7 Simple Ways to Make Your First Million

IMG_3684 (Because once you make your first million you’re bound to rejoice under a waterfall with a rainbow, right?)

If a million dollars’ worth of investments sounds unattainable, you haven’t done your research. A seven-figure portfolio is absolutely doable if you start saving early, make sane lifestyle choices and avoid some common psychological traps.

Don’t limit your thinking to making a mere million over your lifetime. Aim for $10 million. Your only way to get there is to educate yourself about investing from reliable, been-there sources. After that, make a plan and stick to it.

Start with a millionaire mindset.

Building wealth begins in the brain. There are some beliefs and behaviors that you simply must avoid – taking on consumer debt, keeping up with the Joneses, trying to take shortcuts or falling for get-rich-quick schemes. True wealth takes time and hard work.

Adopt a spendthrift lifestyle.

When millionaires are studied, they surprise researchers. They’re not living in upscale neighborhoods and driving fancy cars. They treat their income like a business: spending the least possible and investing the rest. It’s not unheard of for future millionaires to invest half of their household income.

Make money from your hobby.

If there’s something you could do all day, every day, do it. The trick is finding a way to make your passion into a profitable enterprise. You can expect to fail along the way, but getting back up to try again is what separates millionaires from middle managers. Don’t be afraid to spend hours and weekends on your “side business” – it might be your bread and butter someday.

Start saving right now.

It’s all about doing the math. Most millionaires invested in the stock market for a long time, reinvesting dividends and letting compound interest do all the work.

Find an online calculator and figure out how much you’ll need to invest each month to be a millionaire by the time you’re 60, assuming you’re earning an average 7 percent return. You might be surprised.

Keep cool and play the long game.

Impatience is the enemy of wealth. It makes people buy and sell too often, and it makes them abandon promising businesses that don’t explode into success overnight.

It takes a while for investments to start ballooning into real money, and even then, you’re going to want to leave them alone. If it were easy to run your own business, everyone would do it. So take a deep breath and realize you’ve got a long way to go.

Always be hustling for more income.

If you’re not a natural entrepreneur, consider investing in real estate. A rental property that will bring in more money than you pay to maintain it is a great investment. Do some research to figure out the up-and-coming neighborhoods in your area. The quicker you own your rental property outright, the quicker you’ll be looking at steeper profits.

Your 401(k) is your tax-free friend.

You might as well take advantage of the federal government’s wealth-building program: the 401(k) account. First, put in the maximum amount allowed by law ($18,000 a year as of 2016). Leave it in there, earning compound interest, and if your mutual funds return a 7 percent profit while you’re socking away that $18,000 a year, you’ll be a millionaire in 23 years. If you can’t afford to put away $18K a year, put away as much as possible.

Five summer vacation spots that won’t break the bank

IMG_3571.JPGSometimes, you just have to get away and take in some new scenery. Good thing America is full of destinations where you can choose how much you want to spend once you get there.

Yellowstone National Park

A road trip to one of America’s natural wonders will take you past enough landmarks to justify a vacation unto themselves: South Dakota’s Black Hills, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, the Grand Tetons and more. Take out an almanac and plot different courses there and back for variety.

Just be sure to leave enough time in Yellowstone itself, where you could spend weeks exploring geysers, waterfalls, jewel-toned hot springs, canyons and wildflowers. Bears, bison and elk provide even more photo opportunities in the park.

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Lodging in the nearby towns of Jackson Hole, Cody and West Yellowstone is available at varied pricing levels, so book as far in advance as you can. You can also take a tent and camp at one of the 2,000 sites within the park if you reserve it in time. Eating within Yellowstone can be pricey, so pack a cooler with food and drinks at a grocery store outside the park every day.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach is a popular tourist destination, with lots of flights going in and out every day on discount carriers. Look for sales on individual airlines’ sites as well as popular travel booking sites to get the best deal. There is no shortage of beachfront condo-style hotels competing to fill rooms, either.

Once you get there, Myrtle Beach has a lot to offer besides the beach. The world-class Ripley’s Aquarium is the city’s biggest draw, with the Family Kingdom Amusement Park & Water Park close behind. Companies offer ziplining, kayaking, boating and diving for the active vacationer – or you can just sit on the beach and relax.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston has more history per square mile than any other city in America. Once you get there, you can discover the city’s rich Revolutionary War heritage on foot on your own or with the help of a guided walking tour. Business travel makes downtown hotels close to attractions, like the waterfront and theater district, popular during the week, with better deals on weekend nights.

One money-saving deal to consider is the Go Boston Card, which lets you skip lines and gets you into a long list of destinations at a discounted price. You can choose which kind of card you want based on the number of places you want to visit, or just custom-load one according to your plans.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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Once you’re out of spring break territory, this Florida beach city calms down into a destination for wide sandy coastlines, open-air dining and water sports like kayaking. The city’s arts district has grown up around Las Olas Boulevard, packed with galleries, boutiques and world-class dining. If you get tired of the city and beach, you can take a boat tour into the Everglades or tour a historic estate.

You can fly into Fort Lauderdale, but you can also check for cheaper flights into Miami and West Palm Beach. Once you’re there, you can take water taxis on the canals or use the city’s trolley service along the beach and downtown. Finding a beachfront hotel in your price range might not be as hard as you think, especially in summer, because of all the competition.

Austin, Texas

Austin has carved out a reputation that stands apart from the rest of Texas. The state capital is also the world’s live music capital, with a thriving cultural scene and welcoming attitude that keeps it hopping year round. Austin has a well-developed bus and light-rail system that connects downtown to the airport. You can also rent a bike and use the city’s system of lanes and trails.

