So You Wanna Be a Millionaire: How Long Will It Take? (2024)

Long-time personal finance columnist Scott Burns writes that by working for four summers starting at age 16, putting the money in a Roth IRA, investing it wisely, and waiting until age 67, it’s simple to become a millionaire. That’s the 51-year plan. But what if you’re not that patient—or that young? Lucky for you, there are many ways to hit the million-dollar mark, but the faster you try to get there, the harder it becomes.

Key Takeaways

  • Becoming a millionaire may seem like it is out of reach for many Americans, but it is nonetheless achievable.
  • Being a diligent saver and investor in a well-diversified and tax-advantaged portfolio can help you get there, but this, of course, will take some patience.
  • If you start saving in your 20s, you can be on track to having at least a million bucks by the time you retire.

$1 Million the Hard Way

Let’s say you want to become a millionaire in five years. If you’re starting from scratch, online millionaire calculators (which return a variety of results given the same inputs) estimate that you’ll need to save anywhere from $13,000 to $15,500 a month and invest it wisely enough to earn an average of 10% a year. That means taking calculated risks, diversifying, and avoiding investment fees such as loads and broker commissions.

Obviously, in order to regularly save this much money each month, you’ll need to have a fantastic income. At the low end, to meet the $13,000 a month savings goal, you’d probably need to make around $265,000 annually. The specific number will vary considerably depending on your income tax situation, but the point is that it’s high.

According to the salary calculator at, if you make $265,000 a year, are single, claim two exemptions on your federal tax return, and live in one of the nine states with no state income tax, you’d take home around $185,000 a year, or about $15,400 a month. Saving $13,000 would leave you with $2,400 a month to meet all your expenses—a perfectly reasonable number for many singles, and even some couples.

If you're willing to be extremely frugal—let’s say you can get by on a mere $700 a month—will it make a big difference? In this case, not really. You’d still need to make almost $250,000 a year.

If you’re in a committed relationship, however, things get a little easier. You can get away with making around $132,500 a year then, as long as your significant other can make up the difference and is on board with your savings plan. Of course, then you’ll have to share your millionaire status.

$1 Million the Harder Way

Of course, $132,500 (or $265,000) might seem attainable (or like pocket change) for some C-level executives, but according to, the median salary for workers with 20 or more years of experience was a mere $71,578 in July 2009. And it’s still only $125,166 for the average CFO with the same amount of experience. Becoming a millionaire in the short-term, therefore, requires a more ambitious strategy than steadily collecting a well-deserved paycheck.

Alan Corey, author of “A Million Bucks by 30” (2007), claims to have made a million dollars in seven years while earning a salary that more of us can relate to: $40,000 to $50,000 a year. He happened to put some of the money he saved while living very frugally in New York City in the right place (real estate) at the right time (the expansion of the most recent real-estate bubble). Of course, he also had some of the most important personality traits of success: determination, a strong work ethic, confidence, and a willingness to make some extreme sacrifices.

$1 Million the Easy Way

A short-term plan for creating wealth certainly includes these personality traits, but it often includes factors such as timing, luck, and/or possessing an incredibly valuable idea and knowing how to implement and market it. If you know you’re closer to average, consider a more traditional, more attainable approach.

The longer-term road to wealth involves such time-honored tactics as avoiding consumer debt, diversifying your investments, minimizing your investment fees, tax planning, minimizing housing expenses, and, for two-earner households, living on one income.

Putting aside someone's $40,000 in take-home pay every year—and earning that 10% return as described above—will get you to millionaire status in about 15 years. Halve those savings and you’re still only looking at 20 years. It will take more work for sure, but it’s a lot faster than 51.

So You Wanna Be a Millionaire: How Long Will It Take? (2024)


So You Wanna Be a Millionaire: How Long Will It Take? ›

The time it takes to become a millionaire depends on how much you save and the return you get on your money. If you invest $1,000 per month and get an 8% annual return, you'll be a millionaire in 25.5 years. The key to being a millionaire is to start investing right away and to be consistent about it.

