Many people would like to become millionaires, but few know the steps it takes to get there. There is more to crossing the seven-digit threshold than making a high salary. In fact, most people who make an average salary can become a millionaire in their 60s.
Wouldn’t it be nice to go into retirement having joined the double comma club? While having a million dollars doesn’t equal a luxury yacht or a foreign sports car, it gives you peace of mind.
Let’s go over how to become a millionaire in your 60s.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Before we go over how you can become a millionaire, let’s talk about mindset. Keep in mind that becoming a millionaire takes hard work. It won’t happen overnight, and it will require making sacrifices.
You will need to be diligent with saving and building your wealth if you want to reap the benefits later in life. Look at every dollar that hits your bank account as an opportunity to grow your wealth.
With that in mind, let’s review the habits that will help you build a nest egg worth seven figures.
How to Become a Millionaire in Your 60s
Having a high income is no guarantee that you will become a millionaire. Even with an income in the six figures, many people don’t cross the million-dollar threshold since they spend most of what they make.
This is why it’s important to consider how your spending today will affect your wealth tomorrow. Here are some considerations to take into account along the way.
Talk to a financial advisor
Finding the right financial advisor who can help you get a full financial picture can be invaluable. Why? Because they will help you clarify your goals and create a roadmap for how to get there from where you are today.
Many people are scared to talk about finances. Discussing how much you earn or how much you should save for retirement is taboo in most families and definitely frowned upon as dinner conversation.
A financial advisor can answer your questions and help you figure out if you’re on the right path. If you have a spouse, having a neutral third party will go a long way toward getting on the same financial page.
The key is to do your research and make sure you pick someone that fits your personality. Just like with a personal trainer, a financial advisor can help you get in better financial shape by giving you the steps you need to take to reach your goal.
Start investing early
If you want to accumulate a large net worth, let compound interest do the hard lifting for you. Start setting money aside in your retirement account as soon as you start making money. The earlier you start, the longer your money can grow.
Let’s look at an example to see how this affects your earnings. Julie graduates college and gets a job earning $40,000. She opens a retirement account through her employer and starts putting away 12 percent of her salary into it. Assuming a 5 percent annual salary increase and a 7 percent market return, she will have a cool $1,657,308 by age 60.
Her friend Jill doesn’t see the need to worry about retirement right out of college. She waits until age 30 to contribute 12 percent of her $40,000 salary to her 401(k). All other variables being the same, she ends up with $819,307 at age 60. That’s less than half the amount her friend Julie saved for retirement since she started eight years earlier.
As the example above illustrates, there is no substitute for time with compound interest. If Jill wanted to catch up to Julie in retirement, she’d have to contribute 28 percent of her salary to get close to her friend’s nest egg at age 60.
Follow a budget
Don’t let the word budget scare you. It should make you feel empowered instead. A budget is a spending plan that helps you give your money a job. Instead of watching your money come and go from your bank account, a budget lets you take charge of your spending.
There are many budgets out there: zero sum, 50/30/20, the envelope system, and so on. Try a few to figure out which one works best for your individual situation. Make sure you stay on top of your spending and income, so you know where your cash is going.
The earlier you get started with a budget, the more in control of your money you’ll feel. If you have a partner, make sure you’re both on board. A budget shouldn’t feel restrictive. It’s quite the opposite - it should feel freeing as it lets you tell your money where to go without stressing about how you’re spending your money.
Live within your means
As noted earlier, building wealth is more about what you keep rather than what you make. Even if you make a million dollars a year, if you spend it all, at the end of the day, you’ll have a big fat goose egg.
Learn to live within your means and set aside a healthy portion of your income for savings. This could include your retirement account, an investment account, or your emergency fund. The more you can save, the faster you will reach that million-dollar mark.
Save up for big purchases and avoid going into debt. Every debt payment is money you’ve already spent from your paycheck. Living within your means is a critical skill for building wealth and growing your net worth.
Build an emergency fund
Even if you live within your means, an unexpected emergency can put you behind and leave you struggling. Therefore, it’s important to save up an emergency fund that will cover expenses that pop up and weren’t part of your budget.
Start by saving a month’s worth of expenses and build toward having three to six months in your account. This should help you cover most major financial problems from a leak in your water heater to a car accident that was your fault.
