This one tip could make you a millionaire faster

More than a quarter of Americans — the highest percentage in the survey — said that you need to earn at least $1 million to be “rich” in the U.S., according to a recent GOBankingRates survey. However, it harder to become “rich” in America these days, as it seems each and every year the cost of living continues to rise while income growth is either lackluster or stagnate

Earning at least $1 million a year is one definition of being a millionaire; however, it’s not the traditional definition. The traditional definition of a millionaire is someone who has assets, or a net worth, equal to at least $1 million.

GOBankingRates conducted a study to find how long it takes to reach $1 million in assets or worth. The study takes into account annual incomes, annual consumption expenditures and savings per year. The findings aren’t reassuring if you want to realistically become a millionaire in your lifetime without making some serious moves.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Millionaire in the US?

When you account for the cost of living, it takes close to 65 years to become a millionaire. But with basic investing, it’ll take about 61 years — which might not seem much quicker, but that’s because it’s an extremely conservative calculation.

How Long It Takes to Become a Millionaire in America

How Long It Takes to Earn $1M (not incl. cost of living or investments)

How Long It Takes to Earn $1M (incl. cost of living)

How Long It Takes to Earn $1M (incl. cost of living and investments)

U.S. Average

17 years, 9 months and 2 days

64 years, 8 months and 23 days

61 years, 4 months and 9 days

To find out how long it takes to become a millionaire, the study assumes that a person is making the median household income in the country/their state. From this income, the study subtracted the average per capita personal expenditures (i.e., cost of living) in a year. The difference between the two — this surplus — was then assumed to be put into an investment portfolio with a 5.5 percent annual return, which is the approximate average return for an investment portfolio. From there, the study calculated how long this surplus per year would generate $1 million.

These calculations were necessary because you can’t simply multiply your income by a number of years to reach $1 million. If you could, it would take approximately 18 years to become a millionaire. But this would assume you earn money and then never have to spend any on the necessities of life, let alone discretionary expenditures. That’s why determining the nation’s and each state’s per capita expenditures is essential to calculating how long it’ll take to reach $1 million.

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The Secret to Becoming a Millionaire Faster: Investing

At the same time, just calculating income minus cost of living alone won’t give you much of a surplus to build on. People trying to reach $1 million in their lifetime must invest, rather than hoard it or put it into a basic savings account with a return that’s much lower compared to a diversified portfolio.

So, the key to becoming a millionaire — to becoming truly wealthy in the long term — is to invest. When you take out investing, it adds many more years.

“If you want to get on the path to riches, find ways to make more money — whether it’s negotiating raises, making the change to a higher-paying career, getting a second job, investing in rental property or all of the above,” said Cameron Huddleston, personal finance expert and GOBankingRates’ Life + Money columnist. “Then, invest those earnings in the stock market so your money can grow even more.”

Investing can lead to further investing as well as more complex vehicles and strategies, which really accelerate your savings over time but would be completely absent if you never invest. You can’t predict future returns, but if you never open the door, you can’t even get in on the wealth-building action.

How Long It Takes to Become a Millionaire in Every US State

The cost of living and median income vary from state to state. That’s because different states have different jobs and workers — and thus different incomes.

Cost of living varies due to factors such as the amount of money residents can even spend, the purchasing power of their dollar, as well as supply and demand. For example, housing is more expensive in states where supply is low and demand is high, such as Washington, D.C., Massachusetts and Hawaii.

Check out the table and visualization below to see how long it takes to become a millionaire in each state:


Time It Takes to Become Millionaire (Without Investing)

Time It Takes to Become Millionaire (With Investing)


