Take steps to create wealth for your retirement
How does one become a millionaire?
Well, I’ve never been a millionaire, but I can learn from those who have!
I believe wealth creation first starts in your mind. You must have the belief that you *can* build wealth and the persistence that you *will*.
Your thoughts can be the strongest barrier to creating wealth, so make sure your mindset is one that’s open to growth and learning and possibility and change. This is absolutely necessary, especially if you’ve struggled with a paycheck-to-paycheck cycle for most of your life.
And as you do your own thought-work, you can start implementing the steps below into your financial planning. When your massive actions line up with your powerful beliefs, nothing can stop you!
Wealth creation really narrows down to living below your means and building your savings. But there are many smaller, important and effective steps to make this happen.
Remember that progression is rarely a linear experience. These actions aren’t meant to be taken in order. Many you’ll be working on in tandem, some in certain seasons, others all the time (see step 16!).
I have learned these 50 steps to wealth creation and becoming a millionaire from studying successful people. Anyone can learn how to be smart with money – but it takes intention, commitment and sacrifice to get rich.
Don’t overthink where to begin – just pick one and start moving forward.
Would you rather print out this list of 50 steps to financial freedom? Download it here:
#1 Have an emergency fund
On the path to wealth creation, you must have some emergency funds set up in case you run into financial trouble.
This could mean losing your job, getting injured, needing major car repair, or having your income reduced drastically for whatever reason.
The tricky thing with emergencies is you never know when they’re going to happen, so you have to prepare for the unknown. Don’t tie up money in investments before you set up an emergency fund that could cover 3 to 6 months of expenses.
#2 Get out of high-interest debt
Wealth creation is increasingly more difficult if you are stuck in high-interest debt.
Compare the interest rate on your debt with the returns you’re receiving on your investments. Consider giving the highest rate priority.
Paying off debt before saving isn’t advice that’s set in stone.
So, if you’re paying more in interest, then get that debt paid off first. If you’re making more in interest from your financial accounts, then add more savings to those investments first.
If you really want to start saving first, then consider transferring any credit card debt to a 0% promotional rate. The other action you could take is refinancing any student, auto, or home loans to get the rate down.
Of course, this all depends on your values. If you feel strongly that you want to eliminate your debt, regardless of what interest you’re paying, then follow your heart on that one. If you’re earning more in interest on your investments, then making your savings the priority will serve you well.
Make the decision that aligns with your priorities so you maintain integrity in achieving your financial goals.
#3 Determine a timeline
You’ll need to think about when you want to retire, because your investing years will be while you’re still employed.
So, if you want to retire in 5 years, then you’ll need to be pretty aggressive with saving if you still have a ways to go before you reach your first million.
If you think you can last another 20 years in your job, then that would make your investment strategy look a lot different.
Your timeline will also guide you in your investment mix. Having a significant percentage in stocks could yield greater returns, but it’s also a riskier strategy. The closer you are to retirement, the less risk you’ll want to accept.
#4 Know your retirement number
Your retirement number is the amount of money you’ll need to support you through your retirement years. This number will depend on your pre-retirement expenses and your estimated life expectancy.
You can get a good idea by tracking your monthly expenses for 3 months and determining how much you spend and what you spend it on.
Of course, in retirement, some of those expenses will probably be obsolete. Your kids will (hopefully) be supporting themselves and you may live in a smaller home. Many financial advisors suggest you plan to live on 80% of your current income.
Once you estimate an annual income that will cover all of your lifestyle requirements, you’ll need to apply a safe withdrawal rate that will prevent your savings from being depleted before you die.
So, for example, if you decide that $65,000 a year is enough to support you and your spouse, and you think 4% is a safe withdrawal rate, then you would *divide* $65,000 by .04 and end up with a retirement number of $1,625,000 – well over a million dollars. (Using a 4% withdrawal rate is assuming your nest egg needs to last 25 years. If you lower your withdrawal rate, your savings will last longer.)
#5 Factor in social security
You may have fallen out of your seat when you read that retirement number above. Right now, you’re probably thinking it would be impossible to save up $1.6M before you retire!
But, the good news is that you probably won’t have to come up with all of it yourself. If you’ve been in the workforce for several years, then your social security account will contribute a significant amount to your retirement income.
The best way to get an idea of how much your social security will help out is to visit the Social Security Administration website and set up a mySSA account. You’ll find an estimate of what your benefits will be, based on current data.
