6 Expert Tips to Become a Self-Made Millionaire

  • I asked financial advisors and accountants for the patterns they see among their self-made millionaire clients.
  • They said these clients have emergency savings, take full advantage of employer benefits, and play the long game.
  • They also work hard and stick to a budget to make choices for their money. 
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

This year, a few people I know became self-made millionaires.

When they added up their net worth, from the cash in their savings accounts to their investment portfolios, they were worth seven figures. After hearing that, I became even more determined to fix up my own finances and aim for that millionaire status at some point in the future — perhaps before I turn 40 (I’m currently 33).

To help get on the path of quitting financial mistakes and staying focused on smart strategies, I chatted with financial advisors and accountants, and asked them to share the best things their clients did in 2021 to become self-made millionaires. Here’s what they had to say.

1. They have emergency funds

When we think about building wealth, it’s important to also think about managing risk. That’s why financial planner Justin Nabity says that millionaire clients have emergency funds.

“Having a substantial financial reserve that you can access in an emergency goes a long way,” says Nabity. “A rainy-day fund that is instantly ready for withdrawals can help you afford an unexpected need, such as an urgent car repair or medical bills. You won’t have to put the cost on a high-interest credit card or take out a personal loan this way.”

Nabity says most of his clients have six to nine months’ worth of monthly spending, but that you should do what works best for your cash flow.

2. They take advantage of employer offerings

If you’re someone working at a company, you could be missing out on opportunities that can help you grow your net worth. Nabity says it’s important to thoroughly review your employer’s benefit options, since companies may provide more than simply retirement plans; they can also assist you in saving money and investing to increase your earnings.

Nabity says it could be beneficial to check to see if your employer offer programs such as:

  • workplace retirement match
  • group life and disability insurance from your employer (buying these insurance policies separately can save you a lot of money)
  • employer Health Savings Account (some employers will match your payments up to a specific amount if you qualify for an HSA)
  • Employee Stock Purchase Plans

3. They play the long game

While we might feel eager to find ways to become self-made millionaires as soon as possible, Wesley Botto, a financial planner and accountant, says that many of his clients have built their wealth by hammering the nail over a long period of time.

“Even some clients with a more modest income throughout their lives have managed to become millionaires by saving consistently over a long period of time,” says Botto. “Many of our clients contribute to their company retirement plans, but the wealthiest find a way to save beyond their retirement plans.”

4. They work more than an average person

If becoming a self-made millionaire is a priority in your life, Scott Hastings, a CFA, says that you might have to work more than you think.

“For a couple of years, you may have to work more than an average person and even work on weekends and holidays,” says Hastings. “This way, you are earning faster and tracking your income better. I remember my client telling me that he’s not really after the money — rather, he is after the freedom that comes with the money.”

5. They have a budget

Becoming wealthy isn’t just about making money, It’s also about being strategic with your finances. Accountant Andrew Lokenauth says clients who maintain a budget track their money more effectively.

“Not having a budget makes it hard to know where you are spending your money, or difficult to have control over your spending in general,” says Lokenauth. “Once you have an idea of your financial situation, you can invest additional cash into the stock market.”

6. They find ways to earn more

If you’re working to become a millionaire, it helps if you also have a plan to increase your income. Lokenauth says a great strategy is working towards a raise or promotion at work, finding a new job with a higher salary, or working on a “side hustle.”

“The most efficient way to land a raise is to keep a document and every week update it with your accomplishments, problems you have solved, and value you have added at work,” says Lokenauth. “Then, when it is time for your annual review or time to discuss a raise, you will have many examples of why you deserve a raise.”