How to Make a Million Dollars Starting At 25, 35 and 45

A recent edition of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine ran an intriguing cover story, “Six Simple Ways to Retire Rich.” As part of the article, Kiplinger’s ran a feature titled “How to Make a Million: Strategies at Every Age.” Most of us are aware of the power of compounding interest, but this feature on how to make a million dollars beginning at three different ages really drove home the importance of starting early to retire rich.

How to Become a Millionaire: Three Starting Points

A 25 year-old with no savings needs to save $286 a month to reach $1 million by age 65. If your new employer offers a matching contribution, participate up to the match and then consider investing above that in a Roth IRA. The forty years of growth will make you a millionaire, maybe many times over depending on investment performance.

A 35 year-old with no savings needs to save $671 a month to have a $1 million nest egg in thirty years. Notice the jump in required monthly contributions? That’s what waiting ten years gets you. At 35 there are several family priorities competing for your money such as college savings, housing, etc. However, this is one of those times when you need to exercise the “pay yourself first” plan. No, you aren’t being selfish by wanting to make a million dollars. You are laying the groundwork for a solid financial future to provide for your family for years to come.

At 45 years-old it takes nearly a mortgage payment, $1698, to generate a $1 million portfolio. With only a twenty year window it’s time to get busy, but it’s not too late to get started. Many people this age develop a loser’s attitude, “It’s too late so why even start. I’ll just live on social security.” Social security insolvency aside, this is not a plan for success at any age. Take responsibility for your inability to save up to this point by making it a top priority over the next two decades. You just might be able to make a million dollars in two decades.

From this exercise, two lessons are quite evident. First, it’s tough to become a millionaire! Second, the key to making a million dollars is to start early. The earlier you start, the less out of pocket you have to save, because compounding growth becomes your best friend.


  1. I hope in 4 years I can put away $286 a month to retire in the millions. Is that just straight into an IRA or a high yield interest account?

  2. Meg, good question. The numbers assume an 8% return, which would probably require some investment in the broader market to generate a high enough return. Most high-yielding savings accounts are hovering in the 4% range, and will drop when/if interest rates are cut further.

  3. Someday i wish to become a millonaire,but not just by doing nothing. I want to interact with other people who are striving to do the same thing like me.

  4. i have 20,000 saved in the bank i am 37 how much do i need to save to become a millionaire i can afford to save about 750 a month in savings