If your goal is to have a monthly retirement income of $5,000, and your social security benefits will provide $2,000, then the amount you need to save is considerably reduced.
Of course, if there are several years between now and retirement, be aware of possible changes in the future. Rules and payouts may change before you start receiving social security, so plan conservatively.
#6 Have a social security strategy
Within certain limits, you can decide when you start receiving social security benefits. It can be as early as 62 years or as late as 70.
The sooner you start taking social security, the more checks you’ll receive over your lifetime, but they’ll also be smaller.
If you delay taking benefits until you’re 70, your monthly intake could increase by as much as 8% a year.
So, be strategic about your social security benefits. Usually, the advice is to wait as long as you can before using them.
And remember, social security benefits last as long as you live, so they are a valuable protection against running out of savings.
#7 Don’t forget health care expenses
It’s true that your required retirement income will likely be less than what you need today, but unfortunately, your medical expenses will undoubtedly increase.
If you fail to factor health care expenses into your retirement savings, you will definitely come up short later on.
Health care will be a major expense after retirement, so you must prepare accordingly.
Some financial companies estimate you’ll spend between $250k and $400k on health care – just in retirement!
There are ways to keep your costs down, though. If you take preventative measures now by staying healthy, fund a Health Savings Account, and make the most of Medicare, you can stretch those dollars farther.
#8 Make some savings goals
To succeed in creating wealth, you must have some specific financial goals you’re working toward.
When you have an idea how much you’ll need for retirement, break down this amount to get some short-term goals in place. An important number to know is how much you’ll need to save each month to reach your first million and fully fund your retirement.
Factors to consider are your expected return, inflation, future income increases, retirement date, and your social security benefits.
Using an online calculator will make your estimate more accurate, so don’t try to figure out all this math in your head!
#9 Cut expenses
Think you could find an extra $100 to save every month?
Maybe cut cable, quit the gym, or take your lunch to work?
If you invested $100 a month into a mutual fund with an average return of 7% for 20 years, you would end up more than doubling your $24,000 investment and end up with over $50,000!
From $100 a month!
Think you could find that in your budget?
Maximizing the gap between income and expenses is vital to wealth creation.
Cut unnecessary expenses and put that money into retirement savings. Your 80-year old self will be eternally grateful.
#10 Find ways to save more
The more money you can free up for savings, the more opportunities you’ll have to create wealth. Besides cutting out unnecessary monthly expenses, try to find even more ways to free up extra money to save.
- negotiate with your credit card company for a lower rate.
- call around for a better insurance premium.
- refinance your mortgage for a lower payment.
- shop at thrift stores.
- buy generic.
- make your coffee at home.
There are countless ways to find more to save. Track your spending and see where the budget leaks are. Then be purposeful about redirecting those funds into your retirement account.
#11 Stick to a budget
Admittedly, I’m not the greatest at keeping a budget. But, I keep doing it because it’s important for me to know where our money is going.
Following a budget also helps me with future planning and handling unexpected expenses.
I feel more in control of our money, and I can easily point to where our weak points are.
If you’re not on a budget, I encourage you to start tracking your spending for the next 2-3 months. I’ll bet you’d be surprised how much you’re spending on stuff you don’t value.
#12 Remove temptation
One way to keep more money in your pocket (to put in savings) is to eliminate opportunities where you’ll be tempted to spend.
For example, don’t carry a credit card with you. Even using a debit card can lead to overspending. Just carry a few dollars in cash, and you’ll find it harder to let go of.
You could do a clean sweep of your email inbox and unsubscribe from all those tempting sales promotions at your favorite stores.
Take a different route home to avoid driving by Target.
Plan and prep your meals for the week, so you don’t end up going to Chipotle when you’re tired after a long day’s work.
Get a coffee maker with a timer, so your coffee is ready to go before you head out the door. This will save you from those habitual Starbucks runs.
You know what you’re tempted by, so be purposeful to avoid them. The less you spend, the more you can save.
#13 Spend less than you make
Aahhh … the key to wealth creation. It’s quite simple, and yet the majority of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and overwhelmed by debt.
If you want to get aggressive with your saving goals, living on less than you earn is necessary.
This may require some lifestyle changes – you just have to decide what your priorities are.
Following a budget and cutting expenses can help. But if you’re deep in debt, you may have to take more drastic measures.
