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How to Make a Million Dollars

19 Legitimate Ways to Make a Million Dollars In 2019

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How to Make a Million Dollars (It Won't Happen Overnight)

Table of Contents

Who among us doesn't know of the Great American Dream?

The set of ideals declares that America is the land of the free, where democracy reigns and everyone has an equal opportunity for success and prosperity.

Which leads to the central topic of this article: it's entirely possible to make a million dollars. In fact, it's easier than you think.

But it won't happen overnight.

The first million is actually the hardest to earn, as it takes money to make money. Once you reach it though, your money will start to do the hard work for you.

So, let's get started on how to make your first million!

Start Early

The best way to make a million dollars is to start early. There are a number of decisions that can (and should) be made while you're younger, that will help you on your way to making your first million.

Don't see these as one-stop options, however. While it's certainly possible to make a million dollars following just one of these ideas, it will take you longer to do so. Your best option is to evaluate our suggestions and see how many of them you can feasibly follow.

1. Pick the Right Major

While there are many different ways to get started, a college education will definitely make it easier to achieve your goal sooner – especially if you pick the right major.

With a 4-year college degree, you could earn upwards of 66% more than your peers with a high school diploma. And while their unemployment rate sits at 5.4%, college degree holders only face a rate of 2.8%. If you have a doctorate, that drops even further to 1.7%.

This is even more true when you pick the right major.

The Best Paying Career Paths

To help you pick the right major, here are a list of the best paying career paths and their average annual earning potentials (early career):

  1. Pharmacist – $110,000
  2. Actuary – $107,740
  3. Economist – $99,180
  4. Information Security Analyst – $93,250
  5. Petroleum Engineer – $89,000
  6. Intelligence Analyst – $86,100
  7. Health and Safety Supervisor – $83,320
  8. Systems Engineer – $68,000
  9. Nursing – $53,300
  10. Accountant – $49,349

How to Make the Most of a Lower-Paying Major

Already started (or even completed) college with a different major? Don't worry. It's still entirely possible to make more money following a different career path.

Here are a few tips on how to make the most of a lower-paying major:

  • Gain diverse experience using short-courses, online learning platforms, and/or choosing a minor that will complement your major positively.
    • Advance your degree beyond that of a Bachelor's – aim for a Master's or even a Doctorate, as this can significantly increase your earning potential.

Invest Your Money

Investment can seem like a scary prospect when starting out, but it's one of the best ways to grow your money. While there are always risks, if you use the right resources and invest wisely, there's potential to gain money (rather than lose it).

Here are 10 reasons to invest:

  1. Create wealth over time
  2. Save up for retirement
  3. Earn higher returns than with savings accounts
  4. Reach financial goals
  5. Build on your pre-tax dollars
  6. Potentially qualify for employer-matching programs
  7. Start and/or expand your own business
  8. Support yourself and others
  9. Reduce your taxable income
  10. Help new ventures get started

2. Start Investing Early

Just as choosing the right major will make earning your first million that much easier, so will investing early.

In his New York Times Best Seller, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi wrote that wealth isn't measured primarily by income, but rather by the way you save and invest. Even if you're earning less with a low-paying major, you can still earn your first million sooner than someone with a high-paying major if you start investing early.

We've found two great investment platforms to help you get started.

Betterment

Betterment was one of two investment platforms that pioneered robo-advisors.

Robo-advisors base their computer-generated investment advice on algorithmic data analysis. This reduces the risk of human error – one of the many reasons investing can be a risky venture.

Betterment offers a range of investment portfolios, with management fees of between 0.25% and 0.40%. The process is incredibly simple, with no account minimum (making it easier to start early). Plus, if you do want the human touch, Betterment does have human experts to supplement their robo-advisors.

Acorns

Acorns is another great investment platform well-worth joining.

For one, you'll get $5 as a registration reward, and you can use it via the Acorns app. Even better, instead of opting for the direct deposit route, you can use Acorns to supplement your Betterment investments by automating the process.

To do so, simply link your bank card and activate Round-Up. Every time you make a purchase, Acorns rounds-up the cost to the next dollar and invests the “change” for you.

Acorns Core only costs $1/month, and you'll see some appreciable returns without having to think about it.

3. Invest in Real Estate

For new investors especially, it may seem strange that investing in real estate is an option. After all, it used to be the domain of those who have already made their first million!

But depending on your starting capital, you can use one of these 2 great resources to invest in crowdfunded real estate or buy investment property.

