When I was growing up, I wanted to be a millionaire. I would scribble down on a piece of paper how many years it might take be to reach a million. What I needed was a Millionaire Calculator.
But that was before I understood how compound interest and regular saving can massively accelerate the time until I reached a net worth of one million.
Now, I’ve built a super-simple calculator to allow anyone to quickly calculate how many years it will take to reach that magic number.
Here’s the Millionaire Calculator for you to play with:
This is a super simple tool to calculate when you will be a millionaire. Simply, drag the sliders and find out when you will make a million.
How to use the Millionaire Calculator
Use the sliders to select your current savings, new monthly savings and annual return. Bingo! You will see how many years it will take to reach your magic target.
If you want more control, you can try the I want to be a millionaire calculator. This one allows you to play around with more assumption than the super-simple millionaire calculator.
Lessons on reaching a million
As you play around with this simple tool, a few factors jump out as the most critical for achieving your target
The higher your total annual return, the faster you will reach your goal.
This means invest better. You won’t get a high annual return consistently in a bank or savings account. You will need to find smarter ways to invest your money to achieve rates of 8% or more per year.
That could be from investing in stock market index funds, real estate or even starting your own business. The bottom line is you won’t get rich fast unless your money is making a great return.
The more money you start with, the quicker you get to the target.
If you have money already, you have a big head start on making it to a million. I guess this is obvious.
It’s worth working out your current net worth to know how much you have today. Add up all your assets and liabilities, even on the back of an envelope. Then consider what investment return you are getting from all this stuff.
If the number isn’t great, don’t despair. There’s an old proverb that says:
Which brings us on to saving.
The higher your regular savings, the faster you will get to a million.
And this is the way the average person gets to reach millionaire status. You can set this to be automatic or you can sweat it every day, but find ways to save. That can be by boosting your income or from being more careful with your spending.
For most people, saving is the way to become a millionaire.
Are there any shortcuts to becoming a millionaire?
You could marry into millions. It’s quite possible. I’d recommend you target someone rich and keep going until you find one. But without love you may suffer for that money.
You could break the law to get there. But you certainly would suffer for that.
Inheritance is a sad but common route to millions. But you’ll need to have been born in the right place or the right time.
Of course I’m being a little tongue in cheek. Saving hard, earning more and investing better are the best steps to getting towards financial freedom.
How does the Millionaire Calculator work?
The calculator look at your current amount you have saved. Some people might call this your net worth. You then include an amount you think you could regularly save over future years. Finally, it compounds all of this up based on an annual return you choose, and goal seeks to a target of reaching one million.
Voila – the calculator will tell you the years it will take you to become a millioniare.
Of course, if you are already a millionaire next door, the time it takes to get you there is zero years. But you need to make sure you keep that wealth in your hands!
Is inflation factored in to the Millionaire Calculator?
No. The calculator looks at a nominal annual return over the years.
This means that by the time you reach millionaire status, the label will be worth less than it would be if you were already a millionaire.
As an example, I was born in 1977 (wow – that’s old! Or young, depending on your own age).
If I could snap my fingers and go back in time, a million would be worth $4.3m today. That is the power of inflation at eroding the value of a million. Put another way, a million today is only worth a quarter of what it was forty years ago.
A quick fix to this is just to reduce your annual return by 2% to 3% versus what you expect to make from your investments. Then the calculator will give you a better view of what your real timeline might be.
So what is a millionaire anyway?
Wikipedia defines a millionaire as:
A millionaire is an individual whose net worth or wealth is equal to or exceeds one million units of currency.Wikipedia
When we think of using the calculator we normally think in terms of a major currency like US Dollars or British Pounds, but actually anyone can be a millionaire if they are prepared to switch into a less valuable currency.
For example, the Iranian Rial at the time of writing is trading at 220,200 Rial’s to One US Dollar. Therefore, you could achieve millionaire status for less than four bucks! If you lived in Iran…
You would need five dollars for the Venezuelan Bolivar or around one hundred dollars in Vietnamese Dong.
This tells me that being a millionaire is not a great achievement in and of itself.
What really matters is how valuable being a millionaire is to you life. In other words, what difference will a million make to you?
What’s a million really worth to you?
The millionaire calculator tells you how long it will take you to become a millionaire if you save regularly and make the return you’ve targetted. But is there a quick way to work out if a million will actually make a difference to your life.
Yes there is!
The secret is to use the financial independence equation to estimate how much money you could spend each year if you had a million.
Simply, multiply $1,000,000 by your safe withdrawal rate. The rule-of-thumb safe withdrawal rate is 4%. Using that, you immediately can see that if you had one million dollars, you can spend $40,000 per year safely. In other words, based on history, you should never run out of money
Why not learn more about reaching financial freedom?