#14 Make big sacrifices
This is where you need to make some tough decisions.
This is where you need to decide if you’re willing to give up the things you least want to give up, in order to provide for your financial future.
Now, you may not be in this position. You may be doing okay with your retirement savings and not feel like drastic measures are in order.
But … if you break out in a sweat when you think about retiring … if you feel anxious when you look at your savings …
Then … it’s time to face reality head on and get serious.
- Do you need to sell your home that you’ve been making memories in for 25 years?
- Do you need to sell your vehicles and deal with the inconvenience of public transportation?
- Do you need to get a second job during the evenings and weekends and give up your leisure time for a while?
- Do you need to stop eating out and ruthlessly slash your monthly grocery bill?
- Do you need to *stop* putting money in your kids’ college funds, paying their car insurance, or helping with their rent?
Think about the opportunity cost of the things you spend your money on that *don’t* support your retirement goals. Have the hard conversations with your partner and your kids.
The money is there, you just have to decide where it goes. You have a choice, and you have control.
#15 Create a united front with your partner
You won’t reach your goals if your partner is working against you.
Be sure to have ongoing conversations about your money, your values, your objectives, and your dreams.
Make them a part of your daily life, so you can consistently be on the same page and hold each other accountable.
You will experience challenges, difficulties, and successes as you both work toward financial freedom.
Cooperate as a team to push through adversity, and celebrate together when you reach the milestones.
#16 Don’t gamble
This includes playing slot machines, table games, horse races, raffles, sports betting, and lottery tickets.
Yes, lottery tickets.
You’ve got more important things to do with your money.
#17 Avoid anything “too-good-to-be-true”
As you learn more about personal finance, retirement planning, and investing, you’ll come across all kinds of opportunities to grow your wealth.
There will be those that are tried and true. These are the ones that typically take time and patience to realize the benefits.
Then there are other strategies that promise fast results with big payouts. These could include day trading, penny stocks, timing the market, or hyped investment opportunities.
Don’t fall for these “get rich quick” schemes.
They are risky and the odds are against you.
Value the money you make by protecting it. Someday, when you’re too old to make any more, it will protect you.
#18 Maximize your income
When my dad finally got hired with the airlines, he stayed with the same company for his entire 30-year career. That company did change hands a couple of times, but like he used to say – “I never missed a paycheck.”
Times have changed. Most people don’t stay with the same employer for decades anymore. Company loyalty has given way to individual achievement. And this isn’t such a bad thing.
If you feel like you aren’t getting paid what you’re worth, or you have the ability to increase your income, then you should do something about that.
Ask for a raise, try for a promotion, get a certification, go back to college, expand your network, start a business, get a side hustle.
Staying at the same company and getting a 3% raise once a year is not going to get you to millionaire status.
So, take matters into your own hands and create the future you want.
Learning how to be smart with money means knowing how to generate income. It’s out there for you, you just have to go get it.
#19 Don’t upscale your lifestyle
This is where a lot of Americans get into trouble. As soon as they get a raise, they increase their standard of living to meet their new income.
This is called lifestyle inflation, and you want to avoid it at all costs if you want to create wealth.
But if you’re living comfortably on what you make now, then save that extra money for later in life.
There will be a time when you can’t work anymore, when there’ll be no more raises, when all you have is what’s in the bank.
Take care of your future self by being content with your current circumstances.
Stop comparing what you have with your neighbors. Are they going to support you in your old age?
Any increase in lifestyle will only serve you today. But if you bank your raises, they’ll support you years into the future.
#20 Don’t spend your tax refunds
If you typically get back large tax refunds, you may want to adjust your withholding so you’re not lending so much to the IRS. When you get a refund, it’s basically money they borrowed from you interest-free. (Doesn’t that tick you off, just a little?)
So, always aim for the smallest refund you can get.
And then – don’t spend it. You lived without it for a whole year, right? You don’t really need it.
Instead, put it straight into your retirement account and let it start growing and compounding and getting bigger so it can support you in your old age.
Doesn’t that sound so much smarter than blowing it on a new TV?
#21 Understand the effects of compound interest
The more you educate yourself on personal finance concepts, the more confident you’ll be in your financial decisions.
One of the most amazing principles of investing money is compound interest. Compound interest is, simply put, “interest on interest”, and results in the exponential growth of an original amount (the principal).