It can take time to see considerable results, but it's become one of the most popular ways for new investors to make strides toward their first million dollars. Of course, you must also have the requisite patience and savvy.

Fundrise

The Fundrise Starter Portfolio is one of the best ways to get started in the commercial real estate market, with as little as $500.

Fundrise only charge 1% in running costs, which is 40% more cost-effective than almost all competitor public investment portfolios. And if you meet their criteria, you may even be eligible to have the investment advisory fee (0.15%/year) waived.

While Fundrise is very upfront about not guaranteeing returns, you ought to see 8.7% to 12.4%. With an investment of $500/month, that's about $522-$722/year earned.

Roofstock

If you're looking to buy and sell investment property, Roofstock is the marketplace for you.

Roofstock gives you access to as many as 40 markets in the US. You'll also benefit from their industry-leading guarantee, using their trusted technology to make your investments. To date, this technology has led to successful transactions of $1 billion+.

You'll be able to preview projected returns before making any purchases. For example, $15,220 down payment on a property worth $148,000 will give you $57,218 in returns over 5 years. This is calculated based on the current rental rate, $1,327.

4. Get Free Money With Your 401k

For many, the employer-sponsored 401k is their first investment foray. As a pre-tax paycheck reduction used for retirement savings with tax-free investment, it's an excellent introduction.

You may also qualify for employer-matching programs, as mentioned in our 10 reasons to invest. Basically, if 6% of your income gets put into your 401k, your employer might match with an extra 3%.

This means that you're essentially getting free money with your 401K. Even if you have relatively high-interest debt, you should look into your employer's matching program to make sure you invest enough to qualify.

Blooom

Employers generally offer you different investment options, such as stocks, bonds, and market investments. This is where most people start getting confused with their 401k investments.

Thankfully, there is a solution: Blooom. The investment platform focuses entirely on workplace retirement plans, using a straightforward model. There are no minimums and they charge $10/month as a flat management cost (which means the more you invest, the lower your running cost percentage).

Blooom uses their robo-advisor to help you make the best investment choices. All you need to do is sign up and provide the relevant data.

FutureAdvisor

If Blooom doesn't quite catch your fancy, then FutureAdvisor may be the option for you.

Also a robo-advisor, FutureAdvisor does manage IRA and taxable accounts (which Blooom doesn't). However, unlike similar platforms, you won't have to transfer your assets to them. Instead, they'll be held at Fidelity or TD Ameritrade.

FutureAdvisor evaluates your current investments. Based on their Modern Portfolio Theory, they'll recommend changes for you; personalized according to your investments and data rather than generic advice. You can also lock investments that you don't want to sell, so FutureAdvisor can recalibrate the recommendations it gives you.

5. Open a High-Yield Savings Account

High-yield savings accounts are exactly that: savings accounts that offer you a higher interest rate than regular savings accounts.

Like regular savings accounts however, high-yield savings accounts enable you to increase your savings by earning interest. If you're earning enough and keeping your monthly expenses low, consider opening a high-yield savings account in addition to your 401k and any other investments.

Of course, what you get out of it depends on what you put in. You also have the added benefit of being able to withdraw at any time if you run into an emergency.

CIT Bank

Easily the best option on the market is CIT Bank's Premier High-Yield Savings Account. Any time you need to access your savings, you'll be able to easily. There are no opening fees or maintenance charges, so all you need to get started is a $100 deposit.

Assuming that $100 deposit and $50 monthly installments are all you can afford when starting out, you can expect about $51 in returns by the end of your first year. That doesn't seem like much at first, but it steadily grows year by year, especially when you can afford higher installments.

Aspiration Account

While similar to CIT Bank's model, Aspiration Summit Accounts have no transaction or ATM fees. Even better, you'll be able to get started with just $10.

But to really get the most of the Aspiration Summit Account, you'll want to push for $2,500 in your account as soon as possible. Once you hit this threshold, you'll benefit from a 1% annual percentage yield.

What this means is that if you're able to start off with a $2,500 deposit and $50 monthly installments, you'll have $6,560 in returns in 10 years.

Be Smart About Debt

While not everyone will accrue debt in their lifetime, for most of us it's unavoidable.

The key is to be smart about debt. Borrowing beyond your means will only hinder you on your path to making a million dollars. You need to understand your debt-to-income threshold, which is the amount of debt you accrue versus the value of your liquid assets.

If you use debt wisely, it can be helpful – not only in your personal life, but your professional life as well.

