How to Become a Millionaire in 10 Years

Imagine in just ten years you could have one million dollars socked away in a high-yield savings account, spinning off enough interest to live comfortably for the rest of your life.  Short of hitting the lottery or receiving a lofty inheritance from a long-lost uncle, this might seem an impossible goal.  Well, it nearly is, given the short time frame.  However, if you are willing to make an incredible sacrifice, and catch a nice wave from a rebounding market, you just might enjoy becoming a millionaire in less than a decade.

$996 a Week for 10 Years

That is roughly the amount you would have to invest to save one million dollars in ten years, assuming an average 12% earnings rate.  Historically, 12% is a realistic figure, albeit optimistically on the high side.  Here is a look at how your $996 weekly contributions to your favorite investment account (I’ve used Scottrade, Sharebuilder and TD Ameritrade with good results) would add up each year:


Carving Out $996 a Week

I nearly laughed out loud when I typed that heading.  I often read topics like “carving out $50 a month” or “shaving $20 off weekly expenses,” but rarely do we hear someone suggest “carving out $996 a week!”  That is nearly $4,000 a month!  If you are like me, that is more than I have to carve!  So how does the average person go about contributing nearly $1,000 a week to savings?  Using the principles discussed in books like I Will Teach You To Be Rich, you can discover ways to cut your expenses significantly while boosting your income.

Get a Side Hustle

A reader once wrote in that a friend told him “everyone needs a side hustle,” something to supplement their full time job. That’s great advice! It could be a small, home-based business opportunity that generates a few hundred dollars a month, an investment opportunity with a great passive income, such as peer-to-peer lending, or a substantial part-time career that you can cultivate in your off hours.

Either way, this “side hustle” could represent the majority of that $996 you have to come up with to make a million dollars in ten years.  Obviously, some of the profits from this side gig will have to be reinvested to help it grow, but for the most part, your goal should be to try to save as much of those profits as possible.

Pay Off the Mortgage Early

If you have a $1,000 mortgage payment, paying it off early buys you one week’s worth of savings each month towards your millionaire dream.  Eliminating a $2,000 mortgage provides two weeks.  Pay off the mortgage early, and instead of sending a payment to the bank each month, send a deposit in that same amount.  This step alone will put you on the fast track to building significant wealth.

Two Income Households-Save One, Spend One

In households with two working spouses, make an effort to live on one income and invest the other.  Open a high-interest online savings account at one of the best online banks, and point one spouse’s direct deposit there.  All further investments, such as transfers to a top online brokerage can be automatically deducted from that account.

If one spouse brings home $4,000 a month you just found the source for your $996 a week contributions.  Living on one income may require downsizing homes and cars, and living way below your means, but the payoff is well worth it in the long run.  Invest some of this money in equities, either in single stocks or in broader mutual funds.

I don’t mean to trivialize the amount of sacrifice (and luck) required to make this plan work.  $996 is a significant amount of money, and at this phase in my life I could barely afford to contribute half that amount on a weekly basis.  But it is a goal–something to strive for.

It is also important to point out that there is nothing magical about the one million dollar mark.  You may find that you could live quite comfortably on the interest generated from $750,000, or even $600,000. Your “number” is a personal choice, but figuring out how to make a million dollars provides most of us a stretch goal.


  1. You are crazy! Not many can have that kind of money to put aside. Even if I put my kids in daycare and went to work I wouldn’t make that much money and it is not worth the sacrafice! How about a post on how to make 1 million in 20 years. Much more managable for most of us. I don’t understand how this post would be for the average person. More like the above average income family.

  2. I think this is a good thing to strive for when you are nearing retirement (say 50 or so) and you can cut back substantially as you have already paid off your mortgage, etc. and are debt-free.

  3. Yep, that would be a stretch since the $996 is after tax dollars!

    Still, if you HAD to do it, what lifestyle changes could you make? Asking that question might get some people to thinking…and making the necessary changes to get there. The really big question is: Could you maintain those lifestyle changes for 10 years???

  4. $996 a week is $4316 per month or $51,792 per year. That may be a tough target for most people, since the median annual income of a US household was $48,201 in 2006 according to wikipedia who cites the US Census Bureau. The same statistics says that 19.26% of households had incomes above $100,000 who I would imagine belong to the group who could save that much money. (The income numbers are before tax, the savings number is after tax.) – But saving money especially saving lots of it is always a good idea. Better to aim high than too low in this case.

  5. Note to previous poster, Daniel: very few 50 year olds I know have paid off their mortgages and are debt free, and I include myself in that number. My generation is caught between the needs of our parents (I spent 12 years providing care in my home to my mother in law until her passing) and the needs of our children (I have a 30 year old disabled son who just moved out for the first time, and a 26 yr. old daughter who just came home) and many of us are also facing health challenges, my husband being included in that number.

    The thing about life is that excrement occurs and sometimes even the best plans, and the most frugal living and saving isn’t enough to cover all the bases when a triple whammy sends you soaring out into left field like a baseball that just met the Babe’s bat in a head on collision.

    My personal opinion, having lived through more than you would believe possible in America, is that the best investment is in your own ability to do things for yourself, followed by developing a wide network of people you love and who love you back. Oh, and having good health insurance helps.

    Saving money is important, but sharing can sometimes save your bacon better than saving, because you can run out of money a lot faster than you can run out of love.

    Janelle the CCGAL

  6. @Angela: I realize it is crazy, but why not dream big? Unfortunately, I think many of us (myself included) have become a little too practical, and forgotten the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great! I authored this article, but am not even saving a fraction of the required amount I suggested. However, I hope to be able to some day.

    Oh, and by the way, if you can get to millionaire status in twenty years you are doing better far better than the average person, so run the numbers that work for you and yours. Nothing magical about 10 years–just a fun number to generate some discussion.

