How to Become a Millionaire from Nothing: A Step-by-Step Guide
Becoming a millionaire might seem out of reach, especially when starting from nothing. While I'm not a millionaire myself and still in my mid-20s, I haven't personally observed the process of becoming a millionaire. However, I've had insightful conversations with millionaire family members and learned from other cases. And I'm excited to share how you can become a millionaire from nothing too!
Through their wisdom and shared experiences, I've learned that with the right combination of discipline, dedication, and strategic planning, building wealth from scratch is not a fantasy but an achievable goal.
In this guide, I'll share what I've learnt and provide a step-by-step path you can follow to embark on your journey towards financial freedom.
After that, I'm going to show you exactly how much money you need to invest to become a millionaire by age 60 (which is easy to remember and just off the average retirement age in the USA, which is 62).
How to Become a Millionaire From Nothing: The Habits
Many people want to know how to become a self-made millionaire with no money. You may believe that you will never become a millionaire and afford the life of your dreams.
However, almost anyone can become a millionaire if they set their mind to it.
You can achieve millionaire status by following time-tested habits and routines. I have included what I feel to be the most important habits/routines in this post, backed by research.
Let's dive into the eight steps exploring how to become a self-made millionaire from nothing with no money.
Table of Contents
1. Become a Millionaire By Creating a Written Plan
The first step towards achieving millionaire status is to create a written plan.
Writing down your goals makes them tangible, and by writing them down, you make it harder to forget these ambitions.
You should hang the list of your long-term goals up somewhere you will see it every day.
It's important that you see your written plan every day.
Placing your written plan somewhere visible will help you keep your end-goal in mind and persist when times are tough.
2. Make Increasing Your Income a Priority
As Dave Ramsey says: “Your income is your most powerful wealth-building tool!”
And you must focus on increasing your income if you want to become a millionaire.
Increasing your income is crucial, as it will accelerate nearly every other process in this list.
There are many ways to increase your income including:
Improving Your Formal Education
This is a big one and it's a tangible way to increase your skills and market value. I have aunties and uncles that got their CPA and other advanced degrees and they were consequently able to demand higher earnings (both through self-employment and through salaries).
This could be pursuing higher education degrees like bachelors, masters etc, acquiring industry specific professional education, enrolling in online courses, attending workshops and seminars, find a mentor, stay up to date with industry trends by reading newspapers and blog articles and much more!
Some other ways to increase your income are:
- Asking your boss for a raise
- Work a second job or “side hustle”
Why Increasing Your Income is Important
This may seem obvious, but increasing your income will not only allow you to destroy debt more quickly, but it will also help you build wealth faster!
If you are making $70,000 a year you will be able to save $14,000 a year—assuming a 20% savings rate.
While someone making $180,000 a year will be able to save $36,000 a year at an equal savings rate of 20%.
These two income earners will have drastically different net worths by the time they retire. This assumes of course that they started investing at the same age.
Increasing your income will help you destroy debt faster, build wealth faster, and ultimately shorten the time it takes you to retire!
3. Start Investing Early to Become a Millionaire
You must start investing early if you want to build significant wealth in the future!
The age whereby you start investing will drastically affect the size of your retirement fund!
If you invest $610 a month from age 25 you will amass an investment portfolio of $1,011,894 by age 60, as you know.
But if you invested the same $610 a month but started 10 years later, you will only have $462,983 at the same age!
By building an investment portfolio at a young age, you're giving compound interest plenty of time to do what it does best.
Grow your money!
I wrote a great article exploring how to invest your first $1000 here.
4. Develop Multiple Streams of Income
Diversifying your income is a great way to protect yourself in the event of a financial emergency. And it's a tactic that many millionaires use today!
Developing multiple sources of income will be especially helpful in the case that you lose a primary income source.
This may be your full-time employment or owning a business. Either way, developing multiple income streams will lessen the impact!
Thomas C. Corley conducted a five-year study on millionaires and found that:
- 65% of millionaires had three or more streams of income
- 45% of millionaires had four or more streams of income
- 29% of millionaires had five or more streams of income
Not only is diversifying your income a great way to build wealth, but it will also take a load off your back knowing that your income is safe!
