How to Become a Millionaire contains advice about how to become well-to-do.
These methods indicated do work. However, if you forsake one or more, your chances will likely reduce. Stick to the principals indicated below and you should do better, if not actually succeed. The methods indicated are no guarantee that you will actually become a millionaire, but should help. They have for some of our members.
1 OWN YOUR OWN HOME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
This means: NO mortgage = NO interest.
We have heard at least one so-called financial “expert” saying to not do that and to instead rent. Seems illogical to us. And if you pay cash for your house, then not ever have to pay for a place to live again over perhaps 60 more years and then compare what you’d be paying in rent or mortgage payment all the rest of your life, owning as soon as possible has got to be a much better investment.
Why: because your objective should be to decrease your monthly/yearly financial costs for the rest of your life, while giving you maximum control, and to be able to legally write off as much in terms of taxes. Renting doesn’t allow you to do much, if any of that. Owning your own house does.
And the nasty thing about renting or paying on a mortgage: you don’t own your housing, which means: YOU CAN LOSE YOUR HOUSING AND BE KICKED OUT INTO THE STREET. That’s a dreadful situation. And it happens to people every day.
A major achievement in your life should be to own your own home where you live every day and never have to pay anyone, other than HOA/POA, local taxes and minimal maintenance/ modest improvements. Be careful where you decide to live so your taxes are minimal and POA fees nominal, but check with your Real Estate Broker to make sure you have selected a marketable neighborhood, where you won’t get mugged walking down the street.
Does this mean you can’t have a nice home? Of course not, but you might want to start with a modest small house to begin, then when you have saved enough to buy a nicer, larger one (if you feel you really need that), go ahead and sell your existing house first, then buy the nicer one.
You’re going to find it hard to save money when you’re paying rent or mortgage payments. You have to get that expensive financial burden off your plate so you can start to accumulate wealth.
And here’s an unfortunate truth about life: nothing lasts forever.
Including your job.
If your income stream stops or is interrupted and you haven’t been able to save much cash because you’re renting or paying on a mortgage, you can and will lose your living place. Then you will find yourself in a horrible situation. So once again: BUY YOUR FIRST MODEST HOME FOR CASH as soon as possible.
Note: do NOT buy a “fixer-upper.” Why: unless you can stay awake 24 hours a day and do your main income producing job, and have huge financial reserves, you may find yourself in an overwhelming situation where you can seriously injure yourself or get dead, or go bankrupt. Have you ever seen the old movie: “THE MONEY PIT”? Watch it. It’s sometimes comical, but often frightening. Do your day job to earn your big money. Get a nearly new modest house that you have had professionally inspected before signing on the dotted line, making sure there’s very little, if anything you need to do to make it livable.
When you do design your own home, make it of the most durable value-engineered materials and systems possible. That doesn’t mean cheap. And in some instances, may be more expensive than the cheapest. But you’re looking for the most long-lasting with the least maintenance.
2 SAVE SAVE SAVE
Earn as much money as possible and put it in a safe place that earns interest. Probably your local bank with FDIC insured accounts. And have multiple accounts, if your bank lets you do that without any fees, if possible. Why: think of your bank accounts as having a trench coat with a dozen pockets and you keep your money in the bank sorted into the various pockets. So in that manner, your funds are ear-marked for various purposes and you don’t get surprised when certain things become due and payable.
Here’s an example of a well-organized bank account list:
(note: some Money Market funds can pay more that most account types, so you can earn hundreds or thousands of $ yearly from those. If your cash is going to be parked there, you might as well earn interest on it). THIS is one of the most important accounts. This account is where you stack up most of your new income. This is the big pile of cash that allows you to do important future things. Like buy cars and new houses. Note: do not regard it like a child who wants to spend it all on candy in a store. Regard it as a mature, rational person who makes wise decisions that affect their entire remaining life.
Husband Business Checking
Wife Business Checking
Tax Savings Account
(so you don’t get a big surprise every quarter when taxes are due).
Existing House Expense Account
Next House Savings Account
Husband Personal Account
Wife Personal Account
Dump Account for Husband Business
(for client incoming wired funds) Note: NEVER give your account numbers to anyone. Rather, use this “dump” account as a place for clients and other businesses to wire cash to you. And have your bank put a 24 hour or shorter “sweep” on it, that moves such incoming funds to your business account.