    • It feels like Frugal Dad is infatuated with the term “millionaire”, when in this time you can run that up in medical bills alone. Perhaps a better plan might be a simple savings plan shown in percentages of what you make verses percentages of what you save. Other than that, in this great and growing economy of opportunity and financial freedom, Frugal is out to lunch. I do appreciate the optimism and the honest look at what he apparently makes for a living. After that, anybody can say “All you have to do to have Ten million in the bank in ten years is to save $1 million a year!” Go for it ! You can do it!!! Be Positive!! Plan for it!!! Believe it!!…….. Wait, I checked, not one dollar more in the bank.
      I wonder how this 2008 financial plan has done over the last four years and if he had correctly adjusted for market swings. Did any of his money go awol like mine? I watched many dear friends lose houses, and not for being grossly missmanaged by themselves. They invested and trusted in our financial systems, the ones put in place for our needs and futures. Billions in annual profits, buying out smaller banks, mortgages and calling loans. Raised service fees for me.
      I might quit here, because nothing I say is new, but… I am running out of investment time in an era where old advice doesnt work because no one knows what the world is up to- next week. Our society margins between the “haves and have nots” grows wider and intensifies with every news broadcast, all completely out of my control. The markets are all “unstable” because… (literally, This weeks excuse). Then my own politicians go in for more rape and pillage in the form of laws that change to access sitting bank accounts, quietly collecting interest. How do we plan for that? At what point does the “Money keeper fee” not outweigh the interest collected? Stock market “investing”? you gotta be kidding. With what?
      Negative Nancy here is done. But it felt so good to vent!!! No wait, here’s the facts:
      Im 52.
      Dont own the house.
      Im lucky to have a good job, but that could change. Its reviewed weekly. I pay taxes.
      I own my 8yr old car.
      I had 3 kids, oldest died of her handicap when she was 15. We were lucky to have her, but I can show you what a REAL medical bill looks like. We no longer owe the hospitals. Some insurance, some donations, some gifts. Had to borrow for her $1150 plot/casket/marker.
      Still married to the same girl (29yrs) through all that. And yes, love is grand and love is strong, but it wont save your house or pay power bills.
      Maybe its time to remove old postings, I dont know… you’ll have to decide whether you want to read these kind of replies. It is interesting however to read all of the financial gurus below preaching good times and happy investing. (and how do they make their money, wouldnt be with mine, would it?) Look at what happened. And Who could see that coming? Oddly enough and after the fact, some of the financial Gurus did. I might be still hurting, but they are secure! Thats why we can trust them, right?

  7. The fact that they are pre-tax dollars is a good point. Taking this into account at a per-check deduction rate of about 28% this turns out to be about $1,275 per week. For 52 weeks in a year, you have to make AT A MINIMUM $66,300. This is right in the middle-middle class salary range. (Disclaimer: the 28% rate is purely from calculating the deduction rate from friend’s and colleagues checks and I’ve found it to be an accurate amount when taking into account taxes, medical coverage, and other expenses when one gets in the middle-class salary range. Note that this does not count 401K contributions.)
    This sort of contribution rate would be possible for someone who makes significantly more than this or for DINK couples who can live off of one salary rather than two. Unfortunately, these people will more likely contribute to a 401K plan with (most likely) additional employer contributions and still maintain a pretty comfortable lifestyle. After a significant period of time, they could easily have 1.4 to 2.5 million dollars in their 401K and live very well during their retirement.

    The other problem comes about when you do have the money sitting in an easily-accessible account, you could be mistakenly grouped in with the “rich people” crowd. We have no idea what ludicrous laws may be passed in the future. With the current dislike and distrust of those who are “rich”, politicians may able to pass all sorts of laws to tax them in insane ways. Just keep this in mind when investing for the future. Don’t dwell on it, just make sure to keep your eyes and ears open.

  8. Not to rain to hard on your parade, but pluging a 12% annual growth rate into your plan is off the charts optimistic. Make sure you understand the critical difference between average annual returns as an arithmetic average (the number that too many funds throw around) and the compound annual growth rate as a geometric average.

  9. Great concept! Laughing because that’s twice our current income from jobs! I am starting something part time out of the house, so maybe I’ll be able to sock away all that “internet” money!

  10. Geesh, a lot of negative Nancys out there.

    This was a fun, positive post, FrugalDad, and I get what you’re saying. My wife and I actually do this with her paycheck. It’s worth it to live below my means and “like no one else” now so that we can secure our future faster. I laugh at my silly neighbors who spend both paychecks.

    We may never make it there (million in 10)…who knows what life will bring, but like you’re quote says, the real danger is keeping your aim too low.

  11. I’m no negative Nancy. Just want to be sure that when I aim high, I’m using the right ammo. Assuming a 12% growth rate over ten years could mean a failure to launch. While we are talking reality, if you want to be a millionaire in 10 years, make sure your target is inflation-adjusted. Inflation is bad and going to get worse.

  12. Many many good points here about getting to the goal of 1 million dollars both to the pro and con.

    One thing that isn’t clear to me is how one would live on the interest after saving that much money. Even IF one could get a 4% savings interest on the money, it only amounts to $40,000 per year on which they would have to pay a significant amount of tax. The person would still have to maintain a relatively frugal and sacrificial lifestyle even though they may have a million dollars in the bank. Almost any other method would mean that the ROI would either be lower or that the money would be tied up and not liquid.

    Now some would say that they could add the extra money to whatever they already get paid, but I doubt that would justify the stringent sacrifices they would’ve had to make for the prior 10-20 years. Sacrificing that much in order to save to a particularly lofty figure is not appealing in the least.

  13. 996 a week definitely isn’t do-able for us….right now, but I do love the idea of remembering that every little bit saved can give a great retirement cushion if you are diligent. We have started saving my little bit of money I get from the military into a savings account. I would like to transfer it into a high interest account.

    Having a “side hustle” has always been the way my mother’s family has stayed afloat and even became great business owners. My grandfather not only owned 3 houses on his street, but ran one of the only auto shops in his city(when he first opened it). He also financed my grandmother’s beauty salon once all the children were school age. He is now retired and travels whenever he feels the urge. He still lives frugally even though he doesn’t have to.

  14. i’d like to think i’m your average SINGLE person with an average SINGLE income. No way could i do this, despite my frugality.

    I have freelanced for years,but with my current daily 1.5 hour commute, i had to give that up. I mean, i rise at 5:45 am and get home 6:45 pm. Do I have energy to work some more before i hit the sack 2.5 hours later, at 9:30 pm? NO! Not very realistic.

