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Investing is one of the most important ways to grow your money over time, and it's become more accessible to Americans thanks to apps like Acorns, WeBull, Wealthfront and more. Many people dream of one day having a million dollars in their bank account, but how much do you actually need to invest to become a millionaire?
According to Brian Stivers, a Financial Advisor and Founder of Stivers Financial Services, these are the three most important elements for investing: the amount you contribute each month, the rate of return and how long you have to reach your goal. With this in mind, you can actually invest enough money to earn yourself one million dollars.
If you're 25 years old and want to reach $1 million by the time you're 65, you can invest as little as $240 per month, assuming a 9% yearly return. But if you wait just 10 years to start investing at age 35, you'll have to put in a lot more money each month.
Below, Select breaks down how much money you need to invest if you're in your mid-thirties and want to become a millionaire.
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When crunching the numbers, Stivers accounted for three different return rates: 3% (a conservative portfolio of mostly bonds), 6% (a combination of stocks and bonds) and 9% (a portfolio that's stock-heavy or contains index or mutual funds yielding around 9% on average). And, he used a retirement age of 65, which would give 35-year-olds 30 years to save. Here's how much 35-year-olds would need to invest each month to become a millionaire:
- If making investments that yield a 3% yearly return, a 35-year-old would have to invest $1,750 per month to reach $1 million by age 65.
- If they instead contribute to investments that give a 6% yearly return, they would have to invest $1,050 per month for 30 years to end up with $1 million.
- But if they choose investments that yield a 9% yearly return, which is comparably more aggressive, they would need to invest $590 per month for 30 years to reach $1 million.
Compared to those who begin investing at age 30, people closer to age 35 will have to contribute a little more money each month in order to reach the same goal by age 65. Compound interest is most powerful when it has a longer amount of time to grow your money. A five-year age difference may not seem like much, but when it comes to investing it can have a huge impact on how aggressive your contributions need to be. Thirty-year-olds investing for a 9% yearly return only need to invest $370 each month to have a million dollars by age 65, but 35-year-olds, as we can see, would need to invest $590 per month to be a millionaire at age 65. That's a difference of $220 more per month.
The sooner you begin investing, the better. However, it's never too late to start — even if you don't think you have enough money to fully commit to putting away $590 per month. In fact, many people often find themselves in a position where they need to prioritize other life expenses — such as raising a child or caring for aging parents — so investing that much money consistently may feel like a bit of a squeeze. But, anything that you put away will grow, and the sooner you do that, the more time compound interest has to work its magic.
To help you work toward your goals, many investing apps allow users to invest in fractional shares — aka, a portion of a stock's share based on the amount of money you want to invest rather than the number of shares you want to purchase — with as little as $1. And, apps like Acorns even allow users to invest the "spare change" they accrue from making everyday purchases like coffee, textbooks and clothing.
Keep in mind that when investing in stocks, you shouldn't just be throwing your money at random individual stocks. A tried and true strategy is to invest in index funds or ETFs that track the stock market as a whole, like the S&P 500. According to Investopedia, the S&P 500 has historically returned an average of 10% to 11% annually, so you might expect a fund tracking this index to produce similar returns. Note that past returns do not indicate future success.
And, some investment apps offer robo-advisors, like Wealthfront and Betterment, to help you determine which investments make sense for you based on your risk tolerance, goals and retirement date. Robo-advisors also take on the task of automatically rebalancing your portfolio as you get closer to the target date for your goals (be it retirement or buying a house). This way, you don't have to worry about adjusting the allocation yourself.
Minimum deposit and balance
Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. For Betterment Digital Investing, $0 minimum balance; Premium Investing requires a $100,000 minimum balance
Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. For Betterment Digital Investing, 0.25% of your fund balance as an annual account fee; Premium Investing has a 0.40% annual fee
Up to one year of free management service with a qualifying deposit within 45 days of signup. Valid only for new individual investment accounts with Betterment LLC
Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash
Betterment RetireGuide™ helps users plan for retirement
Minimum deposit and balance
Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. $500 minimum deposit for investment accounts
Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Zero account, transfer, trading or commission fees (fund ratios may apply). Wealthfront annual management advisory fee is 0.25% of your account balance
Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash. Additional asset classes to your portfolio include real estate, natural resources and dividend stocks
Offers free financial planning for college planning, retirement and homebuying
Investing can be a very impactful way to grow your money, but keep in mind the factors that play a role in how much wealth you build: rate of return, how much you invest each month and, of course, time.
Regardless of what your money goals are, beginning with small steps can make a difference. But if your aim really is to invest your way to $1 million, the sooner you start, the more time your money will have to grow, meaning you'll be able to contribute a lower amount each month over the years
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.