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Here's what it would take to reach millionaire status

If you're 35 today, your full retirement age (the age when you can claim your standard unreduced Social Security benefit) is 67.

If you wanted to retire at that age with $1 million and you were starting from scratch with no savings to your name, here's the amount you'd need to invest each month to make your goal a reality:

  • $916.86 monthly if you earned a 6% average annual rate of return
  • $414.30 monthly if you earned a 10% average annual rate of return
  • $273.35 monthly if you earned a 12% average annual rate of return

Even in the worst-case scenario in terms of returns, your annual contributions would need to be just $11,002.32 per year. With the average salary for 35 to 44 year olds in 2023 at $67,756, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this may be doable for some people — especially when factoring in tax breaks for retirement account contributions and 401(k) matching funds many employers offer.

The key, though, is to start sooner rather than later and to invest as wisely as possible.

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Get started ASAP and buy the right investments

When you're 35, you have the benefit of time on your side. There's decades of time for compound growth to build your wealth. Unfortunately, delay could seriously derail your efforts to end up a millionaire.

In fact, if you waited a decade and started at 45, your monthly minimum investment would jump to $900.86 to end up with $1 million at 67 even at 12% average annual returns. With just a 6% return, you wouldn't hit your target without putting away $1,920.46 monthly, which is probably out of reach for most.

Picking the right investments is crucial as well.

For most people, the most basic and simple option is to put money into an S&P 500 index fund. The S&P 500 has earned an average yearly return of around 10% over the prior 100 years, assuming dividends are reinvested. S&P 500 index funds are easy to buy, fees are low, risks are minimal, and very little investing knowledge is required. While the returns you earn have a lower ceiling than if you bought individual stocks, you also take on less risk and aren't putting all your eggs into one basket. (Although some may argue that the concentration in the S&P 500 index has reached troubling levels.)

You'll also want the right percentage of your portfolio in equities as being too conservative makes it hard to earn the necessary returns while being too aggressive ups your risk of loss. Subtracting your age from 110 gives you a good idea of the percentage of your portfolio to put into equities, and you can use that money to buy investments you have the most faith in. Consider learning more about the right asset allocation for you.

With the right investment mix and steady, consistent investing over time, the life of a millionaire could be yours.

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Christy Bieber Freelance Writer

Christy Bieber a freelance contributor to Moneywise, who has been writing professionally since 2008. She writes about everything related to money management and has been published by NY Post, Fox Business, USA Today, Forbes Advisor, Credible, Credit Karma, and more. She has a JD from UCLA School of Law and a BA in English Media and Communications from the University of Rochester.

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The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.