Dump Account for Husband Business
(for client incoming wired funds) see note above on the husband account.
Agreement Between Spouses
Establish an agreement with your significant other that neither of you can buy anything costing more than $200 without the advice and consent of the other. That simple rule will keep you out of trouble and happily married.
What’s that? You’re trying to save up for your entire future life. If you want to drive 100 or 200 miles to see something interesting, fine. But don’t think you can travel to foreign countries (which is inherently dangerous for Americans) and blow your savings on such extravagances without it damaging your future ability to purchase much more important things (like a bigger, nicer house or vehicle). Make your house your vacation. Build a patio.
The only people that win with stocks are the issuing companies and the stock brokerages. Sure, you might get lucky. But watch a few shows on Internet TV about Bernie Madoff and other Wall Street scammers (“The Big Short”) and hopefully you can learn something about this dangerous investment type.
Bernard Lawrence Madoff was an American fraudster and financier who was the mastermind of the largest Ponzi scheme in history, worth about $64.8 billion. He was at one time chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange.
Madoff was actually the Chairman of the NASDAQ. What’s that tell you?
And do you really think he’s the only person involved with stocks out there scamming people? Message: stay away from stocks.
Another bed thing about stocks: when to sell them? The brokers who sold them to you may want you to do one or two things:
1 Forget about them and leave them there forever.
2 Allow your broker to “churn” your account, selling your stocks and buying other stocks, every few weeks, which of course results in multiple fees to them.
3 Not all brokers are like this. But you’ve see about Madoff.
REAL ESTATE: everybody and their brother thought they knew the rule: Real Estate is forever and ALWAYS is worth more tomorrow than today.
2008:2011: Great Recession caused by banks loaning money to anyone (even to their dead dogs) to buy a house, or multiple houses. Huge loss in value. Banks and millions of people who shouldn’t have been given loans, and even those who should, LOST their investment in their homes because they had mortgages on them that they couldn’t pay.
Note to self: YES REAL ESTATE CAN AND WILL BE WORTH LESS TOMORROW THAN TODAY.
It is not always a good investment.
The only real estate investment that normally works is if you pay cash (no loans) for a modest main house for you to live in full time. Do not think you can time the market or that because you’ve Googled things for a few weeks or months, that you are a real estate expert. If you bet hundreds of thousands of dollars on this, and it’s not just for your family’s main house, you could lose it all. Not a wise investment. If you think you know: NO, you do not.
4 FAST WAY TO BECOME A MILLIONAIRE
“Uuuuunnnnttt!” That’s the red warning bell. There is NOT a quick way to become a millionaire. Unless your lucky enough to have inherited it. So stop looking. Not going to happen. Unless you are the one out of millions of people who just have dumb luck on an unwise risk. Don’t do it. Get it out of your mind. Be the tortoise, not the hare. Slow and steady wins the day.
5 LOW RISK INVESTMENTS THAT ACCUMULATE
All stock brokers will say that the advice in this section should not be followed. To them, we say: “Hooey.” Those brokers want to charge you fees every year, whether you make anything or not. So don’t believe them. They will say that investing in CDs will lose you money because inflation will outpace the interest you get from a CD. This can be true, but not always, and personally, we’d rather have all of the money we’ve earned, plus some halfway decent interest rather than risk losing it all in a stock debacle.
CDs: yes. All day long. Get the highest interest Certificates of Deposit you can find but only from FDIC insured MAJOR banks, not Fred’s Corner Bodega. We’re talking about banks with billions of dollars of deposits. Look for the shortest time on investment (3 months to 6 months to 9 months to one year) so you can get your money out if you need it.
Money Market Savings Account: yes. Liquid. FDIC insured. Best, safest return next to CDs. From your local bank. Ask your local banker if they can provide a % rate of return equal to other CDs. We did. Got to within 0.50% (1/2% point). Sometimes all you have to do is ask. This is likely going to be the most liquid interest bearing account you can find with the highest rate of return. The funds you invest are typically available immediately, and with no minimum time of investment duration. And once again: no required time of investment. Totally liquid. That’s as good as it gets.