When you’re working toward your first “mill”, having a good grasp of how compound interest will help you get there is extremely helpful. You’ll understand the importance of saving early and often, and getting the best rate you can find.
Once you realize the vast difference a slight adjustment can make in your savings, you’ll be motivated to be more disciplined with your financial goals.
#22 Sign up for your employer’s 401k plan
If you work for a company that offers a 401(k) retirement plan to their employees …
and you are eligible to sign up …
and you *haven’t* –
then you may be throwing away free money.
This is because many employers offer a percentage match, and will actually throw in some of their own money into your account. Yes, they will give you free money.
For example, my husband puts in 10% of his pretax income into our 401k account. His employer matches 3% of that contribution, which means we’re actually investing 13% every pay period.
It’s a sweet deal!
So run to your HR department and find out what free money you’re throwing away. Then sign up and start letting your employer contribute to your retirement.
#23 Get acquainted with your 401(k)
Not all 401(k) plans are created equal. Since this savings vehicle is sponsored by your employer, you will be limited to the investment choices they offer, and subject to the fees they’ve set.
Take the time to get to know how your 401(k) compares with others.
You can read your employee manual or talk to someone in the HR department. Another option is to visit Brightscope.com, where you can look up other companies’ account profiles.
If you find that your 401(k) doesn’t measure up to your standards, you should still participate to get the full employer match. Beyond that, investigate other investment options that may offer more benefit.
#24 Be responsible with your 401(k)
As explained above, a 401(k) could provide free contributions to your retirement savings. Regardless of your investment preferences, you never want to leave that money on the table.
Be sure to contribute (at least) enough to get the maximum match from your employer.
But you shouldn’t stop there. Because most people have their contributions automatically deducted from their paychecks, they tend to “set it & forget it”, but this could also result in losing money.
If you want to get the most out of your 401(k), check in on it occasionally (at the least, once a year) and make sure your investment mix is still serving you well.
When you still have a decade or two before retirement, you can afford to take on greater risk to increase your savings.
But the closer you get to your retirement date, the more conservative you’ll want to be. Adjust your 401(k) investments to reflect the changes in your risk tolerance.
#25 Make your increases automatic
Remember – don’t just set it and forget it.
As you adjust your budget to account for your retirement savings, continue to increase those contributions over time. Once you’re used to being without 3% of your check, bump that up to 4% the next year.
Make these increases automatic so there is no decision to make.
Don’t leave it up to will power or memory. Sign up for an automatic increase every year or so and have your employer do it for you.
There’ll be a small adjustment period, but before you know it, you’ll never miss it.
#26 Make your savings automatic
The simplest path to wealth creation is automating your savings so you don’t even have to think about it. You can do this with every savings vehicle you own.
If you give yourself the choice to put money in savings, I guarantee it’ll be hit or miss.
Take away the decision and your savings will grow faster. I’ll guarantee that, too.
#27 Invest in an IRA
If you don’t have access to a 401(k), or you’re not satisfied with your employer’s plan, you have other choices. A good one is the IRA.
Although the maximum contributions allowed are much lower than a 401(k), it’s still a great place to save retirement funds. You get the usual tax benefits with a traditional retirement account, but you also have more control of your investment choices.
Also, there is no limit to how many IRAs you can have. There are several types to choose from, and you can have a mix of them to build up your retirement savings.
However, regardless of how many you own, the annual maximum contribution still applies. If you’re over 50 years of age (in 2020), this means you can only put in up to $7,000, regardless of how many you have.
If you have a choice between the 401(k) and the IRA, make sure you do some research before you decide which one is best for you.
#28 Consider a mix of Traditional and Roth
Both the 401(k) and the IRA investment tools come in 2 main flavors: Traditional and Roth.
Basically, the biggest difference is how taxes are handled.
For Traditional, your contributions are deposited before taxes are taken out. This ultimately lowers your taxable income for the year applied, which is a great benefit. But, you have to pay taxes on withdrawals during retirement.
With the Roth version, your money goes in after it’s taxed and there is no upfront tax break. However, in retirement you’ll withdraw that money tax-free.
So, they both have their benefits. And you’ll get different advice from various advisors. But, most will recommend a *mix* of both.
Do your homework, talk to a pro, and be aware of your choices.
#29 Keep your fees low
You really can’t get out of paying fees as you try to grow your savings Everybody wants a piece of the pie.