6. Good Debt and Bad Debt

One of the most important lessons to bear in mind when it comes to debt is that not all debt is the same. There's both good debt and bad debt.

You can think of good debt as an investment: while you're spending money now, you know you can expect to see returns on it in the future. Good debt typically charges low-interest rates too.

Bad debt, on the other hand, has higher interest rates, such as credit card debt. Ideally, bad debt should only be accrued to help you pay for emergency expenses.

Being Smart About Good Debt

While debt can be good, you will still want to pay it off in a smart manner.

69% of all 2018 college students have an average of $29,800 in student loan debt. Americans owe more than $156 trillion in student loans debt – about $521 billion more than the total US credit card debt.

Student loans have an interest rate of 2% to 4%. You can refinance it through Earnest for an even lower interest rate. Even lowering your interest rate by 1% will save you thousands in the long-term.

BONUS: Should You Wait Until Your Student Loan is Paid Off Before Investing?

It may be tempting to wait until you've paid your student loan in full before you start investing – but this is actually a bad idea.

As we've already mentioned above, it's always better to start investing as soon as possible – even if you can only afford to start small.

If you're earning enough to be able to match your student loan payments and investment deposits, you can actually make more money this way. After all, the average return rate on the stock market is 7%.

Being Smart About Bad Debt

Because bad debt has such high interest rates, you need to pay it off as quickly and efficiently as possible.

One of the best ways is to use the snowball method. Sit down with all your debts and list them in order from smallest to highest according to their dollar amount. Put as much money into paying off the lowest amount as you can, while paying the minimums on the higher debts.

Once a debt is paid off, move onto the next one using the same method.

Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is one of the worst debts you can possibly have. The interest rates are typically very high – in the double digits.

The best approach to credit cards is to avoid accruing debt in the first place. Pay off your credit card purchases immediately if possible, as the snowball method isn't always the most effective way to deal with credit card debt.

If you already have credit card debt, use the avalanche method instead. It can take longer to consolidate your collective debt, but by prioritizing your credit card payments, you'll end up paying less in total interest.

Starter Credit Cards

Starter credit cards are one of the best ways to establish and improve credit standing. If you've:

  • Never had a US loan or credit card
  • Misused credit in the past and have bad credit standing
  • Had your credit card for less than 3 years

– you should definitely think about getting one.

Here are 7 starter credit cards to consider:

  1. Capital One® Platinum Credit Card
  2. Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
  3. Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
  4. Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
  5. Discover It® Secured
  6. OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
  7. Deserve® Classic Mastercard

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

On the other hand, if your credit standing isn't that bad, you could apply for a balance transfer credit card instead.

With a balance transfer credit card, you typically benefit from a 12-month period with 0% APR, no annual fee, and 3% transfer fee. This gives you a year to pay off your credit card debt without accruing more interest.

Here are 7 balance transfer credit cards to consider:

  1. Chase Slate®
  2. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
  3. Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
  4. Citi Simplicity® Card
  5. The Blue Business? Plus Credit Card from American Express
  6. Discover It® Balance Transfer
  7. Wounded Warrior Project USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card

7. Mind Your Credit Score (Interest Rates)

Your credit score is going to heavily impact the amount of debt you accrue.

The interest rates you're offered in consolidating your loans is going to be partially determined by your credit score. Having a good credit score is therefore very important. If yours is pretty low, you'll ideally want to improve it before applying for any loans.

You don't have to worry about getting the perfect score (800) though – as long as you're sitting north of 760, you'll qualify for the best possible rates.

Credit Karma

Credit Karma is the number one platform for monitoring your credit score. Not only does Credit Karma allow you to calculate your current credit score for free, they also have a host of other features.

With Credit Karma monitoring, you'll receive notification alerts whenever there's an important change on your credit report. You can also get insights on what you can do to improve your credit score, as well as other factors that can affect it.

Credit Karma will also give you personalized recommendations on how you can be smart about your credit score.

WalletHub

If you're looking for an alternative to Credit Karma, search no further than WalletHub.

WalletHub is also 100% free. You'll be able to calculate your credit score and generate credit reports with daily updates, as well as enjoy detailed monitoring not only of your credit report, but on your savings as well.

And just like Credit Karma, WalletHub offers a host of insights on credit improvement. You can even use their free app (available for iOS and Android)!

More Money

If your goal is to make a million dollars, it's a given that you need to find ways to earn more money.