Also, regularly waking up and seeing new deposits in your bank account is one of the most satisfying feelings!
Build multiple streams of income over a prolonged period and you are sure to become a millionaire!
5. Automate Your Savings
Automating your savings is one of the best ways you can secure a big, fat nest egg for retirement!
Maxing out your tax-advantaged retirement accounts like your 401k's, Roth IRA's or other IRA's is a great idea.
Also, putting aside a portion of your money before it ever reaches your bank account will reduce your likelihood of spending it, and will help you build wealth on autopilot!
Automating your savings will allow you to grow your wealth over a prolonged period and pay minimal taxes at the same time!
My favorite high-interest savings account is offered by CIT Bank. Their Savings Builder Account offers some of the highest interest rates of any savings account!
6. Live Below Your Means
Some of the wealthiest people in the world live below their means—in certain aspects of their life that is. I'm not going to go out and say that every billionaire lives frugally, because that is just not the case.
My list of frugal billionaires includes Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, as I will explore below.
Warren Buffett has become famous for both his intense frugality and investing prowess.
Buffett lives in the same house that he bought in 1958 for $US31,000, despite having peak net worth of $86.6 billion!
Here is a picture of Warren Buffett's house for reference:
The house has an estimated value of $US652,619 today!
Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder of Facebook, drives a car worth only $30,000!
His primary car is a Volkswagen GTI, with a manual transmission.
Another billionaire known for their frugal habits is Bill Gates (if we forget about his $63 million house).
He wears a $10 watch and insists on doing the dishes after dinner!
Need I say anything more about frugality?
Living frugally while increasing your income is one of the fastest ways to become a millionaire!
7. Exercise Regularly
This is probably something you didn't expect to see on a list about money. However, regular exercise is an important habit that many of the world's wealthiest people swear by.
Cardiovascular exercise has many proven benefits for both your body and mind.
Here are some of the benefits of cardio:
- It will help you sleep better
- It reduces stress
- It gives you more confidence in how you look and feel
- It makes you feel good by increasing dopamine and serotonin release
Here are just a few benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise.
Regular exercise is also known to increase your energy levels, which will allow you to work harder—for longer!
Verywellfit.com recommends, to improve your health through exercise, that you:
“Try moderately-intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or vigorously-intense cardio 20 minutes a day, three days a week. You can also do a mixture.”
Exercising regularly will optimize your energy levels, and have you feeling at your very best!
8. Become More Knowledgeable
I don't like to use clichés too often, but it's very true that “knowledge is power”.
Continuously educating yourself is one of the most common habits of the wealthy.
No matter who you are or where you're from, everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. What you choose to do with your 24 hours is entirely up to you.
It's a fact that most billionaires spend a lot of time reading. The late Zig Ziglar claimed to read three hours a day.
Warren Buffett claims to spend 80% of his time reading, typically reading around 500 pages every single day.
Mark Cuban is a billionaire American businessman and investor and is the owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.
He said “I read everything I can. I don’t care what the source is,”. Mark Cuban says his reading routine takes up “four to five hours a day.”
You are sure to become a millionaire if you follow the steps/employ the habits that I have laid out in this post!
Now you know the eight most common habits among millionaires. Now it's time for me to show you how to become a self-made millionaire with no money by investing!
How to Become a Self-Made Millionaire With No Money by Investing $610 a Month
Now I'm going to show you how to become a self-made millionaire with no money by investing your money in the stock market.
I bet you didn't know that you can attain a net worth of over $1 million by consistently investing in the stock market.
If you start investing $610/month at age 25, your investment will have grown to $1,011,894 by your 60th birthday.
Here is what your investment will look like while investing $610/month from age 25-60.
Made with a great compound interest calculator.
It will have grown to $1,461,329 if you're happy to let it grow for another five years!
Here is what that would look like.
This is based on the average US stock market returns over the past 140 years of about 7% (adjusted for inflation).
And at a savings rate of $610 a month, you will have invested just $292,800 over 35 years, which as mentioned, will be worth over $1 million by age 60.
This shows just how important it is to invest your money.
Do I Need to Make a High Income to Become a Millionaire?
