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How to become a millionaire by 30

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There's not a student alive who hasn't dreamed about having a bottomless bank account. We reveal the best millionaire habits so you can join the super-wealthy.

millionaire mansion shopping money cars

Credit: (background) Tern99, (upper left) Inked Pixels, (bottom left) Yousang – Shutterstock

We've all dreamt of countless holidays to far-away destinations and splashing the cash on the luxuries we've always wanted. But, the chances are you're resigned to this never becoming more than a daydream.

However, becoming a millionaire isn't as difficult as you might think. Lots of people prove each year that you don't have to be a banker, lottery winner or be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to build up your wealth to seven figures.

So, here's our ultimate guide to getting your hands on that million by 30. Let's get rich!

What makes a millionaire?

Let's start with a bit of a disclaimer: a million pounds just isn't what it used to be.

It's getting easier to become a millionaire with every day that passes, thanks to things like inflation. And for many budding rich-listers, being wealthy is more a question of lifestyle and not having to worry about your finances, than the number in your bank account.

To live like a millionaire, you don't actually need to have a million pounds in the bank. 99% of 'millionaires' don't. But to actually be a millionaire, you'll have to be on top of your finances and investments!

Being a millionaire can mean all sorts of things. In this guide, we're essentially going to map out a realistic path to building up your wealth beyond £1,000,000.

We've suggested a few 'quick' ways to become a millionaire at the end for those who just can't wait... but stick with us for the foolproof guide first!

How to become a millionaire

Here are our top tips for becoming a millionaire:

  1. Set goals

    red pen ticking boxes

    Credit: Kenishirotie – Shutterstock

    The money game is a long slog – cash doesn't grow on trees. Before you embark on your millionaire challenge, it's vital that you have a clear life plan. If you're serious about this then you need to know how to achieve it, not just dream it!

    You need to work out a feasible and realistic route to making your millions. When doing so, draw on your skills, experience and ambitions.

    When it comes to setting income goals, think about when you'd like to retire. Most retirees are 'pensioners' because they're living off a pension which covers their living costs. But you want to live like a millionaire, right?

    To get to this level of income without working requires a fairly sizeable pension, plus earning a decent amount of passive income every month on your capital assets.

    If you want to really live it up post-work, set an income goal before you retire that doesn't require you to work anymore.

    This number will vary for everyone, but whatever it is, pick one and work to it. Instead of retiring at 70, you might find you're able to retire at 58 because you've reached your goal.

    By the time you give up work, your investment portfolio becomes your income portfolio. We go into more detail about how investing will help you become a millionaire below.

  2. Budget every month

    Practising some basic budgeting and money-saving skills as soon as possible will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. Don't just write it off as 'something you'll do another day'!

    If you haven't already got it, download our free Student Money Cheat Sheet. There are loads of great tips in there to get you started.

    Sticking to your budget takes discipline, but the sooner you get into the millionaire mindset of buying assets instead of liabilities, the better. Most millionaires don't run around buying Lamborghinis all the time while cracking open the champagne at breakfast.

    In fact, that's part of the reason why they're millionaires in the first place. Instead of splashing the cash at every given opportunity, they've allowed their money to grow.

    They say that "a fool and his cash are soon parted", and that's a fairly decent motto to live by if you want to join the super-rich.

  3. Start as soon as possible

    piggy bank with glasses

    Credit: TierneyMJ – Shutterstock

    Time is a valuable asset, especially when it comes to saving and investing money. So the sooner you start, the better chances you have of becoming a millionaire.

    Use any spare time you have (aside from studying and partying) to earn some cash. It's a good idea to land a part-time job, but it can also pay off to be more creative.

    Check out our quick ways to make money guide.

    Or why not start up a small business of your own if you have something to offer? Not only will this pull in some additional cash, but you'll be testing out your entrepreneurial skills before you've even graduated.

    There's no avoiding the fact you'll have to start repaying your Student Loan, but not straight away (if ever). It's not like other debt and won't affect your future goals of raking in the big bucks.

    And you might find that sometimes you do have a few quid to spare, especially when the loans come in. Get into the habit of putting this into the savings account that makes the most financial sense to you (easy access is best at this stage). You'll be surprised how much interest you can earn on it during your time at uni.

    At the same time, remember to cut down on spending. Avoid having a car and think carefully before splashing out on big-ticket items if you don't really need them.

  4. Put money in a tax-free ISA

    One of the reasons why people will never become millionaires is simply because they don't know how to.

    There are lots of competing options out there fighting for you to invest in them. You need to think smart and do your homework on what's available to you and what will give you the best return.

