Here is Kiplinger’s predictable 12-step program for becoming a millionaire, which inevitable contains “… and wait” somewhere. This guide is geared towards corporate workers who live and die by the paycheck.
1. Keep your eyes peeled for better ways to do your job. While Milton Wadams was slowly finding himself out of a job, thinking of something creative will help you stand out and make executives want to keep you around.
3. Get your ducks in a row and your numbers on paper. There’s another vote for checking your market range on Salary.com, but I still believe their surveys are inaccurate.
4. Plot your strategy when it’s time to move on. The article suggests creating a professional-looking MySpace page. Do recruiters and hiring managers look at MySpace when making their decisions? I find that very hard to believe, even when we’re living in the future like we are. I do think it’s important to have a professional internet presence, but I think most corporate workers are better off ignoring MySpace.
5. Contribute as much as you can to your 401(k) and other tax-deferred retirement plans… and wait.
6. Flex your tax-saving muscle. Use a flexible spending account to pay for medical expenses to reduce your tax liability.
7. Review your tax withholding. The article points to this tax withholding calculator so W2 workers can ensure they’re not giving the government an interest-free loan. That money can go to work throughout the year, if you’re disciplined.
8. Stash savings in a Roth IRA if you’re eligible. The law says you’ll be able to withdraw your earnings after retirement without any taxes due. Let’s hope they don’t decide to change that law in the next thirty years or so.
9. Don’t delay. The best time to start thinking about increasing your net worth all ready passed. Since no one has yet perfected time travel, the next best time to start is now, and you’ll regret it if you don’t.
10. Invest automatically. When your money automatically disappears before you can touch it, maybe you won’t even notice it’s not there. When I first started my corporate job, I signed up for Direct Deposit because it was a pain to get to the bank. Then I set up automatic transfers from that checking account to a savings account slightly out of reach for everyday expenses.
11. Watch for fund fees. Even index funds can have high fees, so don’t make any assumptions. Check your prospectus before you make any investment decisions, and learn how to understand it so you know what you’re reading.
12. Keep it simple. The article says it: “Be wary of get-rich-quick schemes or sales pitches for complex investments, such as oil-and-gas partnerships, that trade on the millionaire cachet to lure investors into buying high-fee products they don’t understand. Most millionaire households accumulate their wealth over the long term by sticking to a regular investing plan in a balanced portfolio.”
Each of these 12 steps makes a small difference in the immediate term, but if you hang on and build these thoughts into your personal philosophy, eventually the rewards will be in your bank account. [Kiplinger’s Personal Finance/MSN Money: 12 steps to become a millionaire]
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published February 27, 2007.