Luckily, there are a variety of ways to do so. Starting with your 9-5 and branching off into side hustles and other ways to earn extra cash, this section will help you find out some of the best ways to make more money.

8. Earn More (Get a Raise)

No matter what you're doing for your 9-5 job, take a moment to ask yourself: am I getting paid what I'm worth?

For that matter, are you even aware of how much you could and should be making? Chances are, you might think you've hit the threshold for what you can expect to earn – but there's also a high possibility that you're eligible for a raise and don't even realize it.

After all, employers don't often offer raises regularly – which means, if you want one, you need to ask for it.

Are You Paid What You're Worth?

First things first: you need to find out whether or not you really are getting paid what you're worth.

To do so, it helps to have a reference point for what others are making in your industry and position. But how to go about doing so?

Glassdoor and PayScale are both fantastic resources for this. You'll be able to view competitive pay rates in your industry and area, submitted anonymously by people just like you.

How to Ask For a Raise

  1. Make sure your groundwork research is in line with your company.
    1. Consider your request from your boss's perspective.
      1. Timing: don't expect a “yes” if the company's going through a rough patch.
        1. Be persistent: you're probably going to be told “no” a couple of times.
          1. Have a number in mind and keep it there: let your employer make an offer and then negotiate it.
            1. Treat every request as a second interview: you need to be able to sell yourself and defend your position on why you deserve a raise.

How to Negotiate Your Raise

  1. Justify your request by showing the monetary value of your contributions beyond what you were doing when your current pay was calculated.
    1. Remember that you both need to walk away happy. You're likely going to get a bit less than ideal.
      1. Give your employer a head's up that you'd like to discuss your pay. This gives them time to make their own evaluations (which can work in your favor).
        1. If you've received an offer from another company, use it to negotiate your raise request – especially if you like your current job.

Know When to Leave

Even if the negotiations go well, if the benefits for both jobs – things like insurance and vacation days, for example – are roughly similar… Then no matter how much you may like your current workplace, you're better off taking the new job instead.

Most raises are only going to be around 3.1% – 2.7% for employees with average performance ratings, 4.6% for the best employees.

By contrast, if you change jobs every 2 years on average, you stand a chance to make 50% more in the long-run.

9. Make More from Home Jobs

Just because you've got a degree in the right major and have negotiated a sweet raise, that doesn't mean you can't supplement your income. In today's economy, working a second-job is pretty much a necessity in any case.

Even more so if you want to make a million dollars.

You don't need to start handing out resumes to get another office job, or spend your evenings tending bar, though.

Here are our top 3 work from home jobs (and a few resources to help you make the most of them).

Blogging

It can take 2-3 years before a blog is making any real money (expect an average of around $1,280 for your first year). Fortunately, with persistence, you can end up making as much as $104,665-$170,000/year or more, even if it's just a side-hustle.

To get started, we recommend using BlueHost – you can use their basic package at $2.95/month. Find some affiliate partners with GiddyUp, as affiliate programs can eventually make $80,655-$119,720/year for you. (This is the closest you'll ever get to “easy money,” as long as you do it right.)

Virtual Assistant

If you have some experience as an assistant, you can earn a decent part-time income of $6,240-$23,400/year by becoming a virtual assistant.

Don't worry if you don't have prior experience though: the Horkey Handbook 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success course will teach you everything you need to know. Once you're ready, join a platform for getting virtual assistant jobs. Red Butler and Upwork are the two best marketplaces for this.

In fact, if you do go the Upwork route, with just 30 hours a week you could potentially earn $54,600/year.

Freelance Writer

One of the best part-time side-hustles for wordsmiths, becoming a freelance writer can rake in as much as $84,000/year.

It's best to have a blog. That's something of a requisite if you want to do guest blogging. At a potential of $4,000/month, it's definitely the most lucrative way to make money as a freelance writer. SmartBlogger's Guest Blogging Certification Program is the way to go (there's a $499 once-off fee).

You can also find freelance jobs on Upwork, the world's largest freelance marketplace.

10. Paid Surveys

Everyone has at least an hour a day to kill time: sitting on the train, during your lunch break, lying in bed winding down for sleep.

If you're serious about wanting to make a million dollars, you can monetize that time by participating in paid surveys. These are created for marketing research purposes, and can even be fun at times.

Dedicating an hour a day to each of the following two platforms can potentially create an extra $1,839.60/year. Pop that straight into your investment portfolios and let it grow even more.