Annuities: yes, if CD rates are down below the annuity rate. Unfortunately, annuities are often for 2, 3 or 4 years, which is not liquid. So don’t do these unless your investment advisor says they are your best option for the next 4 years or so. Because you’ll hate yourself when CD rates rise above them and make you wish you had them instead, and for shorter durations.
Alright: Yawn. Now you’re thinking: “Oh sure, this is how I’m gonna get rich, huh?”
Not a very exciting investment strategy. Here’s the most important way to building wealth: KEEP WORKING. KEEP EARNING. KEEP SAVING. Your investments will pale in comparison to your future earnings. YOU and your spouse are your most important investments. Keep doing what you do.
And guess what? No, you don’t want excitement regarding your investments. You don’t want any drama at all. Slow and steady.
6 KEEP WORKING; KEEP EARNING ALL YOUR LIFE
This is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of becoming wealthy. Don’t shut down. Don’t quit making money. Even if you are self-employed, always keep on keeping on. Never stop. You will find yourself accumulating money and amazing yourself and your significant other by the time you are 63 or so. Not what you had in mind? You wanted to be a millionaire by the time you were 30? Tough. Not likely going to happen. It takes a lifetime. So: work for it. Be happy you are an Architect and have the ability and brains to make it happen and keep happening. You won’t earn millions of $ for every project, probably never. But you certainly can and will earn thousands, tens of thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands depending on the size and complexity of your projects. And your dedication to your work. Always do the best that you can. Today’s “finding balance in your life” is a load of hooey. Work while you can. DO have fun, but stay focused on what you do best. This is the biggest secret to becoming well-to-do. Worked for us. It is real.
7 IF YOU’RE AN ARCHITECT
Suggest you work hourly. That’s the fairest way to price yourself with your clients. Much better than gouging your clients taking windfall larger fees then making thousands more for doing nothing. How does that help you get rich? Hopefully by having repeat business from your clients, who know they have only paid for what you do, rather than taken unfair profits from fixed fees. Plus, it insures that you do get paid for everything you do on the client’s behalf. Nothing bad about that.
You and your spouse need to agree on this, or you will have issues.
Suggest just about anything in the Toyota family (Scion/ Toyota/ Lexus). Nothing wrong with Honda either (except their AWD isn’t the equal of 4×4). Most of these vehicles are very well made and last for hundreds of thousands of miles, if you maintain them in accordance with the Owner’s Manual. Suggest plug-in hybrid (not all-electric and not all-fossil fuel). Why: because if you have to drive to a client’s site that is farther away than an all-EV has in its range, then you are stuck, possibly in the middle of nowhere. Even if you find a charging station, at what time of day? In a crime area? How long to recharge? Much better to have a plug-in hybrid that typically gives you 80 MPH locally, then has the ability of gas for longer trips with no inconvenience.
Trucks: sure: nothing wrong with a pickup truck if you really need one, especially if you’re making improvements to your house and if you want/need a real 4×4. Toyota’s bound to have a hybrid soon. Until then, Ford makes an excellent F150 hybrid that can yield 21.4 MPG. Note: AWD is NOT the same as 4×4. 4×4 is much more reliable and will get you out of fixes that AWD cannot. This is from personal experience. Just realize that a full size pickup truck is much more difficult to park, especially in an urban environment and can cost 6 figures. Be careful.
Best to keep vehicle costs under $40k for each one if you can, and fairly compact so you can park them easily. Try to buy new ones. That way, your maintenance and longevity are much better than with used. In the long run, you’ll have much more dependable transportation. And pay cash. If you can’t afford to, then buy used Toyotas and Hondas from Toyota and Honda dealer lots. Probably have better luck with them.
9 LIVE ON LESS
Do not spend everything you make. Keep your savings accounts and investments growing, otherwise you won’t get ahead. Try to save more of what you earn.
10 DO NOT CREATE DEBT
The only debt you should carry is the monthly convenience of using your credit cards. NEVER carry a balance. Always pay off your credit cards every month. Have no other debts. Pay off your college loan(s) asap.
11 START YOUR OWN BUSINESS
You’re going to find it hard to get much ahead working for others, unless you’re one of the main people that helped start a company like Microsoft. Normally, you’re going to need to start your own company. But work out of your house if you can. Especially if you’re an Architect and your house is a good example of your work. You should try to resist the impulse to rent high-end office space. Most clients don’t care what you rent. They care what you design.