  15. I like the crazy factor involved here! Sure, $996 a week is not possible for the average person (and definitely not for me), but what if you tried and came up with a quarter or a half of that amount? That would still be some amazing progress in only 10 years.

  16. @Eden: Thanks for “getting it.” This article was more about insipiring big thinking than number-crunching. Sure, $996 a week is an impossible amount for most people, but what about $500? Or $250? Or even $100 a week? Aim high, my friends!

  17. Probably the easiest savings strategy I have had is to ‘defer’ income raises for a year.

    What I mean by that is…in my job I get a guaranteed pay raise every September. I simply compare my two consecutive pay stubs and have the difference in take home $ stripped from my cheques and deposited into a high interest savings account.

    I am essentially deferring my raise for a year. This year for the first time I will be deferring two years worth of raises. Nowhere near the $4000/month in the article, but now nearing close to $1000/month. And that is on top of money I already budget into various savings mechanisms on a monthly basis (ie. emergency fund, gift savings fund, travel savings fund, and my favourite…I want it savings fund).

  18. Rent out one unused room in the house/apartment: $300 to $350 per month.

    Rent out two unused rooms (totally practical for an individual or couple living in a 3-room house of about 1700 square feet): $600 to $700 per month.

    For people with advanced education or music instruction skills: tutor or teach four neighborhood children once a week for an hour apiece at $25 per hour: $400 per month.

    For people with specialized skills such as Web design, writing, music, or photograpy: Pick up one freelance gig per month: $200 to $500 per month depending on what the gig is.

    For people with a long commute to work and back: pick up three other people along the way, at $2 per head per day, and pocket $120 per month.

    These are all legitimate ways to make extra money without huge extra investments of time. But hardly anyone ever does it. Why? Because it represents a cut in their standard of living.

    A lot of people believe frugality’s just about reducing the amount of money we spend. It’s not. It’s about scaling our consumption to fit our resources and goals in all domains: time, money, space, and other resources.

    I don’t know how many friends I’ve had crying poor. Most of them are already good at pinching pennies. The trouble is that the minute I say something like “rent out that extra room of yours”, or “take a side gig one day a week”, or “help someone with exam prep one hour a week”, they go into conniptions. They just aren’t willing to accept a change in their standard of living. They want more income, but they don’t want to do anything to get it.

    Exclusivity, as in the exclusive use of a car or living space, is a commodity. So is spare time. Like all commodities it can be exchanged for something else. This need not be a complete sacrifice: one can select how much privacy and exclusivity to give up. However the complete lack of willingness to consider *any* standard of living changes is usually a sign that a person values those things more than he or she values the next level of financial freedom.

  19. @Squeaky

    Upon reading your message the first time, I thought they were good ideas but they didn’t sit quite right with me. After reading it several more times, I think I now know why.

    Let’s take them in order:

    #1 and #2, renting out a room or two is one sure way to find out that you dislike other people’s bad habits very very quickly. Beyond the rent, what about utilities, food, storage space and the overall inconvenience of having someone else living in your personal abode? This sort of situation may work for college students or young people but many times it is out of necessity and not frugality. Other times it is just friends who decide to chip in together. I can tell you that I have and will pay a premium to have privacy where I live. After a while, most people will tend to do the same.

    #3, I know someone who is a music teacher and her biggest problem is getting the parents to pay the fees. When there is an exchange of goods, it is not difficult to bring retribution to the offender who doesn’t pay up. It becomes much more difficult when exchanging services especially when there is no formal contract to which the parties are bound. (And making a contract between two individuals stick in a court-of-law these days is nigh on impossible without serious legal representation.) On another note, many parents would be wary of men or couples with no kids of their own spending time with theirs. Call me insane, but the news these days is filled with “kiddie fear”. You’d think that every person down the street is looking to do bad things to your children. Unfortunately, people do buy into that kind of fear and are less like to allow these sorts of things to happen (like private tutoring or lessons). I will say that it can work at the high school and college level, but many people who are good academically are piss-poor teachers themselves. This would ultimately be up to the tutor to determine if they could actually make money doing this. I tried it myself and found out that I couldn’t deal with someone who wouldn’t learn but instead wanted me to solve all the problems for him. Ugh.

    #4 With places like being dominated by Indian programmers and designers, one has to take scraps in order to get freelance work these days. My wife has tried to get work from places like this and the work to pay ratio is just insane. Some of the Indian companies/individuals are only charging $6-10 per hour on work that should be at least $30 or more. Of course, you get what you pay for but the people don’t realize that until they’ve paid and get shafted.

    #5, unless those several people like right down the block from you, you will burn more than $2 in gas getting to their house from yours and getting back to the commute route. The problem is exacerbated if there is more than one person to pick up. In a suburban-to-city commute or commuting within a city this would probably work though I would say that if you’ve got a long commute, making it even longer by miles would not be pleasant.

    I would assert that it’s not just about a cut in their “standard of living”. It’s about privacy and the sense of self that comes from the space you occupy and where you live (in general). This is why many people feel quite uncomfortable when they travel to places like Japan and China because there is no sense of “personal space”. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. Though it may not seem like a lot to give up at first, it would become apparent quite quickly.

  20. I’m all for dreaming big. Seriously, what’s the point in not aiming high? Like others have mentioned, it doesn’t matter whether you achieved the goal or not, you’re a heck of a lot closer than you were before. As long as you’re shooting for something you really value, and not something arbitrary, there’s not much harm in trying.

    You may decide to scale back the savings efforts after you try it, but pick up a few new tricks along the way.

    I’d also like to mention that freelance work isn’t impossible to come by. It’s just challenging because a lot of it comes through previous connections or self-promotion instead of job boards like eLance.

  21. It does seem like a big dream, but we’re going after it! Especially by generating some side income and saving one person’s salary, it could be do-able. We certainly hope so!

  22. My wife and I are on a similar path to this. First, we were on one income and burdened with debt. Then we introduced a second income, which helped aggressively pay off that debt and begin saving/investing. Once that all debts are paid off (including vehicle loans, but not the mortgage) we’ll basically be able to live off of less than one income, which will free up a ton of cash.

