How to Become a Millionaire: 9 Proven Strategies [2021]

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I’ve spent over 5 years in the corporate investment management world, working with clients with a net worth of up to $100 million.

Throughout my time working closely with these millionaires and deca-millionaires, I carefully took notes to discover the path these individuals took to become successful and to answer your question on “how to become a millionaire.”

This is a compilation of 9 proven strategies that could help you become a millionaire.

Keep reading.

Sneak Peek: Millionaire Planning Tools


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Are you under the impression that becoming a millionaire is super hard and totally out of your reach?

Well, let me be the first to tell you – happily – that you’re wrong.

In fact, there are over 1,700 new millionaires created every single day.

1,700+ new millionaires are created daily

Source: Bloomberg

In today’s world of entrepreneurship, almost anyone who is willing to put in the:

  • Time
  • Work
  • Patience
  • Dedication

…Will likely see results – over the long term. 

Now, are you thinking that the majority of millionaires became so wealthy because they inherited their money? 

That’s wrong, too. 

In fact, 80% of millionaires are from the first generation.

80% of millionaires are from the first generation

In other words, they started from $0 and built their wealth from the ground-up – the old-fashioned way: Through hard work, grit, and determination

Now, let me ask you a question:

Are you doing everything possible now to ensure that your future is what you want it to be?

If you answered:

  • I’m not sure
  • I don’t know
  • I don’t think so

…Then you’re reading the right article, because I’ll share how you can change your life around and build the future dream you’ve always wanted.

There are a few tricks to becoming a millionaire:

  • Become your own boss
  • Spend less than you earn
  • Don’t take “no” for an answer

I’ll discuss these points in-depth below, but I did want to point out these factors to you first.

To build a better tomorrow, you have to give up a little today.

If you’re not able to sacrifice a little today, then you shouldn’t plan on building a successful future, because becoming a millionaire (unless you win the lottery or receive an inheritance) will take a lot of hard work, patience, and effort.

If you follow the strategies in this article, you’ll have a real chance to become a millionaire.

9 Ways to Become a Millionaire

Although my husband and I are not yet millionaires, we are in the pre-millionaire phase, and we know that we have a few years left until we hit that $1,000,000 net worth marker (trust me, I’ll blog about it).

But for now, let’s jump into the article to read and apply the lessons from the deca-millionaires I worked with, so long ago.

1. Analyze Your Current Situation


Before you even think about your action plan to build your millionaire future, first you need to analyze your current situation. 

Below are a few things I’d recommend for you to analyze:

  • Debt
  • Assets
  • Income
  • Expenses
  • Net worth

Let’s start by discussing your net worth

You’ll want to work toward a positive net worth – but even if you have a net worth equal to $0, that’s an awesome start.

The median net worth for Americans age 35 to 44 is $91,300.

The median net worth for Americans age 34 to 44 is $91,300

Source: CNBC

Your net worth will typically increase as you age (that’s because as you age, you likely increase your income).

When was the last time you checked your net worth?

If you’ve never checked your net worth before, that’s totally OK – you can get started by downloading my free net worth template below.

the millennial money woman blog post "free net worth template"

Free Net Worth Template

Sign up below to receive my free net worth template and my latest content updates.

Don’t get a panic attack if your net worth is negative. 

That’s ok – and it’s actually pretty typical if you’re in your 20’s or even in your early 30’s, just because we have student debt, credit card debt, mortgage debt, car debt, etc. to offset our assets. 

Some typical examples of debt include:

  • Auto debt
  • Mortgages
  • Student loans
  • Business loans
  • Credit card debt

Some typical examples of assets include:

  • Patents
  • Equity in home
  • Savings accounts
  • Investment accounts

Now it’s time to add your net worth together. 

Now that you have a rough picture of your net worth, it’s time to determine where you want to be in X amount of years (and if your goal is to be a millionaire by 35, then that would be your net worth goal). 

As an example, for me and my husband, our goal is to: Become millionaires by 35. 