12. MAXIMIZE FREE TAX BENEFITS EVERY YEAR
Never miss the opportunity to have deferred tax investments like IRA contributions. And do the larger ones, like $16,000 each for you and for your spouse each year (keeps increasing each year or so). Never put yourself in a position where you can’t do this. But never take out a loan to do it. Always use new earnings. This one thing alone will net you a nest egg of $320,000 principal in 10 years, even if you have no interest on your IRAs (which you will, so this number could grow to be significantly higher). So this is a very good way of building your long term savings. This one strategy alone could make you a millionaire within 20 years, although you’re smart, so you will have other investments as well.
13 BAD THING(s)
During the 70 to 90 years (or perhaps even 100) years of your life, something. Bad. Will. Happen. Perhaps just to you, your family, your country, the global financial system. War. Pestilence. Something. And when it does, your savings will either remain virtually static, or reduce. Not good. And there might be more than just one Bad Thing. And these Bad Things can and will affect Architects and their livelihoods. The Great Recession. The Covid Pandemic. Crazy people demanding change, when their “change” doesn’t mean the same good things that you might want. Their change might mean they want more of what you have as if you owe them something from your lifetime of working hard to do good things.
How often do these Bad Things happen?
Once every 10 years? Every 20? 30? 50? Wouldn’t we all like to know.
But count on this: losing a decade or so from your life’s savings being stagnant or having some loss due to the Bad Thing(s) during your lifetime.
What to do: try to protect your nestegg as best you can during the holocaust(s).
This is going to be controversial. All except for the fact that raising a child from birth through college (not including graduate school) may cost the average family half a million dollars. And unless you’ve got a very good business reaching millions of people, your decision to have children may keep you from reaching that goal. But you will have to weigh the joys (and woes) of having children against your financial objectives. Only you can make that determination.
ZPG. Back in the 1960s and 70s, there was an activist movement afoot where Earth’s population was large enough that we didn’t need any more, and so Zero Population Growth as a policy was linked to Environmentalism (less consumption, less pollution) and Feminism. Such a notion for ZPG dates back to 1693.
Yale University was a hotbed of ZPG advocates. Paul Ehrlich wrote the book POPULATION BOMB, announcing the negatives of a constantly increasing human population on Earth. What happened to that?
Do not shoot yourself in the foot by starting out your early life by marrying someone that is going to cause you trouble for the rest of your life. Choose wisely. Choose someone you love, of course. You better, hopefully you’re going to be together for most of your life. Someone of calm personality and intelligence, not necessarily with a degree (while that would be nice), but with innate brainpower.
Not someone who is an alcoholic or drug addict that goes out partying every night, gets high, climbs up on tables, throws their arms up and screams: “Whooo”.
Not advisable. You are looking for someone level-headed. That shares your objectives to have a constructive life of building wealth and happy circumstances.
If you’re a licensed Architect, you might want to find a significant other to fall in love with that has professional skills equal to or better than your own, and perhaps from a support family of hard working people. It’d be nice if they could help out you two, one day, should you ever need it, instead of you having to deplete your reserves helping them.
Believe it or not, computerized dating services like Match.com can help you find a compatible person. Worked for some of us. Better than hoping to find the right someone at a bar or grocery store.
16 WHEN YOU CAN START TO REALLY ENJOY
Probably after you reach your mid-60s. Sorry. Not the answer you wanted? But realistic. That’s about the time you can probably build your nice final home. We are saying nice, not crazy high-end. Durable, not ritsy. Stainless steel, not gold. Engineered wood plank floors 3/8″ thick (not 1″ thick walnut). And also get your nice vehicles (i.e.: BMW X5 45e plug-in hybrid, not a Bentley). Unless you have far more than a million $ in your savings/ investment accounts. Note: the above probably means your net worth is around $3M (including land, home vehicles daily accounts, plus savings).
Here’s the good news: you have all this to look forward to.
And: you may also be among the rare few that reaches the $1M level much earlier in their career. We hope so. Best of luck.
There are probably other items, but this is a very good start.
Be careful out there.