    I took it a step further and began working online for a third income, which is already at the point that it alone can pay all the necessary bills (mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc).

    We’re on a 10 year plan that started last year, but I’m not sure we’ll get to the $1M mark just yet. But we’re on a very frugal 10 year plan in terms of lifestyle. Our cars will be paid off in less than 2 years, and we’ll just continue to drive them. And our house, well, it is probably worth less than the two cadillacs our neighbor has parked in their garage. So by keeping the cost of living way down, paying off debt aggressively while saving, and maximizing income, we should be in pretty good shape in about 9 years.

  23. I will say this- Aiming high sure beats aiming low. If you can’t get to $1k a week now (I know I can’t), how close can you get? Can you increase that number over time? Probably so. Maybe it takes you 10 years to get to $1k a week, but you will have 10 years of savings so you would then get there in less than 10 years after reaching that point.
    Great thought provoking post!

  24. Just as others I too think $996 a week is high. I also think timing is important. Someone who started investing or putting aside the money in 2007 might take longer to invest in order to get a 12% gain.

    Right now the ones started in 2007 might see -12% or more decline.

    10 years might not be enough to make it up. One other way to look at is what if someone invests bursts of money in between, so say $400 a week for a year and then a lumpsum to cover most or all of the difference.
    Yes I agree one might need more than half a million to start living on passive income.

    The ultimate goal as pointed by “Your Money or Your Life” is that passive income crosses the monthly needs.

  25. So your weekly figure is MORE than my monthly take home pay from Work… Soooo glad I don’t have to worry about this any more.

    But your point is, Have a Goal! And work towards it – what ever that goal may be for you.

    My magic number in the bank is $200,000… I can live off the interest from that, plus my SS (when it comes). But then, I am good at living on well under $1000/month. And am single, and debt free. Have been debt free since age 50, including the mortgage. (for the one who said 50 yr olds wouldn’t have the mortgage paid off) 53 now.

    Right now I’m just working for the free health insurance, adding to a company 401K, and keeping my hours down to just over the 30 that are required for the free health insurance. As my employer matches my 401K contribution up to 6%, it would be foolish of me NOT to contribute. So that’s adding $200/month to my savings with only a $100 deduction from my paycheck 🙂

    That precious extra time off work is for my family and my friends 🙂 I side hustled for too many years.

    I agree that being able to do things myself saves me a LOT of money – whether it be house construction/repairs, growing and preserving foods, sewing, homemade gifts, etc. I also pick up a lot of free things at the recycle center, and do most of my ‘shopping’ at garage sales, which I enjoy.

    Being able to live on so little also helps – my wants are few and my pleasures simple, and I am more content than at any other time in my life. May you all find such peace that comes with being debt free 🙂

    I like to say, it’s not how much you make – it’s how much you Don’t Spend 🙂 And it’s about having simple affordable wants and in just being Content. Gratitude not resentment 🙂

  26. What about health care costs? Even if I had the $ saved to retire, I have to be a slave to the man for the next nine years and two months before I’m eligible for continued health care.

  27. I find it amusing that there were so many harsh/bitter/critical replies to the original idea. The original idea required no commitment from the readers, but was merely an idea/suggestion. One reader commented, well how about a 20 year plan…adjust the numbers, do the math. If your budget doesn’t allow, scale the numbers down. You might not be an Olympic caliber athlete, but you can still train and be in shape. Don’t take yourselves too seriously, and use some imagination.


  28. To David, I have to agree with Squeaky here. On renting out a room, my husband is someone who rents out a room for $400/month so he can work 2 hours away from home during the week. He’s only allowed to stay in his room M-F, which works for him since he’s only there M-W. Also, because he works so much since his family isn’t there to come home to, he’s literally there only a couple of waking hours a night, then sleeps. He has his own bathroom and full kitchen access. He rents from a single woman in a 2 bedroom condo. I’d say she has a good deal, and I don’t think her life is impacted too much. In fact, I get the impression she appreciates the company sometimes.

    On picking up commuters, why be a taxi? Have a meeting place at a certain time and a drop off place at a certain time. I live near an area where there are people who wait to be picked up by random strangers just so the drivers can use a carpool lane and not pay a toll bridge fee. Works both ways.

    On freelance work, tutoring, etc, perhaps your music teacher friend needs to up her (his?) business practice skills and collect money ahead of time. Also, if your commute to work involves public transportation for more than 30 minutes, bring a laptop. When I was writing, I loved commuting because that would be my only writing time in the whole day (totalled 90 minutes/day unless I needed to catch up on sleep).

    I think these are great ideas, and you shouldn’t limit yourself because it’s inconvenient, if you want to earn a little extra money. If not, then yeah, don’t bother.

  29. Ah, the perfect opp to trot out my cliches:
    Aim for the stars, at least you’ll hit the sky.
    Leap, and the net will appear.
    The universe provides.

    Frugal Dad – your commenters fall into two categories. The ones who will find an excuse for why nothing can happen, and the ones who take ideas and make them their own. I’m with the second group.

    I started paring down my expenses, making budgets, tracking things, and discovered something interesting 9 months later: I can save an entire paycheck a month (ie, I only need one to live on). Add in my side gigs, and $500/week is no problemo. Sitting in my savings account at 3.5% (where it is at currently, higher when the economy is better, so this is a low estimate), I’ll have a mill in 25 years. This isn’t taking into account retirement accounts.
    Great exercise!

  30. Why are people all or nothing? It’s silly!

    So you have a million in the bank, maybe now you can work part time at something you really enjoy and make up the difference. Maybe you continue building wealth for twelve years and keep working. Maybe you put away $5000 a month for 10 years. People, have some imagination! Maybe you just have the peace of mind to know you have no debt, a million dollars in the bank and the freedom to do what you want or explore new ideas.

    What if at the end of 10 years you have only gotten as far as your mortgage paid off, no other debt, a reasonable working vehicle and $10,000 in the bank? Wouldn’t you be better off? America is full of indentured servants. You have committed your future to the bank in order to have the privilege of owning stuff. Stuff that wears out. If you lose your job, how will you pay for the debt? I am 45 and 4 years away from paying off my mortgage. We have been on essentially 1 income for 14 years. I have worked hard and done side work. My wife has done some part time work and made some extra cash on the side as well. To quote Jim Rohn, “Profits are always better than wages!” Go make some profit.

