Personal Finance

How to become a millionaire by 35

First things first . . . despite the title of this article, it’s not about selling you a get rich quick program or book. For most people, get rich quick does not work. Despite the disclaimer, I do think attaining more wealth does and can happen to anyone. I believe wealth is attainable and it’s possible to do it sooner than later.

I believe that 80% of the wealth is in the hands of 20% of the people and most of these people did not win the lottery, inherit millions from their parents or even got really lucky. Having been in the financial industry for over 20 years, I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of millionaires and most of these people did it the old fashion way . . . they saved it one dollar at a time.

How do you define millionaire?

Some people think a millionaire means having a net worth of a million dollars. This probably includes your house, investments and other assets. Others, define a millionaire with a million dollars of investable assets. In other words, a portfolio of investments and cash with 7 figures or more. When you really get analytical about it, different people will define the term millionaire differently. No matter how you define it, do you want to be a millionaire?

One man’s journey to becoming a millionaire by 35

Is it really possible to become a millionaire by 35? The answer is yes, it is possible. It is easy? Probably not. Just ask people who have done it. In this article, I thought it would be fun to share one man’s journey to becoming a millionaire.

Many of you may know one of Canada’s top financial blog sites Million Dollar Journey. It’s run by someone who goes by the name of Frugal Trader (FT). I’ve gotten to know FT a bit more as I have a lot of respect for his site. He shows his journey to become a millionaire by sharing his net worth from time to time. I asked FT a few questions and with permission would like to share them with you.

1. What do you think is the key (or keys) to becoming a millionaire by the time you are 35?

He came up with three ideas:

  • Make More than You Spend – Everyone knows about the personal finance mantra of “spend less than you earn“. FT believes that is the foundation of everyone’s finances, but he prefers to twist it around a little. Cutting unnecessary expense are essential, but if you think about it, expenses can only be cut so far.. down to $0. However, income is potentially unlimited! Control your expenses is one solution, but the other is to look for ways to make more income! Whether it’s business opportunities, career advancement or investments, have the intention of finding opportunities and you may be surprised as to what comes along. To FT, it’s all about the cash flow, the more you have, the easier it is to reach your financial goals.
  • Make Use of that Cash! Once cash flow is established, the next question is what to do with the savings? His first choice is of course to pay down debt, starting with the highest rate because it’s guaranteed after tax return with no risk. FT does not carry credit card debt. His journey to becoming a millionaire started by paying off a boatload of student debt. After that was paid off, he diligently worked on paying off the mortgage. FT became mortgage free in 2010 at the age of 31. After debt servicing payments are eliminated, cash flow should be relatively high, which can now be used for investing.
  • Know Your Financial Situation – FT is a big believer in writing things down to know where you stand in order to move forward. It’s important to know how much you spend in a month by itemizing spending to see where costs can be reduced. The same goes for net worth and investment accounts, if the goal is to grow it to a particular milestone, it’s important to track it periodically to measure progress.
  • Set Goals and Take Baby Steps – FT believes in SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound) goals, both long and short term. Set big long term goals and set shorter goals on the way. For example, he set the goal to have a million dollar net worth by the age of 35, but have annual financial goals along the way. The annual goals are further broken down into baby steps to keep him motivated.

2. What do you think is the main reason people can’t or won’t become millionaires?

Here’s what FT has to say about this, “Personally, I think that anyone, providing they have enough time, can become a millionaire in their lifetime. It’s a matter of starting as early as you can, building savings, and investing the proceeds for the long term. Becoming a millionaire in a shorter time span is also possible, just takes a bit more focus and dedication towards the end goal.”

FT is not a financial advisor and nor does he work in the financial industry. Building wealth is simple, not easy. It’s really not rocket science. It just goes to show that if you have the desire, you can do it because it really is not that complicated.

Do you have anything to add to the list if things it takes to become a millionaire by 35?


  1. The Wealthy Canadian

    I’ve been following MDJ for some years now, and I really admire his approach to the accumulation of wealth and sharing his journey with his readership.

    It’s no coincidence he has 15,000+ readers on his website; he provides quality content on a consistent basis and it’s great to see his progress through his net worth statements.

    Anybody who’s been blogging consistently since 2006 is a veteran in the game, and MDJ has a wealth of information to offer investors.

    When his journey has been fully realized, I would love for FT to publish a book about his path to financial independence.

    Nice post Jim! I think it’s great to see somebody paying homage to such a worthy fellow Canadian blogger.

    All the best,

  2. retirebyforty

    Only 3 years left and over 400k to go. It’s going to be tough to meet the goal during this economic downturn. Good luck MDJ!

  3. SPBrunner

    I believe one of the main obstacles to people not saving a million dollars is that they do not believe it is possible.

  4. Echo

    I agree with SPBrunner, believing you can do it is half the battle. When FT set out on this path, it almost sounded impossible…but half way through the journey and he is more than half way there.

    Nice post Jim!

  5. SavingMentor

    I’ve been reading MDJ for so many years now and I agree FrugalTrader is an inspiration to us all. He also represents from Atlantic Canada like myself!

    You may even see some similarities in our aliases if you look close enough 😉

    Unlike him though, I highly doubt I will be anywhere near close to 1 million in net worth by the time I am 35. I’m ok with that though!

  6. My Own Advisor

    Great post Jim.

    I too, have been following MDJ for years now. He’s an inspiration for me.

    Kudos to FrugalTrader for all the work he does on his blog and everything he shares with his readers – that effort helps many of us learn and become better savers, investors and planners!

    Will definitely put this post into my Thanksgiving roundup!

  7. FT

    Thanks for posting the interview Jim. I’m humbled by the kind response, thanks guys!

  8. Motivator

    I think you are right, writing down your goals makes them more concrete and attainable. But, do you think it is easy for someone who once lived an affluence life that is filled with debt to take to the tips you have given in this article?

  9. Vanessa Marko

    Becoming a millionaire by 30 should be a dream that everyone shares. Great points in this article and i think if you set these goals and ways to implement a plan it can be closer than you think.

  10. Wes

    Hi Jim,
    Thanks for sharing the tips from MDJ with us!

    Of course some people will have a major advantage over others; such as coming from an affluent family. It’s going to be a lot easier for someone to become a millionaire by the time they are 35 if their parents made 300K per year while they were growing as opposed to someone who grew up in a 40K/yr household.

    Even so, I believe it is absolutely possible for anyone who sets their mind to it.

  11. Money Management

    I think it’s highly possible to build wealth overtime and become a millionaire if that is the desire. The problem is that most people don’t understand that its not how much you make, its how much you keep. There are plenty of people that have very high income jobs or business but at the end of the year, they don’t have a lot to show for it. This is due to their spending habits and their inability to delay gratification. I really found this article interesting because a lot of the ideas discussed I have read and followed before but it was a very nice reinforcement.

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