too abstract.
- It is completely feasible for a person to start from scratch and make a million dollars in a lifetime.
- Once you make your first million, the laws of compounding interest kick in and you can make your next million at a much faster rate.
- $1M on a 10% return from an investment will pay you $100,000 a year.
Let’s break this down.
Setting a goal “to become wealthy” is too abstract:
If you are committed to becoming rich, you must set goals, goals for reaching those goals, and goals for what you want to do once you reach those goals. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Think Big.” Thinking big is an excellent way to dream, visualize yourself in a situation and to have high expectations – so keep thinking big thoughts. In the same time, however, set specific, measurable goals.
If you have a big dream, and you set your achievement bar too high, t can be very difficult to motivate yourself over a period of several years to reach your goal. Setting specifics, however, makes it more of a systematic process that your brain can handle. For example, you can train yourself (or just make it automatic) to put x dollars from your paycheck in an investment account every two weeks if you know that it will eventually turn into a million dollars, which will then quickly turn into two million dollars, then four million, etc. Your big dream, however, is a good reminder as to why you have these goals.
Secondly, if you aspire “to become wealthy,” with no end goal, you will never be satisfied with your accomplishments. There is no sense of achievement, or an “I made it!” experience. So, along the way to making your first million, remember to set little goals – weekly, monthly, annually – and reward yourself for staying on task.
It is completely feasible for a person to start from scratch and make a million dollars in a lifetime:
Remember that 80% of the millionaires in the U.S. are self-made. They did not receive a massive inheritance, college education support, or any handouts for that matter. They were simply determined.
Look at this data from a July 2007 article published by The Motley Fool entitled, Your First Million Is the Toughest, which illustrates how quickly you can obtain a million dollars:
Go From $0 to $1 Million
52.9 years 48.3 years 44.5 years 41.4 years
41.6 38.3 35.5 33.1
33.4 30.9 28.8 27.
25.5 23.9 22.4 21.2
22.8 21.4 20.2 19.1
$1 Million to $2 Million
8.6 years 7.7 years 6.9 years 6.3 years
8.5 7.5 6.8 6.2
8.2 7.4 6.7 6.1
7.8 7.1 6.4 5.9
7.6 6.9 6.3 5.7
$2 Million to $3 Million
5.1 years 4.5 years 4.1 years 3.7 years
5.0 4.5 4.0 3.7
4.9 4.4 4.0 3.6
4.8 4.3 3.9 3.5
4.7 4.2 3.8 3.5
I imagine since most people are not wealthy, they do not think like wealthy people and will probably say, “I don’t have $1,300 to contribute a month.” Wealthy-minded people, however, think things like, “How can I make an extra $1,300 a month? What if I kick that up to $2,600 a month? Once I make my first million I can make another million in a third of the time!” This chart should either motivate you to re-evaluate your spending habits or bring out the entrepreneurial spirit in you.
Start slow with any contribution you can make to your millionaire fund, and increase your deposits as you can. Even if you can only find $10 a month to contribute, it is much more important to develop the habit. Once you have the habit and the discipline your mind will open up to seeing opportunities.
Once you make your first million, the laws of compounding interest kick in and you can make your next million at a much faster rate:
Notice from the chart above that making your first million dollars takes 20 years at 10% with a $1,300 monthly contribution. Making the same contribution when you have two million dollars takes less then four years! See why the rich get richer?
10% on a $1M investment will return $100,000 a year:
Could you live comfortably off of a $100,000 salary without having to work another day in your life? That’s what your return on investment would be if you were making 10% on your money, which is very doable. This is where I like to start to dream and think big. Let’s see . . . $10 million at 10% is $1 million a year just in interest from my investment. Now that’s money working for you!
I get that most people cannot just simply shovel away $1,300 a month, or even in a year. Set your goals with whatever you can right now – even if it is only $10 a month. The important thing is to take action and develop the habit. Focus on making your first $100, 000, your first $100, whatever. Then reward yourself periodically for reaching your goal.
Post the chart above somewhere where you will see it every day, and set your goal to reach you million dollars in x years. If you hold yourself accountable, the craziest things will happen – you will find places to cut expenses, get a better job, become a better shopper, start a business, and stumble on business opportunities. Most importantly, you will develop sound money management habits that will get you there one way or another.
If you are fortunate enough to already have made your first million, congratulations! Now it’s time to have some real fun and see how long it will take you to make $100 million. That would gross you 10 million dollars a year just from the interest paid to you from your money sitting in an investment account.