How long will it take me to become a millionaire? ›

$1 Million the Easy Way

Putting aside someone's $40,000 in take-home pay every year—and earning that 10% return as described above—will get you to millionaire status in about 15 years. Halve those savings and you're still only looking at 20 years. It will take more work for sure, but it's a lot faster than 51.

Can you become a millionaire in 12 months? ›

It's Almost Impossible

While some experts believe it's an achievable feat, others aren't so optimistic. “It is almost impossible for most people to become millionaires within just one year,” said Loretta Kilday, attorney and spokesperson for Debt Consolidation Care.

How long to become a millionaire investing $1,000 a month? ›

To become a millionaire by investing $1,000 a month, it would take slightly less than 30 years with an average annual return rate of 7%. The exact time can vary depending on the actual returns and market conditions, but consistent investing over this period is a reliable path to reaching this milestone.

How long will it take to turn 500k into $1 million? ›

How long will it take to turn 500k into $1 million? The time it takes to invest half turn 500k into $1 million depends on the investment return and the amount of time invested. If invested with an average annual return of 7%, it would take around 15 years to turn 500k into $1 million.

Is saving $500 a month good? ›

The short answer to what happens if you invest $500 a month is that you'll almost certainly build wealth over time. In fact, if you keep investing that $500 every month for 40 years, you could become a millionaire. More than a millionaire, in fact. Investing is about buying assets you believe will increase in value.

How to save 500k in 10 years? ›

“The primary levers to accumulate $500,000 in 10 years are investing more, spending less in retirement, or delaying retirement (including part-time work). Ten years allows for compounding to work in your favor. This goal requires careful planning and long-term strategy, not quick fixes.

How to be a millionaire ASAP? ›

8 Tips to Becoming a Millionaire
  1. Stay away from debt.
  2. Invest early and consistently.
  3. Make savings a priority.
  4. Increase your income to reach your goal faster.
  5. Cut unnecessary expenses.
  6. Keep your millionaire goal front and center.
  7. Work with an investing professional.
  8. Put your plan on repeat.
Feb 1, 2024

Can you become a millionaire in 27 days? ›

If you double your money every day on the 27th day you will have 67,108,864 cents, which is 0,6 million. You'd need one extra day to become a millionaire.

Is saving $7,000 a month good? ›

Absolutely, $7000 a month is decent for a retired couple with no debt, and here's why. First off, let's acknowledge that "decent" can be quite subjective. It hinges on lifestyle choices and expectations.

Is saving $1600 a month good? ›

One of the popular budgeting guidelines is the 50/30/20 rule. It says that 50% of your earnings should go to necessities, 30% to discretionary items and 20% to savings. For example, if you earn $8,000 per month, you should save $1,600 of it.

What is the 50 30 20 rule? ›

The 50-30-20 rule recommends putting 50% of your money toward needs, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward savings. The savings category also includes money you will need to realize your future goals. Let's take a closer look at each category.

Can I become a millionaire in 5 years? ›

Becoming a millionaire in five years is an extremely aggressive goal, but it could happen. Although hitting a home run with an investment is what dreams are made of, the most realistic path is to put aside big chunks of money every year. The historical average return for the S&P 500 index is 8%.

How hard is it to become a millionaire? ›

Even with a $150,000 starting investment, it would still take you 22 years to reach the $1 million mark. Of course, with the use of the steps already mentioned, plus consistent determination, diligence and perseverance, you can reach your goal of becoming a millionaire even more quickly than the previous example.

How long to turn $300 000 into a million? ›

By my calculations, it will take a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.8% to turn $300,000 into $1 million over the next 10 years.

Can you become a millionaire in a year? ›

There are now 5.3 millionaires in America. Many of my employees earn seven figure incomes. I've hired a few undergrads with some experience for more than a million dollars per year. Yes it's possible to go from zero to a million in a year, but the odds are against it.

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