Survey Junkie

Survey Junkie is a relatively new paid surveys platform, but they focus entirely on surveys.

You'll easily earn your first 130+ points just by joining and filling in your profile. You can then get started participating in surveys, which pay a varying number of points each. If you participate regularly, you'll soon start receiving higher-paying surveys and earn more.

Expect to make an average of around $3/hour with Survey Junkie. At an hour a day, that's about $1,095/year. You can also join their affiliate program to make a little more through commission.

Swagbucks

Swagbucks is one of the most popular online survey platforms, with over $325 billion paid out in rewards since 2005.

You'll get $10 as a joining bonus to get you started. All you need to do to receive it is earn at least 700 SB points in your first month. Considering there are a lot of ways to earn points with Swagbucks other than just participating in surveys, this is relatively easy to do.

Focusing only on surveys though, at an hour a day, you can make around $744.60/year.

11. Make Money Driving

If you've got your evenings and weekends free, a great way to make money to go toward your first million is by driving.

Your earning potential with either of the 2 platforms we've detailed below depends on a number of factors. First, you have to take your location and available hours into consideration. Some cities have a higher earning potential, and peak hour lifts pay more than regular hours.

If you want to maximize that earning potential, you can sign up for both of the following:

Uber

Uber is one of the most popular ride-sharing apps. While they don't offer any joining rewards (not since 2017), they do offer income guarantees. As an example, they might guarantee $500 earned with your first 60 rides. If you make less, Uber will pay the balance.

You can also simultaneously become an UberEats driver. Both models use the same app (iOS and Android), and you'll earn extra tips as well as pick-up and drop-off fees.

If you plan your rides properly, you can potentially do an UberEats delivery and passenger ride at the same time. Be careful trying to do that though – you don't want to make a customer angry.

Lyft

Unlike Uber, Lyft does offer a sign-up bonus of $300 for new drivers. Lyft also lets you join via their app (iOS and Android).

You can expect to make around the same amount as you would with Uber, calculated per minute and mile. As mentioned, you can maximize these earnings by balancing both platforms. When passengers are scarce on one, you may find that there are requests on the other. It's all about being smart about how you make money driving.

Budget and Save

While a budget isn't some kind of magic wand that you use to control your spending, it definitely makes it easier to do so.

A budget ought to help you do several things: keep you accountable, see what your expenses are, and better plan how to allocate money for those expenses. And when you add the tips we've added to help you save, it can really help you to make a million dollars.

12. Make a Budget

While there are a lot of things having a budget can help you out with, it's not always easy to set one up. Even if you did economics at school, creating a budget can be a little daunting.

But it's still going to be the practice that makes or breaks your progress. Thankfully, there are a few great resources you can use to make the process a whole lot easier – especially if this is the first time you're planning a budget.

Mint

Mint is one of the best online platforms for setting up a personalized budget.

To get started, sign up for free on their website. Mint will help you with your budgeting by suggesting a budget plan based on your income and spending. You can then adjust these suggestions to better fit your individual needs.

Mint can also help you with your budget categorization, investment tracking, bills, and your credit score. They also offer great advice on how to improve every aspect of your budget. You'll even get notifications for things like over-spending, fees being charged, or if there's any suspicious activity.

Personal Capital

Personal Capital is the number one alternative to Mint as a budgeting platform.

It's also 100% free, and offers all of the same resources and benefits as Mint does. Additionally, Personal Capital allows you to track your retirement goals. And if you have a child and are setting money aside for their college fees, Personal Capital helps you keep track of that too.

Personal Capital is constantly improving its own technology. You can use the platform by itself, or use it to compliment Mint if you'd prefer to use both.

Budget Categories

While both Mint and Personal Capital will help you with your budget categories, it's always best to jump in with as much information as possible.

The simplest way to go is to use the 50-30-20 method:

  • 50% of your income goes to essentials, such as housing, food, and utilities. Ideally, your mortgage or rent is going to be 30%.
    • 30% of your income goes toward lifestyle non-essentials, such as eating out, entertainment, and new clothing.
      • 20% of your income goes to the category most people forget – but it's the most important. This money is for consolidating debts, building your savings, and investment.

13. Avoid Fees

It's easy to overlook fees when thinking about your budget and ways to save money. After all, fees tend to be automatic: you don't need to use your credit card every month to pay them.

But you're still paying them. Luckily, there are ways to minimize or even avoid them.

