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1. Have a reason for building wealth

It’s hard to motivate yourself to save money if you’re not doing it for a specific reason. So think about what becoming a millionaire earlier on in life might do for you.

If you’re a believer in the aggressive saving, investing, and frugality strategy of the financial independence, retire early (FIRE) movement, that could motivate you to aim for early retirement or more financial independence. Or, your purpose could be gaining the peace of mind that comes with knowing that by the time you reach a more traditional retirement age, you’re likely to be sitting on a lot of money if you have $1 million to your name — or more — well ahead of that milestone.

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2. Put the process of saving money on autopilot

A recent GOBankingRates survey found that 63% of millennials ages 28 to 34 have $1,000 or less in their savings accounts. Sadly, that same percentage of older millennials aged 35 to 43 are in the same boat. Only 11% of millennials in either age group have $10,000 or more in the bank.

Getting into the habit of saving money could get you closer to millionaire status. So to that end, aim to automate savings whenever possible.

That could mean signing up for a 401(k) plan through your employer, since those are funded with automatic payroll deductions. Or, you could set up an automatic transfer from your checking account, so that each time you get paid, some money gets moved over to savings before you get a chance to spend it.

3. Use tax-advantaged accounts to your benefit

The less money you have to give the IRS, the more you get to save and invest for yourself. If you don’t have access to a 401(k) through your job, you can sign up for an IRA.

The traditional version of either account will shield your contributions from taxes, provided you don’t exceed the annual IRS limits, and let your money grow tax-deferred, so you’re only paying the IRS a portion of your gains when you take withdrawals. A Roth IRA or 401(k), meanwhile, doesn’t give you tax-free contributions, but gains and withdrawals are completely tax-free.

A health savings account (HSA) can also be a useful savings tool if you’re enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan that’s compatible with one. HSAs are triple tax-advantaged — contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, investment gains are tax-free, and withdrawals are tax-free when used for qualifying medical expenses. And yes, even though HSAs are meant to be used for healthcare costs, they count toward your net worth.

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4. Invest in stocks while time is on your side

Stock market volatility may be something that worries you to the point of choosing more stable investments, like bonds. But if you want a shot at becoming a millennial millionaire, you may need to rely on the strong returns the stock market is known for.

Historically, the stock market’s average annual return has been about 10% if dividends are reinvested. But let’s assume your investments deliver an 8% return to be a bit more conservative.

If you're able to save and invest $2,000 a month, in 20 years, you could be sitting on about $1.1 million. So if you start investing in your very early 20s, you could become a millionaire by your early 40s.

5. Steer clear of costly debt

Recent analysis of data from Experian’s consumer credit database finds that millennials aged 27 to 42 have an average of $125,047 in total debt. That makes them the generation with the second-most debt, after their slightly older peers in Generation X.

The more money you spend on interest, the less you’ll be able to save and invest. So think carefully when taking on an expense like a mortgage or car payment. A larger home might seem like a nice thing — until it hurts your ability to fund your IRA or 401(k).

Also, be very careful with credit card debt. Credit cards are notorious for their exorbitant interest rates.

The 10% average annual return the stock market is known for? You could lose double that amount, or more, by carrying a credit card balance. So, the simple acts of paying off your credit cards monthly and keeping mortgage and auto loan balances to a minimum could be instrumental in helping you meet your financial goals.


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Maurie Backman Freelance Writer

Maurie Backman is a freelance contributor to Moneywise, who has more than a decade of experience writing about financial topics, including retirement, investing, Social Security, and real estate.


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.