  31. @ David:

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. You and the people whose experiences you describe seem to have hit a rough patch in the implementation of my suggestions.

    I’ve personally done all the items on my list and am doing several at the moment (at age 34). I’m no “college student”, I’ve got a full-time job with two businesses on the side plus room rentals.

    >#1 and #2, renting out a room or two is one sure way to find out that you dislike other people’s bad habits very very quickly.

    So is marriage. 🙂

    Seriously, in a landlord/tenant relationship, just like any other social interaction, you have to set up the expectations of both sides in advance. As the landlord you’re automatically the alpha partner, so you have to enforce boundaries politely but firmly. You also have to be very selective in terms of the people you let in.

    >I can tell you that I have and will pay a premium to have privacy where I live.

    It’s a free country; that’s your prerogative.

    >After a while, most people will tend to do the same.

    True. It’s human nature to prefer a higher standard of living once exposed to it, and to let that become the status quo and eventually the minimum acceptable level of “whatever”.

    I find that the fewer requirements I have carved in stone, the more flexible I can be and the easier it is to take advantage of the opportunities that come my way.

    > #3, I know someone who is a music teacher and her biggest problem is getting the parents to pay the fees.

    Here’s how I train parents to pay on time or in advance. If someone “doesn’t have the cash today” they don’t get a lesson because I politely postpone on the spot. I’ll walk out or courteously show them the door. I’ve never had to do this more than once per student. Hell hath no fury like a tween embarrassed by a parent’s slip-up. Heaven hath no purse strings so loose as a parent whose SNAFU just put his or her kid into a traumatic or disappointing situation thereby causing the parent to be a Bad Mommy or a Bad Daddy. So the kid does most of the work guilt-tripping the parent into line. For long-term students I know well I can allow a week of slack because I trust them.

    > When there is an exchange of goods, it is not difficult to bring retribution to the offender who doesn’t pay up. It becomes much more difficult when exchanging services especially when there is no formal contract to which the parties are bound.

    A contract is simply a recorded agreement. I don’t understand why any business person, no matter how part-time, would operate without that.

    Part-time work must still be done professionally. Otherwise people will start outsourcing it to other countries.

    > (And making a contract between two individuals stick in a court-of-law these days is nigh on impossible without serious legal representation.)

    That hasn’t been my experience. My contracts are air-tight and usually one page or less. I’ve only had one of my contracts challenged in court and the judge complimented me on it after ruling in my favor.

    > On another note, many parents would be wary of men or couples with no kids of their own spending time with theirs. Call me insane, but the news these days is filled with “kiddie fear”.

    For music lessons or private tutoring (I do both), my students’ parents have the option of sitting in on lessons or installing a nanny-cam. Some parents like to relax with a book a few feet away while Junior gets a music lesson.

    I have yet to meet a parent so paranoid that they don’t even want me in the room with their child while the parent is present. Such a parent would not solicit a tutor or music teacher.

    > I will say that it can work at the high school and college level, but many people who are good academically are piss-poor teachers themselves.

    I agree with you… if it weren’t for incompetent teachers in schools and universities, I’d have no tutoring business at all.

    As to the ability to teach, it can be learned in five to fifteen minutes if a person is willing to work within an existing pedagogical system. The trouble arises when egomaniacs insist on re-inventing the wheel. They refuse to use the tools and systems other people spent their lifetimes creating and testing.

    > This would ultimately be up to the tutor to determine if they could actually make money doing this.

    Deliver results, and your practice will be lucrative due to word of mouth and repeat business.

    > I tried it myself and found out that I couldn’t deal with someone who wouldn’t learn but instead wanted me to solve all the problems for him. Ugh.

    Ugh is right; it’s not much fun when you don’t run the show, and it’s hard to deliver results if you allow the student to maintain an attitude that’s not conducive to learning. So why would you allow it?

    In my classroom, I am the adult. That means I’m responsible for the tone and the atmosphere. It’s my job to make the material interesting, and to present it in a context the student understands. Some people are visual learners, for example, and others learn syntactically.

    All students want two things: to have power, and to assert it.

    A student with a lazy, passive attitude doesn’t believe they can master the material and is generally afraid of it. A hostile student is overwhelmed by the material and is asserting power by rebelling. Build up the lazy student and redirect the hostile one.

    One of the first things I do is remove the student’s fear of failure by taking upon myself the responsibility for determining whether the student fails or succeeds. In exchange for having me assume this responsibility, the student must follow my directions. To the student, the relief that comes from doing that is huge. That’s the key exchange that has to be made in a tutor/student relationship. Without the key exchange, no progress is possible. The payment of money is really just for my time.

    Teaching one-on-one is also important because there’s no hype show to put on for the peers. The student can be who he or she really is.

    Without the fear of failure, peer censure, or punishment, I find most human beings are inquisitive, clever creatures with likes, dislikes, etc.

    >#4 With places like being dominated by Indian programmers and designers, one has to take scraps in order to get freelance work these days.

    It’s hard to go toe-to-toe with a competitor who can match or beat me in terms of quality while beating my price. So I don’t. You couldn’t get me on e-Lance if you paid me twice.

    You can still charge a fair price for quality if you show people what quality is and how to tell whether they’re getting it. When I teach music, I charge about double the usual going rate. That’s because I’m not flying by the seat of my pants the way a lot of bargain-basement teachers are. I get results, I follow a solid curriculum, and I offer a money-back guarantee. I’m not short of students because plenty of people beat me on price but nobody beats me on quality.

    > My wife has tried to get work from places like this and the work to pay ratio is just insane. Some of the Indian companies/individuals are only charging $6-10 per hour on work that should be at least $30 or more. Of course, you get what you pay for but the people don’t realize that until they’ve paid and get shafted.

    A person isn’t automatically “shafted” when they pick the most competitive bid and it happens to be from someone in another country. If all overseas programmers were incompetent or dishonest, the work for them would dry up instantly. The fact that it hasn’t is evidence that they do a competent job at least some of the time. Good for them. There’s plenty of work to go around.