Now that we have an overarching goal – which can be a little overwhelming – it’s time to break down this overarching goal into smaller, more actionable goals. 

Again, using my husband and myself as an example, our smaller goals include:

  • Invest $3,500 every month
  • Stay out of high-interest debt
  • Build passive income streams
  • Contribute the maximum to our HSA
  • Save and invest 75% of our annual income
  • Contribute the maximum to our Roth IRAs
  • Maintain an adequate emergency savings fund

As you can see, our goals are actionable, they are precise, and they give us some guidance on what we need to do to accomplish our goal of becoming millionaires by 35. 

We are very aggressive savers and investors – and our approach to becoming millionaires may not align with your approach – and that’s totally Ok. 

To each their own. 

Now, take some time to think about the mini-goals you need to pursue to make your millionaire dream a reality. 

fiona smith the millennial money woman

The Bottom Line:

If you want to become a millionaire in your 30’s, you need to commit and relentlessly pursue your mini-goals. It’s not going to be easy, and you’ll need to put 100% of your efforts into the goal of becoming a millionaire.

2. Get Your Partner on Board


One of the most important financial decisions of your life will involve who you choose as your long-term partner. 

In fact, your long-term partner could make or break your financial future. 

About 60% of relationship fights are about one partner’s spending habits.

60% of relationship fights are centered around a partner’s spending habits

Source: MarketWatch

And, there really is a formula to a successful relationship: Be open with your finances and discuss your financial dreams with your partner.

In fact, 94% of respondents say they have a “great” marriage because they openly discuss their financial dreams with their partners.

94% say they have a “great” marriage because they openly discuss their financial dreams with their partners

Clearly, there is a link between the success of your financial future (in this case, achieving millionaire status) and the quality of your relationship.

Becoming a millionaire with a supportive spouse by your side will be so much easier than if you have a partner working against you. 

fiona smith the millennial money woman

The Bottom Line:

One of the best things you can do for your future self is to find a partner who supports you and who also shares your frugal financial mindset – so that you both achieve millionaire status.

3. Become a Master Budgeter


If your ultimate goal is to become a millionaire in your 30’s, then you really need to improve your budgeting

Let’s be real: You’re not going to win the lottery and you’re not going to pick the next Amazon.

Becoming a millionaire involves many baby steps, not 1 giant leap.

If you want to become a millionaire, it’s time you figure out 3 things:

  • How much debt you owe
  • How much you’re spending
  • How much money you already have saved (and invested)

Here’s what needs to be done:

What You Need to Figure Out What Needs to Happen

How much debt you owe

Reduce high-interest debt to $0

How much you’re spending

How much money you already have saved (and invested)

Increase that to as much as possible

If your goal is to become a millionaire, you’re going to have to give up a lot in order to make your goals a reality – and that’s why you will need a partner who’s on board with your plan. 

So, first and foremost, you need to create a budget to track your income and expenses. 

The best budgeting app, in my opinion, is You Need A Budget [aka YNAB].

YNAB was actually created by a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) for his own family, to help them get back on track with their budget. 

YNAB worked so well, that he and his wife decided to roll out the app to the public – and it was a hit.

In fact, on average new YNABers claim:

  • They save $600 in their first 2 months
  • They save $6,000 in their first 1 year of using YNAB

Yes, YNAB charges a monthly fee (typically $11.99), and it offers you a free 34-day trial so that you can determine whether you like the app in the first place. 

Let’s get down to business: Typically, my budgeting rules of thumb would say the following:

Type of Expense Rule of Thumb

Monthly housing debt

< 28% gross monthly income

Total monthly consumer debt

< 20% of net monthly income

Total monthly debt payments

< 36% of gross monthly income

This chart is fairly accurate – but only if your goal is to continue on your current path. 

If your goal is to become a millionaire in your 30’s, then we will need to make some serious modifications to this chart. 

To become a millionaire by 35, you will need to decrease your expenses drastically.

