30 Day Millionaire

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I grew my net worth by over $100,000 in 2 years — and I started by saving just $5 a day

Built over four thousand years ago, The Great Pyramid of Giza stood as the tallest structure in the world until 1311. (That’s a run that makes the Empire State Building’s 40-year reign seem like a blip…)

The construction used over 2.3 million slabs of giant granite blocks, each one cut with amazing precision.

Just how ancient civilizations managed the construction is a mystery that’s perplexed scientists for centuries. Some say the pyramid is actually an eroded mountain. Others claim it’s part of the Lost City of Atlantis or evidence of extraterrestrial help from Ancient Aliens.

But here’s the most likely scenario, and the one most historians agree on: 30,000 skilled laborers worked tirelessly, dragging the granite up ramp after ramp, slowly hoisting the stones hundreds of feet in the air. Day in and day out, for over 20 years.

That our minds have trouble imaging this mostly likely scenario isn’t all that surprising, because we do the exact same thing with our money goals every day.

The small stuff adds up

One of the first finance books I ever read was David Bach’s Automatic Millionaire. In it, he explains the idea of The Latte Factor.

The Latte Factor is the concept that tiny amounts of money could add up to huge amounts of savings over time. True to the name, the classic example is a $5 cup of coffee each morning.

As David explains, if that same $5 was instead invested and earned the stock market’s historical return of 7% per year, our luxury coffee drinker would have an extra $1,953 after just one year.

And after 40 years?

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$389,837!

Just from a few coffees!

I immediately found the idea fascinating. And as a money blogger chasing total financial freedom, of course I wanted to figure out how much I’d have to save per day to reach my ultimate goal: a $1 million dollar portfolio and an early exit from the rat race.

The 30 for 30 Rule: How saving $30 a day will make you a millionaire

I plugged the numbers into my financial calculator over and over, and yet the result was always the same.

All it takes to become a millionaire is to save just $30 a day (that’s assuming the stock market’s historical 7% rate of return). Over and over again.

I don’t know about you, but I immediately found this incredibly relieving. I’d be intimidated if the only path to wealth was a lucky break, a brilliant business idea, or a Powerball victory.

But $30 a day? Anyone can save $30 a day!

$30 a day is as simple as passing on a dinner out, driving a cheaper car, or even working a couple extra hours at a low-paying job.

And if cutting back isn’t your style, I just finished a step-by-step strategy showing how anyone can side hustle an extra $11,207 next year .

What do you know… that’s a perfect $30.70 a day!

“Sure, Money Wizard, but 30 years is a loooong time…”

Here’s the great part about The Latte Factor and The 30 for 30 Rule: It’s a starting point.

Because I promise you, once you open your eyes to the incredible compounding effect of your money, you’ll find yourself looking to up your savings wherever you can.

I started out inspired by the idea of saving $5 a day. Before I knew it, I’d upped that saving to $10, then $20 a day.

Eventually, I hit the magic $30 a day. And then I asked myself, “Why not fast track this path to a million?”

So I started cutting costs where I could, and working relentlessly to increase my income. Before I knew it, I was saving $40, $50, and $60 a day.

And last year? I saved a whopping $35,000. That’s nearly $100 a day .

Invested in a mix of index funds, that was enough to grow my net worth from $158,000 to $231,000 in one year. (You can see my net worth tracked every month here . )

Money doesn’t have to be as complicated as the pyramids — because the secret to success is easier than you think

The pyramids weren’t built by Ancient Aliens, and millionaires don’t have to get lucky.

A little bit of effort, over and over again, is all it takes to build serious wealth.

“You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid.’ You do that every single day. And soon you have a wall.” – Will Smith

The 30 for 30 Rule: Become a Millionaire with Just $30 a Day

One of my favorite shows, in the worst way possible, was that Ancient Aliens show on the History Channel. Not because it’s a good show, but because it’s so laughably bad that it makes for some of the best mindless entertainment on TV.

(To be clear: TV is all mindless entertainment. So if you’re going to veg out, you might as well go big.)

For those more sophisticated readers who may have never been exposed to such trash TV, the show features conspiracy theory nutjobs who dabble as pseudo-scientists. They deploy all sorts of questionable logic, and the show tends to follow a predictable pattern:

A talking head presents an innocent and thought provoking question about the limitations of a previous civilization, then highlights an impressive accomplishment about said civilization. When an explanation for their accomplishment isn’t immediately available, the presenter’s inevitably conclusions?