    I get my gigs from Craig’s List. The jobs are all local, and you must be present to win. I win maybe 5% to 10% of my bids, which is fine.

    >#5, unless those several people like right down the block from you, you will burn more than $2 in gas getting to their house from yours and getting back to the commute route.

    Your logic is excellent, except my intention is to replace not a taxi but public transit. So I only pick up people who live literally right on the commute route. That way, I can undercut the cost of the bus, provide nicer seating during the ride, and still bring in more than I spend in time and gas.

    For door-to-door taxi service, a person should charge far more. Generally some kind of taxi license would apply also. I’ve had people demand door-to-door taxi service at public transit prices. Yet whatever deal I make has to be fair (fare?) to me too. So I hold firm and still don’t have an empty car unless I want one.

    >I would assert that it’s not just about a cut in their “standard of living”. It’s about privacy and the sense of self that comes from the space you occupy and where you live (in general).

    We may have to agree to disagree on this. My assertion is that privacy, free time, and space are commodities that form a part of a person’s standard of living.

    > This is why many people feel quite uncomfortable when they travel to places like Japan and China because there is no sense of “personal space”. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. Though it may not seem like a lot to give up at first, it would become apparent quite quickly.

    Probably it would be best for you to not travel to those places. Everyone gets freaked out by different things. I wouldn’t care to travel to a place where I’d have to wear a skirt. Yet that custom really floats some people’s boats.



  32. In order to have the $996/week you would have to earn about $1250/week before taxes. That is in addition to your living expenses. The 12% also seems unrealistic. I think the problem is that 10 years is not enough time.

    How about saving $500/month for 20 years at 8%.

  33. This is a very good entry. The math works. I’ve written a response on my own blog (, but I’ll post a short response here.

    The 12% return isn’t unreasonable. That’s the average return on the stock market since WWII. Invest in a no-load index fund, and your chances of getting that return are reasonable. If the market doesn’t do quite that well, then it takes a couple of extra years to do it. Not a huge deal.

    For those who want to do it in 15 or 20 years because saving $996 a week for 10 years is too intimidating, just save less. Save about $2,000 a month to do it in 15, or $1,100 a month to do it in 20.

    But I wanted to see if $996 a week was even possible, so I sat down for way too long and tried to figure it out. I believe for a significant portion of the population, the answer is yes! Starting with the assumption of either living on one salary or paying off all debt first to get you about halfway there, I found common expenses that can get you the other half, or pretty close.

  34. Wow, there’s a lot of resistance to Frugaldad’s idea but I think the Goal is the point. Aim high (think: Olympic Gold) and you will be better off even if you can’t bank that almost $1,000 per week you shall bank something! Point is, we all waste way too much.We pretty much bank half that each week and thing is we are working only part time and neither of us have college degrees. Go figure. What do we do? Well we don’t do what everyone else does to spend spend spend and we have a blast kids and all. It’s a mind-set. Gosh I should start my own post…

  35. Just remember, you need to DOUBLE that figure if you’re married…. Otherwise, if you hit the One Million mark and are married, you’re only Half a Millionaire 🙂 LOL! (just putting some fun into this conversation!)

    The important point is – Have a GOAL!!!! and go for it!

    On my single low income, I’m just happy to have hit my personal goal of $200,000. I just don’t need much to live on.

  36. With my SEP IRA I can save up to 26k tax deffered so that might help this work. Now I just have to figure out how I can save $500/week!

  37. I enjoyed this post. I live in Guatemala, so my cost of living is lower . . . but so are my wages, since I choose to spend more time with my toddlers than working (I earn in dollars, freelance writing). But though I would love to even earn half the recommended amount, it`s not possible at the moment . . . but I don`t see why that should stop me from saving something anyway. Maybe the numbers don`t work for everyone and maybe not everyone is willing to make the sacrifices, which is fine, but know that the option is out there to improve your life.

  38. I think it’s a good idea. I wish we could do it. We’re a family of 6 trying to survive on $1200 (after taxes) monthly, we barely have $50 left at the end of the month most 😉

  39. So…. If I put $500 a month aside, would I have a half-million dollars in ten years? I’d settle for that, on top of the 403(b), the IRA, and the Social Security. 🙂

    I don’t earn anything like $4,000 a month. If $66,300 is “right in the middle of the middle-middle class range,” then I don’t qualify for the middle class, even though in my Right-to-Work state my salary is exactly at the median for a four-person family. My house is paid for, but on my salary I’d have a tough time banking an extra $500 each month, though I guess it could be done. There’s no way in He** that I would rent out a room. Done roommates, not gunna do that again.

    BUT… I can see other ways to generate savable money:

    * Run an enterprise on the side (doing that, gunna keep doing it)
    * Sell my house and move someplace cheaper
    * Write another book or ghostwrite for a nonwriter with a bestselling idea
    * Win the lottery

    Seriously: the only two ways I can see to come up with a regular stream of serious money that could go into savings would be to earn an extra $1,500 a month (less 30% for taxes = about $1,000 to invest) in a side job and to sell my fairly modest home and move to Sun City, where utilities are lower, taxes are a third of what I’m paying, and auto homeowner’s insurance is half. A comparable house there costs $60,000 less than my house is worth, breaking free the equivalent of 60 months’ worth of savings. 😀 I’d only have to come up with that extra thou’ a month for another five years.

    Hmmmm….. Maybe what you need to think is not BIG but SMALL: downsize your life so that it fits within your income with some room to spare.

    Now…to figure out how to do that without having to check myself into a ghetto for the elderly….

  40. This blog post is deceptively excellent! It promotes the notion of thinking big (I offer you a trip to the moon and you are more likely to do a task – even though it is a false promise) and the “side hussle”.

    To me the quickest way to a million is by:

    Getting on the housing ladder at the earliest possible age
    Paying down the mortgage at a lightning fast rate
    Then remortgaging to raise equity to buy rental properties

  41. The other option is buy a lotto ticket every week for $5 and hope for the best (not a bad option given current market conditions). Still your post illustrates how hard it is to become a millionare despite the world having 10 million millionares.

