Retiring a millionaire won't necessarily make you happy, but it's a good goal to aim for nonetheless. But if you're in your 20s and are therefore many decades away from retirement, amassing $1 million or more in savings may seem next to impossible.
Well, I'm here to tell you that all it takes is two simple moves to wind up with $1 million or more to your name. And if you stick to them, you should, at the very least, manage to attain some degree of financial security down the line.
1. Consistently fund an IRA or 401(k)
The first step to becoming a millionaire is to set money aside for that stage of life, and an IRA or 401(k) plan is the best place to do it. These accounts offer different tax breaks that make it easier to grow and manage your wealth. For example, traditional IRAs and 401(k)s come with tax-free contributions, while Roth IRAs and 401(k)s let you enjoy your retirement withdrawals tax-free.
Now at this point, you're probably wondering: Just how much money do you need to set aside each month to retire with $1 million or more? The answer: As little as $300.
Not convinced? Then consider this: If you put $300 into a retirement plan every month starting at age 22 and do so until you reach age 67, and your investments in that plan deliver an average annual 7% return (which we'll talk more about in a bit), then you'll retire with $1.03 million. Make it $500 a month, and you're looking at $1.7 million. Of course, the more you're able to set aside, the better, but the point is that with a long enough savings window, you can retire a millionaire without having to part with tons of money on a monthly basis.
2. Put your money into stocks
So now let's talk about the 7% return we used in the example above. That return is a few percentage points below the stock market's historic average, which leads to the second thing you'll need to do: Go heavy on stocks.
If you start investing in your 20s, there's no reason not to be aggressive, because you'll have plenty of time to ride out stock market crashes and come out ahead. Stick to conservative investments, like bonds, and your chances of retiring a millionaire suddenly become a lot slimmer. To be clear, this doesn't mean that no portion of your long-term savings should be in bonds. But during your 20s, and even your 30s, 40s, and much of your 50s, stocks are what you should focus on.
Set yourself up for success
Retirement may be the last thing on your mind when you're in your 20s, but the moves you make during that critical decade could spell the difference between retiring a millionaire or dealing with money problems later in life. And if you've already missed the boat on your 20s, worry not: If you start saving for retirement in your 30s, that still gives you a lengthy wealth-building window. You may need to part with a little more money each month to reach millionaire status, but it's still totally doable.