For the average person who wasn’t born into a rich family, becoming a millionaire is easier said than done.

While some people have no desire to have a million dollars — and that’s totally okay — others may find that the closer they get to that number, the more feasible it will become for them to afford new opportunities and reach their lifestyle goals. And when you consider the fact that future retirees who plan to live off of $50,000 a year will need between $1 million and $1.5 million to carry them the rest of their lives, suddenly the idea of saving a million dollars feels like a sobering goal.

Stashing away this much money can take a while, which is why it’s important to start investing as soon as you can. If you’re 25 years old and want to reach $1 million by the time you’re 65, you can invest as little as $240 per month, assuming a 9% yearly return. But once you hit age 30, these numbers start looking a little different.

Select asked Brian Stivers, a Financial Advisor and Founder of Stivers Financial Services, to help us calculate exactly how much money 30-year-olds should invest each month to become a millionaire.

How much to invest to become a millionaire

According to Stivers, the three most important elements of investing are the amount you contribute each month, the rate of return and how long you have to reach your goal. So when doing the math, Stivers accounted for three different return rates and used a retirement age of 65, which would give 30-year-olds 35 years to reach $1 million. Here’s the breakdown:

  • A 30-year-old making investments that yield a 3% yearly return would have to invest $1,400 per month for 35 years to reach $1 million.
  • If they instead contribute to investments that give a 6% yearly return, they would have to invest $740 per month for 35 years to end up with $1 million.
  • But if they choose investments that yield a 9% yearly return, which is comparably more aggressive, they would need to invest $370 per month for 35 years to reach $1 million.

Compared to those who begin investing at age 25, people closer to age 30 will have to contribute a little more money each month in order to reach the same goal by age 65. Compound interest is most powerful when it has a longer amount of time to grow your money but, still, it’s never too late to start investing — even if you don’t think you have enough money to dutifully invest $370 per month.

A 3% return may be achieved through a conservative portfolio of mostly bonds, whereas a 6% return is a bit more moderate and usually consists of a combination of stocks and bonds. And on the other hand, a 9% return denotes a more aggressive portfolio and can usually be received through a portfolio that’s stock-heavy.

However, it can be very difficult to pick the “right” stocks for your desired return, plus you run the risk of being influenced by market highs and lows and may be tempted to sell stocks at a less-than-ideal moment. However, a tried-and-true strategy is to invest in index funds or ETFs that track the stock market as a whole, like the S&P 500.

According to Investopedia, the S&P 500 has historically returned an average of 10% to 11% annually, so you might expect a fund tracking this index to produce similar returns, though, past returns do not indicate future success.

There has long been a notion that you need to already be rich in order to start investing. However, many investing apps allow users to invest in fractional shares — aka, a portion of a stock’s share based on the amount of money you want to invest rather than the number of shares you want to purchase — with as little as $1. And, apps like Acorns even allow users to invest the “spare change” they accrue from making everyday purchases like coffee, textbooks and clothing.

And, some investment apps offer robo-advisors, like Wealthfront and Betterment, to help you determine which investments make sense for you based on your risk tolerance, goals and retirement date. Robo-advisors also take on the task of automatically rebalancing your portfolio as you get closer to the target date for your goals. This way, you don’t have to worry about adjusting the allocation yourself.


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