What you *can* do is get wise about the fees you’re paying, and how you can lower them.
Read your statements and know what you’re being charged.
And don’t be fooled by percentages that seem small and insignificant. You may want to ignore them because you think it won’t add up to much of a difference, but as your account gets into the hundreds of thousands, that 1% fee adds up.
With every tenth of a percent that’s added to your fees, you’re losing exponential growth from compound interest. So, pay attention and be savvy about how you handle those fees. Shop around or negotiate to get the lowest fees you can get.
In the end, it could be thousands of dollars at stake.
#30 Keep your mortgage low
Your mortgage payment is typically the biggest bill you have every month. So, consider if what you’re paying now is worth putting your future at risk.
This one’s a toughie, I know. I love my home, but our payment takes up a huge part of our income. (It’s the only thing I don’t like about it.)
We still have our youngest in high school, and our oldest trying to pay off debt. And I’m totally expecting our daughter to move back in with us sometime in the future. That’s just life, and I want to be there to help my kids.
But eventually, we’ll need to sell our big, beautiful home and move into something smaller and less expensive. It will be a huge sacrifice, but I know when I’m in my 70s and 80s I’ll be glad we did.
If you don’t want to downsize right now, see if you can refinance for a lower rate. This may save you hundreds of dollars a month that you could apply to your savings.
#31 Create passive income streams
Finding a way to generate income with little to no effort is a great way to support your millionaire goals.
There are various opportunities to do this; some require a financial investment, others will need a considerable amount of time and effort.
Some ideas include:
- rental properties
- dividend interest
- creating an online course
- owning vending machines
- starting a YouTube channel
- selling stock photos
- renting out storage space
These are just a few of the many ways to create passive income. Find an opportunity that appeals to you, and try it out for a while.
If you invest the time now, you could have a very lucrative source of income in your retirement years.
#32 Get a side gig
We live in the gig economy. There are so many opportunities for side jobs that have flexible schedules and can generate more income for you.
Consider driving for Uber or Lyft, babysitting a couple of times a month, walking the neighbor’s dogs, tutoring kids at the library.
Any of these services could create a few hundred dollars more a month for you. And, when you apply the magic of compound interest, it’s a great way to turbocharge your savings.
#33 Start a business
With the internet and social media, there’s never been a lower barrier to starting your own business. From drop-shipping to flipping to creating to teaching to writing to whatever you want to do.
You can sell crafts to a customer in France.
You can tutor a child in China.
You can be a life coach to someone in Australia.
The possibilities are endless. And what better time to work on that dream that’s been in your heart since your youth?
Is there an idea you’ve had for a while, and it just won’t go away? Stop dismissing it. Take steps to making it into a reality.
Who knows? That idea may just make you a millionaire. You never know until you try.
#34 Save even if you’re self-employed
As your own boss, you have a lot to think about just to keep your business afloat. But don’t talk yourself out of opening a retirement account.
As someone who’s self-employed, you still have good options for retirement savings.
Here are a few:
- If you have no employees, you can contribute to a Solo 401k
- If you have only a few employees, you can open up a SEP IRA
- If your business is growing and you’ve got up to 100 employees, look into the SIMPLE IRA
Of course, it’s not as easy as walking down to the HR department and signing up.
You’ll need to find a financial broker to help you set up an account. You can do this in person or online, but don’t put it off much longer.
The sooner you start saving, the longer your money has to grow.
#35 Invest in real estate
If the idea of being a landlord does not appeal to you, take heart in knowing that there are several ways to generate income from real estate.
Here are a few ideas:
- flipping a house for profit
- invest in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
- invest in Real Estate mutual funds
- join a real estate crowdfunding opportunity
- own a vacation rental
- rent a room in your home
If this is something you’re interested in pursuing, be sure to do thorough research and consult with a pro.
And remember the three most important things when it comes to real estate: location, location, location!
#36 Invest in stocks
As you get closer to retirement (10-15 years), it’s important to consider the level of risk you’re willing to accept. This will depend on several factors, such as your current and projected income, your tax situation, your retirement date, and the condition of your savings.
Looking at Jeremy Siegel’s research on the comparison of investment returns over 2 centuries, it’s obvious that stocks provide the best opportunity to grow your portfolio.
You can look at this chart that shows the change in value of of $1, based on 5 different investments, placed in 1802 and held until 2012.