  42. There is another option which is not mentioned here, which is:
    Write a plan to resign your job and start a business. You might as well end up a millionaire in less than 10 years.
    If this sounds too difficult for you or you do not know what business to do or how to do it, then start educating yourself in that direction.
    You can do it if you want to do it.

  43. I as well think you steps are a bit wild. The average American doesn’t even earn $55k a year if even after taxes it might be like $30k.

    I DO agree with starting something on the side but I can tell any reader looking at this I’ve been hustling on the side for 10 YEARS and still have not earned more then $4k on a homebased business or anything hustle wise. It is not as easy as doing it. If you can show me a business that isn’t MLM in which I can earn $4k a month please do without putting a large investment into it.

    I currently trade options and without mastering trading I still won’t even profit $4k a year.
    And as for your 12% historical. I think you should do some real research. That is a statistic. So truthfully statistically you will really come out with half a million in 10 years if you are still buying stock when shit falls.
    Unless you are a wise investor and understand insurance for your stocks dollar cost averaging will earn you likely less than a savings account.


  44. I think I just had a lightbulb moment there. I just got married so we are still trying to figure out who pays what and how we are going to handle the finances. Though we visited the subject way in advance, we are trying to figure out if there is any room for improvement. I might just suggest this to the Mrs. as we are both full time employees. I think we are well on our way though as we recently decided to invest in real estate with the help of “The Pizza Delivery Millionaire”, by Rick Vazquez. Great starting point for me but you bring some great tips to light.

  45. i understand the whole concept of becoming a millionaire through a ten year plan, but what i dont understand is why would this need to be done, an interest amount in a bank would never amount to 12% especially in a recent recession, in the uk currently it stands at 1%. but for arguments sake we will use the 12% as a bull park figure. over the ten years you will have to pay in 1000 a week for 520 weeks, my calculation amounts total payable out at £520000.00. ok over that 10 years you will earn an extra £480000.00 on top of your original investment, but will this really pay out enough mony through interest when a million is made, as i mentioned the interest rate in the uk is currently 1% that means a total of £10000.00 a year in interest on a million pound, which derives to getting a £200.00 a week return, that is pretty poor for a £1000 a week investment. surely its worth living life and saving if possible that £1000 a week to spend at the end of the year on cruises holidays and leisure gifts. we are never able to tell what is going to happen in the future regards to recession and banks crashing which is why i feel it is very unsafe to invest on a basic high saving interest bank account. there are more very appealing lucrative investments out there to be made. spend for today as you may never know what is round the corner.

  46. I believe with the state of the world economy that making money now is going to be harder than ever. Not only our people more frugal, but the competition for income is going to be huge with all the lost jobs out there. I believe the answer muswt come from ourselves. We must budget and be frugal, frugal, frugal….

  47. I know this may not be possible for manypeople at this point, but instead of getting credit cards use cash or debit cards from a checking account. Buy or rent an appartment and possibly share it with a room mate. Buy a used car( no car lones). Make your cloths last longer as well as shoes. Try not to buy stuff you don’t need unless it’s an investmant that will appreciate in value. Don’t put all your money in one place. Learn new tricks such as web design to rake in a few more hundred. Find a bank with the best interist, the more money In the account the more it gains. Be informed on what is happening on the stock market, the realestate market, and other industrys that can change your life style. This is aimed at younger adults or teens of all ages who still are “clean” of debt and are financially free.


  49. I think this is very reasonable. It’s all about being responsible. It’s about spending money that you have and not using credit cards. I have been doing this for about a year now and while I haven’t done $4000 a month I am doing half that amount..but this article is showing that it is possible to do more. It all about making sure that all the money you make goes to you and not to interest on loans and credit cards. I went to college and had a huge student loan. A few years ago I did the math and found out that my four years at college would cost more than four times more if I paid the min amt and had it last the full 20 years they give you to repay. I am now proudly debt free. While I do not have the best paying job in the world. I budget very carefully. And all my money goes to me.

  50. Nice Post!

    While the amount in the example is a stretch for most, its still achievable. Like one of your readers said start with smaller amount and work your way up.

    Also when investing/saving, remember what Warren Buffett said “rule #1 don’t loose money”, “rule #2 don’t forget about rule #1”

  51. I love this I am 20 so Im hopong to get a head start early. I am really excited this helped a lot. It is a stretch but it will pay off. THis was really great advice thanks

    • I believe they are using numbers from the “market” on average. I don’t see that being true either over 10 years.

  52. He said Historically speaking…. it WAS more than common to get that. I have been collecting 11% all thru this on one contract,(until it paid off last month) so if the origins were older, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

  53. A lot of silly negativity in the comments. If you don’t like the idea, ignore it. :/ Heck, even the writer said that his family doesn’t save near the full amount. Lighten up.

    As for us, we don’t make nearly enough for this right now. Hubby and I are both in college, paying for him as we go instead of taking out loans (thank you for paying for my college though, Mom and Dad! best gift EVER). We won’t put ourselves in debt ever except for a house, and that would be paid off as quickly as possible. Right now, we both make minimum wage, and work a couple side jobs from home. If we keep up the work ethic and frugal living, once we are farther into our careers (and graduated from college), I don’t see why a similar goal is unreasonable. It is a fun, cute goal that can be scaled down, if needed.

  54. Becoming a millionaire is not easy and it will not happen overnight but reaching 1 million dollars in net worth is very attainable for everyone in the middle class, whether other commenter’s agree or not.

  55. Seems like you know what your talking about, think it’s about time I got my side hutle going

  56. Another great article by Frugal Dad. Hopefully, it will motivate me to achieve my goal of becoming a millionaire.

  57. I am making 15% in the market. It is possible – just not in a savings account. We are on our fourth year of $4000./month. Half of the goal you stated is good for us. We are going to one salary next month and will be only at $2000. for the next five years. Something along the lines of “those who start late, still can do it!”

  58. Has anyone heard of Dave Ramsey????? If you have not, please read his book (or take one of his Financial Peace classes). He is a genius and a financial guru! He started out with nothing, and is now a multi-millionaire! If he can do it, you can too!