The show’s favorite example is the Egyptian pyramids. The construction of the pyramids have perplexed experts for years, so the Ancient Aliens show concludes that the pyramids were obviously built by aliens.

It’s all silly good fun, if we all didn’t do the exact same thing every day.

The final product is a lot more confusing than the steps to get there

Now imagine the year is 3500, and the Millennial American is ancient history. In fact, our very own society is featured prominently on the History Channel’s 1,483 rd season of Ancient Aliens.

“How did they ever build 1,000 foot tall skyscraper? Their cranes were only 100 feet tall!”

See the issue with this logic?

  • Fame isn’t found from one lucky break. It’s found from having talent (unless you’re the Kardashians…) and gutting through rejection after rejection until somebody finally takes notice.
  • Good careers aren’t made with one big promotion. They’re made by showing up on time, day in and day out, and turning out quality work again and again.
  • Successful businesses aren’t made with one brilliant idea. They’re made from slowly grinding away at the details, and executing the small stuff over and over.

The big results always come from the baby steps. That “overnight sensation” is the result of years and years of hard work.

The skyscraper isn’t erected overnight, and the pyramids weren’t built by the magic touch of an alien. First you build a foundation, then you slowly add one floor at a time.

After years of hard work, day in and day out, you’re left with an awe-inspiring accomplishment.

The 30 for 30 Rule: How to Become a Millionaire with $30 a Day

So, if pyramids and skyscrapers start with small steps, what’s the foundation to a lifetime of wealth? What’s the “unattainable” goal that we’re incorrectly placing on a pedestal?

Millionaires aren’t made with one lucky investment or lottery winnings. They’re made with a little bit of savings, again and again.

Here’s the truth, and the boring secret nobody wants to talk about:

To become a millionaire, you only have to invest $30 a day for 30 years.

For some reason, nobody wants to hear this. But they should!

Because I don’t know about you, but when success is broken down into such an attainable baby step, I find it pretty freaking inspiring.

I’d be intimidated if the only path to wealth was to trade stocks like a brilliant trader, start a company like a daring entrepenuer, or battle my way through a hard MBA program to an even harder corporate ladder.

But $30 a day? Anyone can find $30 a day!

That’s cutting back on a few brews, investing a little side hustle money, or even just working a couple of hours at a minimum wage job.

If that’s all it takes to get rich, count me in!

The Shocking Attainability of Becoming Elite

And here lies the secret to becoming elite: a little tiny bit of effort, again and again.

Ramit Sethi calls it the craigslist penis effect. He brilliantly explains that in the early days of online dating, the only thing a guy had to do to rise above the crowd was simply not send a girl a picture of his dick.

Paul from Asset Based Life explains that apparently these days, all you need to do to become an amazing parent is just teach your kids to say please and thank you.

It’s the small actions that separate mediocrity from greatness. And surprisingly, it doesn’t take a ton of effort to be great.

Simply watching what you eat will leapfrog your diet ahead of the millions of Americans sustaining themselves on fast food every day. If you’re really ambitious and make it to the gym three times a week? Congrats! You’re a health one percenter.

And if you save $30 a day again and again? You’re sure to end up one of the wealthiest 1% of Americans in the country.

“Yeah, but uhh… 30 years is a long time man…”

That’s the best part! It doesn’t have to take you 30 years, because this stuff builds on itself.

I was first introduced to this “baby steps” concepts through David Bach’s Latte Factor. He famously explained how something as simple as cutting back on a $5 daily latte could leave you hundreds of thousands of dollars richer.

So I went for it. I started cutting costs wherever I could, looking to trim fat in my budget wherever it was.

Before I knew it, my $5 of daily savings grew to $10, then $20. At some point, I hit $30 of daily savings, which seems to be enough to make me a millionaire.

And last year? I saved around $35,000; that’s nearly $100 a day!

Keep that up for a while? That’s enough to fast track your freedom by decades. And enough to allow you to retire in your 30s.

Before you know it, Ancient Aliens will be wondering how the extraterrestrials gifted you so many millions of dollars.