The great news is that you don't need to make a high income ($100,000/year+) to become a millionaire. Becoming a millionaire is definitely achievable on a typical household income of roughly $61,000/year.
You will need to start investing $610/month or $7,320 a year, at the age of 25 to become a millionaire by age 60.
How to Start Investing at 35 to Become a Millionaire by 60
You can still become a millionaire from nothing even if you start investing at 35. You'll just need to invest more money to achieve millionaire status.
You'll have to invest $1,320/month instead of $610/month to become a millionaire by age 60 if you're 35 years old and haven't started investing yet!
Here is a graph showing what your investment would like now.
Notice how compounding has less time to take effect and how you have to invest more money because you waited longer.
How to Become a Millionaire in 10 Years
It's pretty unlikely that you'll be able to become a millionaire in 10 years by investing in the stock market if you're starting from scratch.
It's still possible that you could become a millionaire in 10 years from other routes. This could be launching and selling a business, receiving a significant inheritance or winning the lotto.
However, I'm going to run through the numbers just for fun.
You'll have to invest $6,050/month or $72,600 a year in an S&P 500 index fund to become a millionaire in 10 years.
Here is what that would look like.
As you can see, you would have invested $726,000 over that period with only $277,074 of your wealth resulting from compound interest.
This is assuming that your investments steadily grow! And the stock market is prone to price fluctuations, so I wouldn't bet on it.
You can see how important it is for you to start investing early if you want to retire as a millionaire. I'll go into more depth on this topic later on.
My favorite way to invest money is through the stock market, as I'll explore more below.
Or you can check out my list of the best ways to invest your first $1000 here for more investment ideas!
Is Stock Market Investing Safe?
You may be skeptical about investing your money in the stock market, but you don't have to worry. The stock market has proven to be one of the most consistent and lucrative investment vehicles for over 140 years!
You can make decent returns without the hassle of managing your own money by investing in stock market index funds. Not to mention that index funds outperform managed funds 80% of the time.
Your investment of $610 a month with grow exponentially thanks to compound interest.
What is Compound Interest?
Compound Interest is interest paid on the initial principal as well as additional interest that is accumulated on money borrowed or invested.
In investing terms, you are gaining interest on the money you originally invested as well as any interest gained through capital gains on your investment.
Where to Put Your Cash When It's Not Invested
When it comes to storing money that's not invested, an ING online savings account stands out as a top choice. In today's digital age, online banks like ING have been gaining prominence and favor among shrewd savers. And it's primarily due to the higher interest rates they're able to offer.
They also offer the same level of security as standard savings accounts, as they are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. Your deposits will be protected for up to $250,000 per account.
Consider opening an account with ING Bank, an online bank renowned for its high-interest rates. This is possible because, unlike traditional banks, ING saves significantly on operating costs as it doesn't have physical branches. These savings, in the form of reduced overhead and staffing costs, are passed onto customers as higher interest rates and lower fees.
I should mention that I'm not affiliated with ING Bank, but I wish I was. Also remember that online banks may not offer the same personal interaction as traditional banks, which might be important for complex banking matters.
How to Become Wealthier
So maybe $1 million isn't enough for you to retire the way you want to. I'll show you what happens when you add a few extra dollars towards your investment contributions and how it'll affect the size of your nest egg.
By increasing your investment contributions, your portfolio will grow exponentially. For example, $1,500 invested monthly (compared to $610 invested monthly), starting at age 25 will have grown to $2,488,264 by age 60.
You will have only contributed an additional $373,800 over the 35-year period but will have an additional $1,476,370 by the time you're 60!
Through this investment plan and a lifestyle of hard work, perseverance, planning, and self-discipline, you too can achieve millionaire status!
For ways to start investing money to build wealth, visit my How to Invest $1000 article where I explore plenty of smart ways to invest $1000!
Conclusion on How to Become a Self-Made Millionaire With No Money
Becoming a millionaire from nothing is not a pipe dream; it's a realistic goal backed by proven principles and time-tested strategies.
By educating yourself, living below your means, investing wisely, and developing multiple income streams, you're laying the foundation for tremendous financial success.
The compound interest calculator doesn't lie; the numbers add up.
Start your journey today by learning how to invest your first $1000 or more, and join the ranks of self-made millionaires.