By drastically, I mean this:

  • Cut the cord
  • Stop eating out
  • Go thrift shopping
  • Don’t buy new cars
  • Stop taking vacations
  • Stop buying new clothes
  • Consider downsizing your home
  • Find a roommate to split housing costs

If you want to become a millionaire, you must align your words with your actions.

And this means cutting your costs as much as possible.

Here’s how my husband and I are structuring our current expenses:

Type of Expense What My Husband & I Are Doing

Monthly Housing Debt

12% of gross monthly income

Monthly Consumer Debt

8% of net monthly income

Total Monthly Debt Payments

20% of gross monthly income

Now, some of you might wonder if my husband and I are living in poverty – but honestly, we are enjoying life and we appreciate the journey.

It’s a challenge, and we know that we’ll be thankful that we went through these tougher times in order to reap the benefits. 

However, this is the part where becoming a millionaire might not be so much fun.

 Why?

Because you’ll likely see these things happen, while you’re dramatically cutting back on all expenses:

  • Your friends buying big homes
  • Your colleagues buying the newest cars
  • Your colleagues buying designer outfits
  • Your friends traveling to hot vacation spots
  • Your friends going out to the hottest restaurants 

Yes, it’s going to sting a bit (trust me, it does for us), but after a while, you get used to it.

Why?

Because you have to remind yourself of your goal: Becoming a millionaire.

And trust me, chances are that your friends and colleagues will NOT be millionaires in the same time frame, because they’re spending money on luxury things.

Some examples of recurring monthly expenses include:

  • Internet bills
  • Car payments
  • Cable TV costs
  • Cellphone bills

My husband and I pay $20 per month for our internet bill, we cut the cord years ago, and we don’t have a car payment anymore (we share 1, 8-year-old car that we plan to keep until it no longer works). 

We’re not in it to show off. 

We’re in it, to win it – meaning, we’re in it to become millionaires. 

To become a millionaire, you must stick to your goal and stay strong.

fiona smith the millennial money woman

The Bottom Line:

One of the fastest and most effective ways you can ensure becoming a millionaire is by becoming a master budgeter. Create a budget, stick to your budget, and remember to always spend less than you earn.

4. Pay off High-Interest Debt


If you have high-interest debt, you’re making your millionaire journey harder. 

Do you want to become a millionaire? 

If the answer is yes, then you’ll need to eliminate bad debt…NOW. 

Here are 2 types of debt:

Bad Debt Smart Debt

High-interest debt often used for depreciating assets

Debt used for appreciating assets

Some common examples of bad debt include:

  • Car debt
  • Payday loans
  • Credit card debt

And although car debt may not always be high-interest debt (which is typically defined as debt with interest rates of over 10%), cars, in general, are depreciating assets, which is why I would categorize car debt under the “bad debt” scenario. 

Some common examples of smart debt include:

  • Mortgage
  • Student loans
  • Business debt

There are several ways to pay off debt and you should start paying off your bad debt ASAP. 

One option you could consider when paying down your debt, is debt consolidation.

If you’re looking to pay off your credit card debt then consider checking out Tally.

Tally will pay off all your credit cards and you pay Tally back — in one, simple bill a month.

Tally is the world’s first automated debt manager and claims that you can save up to $4,185 in 5 years if you use their Tally+ Express app.

Another great option for debt consolidation is LendingTree.

LendingTree is one of the nation’s oldest and most well-known financial platforms that works with you from mortgage refinancing to debt consolidation (so it’s not as specialized as Tally is).

If you feel like your spending habits were the reason you fell into the debt trap in the first place, it might be time to seek out professional help.

Debt consolidation can be helpful – only if you are 100% dedicated to paying off your loans.

Remember that if you want to become a millionaire, you need to be 100% committed to your goal, which might mean that you may have to make paying off your debt the priority over investing and/or saving.

High-interest debt will hold you back in accomplishing your millionaire dream. 

fiona smith the millennial money woman

The Bottom Line:

One easy way to guarantee that you won’t achieve your millionaire goal is by keeping high-interest debt (like credit card debt). High-interest debt will rob you of your future self.