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Comments

Great post,
The easy big wins are the ones to go for. I think a lot of the time the Personal finance community focuses in to much on the minutia of being thrifty or investing, Granted those do make a difference but they are a lot of effort! Some find pleasure in looking for deals on small purchases, starting minimum wage side hustles and saving 0.01% on a ETF MER. I don’t.
Max your retirement account from day one, don’t touch your bonuses and save more of every raise than you spend and grow your career.
It took me 3.5 years of work to get my first 100k and 1.5 years to get the next 100k, you can only benefit from compounding if you are partient.

The Money Wizard says

True, but being thrift CAN actually make you a millionaire. Anyone can save $30 a day… Packing your lunch and cooking dinner will pretty much have you there already. The “big wins” definitely make hitting that saving easier though, and I agree completely that most of the PF community stresses too much over minutia.

Bravo Mr. P, I myself like doing both small and large, but never considered investing the bonuses from my work. On a side note I would like to add what a former colleague of mine did when he was working. Everytime he received a pay raise (we all started at $22.00/hour) he had that exact amount of said raise go into his 401K so before he left (he was still at $22.00/hour on his paycheck) he had amassed around $400,000-450,000 in his 401K. All this in less than 8 year’s time. This guy was my hero and inspiration.

The Money Wizard says

Pocketing the raises! That’s awesome.

Question
If i invest 30 a day into my brokerage account how are you getting around the $6 per trade?

The Money Wizard says

If you invest directly into a mutual fund, like anything Vanguard offers, you don’t have to pay the expense per trade. I wrote about this when I compared the pros and cons of ETFs vs. Mutual Funds.

Damn right — it was the aliens that gave me millions!

Haha! I like this post a lot MoneyWiz because this is one of the *real* secrets of building wealth — doing something small and money positive and then repeating it every day for *years*.

Most people get bored long before the 30 years is up though. That’s a very different problem.

The Money Wizard says

Staying consistent is the key. The problem is it’s so easy to get distracted and get away from your goals. $300k+ in 40 years for just giving up 1 starbucks latte is a lot of coin to retire with and enjoy because you stuck to your plan. I used to think the Latte Factor was stupid but there is power in small actions performed every day.

The Money Wizard says

Definitely. I like to look at the latte factor from a bigger scale though. If 1 latte a day can leave you hundreds of thousands of dollars richer, imagine how much of an impact a cheaper car or smaller mortgage could have?

Enjoyed the post! I am going to have my 15 year old son read this to hopefully inspire him to start working on savings/investing his $30 a day.

The Money Wizard says

Awesome. Tell him I say to keep at it. Or better yet… have him stop in the comments so we can cheer him on ourselves!

Excellent post and many thanks for the mention!

Consistency is the key – we’re attuned to instant gratification and little baby steps of progress are hard for our brains to grasp & measure, but they’re the key to success in all things.

The Money Wizard says

So true about our brains struggling to grasp the baby steps. It all seems to get lost in the details until you zoom out a bit.

I love this, I try to tell this to my friends all the time but they don’t believe me. Imagine if you even doubled that. Right off the bat personally, I save $5.50 a day by walking instead of taking the subway 10 blocks. And on top of that, I save $10 by not buying lunch every day and another $5 or so by drinking coffee at work in the morning and afternoon. I’m with you, it’s a lot easier than people think.

Could you plz let me know where do you invest to get 7%? I want to start soon.

30 Day Millionaire

I confess! I’m a sucker for all kinds of trivia. Fascinating facts, history facts, math facts, you name it. When my creative juices stop flowing, I often turn to trivia as a means to recharge the old batteries. I was doing just that when I tripped across this:

If you begin with one cent (a penny) and double it each day for 27 days, you will have more than a million dollars.

“Yeah … right!” I thought to myself, quickly dismissing the notion as typical Internet BS.

Later that evening I found that I was still thinking about this improbable piece of mathematical duplicity. Could it really be true? Unable to quell my curiosity, I brought up an excel spreadsheet—intent on learning the truth of it.

The Proof

Using Excel, I entered the following formula into a cell (feel free to do this at home):

That is $0.01 followed by twenty-seven 2’s and the result was $1,342,177. It has to be twenty-seven 2s. Twenty-six 2s gives you a result of $671,088, which is obviously less than the $1 million target.