The two biggest fees paid by the average American is bank fees and investing fees. That's around $290/year per household for the former… and a collective $600 billion/year for the latter.

Here's how to improve your spending by avoiding these fees.

Chime

Chime is one of the fastest-growing US bank accounts, and for good reason.

There are almost no fees at all. With no minimum balance, no overdraft, no monthly service fees, and no foreign transaction fees, it's very nearly free to have a Chime Spending Account and optional Savings Account. There are also over 38,000 MoneyPass® and Visa Plus Alliance ATMS, and more than 30,000 cash back locations – all fee-free.

Chime can also help you receive your monthly pay 2 days early. You'll also get instant notifications, and the Chime Visa Debit Card works like any other Visa card.

FeeX

The nearly $290/year savings in fee reductions you'll enjoy with Chime is still chump change compared to what you could save on your investment payments. Did you know that over time, these will cost you about 33% of your retirement fund?

That's where FeeX comes in.

FeeX analyzes your investments to show you exactly how much you're paying in fees and where. All you need to do is connect your accounts on the platform, and they'll do the rest. Once they've found cheaper alternatives for you that have the same allocation of assets, FeeX will help you save.

14. Don't Upgrade Your Stuff if it Already Works

We're all guilty of it: you get a raise, bonus, or your tax refund check and immediately start upgrading your stuff. Not only do we replace a perfectly good phone with the latest model (and other such examples), but we look for ways to upgrade our lifestyles too.

But it's unnecessary. It's also incredibly wasteful – not only of your money, but of the resources that go into producing the goods you're discarding.

You're going to have a much harder time making a million dollars if you succumb to lifestyle creep.

Repair Electronics (and Make Money)

Guarantees on electronic goods don't last forever, and repairs can often cost nearly as much as a replacement would.

But it doesn't take a lot of technical knowledge to repair them yourself.

If you can find a fair amount of dysfunctional electronics for free or very cheap, and you're fairly good at fixing them, you can make a side-hustle out of doing so. You could offer repair services in your free time, sell goods you've repaired, or both.

Not only will you save money on unnecessary upgrades and expensive repairs, but you could actually make money too.

Upcycle Old Clothes

One of the best ways to get the most out of older clothes is to repurpose them. If you have some sewing skills, you can easily create new fashions by mixing and matching pieces of old clothing.

Hey, if Keith Richards could do it, why can't you? In his autobiography Life, the iconic rocker mentions “stitching old pants together to give them a different look.”

Another option for upcycling is to cut worn clothing into squares or strips. You can use these as rags, patches, or even making your own pillow and cushion covers.

15. Don't Buy Things

As an extension of “don't upgrade,” you should seriously reevaluate your purchases if you want to make a million dollars.

We get it. When you've had a bad day (or days), retail therapy make everything feel better… for a little while. That's not an exaggeration either – retail therapy works. But the key is moderation.

And when it comes to your goal of making a million dollars, moderation means “don't buy things.”

Spending Well

Obviously that doesn't mean you should deny yourself a few simple pleasures. Even though wealthy people tend to live beneath their means, they aren't living as hermits with a single candle to last all winter.

No. Spending well means making better choices about your purchases.

So what does “better choices” entail?

Well, if you want to spend your 30% (from your 50-30-20 budget) well, then instead of buying that new pair of shoes that will make you happy for a few days… Buy experiences.

Identity Expenses

It's actually been proven that spending money on experiences rather than things makes us happier.

Your possessions don't add value to yourself as a person.

Seems Fight Club was right after all. We are not the car we drive or the apartment full of IKEA furniture. Instead, we're the accumulation of everything we've experienced: the things we've seen, the places we've been, the things we've done.

Go to a concert. Hike the Appalachian Trail. Visit somewhere new. Make identity purchases rather than appearance purchases.

16. Trim It

We've already looked at ways to save on things like banking and interest fees, upgrades, and general purchases.

But chances are, you're still struggling to fit everything into your 50-30-20 budget plan.

If that's the case, you'll be glad to know that there's a way to trim your bills. This can help you save drastically, especially if you have a lot of bills you're paying every month. And every little bit counts toward making your million dollars.

Trim

Trim is a fantastic online software that literally helps you trim your bills – as the name implies.

All you need to do is sign up (free of charge) and link your bank account and the card you use to pay your bills. Trim then uses read-only access to track your expenses and analyze your accounts.

They'll then help you to cancel unnecessary subscriptions. Trim will also find or negotiate lower bill charges.

