Two million dollars is a lot of money. It's so much money, in fact, that the vast majority of us will never be able to save that much cash in our lifetimes. After all, to reach that amount, we'd need to sock away some $40,000 a year, every year, for the next 50 years. While that may not be an impossible task for a dedicated, motivated, and disciplined high-earning person such as yourself, it is quite a stretch for the rest of us.

Fortunately, however, even we mere mortals can be multimillionaires, thanks to the power of compounding over time. You don't need to save $2 million to retire with $2 million. In fact, depending on how many more years you intend to work, you might be able to reach multimillionaire status for less than $70,000 in total investments.

Years of Investing

Monthly Investment

Total Invested






















Assumes 10% annual return, compounded monthly.

Also remember that retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s often let you defer your income taxes on your contributions and may come with a substantial employer match, as well. As a result, depending on your match and tax rate, you may be able to become a multimillionaire for an out-of-pocket cost of less than half of what's listed in the table. Think about the implications of that. If you've got your entire career ahead of you, you can become a multimillionaire for less than $100 spending cash each month. And if you've only got two decades left until retirement, you might still make it there for about $50 out of pocket each day.

Get there in real life
The best part is that this isn't some pie-in-the-sky fantasy. You don't have to buy the right newly minted IPOs, pick the next super growth stock, or otherwise get exceptionally lucky with your investments. The 10% return assumption from the table above is approximately what the stock market in general has earned over the long haul. In fact, during the past two decades, regular investments in any number of already well-known companies would have gotten you in the neighborhood of a 10% return:


Price on 2/23/1987

Price on 2/23/2007

Dividends Received

Annualized Return

$100 a month became*

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD)






Boeing (NYSE:BA)






Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)






General Electric (NYSE:GE)






Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT)






Altria (NYSE:MO)






Sysco (NYSE:SYY)






*Assuming smooth returns. All figures split-adjusted.

That last column shows some fascinating numbers. By investing a mere $100 a month in any one of these companies over 20 years, you would have wound up with somewhere between $87,770 and $152,800. Had you put $100 a month in each of them, you would have ended up with more than $830,000. That's not a bad start on your path to multimillionaire status.

Start working your plan now
If you really want to retire a multimillionaire, you must remember to put time, the most critical factor, on your side. The sooner you get started, the less cash you have to sock away every month -- and in total -- to reach your goal. Whether you're staring down a mandatory retirement age or are trying to retire young enough to enjoy it, your time is the most valuable resource you have.

At Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement, we've assembled a superb team and collection of online resources dedicated to helping get you to and through your retirement successfully. What we can't give you, though, is more time. Time only marches in one direction, and the longer you wait to plan your financial future, the tougher it will be for you to wind up on top. Because making the best use of the time you have available is so critical to your success, we'll give you the next 30 days to try us out, free. Simply click here to get started.

Fool contributor Chuck Saletta is working toward becoming a future multimillionaire. At the time of publication, he owned shares of General Electric and Sysco. Wal-Mart is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.