I immediately conjured up visions of hitting the casino’s roulette table where I would place red and black (high-low and even-odd will provide the same odds) wagers until I had achieved “millionaire” status. OMG…I was 27 spins away from easy street! Then it dawned on me that the odds were not actually 50/50 on these bets. They were 52/48 in favor of the house! After all, the ball could drop into the zero’s slot!

Still, a 48 percent chance of becoming a millionaire, with only a penny at stake is a compelling thought to ponder. Then it occurred to me that if I began with a $5 stake rather than a $0.01 stake, I could reduce the number of spins to 18, thereby increasing my chances of achieving millionaire status!

The Psychology of it All

Slowly, I began my return to reality. First of all, if it was that easy, we’d be tripping over millionaires. Clearly we are not. Do you even know a millionaire?

Then there is the obvious problem of winning 18 consecutive spins. What are the odds of that occurring? One in 131,072 (I think). Heck … the odds of hitting black 5 times in a row are just one in forty-one!

Let’s not discount the psychological factor. If you were fortunate enough to have hit 5 times in a row on your $5.00 initial stake, you would have won $160. I suspect you would not have much of an issue with putting that on the line for another spin. Let’s say you let that $160 ride and you have another successful run over the next 5 spins. Now you have $5120. For the majority of folks, that is a fairly substantial stake to put on the line for another 8 turns of the wheel. Would you really tempt lady luck, particularly after a ten turn run? Or would you walk away with your $5120? If this ramble of mine intrigues you, read the true story of Ashley Revell.

There is a Point to This

How many of you were ready to hit the casino? Quite a few of you I imagine. Of course, by now you realize that the odds against doubling your money 18 times in a row are astronomical. Yet many of you reading this are fearful of investing in stock, bonds, mutual funds and EFTs. Yes … investing is gambling, after a fashion, but the odds are significantly better. Moreover, you have an element of control that is conspicuously absent in the world of casino gambling.

The point I am trying to run home is that almost everyone is willing to take some degree of monetary risk. Some risks are foolish, like trying to win a million dollars playing roulette. Others are calculated risks such as those you will encounter with investing.

Be honest with yourselves. Many of you tempted by the roulette scheme are timid about investing in the market. This is irrational thinking. I hope this opens at least a few minds to the concept of investment. If just one of you reading this will overcome his/her baseless fear of investing, then my time here today has been worthwhile.

What about You?

Are you afraid to invest? Will anything you are reading here minimize this fear? What is your threshold for loss? How much will you risk?

8 comments

This is a sad truth that I can say I’ve witness in the lives of friends and family members. I’ve always wanted to start an investment pool with them for the market but they were all skeptical about it however they all spent money in the casino and lost badly and still keep going.

Great article. This will very helpful and useful for those who are still fear and confused on investing. It’s true that investing is gambling and risk. It’s up to you on how you can handle it. I had fun reading this and many great insights here. Thanks for sharing this post.

Yes … the consequences of compulsive gambling can be terrible. The successful investor is not compulsive and defines the degree of risk he is willing to accept. I wish you luck in eventually convincing your friends and family to pool their resources with you for the purpose of investment. It could change all your lives for the better!

Thank you Alexis. I enjoyed writing it! Knowing that you gained some worthwhile insights has made my day.

I was thinking about paying off some debt and investing. If this theory is true, then I have some pennies to get.

While the theory is mathematically accurate (true), please consider the overwhelming odds before planning your casino trip … just sayin’!

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Why Many Millionaires Don’t Feel Rich

The term “millionaire” once inferred that a person was part of society’s upper crust, able to enjoy luxuries most only dreamed of, including vacation properties and early retirement. The Gilded Age of the 1980s was all about flaunting excess, as echoed in movies like The Wolf of Wall Street and television series like Dallas and Dynasty. Back then one was perceived to be “rich” if he or she had an income of around $100,000, according to a USA Today article released on May 22, 1987.

How Many Millionaires Are There in the U.S.?

By 1989, American millionaires had become quite common: there were about 1.5 million of them. So how many millionaires are there today? According to Credit Suisse’s 2020 Global Wealth Report, the U.S. has 18.6 million millionaires, out of the world’s total of 46.8 million. In fact, from 2020 to 2020, the U.S. alone added 675,000 new millionaires to its total.

18.6 million

The number of millionaires in the U.S. in 2020, approximately 40% of the world’s total.