    He teaches you to be frugal and to hold back on the “stuff” you really do not need. “If you live like no one else now, you can REALLY LIVE like no one else later!”

  59. The side hustle idea is very good. Especially if you can make it a passive income stream.
    Picking a career that matches your talents with your passion is incredibly important. Doing this will maximize your income potental. Rather than wishing away 5 days of the week to enjoy the two days off at the end.

  60. Really good article. The 4k/month figure really puts to light how much money 1 mil really is. 12% interest seems high without investing in high risk vehicles. Thanks again for this.

  61. Wow! Obviously, the comment list here is longer than the article by far, which means you’ve hit a nerve. 🙂

    What I love about this is that you’re all about possibility – what CAN be done instead of what can’t. The comments in and of themselves are interesting, and you can tell who may be actually headed to millionaire status…it’s really all about financial independence and being willing to do what it takes! There are LOTS of ways to get rich. 🙂

    Thanks for the inspiration, and enjoy the success you’re experiencing and so obviously deserve!

    ~ Shauna Arthurs

  62. I am so tired of financial advisors saying if you invest $1,000 a month and earn 12% interest, you will get richer. They act as if it is a 100% guarantee that you will get that interest. Why don’t they tell EXACTLY what to do to get it.

  63. i’m new to this blog. my husband and i are like most americans, scraping by to live. we make $4000/month, so we will have MADE a million dollars in ten years! … but we live. now, my father is a workaholic, missed most of my life, and already has two million (plus) stashed away and a divorce on his resume. a million dollars can’t buy the time my hubby spends with our one year old daughter, or the dates we take to enjoy each other and build our relationship. he already works hard and we are not paying someone else to raise OUR child. the title of this post is charming, but having such lofty goals, sacrificing your life to get there, is not a great investment. our goal is “become a $10000aire in 10 years”.

  64. Superb article.. i am in the process of clearing out whats rest of my debt now and as soon as that is over and done with i will begin my 10 year plan.. I am assuming it will take me about 2 years for the entire debt “thang” so it is actually going to be a 12 year plan…. Fantastic information..

  65. I think that what is presented in this article was a little bit of a stretch, however, the concept of it is not. So what is you don’t earn 12%, what if it is only 8%, so what if you can only save 500K, or if it takes you 15 years? If you don’t do it at all, guess what, you won’t have ANYTHING to show for it!
    Take this advice and make it work the best you can for your situation, and run with it.
    And for someone who’s been married almost 30 years with grown kids, the advice of trying to live off of one income and saving the other is awesome. And again, if you can’t do it COMPLETELY, work towards it. While 2 incomes may be necessary in the beginning, if you’ll maintain a certain level of living, and don’t use it to constantly move up the economic ladder, you’ll be much better off. We live in the same house we did 21 years ago. Will be paid off in 3 years (coulda been sooner!) We don’t drive 2 new cars, or even 1 new car, we have 2 1990 something vehicles in our yard. We haven’t even saved a lot, but because our needs are lower than most, we will be able to ‘retire’ (read-quit jobs we don’t love to do something we do) on much less and sooner than most.
    Sorry for the soapbox!

  66. Why would I want to pay down my mortgage early, as you suggest, to save ~2% after tax (given today’s ultra-low mortgage rates), when I can invest it after-tax at 9+% (your figure adjusted for capital gains tax)?

  67. I’m 18 years old, jobless, and a student. My only source of income is my blogs and my side jobs as a graphic designer. Since I’m starting on my millionaire journey so early, I know I’ll be able to accomplish this very large goal. These are really great tips, and even if it sounds unreasonable (and is) you just have to be in the mindset of “make a lot of money” and “save as much money as you can at as high of an interest rate as you can”. I already make a decent amount of money from my side jobs, so when I can even find myself a minimum wage part-time job, I’ll be well on my way to becoming a millionaire. It doesn’t hurt to learn how to save, too.

  68. All of us have dreamt of becoming a millionaire at one point, if not every single day, of our lives. We just want to know what it’s like to not worry of any financial situation as your bank account holds more money that you’ll never be able to use up in your lifetime

  69. It’s an interesting idea, but with what I do and where I live it’s nowhere close to possible (saving $1000 a week is not even something half of the country I live in earn in one month, let alone 2 months). Anyone who is able to save $4000 a month here is already considered ‘wealthy’ and will not require 10 years of savings to achieve millionaire status. If you’re actually able to save $4000 a month, you’re better off investing some savings in a business that will earn you more passive income and you’ll reach the millionaire mark in less than 10 years.

  70. Interesting enough, I read this article in 2008 and have put into practice the principles since then. I have managed to hit the millionaire milestone towards the end of 2012. Awesome article and advice well worth digesting.

  71. 12% are you crazy? There is no way in today’s market to make even close to 12, let alo new saving 900 a month. This article is total bullshit.

  72. So many people want to simply look for reasons why this won’t work. The math is correct, but you do make a good point. If you’re not willing to invest in yourself and work your butt off, you have made it impossible all on your own. I am 35, single, and manage to get about $6000 a month into savings. I do work 12-14 hour days and am always looking for my next opportunity. Go out and find yours. Or, you can complain your way not poverty.

  73. So many people want to simply look for reasons why this won’t work. The math is correct, but you do make a good point. If you’re not willing to invest in yourself and work your butt off, you have made it impossible all on your own. I am 35, single, and manage to get about $6000 a month into savings. I do work 12-14 hour days and am always looking for my next opportunity. Go out and find yours. Or, you can complain your way into poverty.

  74. I asked my wife if she would donate $996 per month to be so I could be a millionaire.She told me to get my lazy ass up off the couch,and to get rid of the remote control.And that if I ever asked her for money again that she would divorce me an take the tv in the divorce settlement.All I could do was start crying like a little baby and then I passed out……………………..

  75. I do not use my college degree for my job but I am indeed single and saving 1k a month (w/out any interest) at age 28. My tips would be to ditch the women and all the expenses she comes with, have a cheap reliable vehicle, live on the smallest basic bill you can get by on, and most importantly is to use your 401k/roths to curve your tax brackets. Good luck — Im in year 3 of 13 because I believe 10% gains is more reasonable.