For your convenience, I’ll summarize it here:
- $1 invested in Treasury Bills would now be worth $281
- $1 invested in bonds would now be worth $1,778
- $1 invested in gold would now be worth $4.52
- $1 invested in nothing would now be worth 5 cents
- $1 invest in stocks would now be worth $704,997
It’s a no brainer, right?
If you have the time to ride the market, you may want to put your long-term dollars in stocks.
Just remember to keep that balance between being aggressive while protecting your earnings. Meet with a financial advisor to come up with an effective strategy.
#37 Adjust your portfolio as needed
As I said above, your risk tolerance will likely change as you get closer to your retirement date. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you could easily lose a big part of your nest egg due to a drastic market swing.
Keep an eye on your investment mix, and make changes as you see fit.
If you’re in your 50s, a common recommendation is 60% in stocks and 40% in bonds. But once you’re in your 60s you’ll probably want to rebalance your mix to reduce your exposure to market volatility.
#38 Get tax savvy
I know. Taxes are so … (yawn) … boring.
But. They’re a fact of life. And the more knowledgeable you are about dealing with taxes, the more money you’ll leave in your pocket.
Educate yourself on how to reduce the taxes in your life.
Then, implement those moves into your financial planning.
Here are just a few ways (to get you started):
- donate to charity
- open a FSA (Flexible Savings Account) or HSA (Health Savings Account)
- give to a college 529 plan
- take all the deductions and credits you can get
- be smart with your Social Security strategy
- contribute to a 401k or IRA
Talk to a professional tax person. I’m sure they can give you even more ideas. Because the *last* thing you want to do is pay more taxes than you need to.
#39 Clean up your credit
Having a high credit score comes with a few benefits that could save you thousands over your lifetime. So, if your score is not-so-hot right now, do the work to fix it.
According to Experian, there are some practical steps you can take to improve your score:
- pay your bills on time
- pay off debt and keep balances low
- don’t close unused credit card accounts
- dispute any accuracies on your credit report
There is no quick fix, so be patient. Your efforts will be worth it when you qualify for the best interest rates.
#40 Don’t skimp on insurance
Insurance is one of those things you complain about paying for, until you need it. Then you thank your heavenly stars you have it.
Dave Ramsey says you need to have both an offensive and defensive strategy when it comes to financial planning. Having the right insurance policies is a great way to play defense when it comes to protecting yourself from unexpected situations.
So don’t skimp on the insurance. Get the policies you need in place – auto, home, health, disability, life, and long-term care – and protect the future you’re building today.
#41 Plan for inflation
The annual inflation rate in the U.S. has averaged a little under 2.5% for the past 30 years. In 2009 the rate dipped to -0.4% and was up to 5.4% in 1990, so the spread can be significant.
With a fixed retirement income, your purchasing power will diminish as inflation rises.
It’s critical to consider how the inflation rate will affect your savings over time so you can plan accordingly.
#42 Take care of yourself
As you get older, your body is going to start breaking down. Common conditions among elderly people include heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, and depression.
I’m depressed just writing that list!
You can take preventative measures today – like eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly – that will allow you to minimize or completely avoid these illnesses.
Not only would you have a more comfortable and enjoyable life, but you would also spend less on health care.
#43 Find inspiration
Feeling hopeless about ever reaching a million bucks? Don’t get discouraged!
Instead, find inspiration through other people’s success stories, and read motivating articles that offer hope (like here and here). You’ll find that many who have created wealth started from humble beginnings.
You need to remind yourself that others, in the same season of life as you, have accomplished great wealth later in life. It can be done, you just have to maintain the right mindset and take massive action.
#44 Educate yourself
Take the initiative and learn all you can about personal finance. The knowledge will serve you well, even into your golden years.
Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, has said that it’s the lack of education about investing and creating wealth that keeps people from getting rich.
And because these principles are not taught in school, most people struggle with finances their whole lives.
It doesn’t need to be this way.
There is no barrier to learning as much as you want.
Most resources are free – from blogs to YouTube videos to the library to podcasts. Whatever you want to learn more about, you can probably learn about it for free, and from the comfort of your own La-Z-Boy.
So ignorance is no longer an excuse. Go educate yourself!
#45 Study the successful
There is nothing new under the sun. Whatever you want to do, somebody else has already done it. This is great news, because you don’t have to start from scratch.