The Millionaire Outlook

However, being a millionaire today doesn’t guarantee automatic happiness or well-being. Fidelity Investments recently released the findings of its Fidelity ® Millionaire Outlook survey, which looks at investing attitudes and behaviors of more than 1,100 millionaire households. Overall, times are good for millionaires—81% of millionaires report being very satisfied with their lives. In fact, one in four millionaires reported that they are more satisfied with their lives than they were a year ago.

However, when asked about their future outlook regarding the state of the economy, millionaires in 2020 ranked the lowest confidence levels since 2006. So what’s keeping millionaires up at night?

Health Concerns

Fidelity’s study revealed that “concerns about their health are the leading causes of stress for millionaires and non-millionaires alike.” With the rising cost of healthcare, they reported being worried about their weight, their family’s health, and personal health. As the average age of millionaires is in the 60s, it’s common that millionaires are likely managing disabilities or serious health issues for themselves or their families.

The survey revealed that “more than one-third of non-millionaire and millionaire investors have health-related concerns, which account for the largest proportion of their overall stress across the four areas of total wellbeing included in the study (health, financial, work, and life).” Furthermore, of the subsection of millionaires who reported higher stress levels, “fewer than half feel confident about their health.”

Increased Cost of Living

In addition to the surrounding competition, the cost of living in millionaire-dense areas is enough to chip away at anyone’s net worth. In wealthy West Coast cities like San Francisco and Palo Alto, home to the mega-rich like PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, being a millionaire isn’t enough to launch you into a life of luxury—or even make you stand out from the pack. Match.com founder Gary Kremen, explained to the New York Times that “you’re nobody here at $10 million,” referring to the concentration of money in Silicon Valley.

The ACCRA Cost of Living Index, published by the Council for Community and Economic Research, lists Manhattan, Honolulu, San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Washington DC as the top five cities with the highest costs of living. Manhattan, New York City, tops the list with a cost of living index of 254.7.

Another reason millionaires might not feel so rich is that from a day to day standpoint, they’re not actually living much differently than the rest of us. Being coined a millionaire once led to the conclusion that one did a lot more play than work, a stigma that no longer applies to millionaires in the modern age. According to Spectrem Group, the average United States millionaire is 62 years old. Just 1% of millionaires are under the age of 35, and 38% of millionaires are 65 and older. West Coast millionaires skew slightly older.

Further, a large number of individuals in the Mountain states and Texas never plan to retire, and millionaires in the Northeast and West Coast make up the largest percentage who don’t have plans to retire for at least 10 more years.

Living on Less

According to “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of American’s Wealthy” by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, frugal living may also contribute to the insecure self-perception millionaires have regarding their wealth. Their research found that the average millionaire lives on less than 7% of his or her wealth, wears inexpensive suits and drives American-made cars that are not the current year’s model. Throw the lagging housing market and a volatile stock market into the mix, and it looks like millionaires may not be any better off than the rest of us when it comes to the ability to rest on our financial laurels.

Given all these factors, what will take millionaires to feel rich again? Those surveyed by Fidelity pinpointed $7.5 million as the investable asset level that would make them feel back on top. (Becoming a millionaire is not as hard as you might think—it just takes time.)

And why pay attention to the millionaire “woe is me” findings? They could truly be the key to your own financial future. In a Fidelity-released media statement, Michael R. Durbin, president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, explained that “millionaires’ outlook could be seen as a leading indicator of the direction of the economy.”

The Bottom Line

Whether you envy millionaires or shake your head in awe at their lack of financially secure feelings, you can stand to benefit from following their lead, whether you choose to get back into the market, scale back your spending, or continue to live just as you do. One day, you just might be a millionaire, too.

30 Day Millionaire

It may surprise you how quickly you can accumulate a million dollars. Use this calculator to determine the annual amount you would have to set aside each year to reach a million dollars and reach your goal to be a millionaire.

This information may help you analyze your financial needs. It is based on information and assumptions provided by you regarding your goals, expectations and financial situation. The calculations do not infer that the company assumes any fiduciary duties. The calculations provided should not be construed as financial, legal or tax advice. In addition, such information should not be relied upon as the only source of information. This information is supplied from sources we believe to be reliable but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. Hypothetical illustrations may provide historical or current performance information. Past performance does not guarantee nor indicate future results.

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