Because Austin is such a popular destination – you’ll want to avoid the South by Southwest festival if you’re keeping costs down – it has a lot of available places to rent via services like Airbnb. There are also affordable rooms at hostels near 6th Street, ground zero for Austin’s late-night live music scene.

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Wherever you end up going this summer, a little research beforehand will save you money on hotels and transportation. But once you’re at your vacation spot, don’t be afraid to ask the locals their opinions on the best diners or dive bars. They’ll steer you to great, under-the-radar places you might not find in your guidebook.

Vacations are about making memories, so concentrate on finding the kind of unforgettable experiences that money just can’t buy.

Wild About Saving

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Let your kids get wild this month. (About saving, that is.)

April is Youth Month, when credit unions look for ways to help kids learn about the value of a dollar. There are many ways to do this, but if you need some fresh ideas keep reading.

Give them examples they understand.

Our furry friends in nature are always busy setting some great examples for ways to get wild about saving. Squirrels for instance – the bushy-tailed savers spend months stockpiling mushrooms, acorns and tree cones for the winter. Deer mice construct intricate tunnel systems under the snow to hide their supplies of seeds. Beavers take the time, even during dam-building season, to gnaw down saplings of aspen and cottonwood for safekeeping in their ponds. If wild animals can do it, so can your little critters!

Make money part of the daily conversation.

When your little one asks for the toy of the moment, throws out food, or even plays with mommy’s purse, bring up the idea of finances in a non-threatening way. When children ask why you have to go to work every day, have an answer ready: “I would rather spend all day with you and Timmy, but going to work means we have money for this house, your dinner and all your toys.” Talk about money in ways that stresses its value as something to be earned, valued and conserved.

Incorporate games and books.

Monopoly is the classic board go-to for teaching kids about saving and investing, but it’s not the only game in town. Cashflow for Kids, The Game of Life and The Allowance Game are just three options among many that build money consciousness among children as young as 5, emphasizing responsibility and planning for real-life events.

Take them shopping.

Turn your weekly grocery trip into an educational experience. Start by having your kids make a list, broken down into “needs” and “wants” for the family. Put them in charge of coupons. At the store, challenge them to comparison-shop for prices among name brands and generic labels. Reward them by choosing between the “wants” on the list, so they’ll learn that spending less per item means better snacks down the road.

Set up an allowance system.

Some families keep allowances simple, with a set amount per week, while others create complex systems where kids can earn more by doing chores. The key is to be consistent about the rules while offering guidance. Smaller kids might need permission to break into their piggy banks, while middle-schoolers can be allowed more independence. Once they’re teens, make them responsible for budgeting their own gas, movie tickets and fashion statements.

Encourage them to set goals.

Kids are bombarded with images of stuff they suddenly really, really want. Talk to them about how long it will take them to save up for that blinking gadget or those talking boots, and they might reconsider. Or they could surprise you by faithfully socking away enough for their dream toy. Both possibilities are valuable learning experiences.

Let them make mistakes.

Don’t feel the need to step in every time your youngster blows his allowance on candy. It’s easier to learn hard lessons about money in kindergarten than college, where credit cards and emergency loans get financially inexperienced students in hot water.

 

Spending Freeze: Day 9

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can see it. The weekend is near. You’re probably practicing your victory dance.

However, day 10 falls on a Friday. (Day 9 prompt) How will you spend your last Friday freezing? Will it be the hardest day of all, or the easiest?

Spending Freeze: Day 8

We all have those items that aren’t technically “necessary,” but are items we feel are essential to our daily lives, how we see ourselves, or our own mental sanity. For example, manicures, eye brow waxes, contacts, hair color treatments, etc. They aren’t necessary, but they feel necessary.

Day 8 prompt: What are your unnecessary but “essential” items? Which ones do you think you could cut, or cut back on?

Spending Freeze: Day 7

Today marks the one-week point in our 10-day freeze. We love the support and collaboration happening among you all. Just a few more days! It sounds like there are many worthy projects, items and events the prize money could contribute to.

Day 7 prompt: If you win the $250 prize, what will you do with it?

(Aside from this of course)

Spending Freeze: Day 3

Ohhh the weekend. We have arrived. When the temptations are strong and motivations run low.

You leave work like …

Then you tell your friends you can’t go out because you’re ‘freezing’ and they react like …

However, there is plenty of greatness to discover when options are limited on a Friday night. Dust off those board games, dig out the old gaming consoles, bribe your friends to have a chill night in.

We believe in you.

Day 3 prompt: Where will you look for free fun this weekend?

Spending Freeze: Day 2

Day 2 of the Freeze is underway. Usually one of the most painful days, due to realizing what your daily spending habits actually are. Like that morning latte or late-night online shopping frenzy. However, stay strong! Losing old habits can open opportunities for new, healthier ones.

Day 2 prompt: What are some strategies you’ve used to keep yourself from shopping online?

Day 14: Hit the Movies Early

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Aside from the fact that matinee sounds hilariously similar to manatee (sea cow, duh), a matinee is also a super cheap way to entertain your date. Show off that savvy, frugal side. Sure the movie was only four bucks, but all the more $$ to splurge on popcorn right? Wrong. Fill up beforehand. Those movie theater snacks are wildly overpriced. Your date will not think you’re cheap, if they’re cool, they’ll be feverishly impressed.

Oh, you’re way passed dating and have actually produced some munchkins who may or may not be terrorizing your home? Take ‘em to a matinee. Perfect way to get an hour or so of peace.

For more tips on ways to save at the movies, click here.