As an extra bonus, they'll even find cheaper insurance policies for you and help you automate your savings.

Truebill

I know that it isn't Trim, but if you're finding the program doesn't work for you, Truebill is a great alternative.

Truebill offers all of the same benefits as Trim does. You'll also be able to track your finances quickly and easily, with comparisons between spending in this month and the last. If you've managed to save money using Truebill, they'll let you know in your dashboard.

Even better, Truebill works as an app. You'll have better financial control at your fingertips, anywhere you go.

17. Shop Smart

Okay, so what about grocery shopping? After all, just because you've managed to cut down on fees and bills, that doesn't mean you don't still need to make some very necessary purchases.

The trick is to shop smart. If you use just one of the following apps, you'll enjoy extra savings without having to change your list of essentials too much.

You can even stack all three of these platforms to maximize those savings while shopping smart.

Ebates

Ebates is easily the best cashback platform on the market. You can even use their iOS or Android app.

Not sure what a cashback portal is? It's a way to shop online and receive a percentage of your purchasing total back. That means if you spend $25 through one of the affiliate links on the Ebates app or website, you could earn 10% to 20% in cashback.

You'll also get a $10 sign up reward – and up to $75 (total) for successfully referring three new users.

Dosh

Another great cashback portal, Dosh works in the same way as Ebates.

One major distinction is that you don't have to use the affiliate links on their website or app (iOS and Android). As long as you've linked your debit or credit card, Dosh will track your online purchases. If you purchase from one of their affiliate partners, Dosh may still be able to organize a cashback reward for you.

As an added bonus, Dosh also rewards new users with $5 – and the same again every time you get someone new to join through your referral link.

Ibotta

It can be tricky to stack rewards with two cashback portals alone. And while they do have some brick-and-mortar affiliates, for the most part you'll only be earning on your online purchases.

That's where Ibotta comes in.

Ibotta is a receipt scanner app (iOS or Android). They have a very specific list of items they can give you cashback rewards on. These include grocery items, toiletries, electronics, prescriptions – even certain restaurants.

All you need to do is snap a pic of your receipt using the app. You'll also get $10 just for signing up – and an extra $100 for three successful referrals.

18. Eat Out Smart

Even though we know that eating out is usually more expensive than cooking dinner at home, it's still nice to go to a restaurant every once in a while.

And again – you don't need to become a total hermit with no social life just to make a million dollars. You can treat yourself to a night out every once in a while. It's part of your 50-30-20 budget, after all (under lifestyle non-essentials). It can also be part of your identity purchases – eating out can be an experience on its own.

The trick is to eat out smart.

Seated

Seated is a great app for making eating out cheaper.

Download the Seated app and you'll find a curated list of the top restaurants in your city. You can put in preferences to filter the results, or even use the Seated Scoop feature for recommendations.

Make a reservation through the app and snap a pic of your receipt at the end of the meal – that's how you earn rewards. With Seated, you can earn up to 30% back on each bill (even more when you book for a bigger group).

Spotluck

Spotluck makes eating out even more of an experience, while helping you save at the same time.

All you need to do is spin the wheel. Spotluck will randomly select a restaurant from your area and offer you a discount of up to 35%. You'll never end up eating at a major chain restaurant either, so you'll get to support the unique local eateries every time.

The discount value is typically calculated on the day, time, and weather. You'll also earn extra spins each time you eat out using Spotluck.

19. Pick the Right Place to Live

This is significantly easier if you're still in college and planning for your future. After all, once you've graduated, it's time to find new accommodation – and that often means following job opportunities.

Most of the time, you'll find that the best-paying jobs are in cities. Unfortunately, city accommodation also tends to be very expensive (never mind other cost of living considerations). The trick is not to be beguiled by pay alone.

Finding the Right Opportunities

Unless you have a roommate (or multiple roommates), you're going to be scraping by with $80,000/year in New York. In New Orleans, you can live like royalty on $60,000/year.

That means you need to be smart about finding the right opportunities. Just like with negotiating a raise, this requires homework. You can even use the same resources – Glassdoor and PayScale. SmartAsset also has a great cost of living calculator you can use.

This is great practice to follow, even if you're already out of college and looking to relocate for better pay.

Rent vs Buy

Okay, so now you know what area you're looking to move to. Hopefully you've already landed a job there too!

But now you need to start thinking about whether to rent or buy.

