) -- Who wants to be a millionaire? Almost everybody.
Who could be a millionaire? Almost everybody. It kinda makes you wonder why there aren't more. Perhaps most folks would only like to be a millionaire if someone would just give them the money, but they don't want it bad enough to plan or -- oh, no! -- save.
Who wants to be a millionaire? Almost everybody. Who could be a millionaire? Almost everybody.
But, wait! Did I say almost everybody could be a millionaire? You heard it right. Let's say that you just left college at age 22. You put $2,259 away each year and net 10%. By the time you are 62 you have your million. That's less than $200 a month. Of course, if you got 11%, you would only have to put away $1,719, or less than $150 per month. But 11% net is pushing the edge of the likely outcomes.
There are a few tricks to this game:
1. Start early.
If you wait just five years to start, the annual cost goes up to $6,079 (or $5,025 at 11%). The longer you put off starting, the steeper the climb. Wait long enough and you won't have any chance to meet your goals.
2. Get market rates of return.
Most people don't come close over their lifetime. Invest in equities through thick and thin. Keep a long-term horizon and ignore the short-term noise.
3. Rate of return does matter.
But if you are assuming a return higher than the long-term historical averages, you are kidding yourself. If your plan is built on an assumption over 10% net, you probably will fail. You can't directly control the ultimate investment rate, but you can control how much you save.
4. Control taxes.
Maximize use of tax-favored vehicles such as IRAs and pension plans. Use tax-efficient funds with low turnover in your personal accounts. Buy and hold.
5. Control costs.
Mutual fund expenses, or brokerage fees and commissions, can eat up more than 1.5% of your market returns if you are not careful. Use no-load index funds.
But the real trick is to plan and actually have the discipline to save. Hope is not an action plan! You, and only, you can make it happen.
Please don't tell me you can't afford $150 to $200 a month. I don't buy it. Most people find the money if they want a car or stereo. You may spend that much for your morning jolt of cafe latte. Do you really want to be a millionaire? Or do you just want somebody to give you the money? (Hint: It ain't going to happen, dude.) You decide.
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Frank Armstrong III is the founder and principal of
, a Miami-based NAPFA fee-only registered investment adviser with more than $500 million of assets under management. He holds a B.A. in economics from the University of Virginia, has more than 38 years' experience in the securities and financial services industry and has published four books and hundreds of articles on investments and retirement planning. Contact him at