    In the UK, tax-free cash ISAs are one of the best ways to consistently build up your savings.

    Why get a tax-free cash ISA?

    Every year, each person in the UK over the age of 16 has an allowance of money (£20,000 maximum) they can put in a tax-free savings account, called an ISA. Once your money's in the account, it stays tax-free, FOREVER.

    If you don't use up your ISA allowance in a particular year, you lose that opportunity.

    So if you've got a bit of spare money lying around, it's worth thinking about putting it in an ISA.

    You can move to a different ISA provider every year if you want to, so shop around for the best rate.

    The top interest rates are usually around 4-5%. So, if you deposit £20,000 in one of the best ISAs, you could be earning £1000 over the year in tax-free interest.

    You may argue that basic-rate taxpayers get £1,000 of interest tax-free each year, so there's no point in opening an ISA right now. Indeed, if a basic-rate taxpayer chose to invest £20,000 in a 5% savings account instead of an ISA with the same interest rate, they'd still receive £1000.

    But this tip isn't for the here and now – it's for the future. Say you sell your business, or get a significant pay rise. All of a sudden you're not a basic-rate taxpayer, and your tax-free interest allowance drops to £500 or possibly nothing, depending on your earnings. All that interest you're earning is going to be taxed in a big way.

    So, given that there are no real disadvantages to keeping your money in an ISA instead of a regular savings account, and some fairly significant advantages, we'd say it's a no-brainer.

    For more on ISAs, read our guide on the best ISA accounts.

  5. Invest in yourself

    man in library

    Credit: wavebreakmedia – Shutterstock

    One of the most profitable investments you'll ever make is investing in yourself. And we don't mean getting the most expensive haircuts and designer outfits. We mean investing in your skills, mindset and knowledge.

    Developing your skills can help you climb the corporate ladder and create passive income streams outside of your job. Plus, working on your mindset and knowledge around money lets you make better financial decisions that will set you up for a better future. We have a list of books about money to get you started.

    And don't forget to look after your body and mind. Creating financial freedom is fantastic, but if your physical and mental health is suffering, it's hard to enjoy the millionaire lifestyle.

  6. Work in an industry that you love and pays well

    In order to maximise your income, you should try to secure a well-paid graduate job. Having said that, think carefully about the career you want to embark on: one you will enjoy and can progress quickly in.

    Graduate schemes are often the best way to kick off your career on a high earner early on. Many companies offer graduate salaries of £40,000 a year (if not more)!

    If you're finding it hard to get on the career ladder, get a part-time role for the time being while you job hunt. And, if you're really struggling to find any paid work, don't be afraid to sign on at the Job Centre for a short period.

  7. Start your own business

    The fast-track method of becoming rich in your twenties is to start a high-growth, high-return business with a plan to exit within five years or so.

    But, of course, there's absolutely no guarantee you'll even make a penny, and the risk can often outweigh your other options for building a long-term income.

    It's important to have a well-researched idea and a solid business plan before you start, as well as a clear picture of how you'll support yourself when there's no money coming in.

    Having said all this, there may never be a better time to start in business than as a graduate. Your responsibilities are minimal and even if it all goes wrong, you've got a wealth of experience to build on and take forward.

    Ben Lebus started MOB Kitchen straight out of uni and is a big hit among students, boasting around a million Instagram followers!

    If you're looking for inspiration, you can start with our own list of business ideas.

  8. Invest in the stock market using index-trackers

    stock prices showing up and down

    Credit: Pavel Ignatov – Shutterstock

    If you're not familiar with the stock market, it can all seem a bit daunting. Index-tracker funds are really straightforward and consistently beat the vast majority of actively-managed hedge funds over the long term.

    In simple terms, these funds are a collective investment that follows the movements of a whole financial market (e.g. the FTSE 100).

    Advantages of index-tracker investments

    • Very low-cost (automated trading does away with expensive traders)
    • Require little market knowledge
    • Removes emotion and the need to pick the right stocks
    • Easy to manage online
    • Can be held in a Stocks and Shares ISA for tax-free returns
    • Maximises the magic of compound interest (where interest is made on interest).

    This sort of investment works best when it's given several years to appreciate and mature. Think of it as a long-term venture rather than a get-rich-quick scheme.

    Start by reading our guide on investing money.

    And if you really want to learn how to make your millions using this strategy, then read Andrew Hallam's Millionaire Teacher (highly recommended). Of course, if you're a complete novice, you'll want to read our guide explaining how the stock market works.

    But remember that there is always a risk when investing your money.

  9. Diversify your income and investments

    Never keep all your eggs in one basket. Over the years, you should aim to build up a portfolio of wise investments that will get you set for when you retire.