72 years, 6 months and 30 days

68 years, 9 months and 17 days


35 years, 2 months and 7 days

33 years, 4 months and 6 days


52 years, 6 months and 25 days

49 years, 9 months and 28 days


87 years, 2 months and 16 days

82 years, 7 months and 29 days


42 years, 9 months and 2 days

40 years, 6 months and 10 days


42 years, 7 months and 14 days

40 years, 4 months and 25 days


43 years, 11 months and 30 days

41 years, 8 months and 13 days


51 years, 5 months and 29 days

48 years, 9 months and 22 days

District of Columbia

68 years, 5 months and 24 days

64 years, 10 months and 28 days


88 years, 1 month and 28 days

83 years, 6 months and 25 days


53 years, 11 months and 3 days

51 years, 1 month and 10 days


35 years, 1 month and 19 days

33 years, 3 months and 20 days


60 years, 8 months and 5 days

57 years, 6 months and 7 days


55 years, 4 months and 31 days

52 years, 6 months and 10 days


62 years, 5 months and 2 days

59 years, 2 months and 2 days


53 years, 8 months and 26 days

50 years, 11 months and 8 days


53 years, 7 months and 21 days

50 years, 10 months and 3 days


77 years, 7 months and 14 days

73 years, 6 months and 28 days


94 years, 2 months and 18 days

89 years, 3 months and 19 days


102 years, 10 months and 10 days

97 years, 6 months and 1 day


29 years, 5 months and 19 days

27 years, 11 months and 6 days


45 years, 4 months and 11 days

42 years, 11 months and 29 days


75 years, 4 months and 22 days

71 years, 5 months and 17 days


49 years, 4 months and 11 days

46 years, 9 months and 14 days


85 years, 2 months and 18 days

80 years, 9 months and 8 days


76 years, 1 month and 15 days

72 years, 1 month and 26 days


110 years, 1 month and 24 days

104 years, 4 months and 29 days


59 years, 7 months and 6 days

56 years, 5 months and 28 days


64 years, 11 months and 30 days

61 years, 7 months and 10 days

New Hampshire

48 years, 4 months and 4 days

45 years, 9 months and 27 days

New Jersey

38 years, 1 month and 12 days

36 years, 1 month and 17 days

New Mexico

82 years, 10 months and 30 days

78 years, 7 months and 4 days

New York

73 years, 4 months and 18 days

69 years, 6 months and 21 days

North Carolina

60 years, 9 months and 23 days

57 years, 7 months and 22 days

North Dakota

71 years, 8 months and 2 days

67 years, 11 months and 7 days


77 years, 3 months and 11 days

73 years, 3 months and 1 day


61 years, 11 months and 27 days

58 years, 9 months and 4 days


59 years, 8 months and 28 days

56 years, 7 months and 16 days


70 years, 11 months and 6 days

67 years, 2 months and 26 days

Rhode Island

57 years, 5 months and 2 days

54 years, 5 months and 4 days

South Carolina

63 years, 2 months and 18 days

59 years, 10 months and 30 days

South Dakota

83 years, 10 months and 29 days

79 years, 6 months and 15 days


73 years, 3 months and 1 day

69 years, 5 months and 6 days


52 years, 4 months and 16 days

49 years, 7 months and 23 days


33 years, 1 month and 4 days

31 years, 4 months and 16 days


101 years, 7 months and 20 days

96 years, 4 months and 3 days


40 years, 8 months and 5 days

38 years, 6 months and 24 days


43 years, 11 months and 18 days

41 years, 8 months and 2 days

West Virginia

115 years, 10 months and 1 day

109 years, 9 months and 17 days


61 years, 10 months and 14 days

58 years, 7 months and 24 days


53 years, 0 months and 8 days

50 years, 3 months and 4 days

United States

64 years, 8 months and 23 days

61 years, 4 months and 9 days

Tips to Start Investing and Grow Your Wealth

Investing is so important to wealth, and thus becoming a millionaire, for many reasons. But perhaps the key reason can be observed in discussing the difference between saving money and investing.

Take, for example, the popular phrase “a penny saved is a penny earned.” That phrase refers to saving money because when you save money, you’re storing it away for use at a later time and purpose, such as saving for your kids’ college education or a car. Your saved money will not be building your wealth.

Investing that money, on the other hand, allows your money to grow to a larger sum. Here are some easy options you can invest your money in:

  • Stocks, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

  • Treasury or municipal bonds

  • Certificates of deposit

  • Real estate property investments

These are just some of the more common investments available. Once you jump into the investing waters, you can go even deeper, finding different investment vehicles, returns, levels of risk, etc. — all of which can help build your wealth in a manner that hoarding or saving with little to no interest cannot do.

More from GO Banking Rates:
How Much You Need to Earn to Be “Rich” in Every State
Places in America Where You’re “Rich” Earning Less Than $100,000
12 Realistic Ways to Make Your First $1 Million

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Methodology: GOBankingRates calculated how long it takes to be a millionaire by using median household income data from the U.S. Census Bureau and annual consumption data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. We found the difference between what a median household in every state earns and per capita consumption in every state, and then divided that number by 1,000,000 in order to determine how many years, days and months it would take to reach $1 million in every state and in the U.S. We used median household income because per capita income does not cover the per capita consumption in every state and is much smaller than annual spending.

In addition, to account for investing leftover income, we took the difference between annual income and consumption expenditures, and assumed it was invested in a portfolio with the average investor’s long-term average of around 5.5 percent, according to Zacks Investment Research.

This article originally appeared on Study Finds Exactly How Long It Takes to Become a Millionaire