The best way to speed up success is to study the strategies of others who’ve already achieved it, so take the time to learn about wealth creation from others who’ve done it before.
These days, that’s easier than ever! Many successful and wealthy people write blogs and/or books, or have a podcast or YouTube channel. They *want* to share their experiences, so don’t pass up this opportunity!
This isn’t rocket science. Other people have figured it out. It can be done. So study what they do, and do the same.
#46 Keep it real, but dream big
Norman Vincent Peale, author of the bestselling book The Power of Positive Thinking, once said:
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Obviously, dreaming big and aiming high are absolutely necessary to achieving your first million. That’s a pretty big goal, and it may seem darn near impossible at this point.
But, here’s the thing:
It’s not really about the million. I mean, yes, that’ll be really sweet when it happens. But it’s not the money that will change your life.
It’s the sacrifices you made, the lessons you learned, the habits you built and broke, the thoughts you changed. All of these things will change who you are – for the better.
The dream is the million. The reality is you’ll be a different person no matter where you land.
So, don’t give up just because the whole idea of becoming a millionaire seems unrealistic. Do it for your future self – that person you will eventually become. Someday, she’ll look back and thank you.
#47 Know your why
Your why isn’t so you can be rich. (Well, if it is, you may want to think of a better why.)
Your why is how that money will serve you in the future:
- you want to provide security for your family
- you want to give generously to charity
- you want to leave a financial legacy for your kids
So, don’t obsess over growing money. Instead, keep your focus on what’s truly important to you. This is what will keep you motivated to keep moving toward your goals.
#48 Practice patience
Wealth creation takes time, there’s no getting around it. The important thing is to start *now*. The longer your money can hang out with time and compound interest, the better for you.
Don’t get caught up in risky tactics that promise to move things along faster. Remember the hare? He’s the one that lost to the tortoise. Don’t be the hare.
*However* … if you have a dream of generating income with your own business … hustle like crazy and take massive action. Building a loyal customer base also takes time, so the more effort you put in now, the faster your business will grow.
But, be patient. When you’re prepared to wait for years – maybe decades – you’ll be less likely to quit at the first sign of adversity.
#49 Keep checking in
About a year ago, I asked my husband to check our 401(k). He had to look up his password because it had been 4 years since the last time he logged in.
Yep, that’s my hubby.
I share that silly story with you to make a point: keep checking your progress.
Don’t just park your money, then expect it to magically grow into the ideal nest egg for you by the time you’re 65.
Keep up with how your investments are doing, so you can make wise adjustments as needed.
Watch the market and be aware of how it’s affecting your holdings. This is especially important the closer you get to your retirement date.
Check in on your social security benefits, your home’s value, your insurance policies, your emergency fund balance – all of it. Of course, don’t be obsessive with it – just peek in occasionally to make sure everything is as you’d expect it to be.
The last thing you want to happen is wake up on your 65th birthday and then realize you’re not as prepared for retirement as you thought. Be proactive with your future and stay connected to your financial progress.
#50 Wealth creation depends on sticking to your plan
The first 49 steps will help you develop a plan to reach your first million. (If you feel you need more guidance, you can read this post.)
All of these tactics will help you reach a comfortable retirement and wealth status. So, write out a plan for how and when you’ll implement them, then stick to it.
Tell yourself that there *will* be ups and downs, setbacks and successes, distractions and discouragement. It won’t be a smooth ride.
But if you’re prepared for these things, you won’t be caught off guard when they happen. It’s all part of the journey.
Plan how you’ll deal with the roadblocks now.
Don’t wait for them to happen, because then you may fall into emotional decision-making. Have a plan for how you’ll overcome adversity and keep going.
Because it’s diligence over time that will get you to your ultimate goal.
Print out all 50 steps as a checklist, and start building wealth for your retirement
Other posts you may enjoy:
- The 401(k) and the IRA: Which One Is Better?
- The Late Starter’s Essential Roadmap For Retirement
- Ultimate Estate Planning Checklist & Guide
- Get Your RISE Score: 5 Steps To Determine Retirement Readiness
- Should You Use The 4% Rule In Retirement?
- 7 Steps To Catch Up On Retirement Savings
- 12 Effective Tips For Financial Planning In Your 50s
- 50 Good Money Habits To Help You Save More
- 9 Smart Reasons To Check Your Credit Report Regularly
- How To Save $5000 In A Year