Just make sure you use the money only for emergencies. Going on a last-minute vacation with your best friend does not count as an emergency. The hospital co-pay for your son’s broken arm on the other hand? Debit that emergency fund.
When you take money out to cover an expense, try to build it back up to where it was as soon as possible. Save extra money from every paycheck and deposit it into your savings account until you’re back on track.
Contribute to a retirement account
Contributing money to a tax-advantaged retirement account such as a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA) is one of the quickest ways to increase your net worth. Why? Because money has a chance to grow tax free until you withdraw it in retirement.
If your employer offers a match, make sure you contribute enough to get the full amount. For example, if your employer offers to match dollar for dollar the first 6 percent of your salary that you contribute, this means you get a cool 12 percent in your retirement account.
The money will continue to grow over time, earning interest on the interest you’ve already accrued. Most people end up in a lower tax bracket in retirement, so they pay less taxes on their earnings overall.
Take advantage of windfalls
Whether it’s a big year-end bonus or an inheritance from your great-aunt Berta, treat every bit of extra money that comes your way as an opportunity to build wealth. While you may be tempted to blow the cash since it wasn’t part of your budget, don’t.
Before we go any further, let me say that there is nothing wrong with having fun. Set aside 10 to 20 percent of your financial windfall and blow it on whatever you want. This will make you feel like you’ve enjoyed it without spending all the money at once.
Use the rest to invest in your financial wellbeing. This could include putting more toward your retirement accounts, investing some through an individual investment account or even paying down debt.
There are many ways to ensure the windfall doesn’t end up getting spent with no memory of where it went. You can even use some of it to invest in an income-producing asset such as a rental property.
Build your financial knowledge
If you want to become a millionaire in your 60s, you need to focus on learning about investing and personal finance. The more you know, the better equipped you will be to manage your money the right way.
Start by learning the basics of budgeting and building wealth and apply what you learn as you go. The library is a great resource for personal finance and investing books that will give you a good starting point.
The internet is also full of information but make sure you do your due diligence before taking anything you read online to heart. When doing research, go first to reputable websites such as Bankrate.com, NerdWallet.com or Investopedia.com to ensure you get an accurate result.
Manage your debt
The less debt you have, the quicker it will be to build wealth and reach that seven-figure mark. Tackle your debt as quickly as you can, paying down your balances from the highest interest to the lowest.
While certain debt such as a mortgage may be inevitable for you, try to minimize how much you take on. Find a house that fits well within your budget and your means. Try to pay extra toward the principal each month.
If you have other debt, particularly high-interest credit card debt, make it a priority to pay it off as quickly as possible. Credit card interest rates can be sky high, increasing your loan balance quickly.
The more debt you can pay off, the more of your paycheck you can free up to put toward saving and investing. When you have a loan, compound interest works against you, increasing your loan balance every month you pay only the minimum.
Turn the equation on it's head by paying off your balance and using that payment to invest. The money will continue to grow, taking you one step closer to a million dollars.
Make more money
If you want to be a millionaire in your 60s, you need to earn enough and save enough to reach that milestone. As we saw in the example above, if you earn $40,000 and set aside 12 percent of your pre-tax salary toward retirement, you will end up a millionaire by age 60.
However, if you can earn more money and put it toward your retirement goal, you will get there that much faster. Making extra cash doesn’t necessarily mean getting a second job.
First, try to maximize the money you make in your day job. If you’ve been at your position for a while, ask for a pay increase or a bigger bonus. Consider switching jobs and finding a more lucrative position if you don’t snag a salary bump.
Once you feel you’re getting paid as much as you can get at your job, consider starting a side hustle. This can be anything from driving for Uber or Lyft to selling printables on Etsy. There are many ways to make a few extra dollars and add to your savings account.
Have an entrepreneurial spirit and a good idea? Start your own business and use it to build wealth faster than you can while working for someone else. Just make sure you do your research before quitting to go all in.
The Bottom Line
Getting to a million dollars in your 60s takes dedication and hard work. With the right habits in place, most people can reach the seven-digit net worth mark by the time they’re ready to retire. Stay on top of your finances and make sure your spouse is on board.
If you need help to go the extra mile, talk to a qualified financial advisor who can help you get your finances in order.
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This is a post from Clint Haynes, a Certified Financial Planner® and Financial Advisor in Kansas City, Missouri. He is also the founder and owner of NextGen Wealth. You can learn more about Clint at the website NextGen Wealth.