The First Million is the Hardest

Not long ago, I participated in a conversation on NetworthIQ: “Struggling with breaking the first million mark“. The question posed was about mental focus and persistence needed to get to that magical $1 million mark. However, it got me thinking about the mathematical aspect of it.

First Million Is The Hardest

As you can see from the chart, if a person invests $15,000 per year starting at age 25 and the investment gains on average 10% a year, he can get to $1 million mark by 45. The first million took 20 years! But if you keep going down the table, it only takes…

  • 6 more years to get to $2 million at 51
  • 4 more years to get to $3 million at 55
  • 3 more years to get to $4 million at 58
  • 2 more years to get to $5 million at 60
  • 2 more years to get to $6 million at 62
  • 2 more years to get to $7 million at 64
  • 1 more years to get to $8 million at 65

Not only is this mark psychologically challenging, it is also mathematically challenging.

Now back to my situation. If I can manage to save $1 million by the age of 43, I might have a shot at making the $10 million mark!

What do you think?

PS: I also saw a similar analysis by another PF Blogger not long ago. I left a comment saying it was an excellent illustration. If you are that blogger, please let me know so I can link to you.

About the Author

By , on Sep 28, 2007
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

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Leave Your Comment (39 Comments)

  1. Someone living in the real world. says:

    Who the hell makes enough money at 25 to have $15,000 to invest? I’m a 26 year old college graduate and $15,000 is more than my annual take home pay.

  2. Frank says:

    What if your goal was to get to at least a billion $.

    Is it harder to go from scratch to becoming a millionaire?

    Or harder from already having a million dollars, to becoming a billionaire?

  3. mykscott says:

    5 months later I stumble on this post. From my experience, this money goal thing can really take over your life. My first goal was to save $10,000 by the time I was 20. Then my goal was to get to $100,000. I just reached $1million last year at 48. Yippee! I’m really an exciting conversationalist…I learned how to save money from my dad….he retired at 45 years old when I was a senior in high school. He’s actually pretty exciting also… I turned things around just now…remodeled kitchen, Europe trip, flying lessons…but I think back how/what I could have done earlier in life if I hadn’t been so damn focused on the dollar.

  4. Alex Pino says:

    That’s awesome but personally I can’t wait that long to enjoy life. That’s why I’ve jumped from being an employee to owning my own business that I’m passionate about. Good luck man!

  5. Kevin says:

    @Money: Imagine how much you could really enjoy life if you diligently saved for that first million? $15,000 per year isn’t all that much for a 2 income family.

  6. Money says:

    Goals are nice, but money isn’t everything. The first million isn’t hard if you don’t care about it. Think about it. Enjoy your life and what you have, people. It’s good for you.

  7. salman says:

    Hi My name is Salman. I am international student studying on very wealthy school ship, covering everything from tuition to healthcare. Along with that they provide us with a monthly salary of $1,850. Being that I am a business major I got to read little of how to become a millionaire. I was astounded to know that “I should start investing as soon as I can”.

    But have little knowledge in stocks I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO? so if anyone can throw at me about:

    1) What are they essential points I should know about the stock market , that I can build a strong base to the market ?
    2) What are the key points that I look at when looking for a stock?
    3) What percent of my income should I put in stocks ?
    4) Being international how can I benefit from overseas stocks ?

    So if anyone was welling to throw any info or knowledge on me that would be great . Thank you

  8. To me the first million would be easy to achieve. I would start with a billion i would have to lose 99.99% which would be super tough. If I could certainly lose 99.99% with a strategy, then playing against the opposite strategy would yield a huge gain..

  9. Jonathan says:

    Totally agree Pinyo the first million is the hardest. What you have shown is how easy it is to accumulate more money once you already have a lot, ah the joys of compound interest!

  10. Pinyo says:

    @Fiscal Musings – Great point.

    Please take a look at Building, Diversifying, and Shifting Your Income Streams to see more ideas about income building.

  11. fiscal musings says:

    I think it’s interesting that everyone is so caught up in the unpredictability of the stock market and the associated gains. There hasn’t been any mention of other forms of investing.

    I understand that real estate is getting a bad rap right now, but the gains there can be quite good and oftentimes predictable. My point is that there are other options and it’s not all that difficult to imagine 10% yearly returns.

  12. Pinyo says:

    @Amanda – welcome to Moolanomy and you’re welcome 🙂

  13. Amanda says:

    I am so incredibly inspired by this post! Not only could I be a millionaire one day… but a multi-millionaire… and all I have to do is diligently save each year? What a wonderful post. Thank you.

  14. Pinyo says:

    @Telemill – thank you and welcome to Moolanomy. I read your goal: “Gain $2,000,000 in 3 years and chronicle my progress.”

    I should be reading your blog.

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