5. Invest as Early as Possible


I used to think that all millionaires were made because they invested in some glamorous investment, like:

…you get the point.

The fact of the matter is that most millionaires actually don’t earn their money through exotic investment opportunities

Instead, they earn their money through:

In fact, 80% of millionaires invested in their company’s 401k, which helped them achieve their financial success.

80% of millionaires invested in their company’s 401k, which helped them achieve financial success

Even more important – becoming a millionaire takes a lot of time. 

In fact, it took the average millionaire about 28 years of hard work, saving, and investing before they cracked the million-dollar marker.

It took the average millionaire about 28 years of hard work, saving, and investing before they cracked the million-dollar marker

The last thing I want you to keep in mind is that the majority of millionaires actually don’t have super high-paying C-Suite jobs.

In fact, the top 5 careers for millionaires include:

  • Teacher
  • Attorney
  • Engineer
  • Accountant
  • Management
careers making millionaires

Once again, I want to prove to you that you don’t need to have a job that pays $100,000 or more for you to become a millionaire.

In fact, only 31% of millionaires stated their income averaged $100,000 or more over the entire course of their careers.

31% of millionaires stated their income averages $100,000 or more over the entire course of their careers

How do most millionaires make their money?

Here’s how:

  • They invest early
  • They invest consistently
  • They increase investments as their income increases

So, if you are a beginner investor and are able to invest $5 [for right now], then consider opening an account with Acorns.

Acorns is a super simple app that took me 5 minutes to set up and complete and it can automatically pull in your $5 from your checking account when you’ve saved enough money.

It costs between $1 to $5 per month, and although you’re limited on your investment options, it’s an excellent investment app for beginners.

With investing, slow and steady wins the race.

If you’re not a beginner and can afford to invest $100 to $1,000+ per month, then I’d highly recommend considering investing with M1 Finance.

M1 Finance is an incredible app that costs $0 and charges $0 in fees.

You can either build your own portfolio or you can select from 80 professional portfolios.

This is the sure-fire way to become a millionaire in your 30’s.

fiona smith the millennial money woman

The Bottom Line:

One advantage that early investors have is time. The earlier you invest, the faster your investments will grow over time, and that’s because of the power of compound interest – even with just a $5 investment, you’ll see results in the long run.

6. Save & Invest as Much as Possible


If you want to become a millionaire in your 30’s, then you need to start saving and investing as much as humanly possible. 

Sadly, however, the median checking account balance for American households was just $3,400.

The median checking account balance for American households was just $3,400

Source: ValuePenguin

And the statistics become even worse…

About 38% of Americans are unable to come up with $500 of cash (without selling something of theirs or taking out a loan) for an emergency.

38% of Americans are unable to come up with $500 of cash

Source: MarketWatch

If you find yourself falling into one of these statistics, then stop right now and figure out how you can increase your savings. 

So many rules of thumb say that you should save 10% to 15% of your income.

If you want to be a millionaire in your 30’s, those rules of thumb will likely not cut it.

Instead, set your sights higher, so you save (and invest) around:

  • 50% to 80% of your gross annual income

No, I’m not kidding. 

If you feel like you’re having trouble even saving 10% of your gross annual income, first, start a budget with top apps like YNAB.

After setting up your budget, you’ll need to focus on:

  • Cutting costs as much as possible
  • Increasing income as much as possible
  • Investing the difference as consistently as possible

My husband and I save (and invest) just over 70% of our gross annual income. 

We have been doing so for the last 4 years, and we still have 10 more years until we reach age 35. 

We’re 100% committed to our goal, and we’re not going to fall short of it now.

Even if you can only afford a $5 investment every week, then do it.

fiona smith the millennial money woman

The Bottom Line:

Invest as much as humanly possible if your goal is truly to become a millionaire. Don’t just invest 20% of your income. Plan to invest 50% or more of your income to truly accomplish your millionaire goal.

7. Invest in Yourself


Investing in the stock market
 is one thing, but investing in yourself is a completely different ballgame.

The highest return on your investment will be when you invest in yourself.