There are a couple of things that will decide which is the better option for you:

  1. What can you afford to pay?
    1. How much savings do you have?
      1. How long are you planning to stay there?
        1. Are you looking for stability, or do you want the flexibility to move fairly often?
          1. Do you want the responsibility of repairs and maintenance?
            1. What are your goals – family, career, and financial?

Rent vs Buy and Mortgage & Housing Affordability Calculators

When thinking about the above considerations, it helps to have a few handy tools. These online calculators can make the right decision easier for you to see.

First, you'll want to take a look at a mortgage and housing affordability calculator. This will help you determine how much you can afford to pay per month.

Next, head over to a rent vs buy calculator. This will take you through a few steps before helping you determine which will be the better option.

Apartment vs. House

With a figure in mind, it's time to decide whether to rent or buy an apartment or house.

Opting for an apartment has a host of benefits:

  • Typically more cost effective in general – monthly payments, utility bills, and other fees.
  • No to low maintenance – your landlord or the body corporate are usually responsible for almost all maintenance.
  • Increased safety – which, depending on your area, can be a major concern
  • Amenities – sure, you can have a pool and BBQ area at home if you buy/rent a house, but then you have to maintain it yourself.
  • Better for living alone – although depending on your apartment size, you can easily have flatmates or raise a small family too.
  • Low commitment – it's easier to move around more often when renting an apartment than when you rent a house.

House vs. Apartment

There are a few advantages buying or renting a house has over opting for an apartment:

  • Larger living space – this makes it even easier to find housemates or raise a family.
    • Privacy and noise – a standalone house is far more private than living in an apartment complex, and you're less likely to hear your neighbours partying at 2am.
      • Better personalization – even if you're renting the house, you'll have more freedom to personalize your space than most apartment landlords and body corporates allow for.
        • Parking – this is a given with houses, whereas parking spaces are at a premium in apartment complexes, even if you have an allocated spot.

How to Save on Rent

If you've decided to rent, here are a few tips on how you can save money on your rent:

  • Get a roommate (or housemate).
    • Lease in winter: a lot of landlords struggle to find tenants when the weather is cold.
      • Offer to pay upfront: landlords are likely to be more open to accepting a few hundred bucks off if you can afford to pay a few months in advance. Just make sure you're not accruing debt to do so, and you top up your savings account after.
        • Sign for a longer lease period: landlords are looking for stability.
          • Negotiate a lower rent when re-signing: this is almost exactly the same as negotiating a raise.
            • Give up your parking space (if you're renting an apartment).

How to Save on Mortgage

On the other hand, maybe you've decided to buy property instead. Here are a few tips on saving money on your mortgage:

  • Make an extra yearly payment: similar to paying rent upfront, don't accrue debt or forget to refill your savings account after. But making an extra payment can take as much as five years off your loan period.
  • Use bi-weekly payments: set aside an extra half of your mortgage payment value using a separate savings account. 26 half-payments add up to an extra 13 full-payments in a year.
  • Cut your private mortgage insurance by petitioning your lender once your mortgage balance is lower than 80% of the property value.
  • Petition for better property assessment to lower your property tax payments if you suspect your property value has decreased.
  • Recast your mortgage loan: extra payments shorten the loan period – when you recast, the loan period stays the same but your monthly installments are lowered.
  • Modify the terms of your loan: the Make Home Affordable site will tell you if you're eligible to do so.
  • Use Zillow to refinance your mortgage.

How to Save on Utilities

Utilities can take up a big portion of your 50-30-20 budget plan. Here are a few tips on how to minimize their impact on your wallet:

  • Use energy-saving light bulbs.
  • Install a thermostat you can program so it switches itself off and on when it needs to.
  • Optimize your window covers.
  • Switch to low-flow fixtures to save water.
  • Be smarter with your appliances: most dishwashers can handle dirty dishes without rinsing them off beforehand, for example. You should also clean your dryer's lint trap after each use.
  • Unplug electronics when they're not in use.
  • Find out whether your utility company offers any programs and incentives for energy-saving that can help you cut your utilities bills even further.

How to Make a Million Dollars: Conclusion

By now you know that it really isn't going to happen overnight – nor is there one simple trick you can use. Instead, making a million dollars is all about being smart when making and spending money.

With the tips and resources we've provided, you're on the right track.

One last reiteration: to an extent, live beneath your means and put the money you're saving into your investments and/or debt consolidation. It's one of the most important lessons a person can learn in life.

Related:  24 Legit Ways To Get Absolutely Free Money Now Using These Online Apps

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