    A good income portfolio would ideally include a mix of:

    All of these are sources of sustained income. This kind of balanced portfolio will leave you in a position to enjoy your retirement, rather than wondering how you'll afford it.

    And with the UK's state pension getting worse each year, that's a very good position to be in!

    Not yet checked whether you have a Child Trust Fund? Make sure you do in case you're owed money in savings.
  10. Get on the property ladder

    When renting a property, it's easy to feel like you're throwing cash down the drain every month.

    Of course, there are lots of benefits to renting. But, once you're a little more settled financially and you know where you want to live long-term, it's a good idea to start thinking about getting on the property ladder.

    Why continue filling a landlord's pockets with your hard-earned cash when you could be paying monthly towards your own place?

    You may be quite happy living with your parents for a few years after you graduate and building up your cash reserves (check out the Lifetime ISA too). But, once you've gathered enough for a deposit, it's time to start house hunting!

    What are the benefits of buying a property?

    Once you've bought your first house or flat, you'll probably be paying much less every month in mortgage repayments than you had been forking out on rent. And you actually have a place of your very own at the end of it.

    Historically, property prices follow a strong upward trend so you really are investing in your future.

    If you're in a good financial position, then considering a buy-to-let investment is the next step to financial freedom.

    So long as you can get the initial deposit down and get a good mortgage deal that is less than the rental income, you're on the fast track to being rather rich.

    Again, you're likely to benefit from a rise in overall property prices. This means you can bring in big bucks by selling at the peak of the market and buying at the bottom.

    Of course, there is the whole issue of getting a deposit together, and that's a lot easier said than done.

    But the budgeting skills you honed as a student will help you put a plan in place to save up the necessary amount.

  11. Get to grips with your pension

    elderly couple looking at laptop

    Credit: fizkes – Shutterstock

    Retirement might seem like a long way off yet. But, sorting out a pension fund before you hit 30 is a very wise move.

    The benefits of pensions in growing your wealth are on a par with index-tracker investments. Even putting a modest amount into a pension fund now can make a big difference in the future. Remember, time is crucial if you want to reap the benefits of compound interest.

    As with many of the other tips on this page, the key thing is to grow your knowledge of these major types of investment products available to you.

    If you're employed, you may receive a workplace pension. If so, ask for details about the provider, as you're free to opt for a better or cheaper plan elsewhere.

  12. Write a will

    Remember, whatever happens, you can't take it all with you after you're gone. After a lifetime of saving and building up your wealth, you want it to fall into the right hands when you're gone.

    It can be worth seeking professional legal and tax advice to make sure you have a strategy that maximises the beneficiaries of your will. And don't wait until you've gone grey – the earlier, the better!

Make sure you're not wasting your cash on any of these common student money-drainers.

Quick ways to become a millionaire legally

Above, we've been through the long but effective road to becoming a millionaire. That is, scrimping and saving as a graduate and building a well-balanced and sustained investment portfolio in your 30s onwards.

If that doesn't appeal to you, there are other more creative ways to become very rich in a shorter time frame:

  • Move abroad  With a healthy bank balance, you can live like royalty in some countries like India, Mexico and Thailand.
  • Lotteries, premium bonds, game shows and competitions  This method, of course, all comes down to luck. But, for a (very) small group of people, a punt has paid off big time.
  • Career choice  This guide has mostly focused on investing. But, get into a high-paying industry or job and you might be driving the flash car quicker than you think.
  • Sell a business  We touched on this, but there's still lots more to be said for starting up a company, adding value, generating sales and flogging it on.
  • Matched betting  This is a way to gain profit from free bet promotions offered by betting companies. You must be over 18. See our guide to matched betting to find out more.
  • Property development  Adding value to houses is, without a doubt, a great way to build wealth relatively quickly.
  • Inheritance  You probably haven't got much choice in this one. But, you can always send a Christmas card to long-lost wealthy relatives, just in case.

A million isn't what it used to be, but it's still more than enough to give you a very comfortable lifestyle. Making wise investment choices will help your cash to stand the test of time (a.k.a. inflation, your biggest wealth enemy).

Whether you've got a couple of tenners spare, or perhaps a couple of thousand, give some serious thought to what you should do with it...

Check out the UK's millionaires for more inspiration on how to make money moves!

Owen Burek


Owen is the founder of Save the Student, the leading student money website he started in 2007. He's passionate about educating young people about personal finance and ways to make extra money. Owen has appeared on BBC News and writes for major publications including The Guardian, Entrepreneur and HuffPost.
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