When An 18-Year Old Learns How to Become a Millionaire

July 12, 2018

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Have you ever encouraged someone to do something positive in their lives for a long time and then FINALLY they do it? This happened to me recently and I could not be happier with the result.

Last month, I checked Facebook and discovered this message from my sister:

Look what I found when I opened up the family computer this morning! :-O Thank you so much for having such a positive influence on my 18-year old!

My 18-year old nephew is signing up for his first Roth IRA account! I'm so happy for him!

If he starts investing at 18-years old, the power of compound interest will make him a free, happy and wealthy millionaire.

Compound Interest Wins

Since he's been such a hard worker this year, he has $2,000 already saved. If he puts that $2k into a Roth IRA this year and then doesn't touch it until he's 60, he'll have around $50,000! (This assumes an 8% interest rate compounded annually)

Let's say he contributes the same amount annually until he's 60 … approx. $700,000!

And then how about the current Roth IRA maximum annual contribution of $5,500 per year? That'll get him to around $1,700,000! He's a millionaire in the making!

The green/blue line above represents “without compound interest” and the red line represents “with compound interest”. See how it spikes?!

Are We Prepared for Retirement?

According to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, the average retirement savings for people between the ages of 55 and 61 is $163,577.

At a 4% withdrawal rate, that equates to around $6,500 per year in annual living costs.

Can you live on $6,500?! Neither can I.

So … let's all (including me) do like my nephew is doing and invest early and often for our retirement savings.

Here are 5 things we can do today to increase our retirement savings:

Millionaire Tips, Investing Advice, Roth IRA

1. Start investing in your workplace 401k

The sooner we start investing, the more money we’ll have in retirement. The magic of compound interest works best when you give it time to compound. You may not be 18 years old like my nephew, but if you start investing today, it’s better than tomorrow … or next month … or next year!

You may be waiting for the next market crash, dip or recession. You are right that it’s coming, but I guarantee you don’t know when it’s happening. Time in the market is much better than timing the market. So get in, ride the roller coaster and don’t jump off.

2. Rebalance your 401k

Since the stock market has been on a tear for the past 9 years, your portfolio may be heavily weighted in equities. Take some time to balance your portfolio if you feel bonds should be a part of your mix.

Right now, I’m 90% stocks and 10% bonds because I’m a mid-30’s dude with 25 years to go to retirement. Every 6 months, I rebalance my retirement accounts using the Personal Capital Asset Allocation feature (it’s free by the way). This helps me understand my current investment breakdown and if I need to make any adjustments.

3. Lower Your 401k Fees

If you’re not aware of Index Funds, it’s time that they become your 401k’s best buds.

These mutual funds track a broad market index (like the S&P 500) thus providing you with a comparable return. Given that the average annualized total return for the S&P 500 index over the past 90 years is 9.8%, according to CNBC, you should be a very a happy index fund investor. And depending on your provider (ahem, Vanguard), you will get extremely low fees in comparison to traditional mutual funds.

For a quick, affordable way to lower your fees without all of the hassles of researching investment options yourself, check out blooom. This robo-advisor will help you with 401k diversification, rebalancing and getting you the lowest fees possible all for the price of a monthly Netflix subscription.

Even if you don’t want to sign up for blooom's monthly service, they have a free 401k check up on their site. I did it. It’s eye-opening.

Related Post7 Free Money Tools That Will Help You Build Wealth Today

4. Automatically Contribute to an IRA

Outside of the office place 401k, you can take advantage of an IRA as well. Once you decide whether a Traditional or Roth IRA makes the most sense for your situation, set up automatic contributions to ensure you are consistently investing for your future.

Once something is automated in our lives (debt payments, retirement contributions, saving deposits), we forget that we even had access to the money. If we don’t see it or touch it, we won’t spend it!

5. Max Out Your Annual Contributions

If you have the means, max out your 401k and IRA to get the most financial benefit.

Right now, the maximum annual contribution limit for a 401k is $18,500 and $5,500 for an IRA (be sure to check the IRS website for up to date information). By contributing the maximum, you’re taking advantage of tax-favored options that will help you save more down the road. Less for Uncle Sam and more for you …

Your future self will thank you!

If you know a teenager who has an earned income this year, sit down with them and show them the power of compound interest. Use this calculator and figure it out together.

Who knows? That conversation you have with them might be the story they tell their grandkids about how they became a millionaire.

What ways are you investing for your retirement?

How can we get more young people to understand the importance of compound interest?

Please let me know in the comments below.


Andy Hill

Andy Hill, AFC® is the award-winning family finance coach behind Marriage Kids and Money - a platform dedicated to helping families build wealth and happiness. With millions of podcast downloads and video views, Andy’s message of family financial empowerment has resonated with listeners, readers and viewers across the world. When he's not "talking money", Andy enjoys being a Soccer Dad, singing karaoke with his wife and relaxing on his hammock.


  • My dad started me with a Roth as a teenager one year instead of paying me directly for my work with the family business. Unfortunately, we didn’t talk about diversification or continued contributions much. If we had, Who knows what that thing would be worth almost two decades later!

    I will endeavor to share more of the “why” with the Little Thrifties, along with the “what”!

    • Your Dad is a smart one!

      I’m investigating ways to get a Roth going for my 6 & 4 year old. Perhaps involving them in my business somehow.

      Thanks again for the share!

  • Brilliant move. I started at age 20. I am almost 42 now. Starting saving and investing at a young age as given me a financial cushion that I otherwise would have never had. If your young relative sticks with it, he will be set up nicely in the future.

    • That’s so inspiring to hear! I hope he does stick with it … he’s a smart guy so I think he will.

  • We waste our youth! We should have a class in school that teaches every kid about the power of compounding in all areas of life.

    • I have a feeling you and I are going to get into this in Philly! See you soon!

  • I recently wrote about my personal compound interest growth from 2002 until now. I wasn’t quite 18 in 2002, but I was 25. Despite the 2008 recession and other recessions, my compound interest chart looks like a regular compound interest chart…my today self thanks my 2002-self!

    • I love it! Here’s proof people!!

      Congratulations on jumping in the roller coaster and not jumping out. That must’ve been rough during ‘08 / ‘09!


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