Millennial millionaires are more common than you think. The Millennial Generation seems to be fascinated by its young millionaires and the glamorous fortunes they've made in tech, stocks and so forth. The unspoken question remains: If you can do it, why can't I?
For the most part, advice to Millennials on "how to get rich" falls into two categories. There's the practical -- as in wealth-building. And there's the personal -- as in character-building. Ultimate success demands both. And striking a balance between them will contribute to a productive life.
Counsel from many of the newly rich begins with education. For the academically inclined, having a degree from a top university can almost always land you a good first job. However, if you don't have a strong calling for traditional schooling, educate yourself by choosing a path that, out of necessity, motivates you to learn. Your interest in reading this article is ample proof of an inquiring mind and a natural thirst for information that will help you advance and grow.
It's very important to cultivate a skill that is not only in demand, but scarce enough to be valuable, because the job market responds to supply and demand just like everything else. Examples are architecture and law, which are both specialized skills, but not necessarily rare enough to make their practitioners wealthy until they get are at the high end of their profession.
Medicine and engineering, on the other hand, are both open to college-aged people who have the requisite abilities and the willingness to make the commitment. The services of these professionals are always in demand, and the supply is such that professionals can be pretty confident in achieving millionaire status.
2. Make smart money moves
Be disciplined about money starting now. Practice living below your means and conserving your cash for savings. A minimum goal is saving 10 percent of your gross monthly salary. If you can achieve that goal, a bit more dedication and sacrifice will lead to 20 or 30 percent savings. And, incidentally, part of that savings will build an emergency fund to serve as a buffer against the unexpected. It's always wise to have three to six months of income in reserve.
To stay ahead of the game, pay off your costliest debts first. High-interest rate credit cards, auto financing, school loans and anything else over seven percent should be paid off before thinking about investing. When you can invest, be sure to take advantage of any free money available. Many companies have 401(k) plans or some other sort of retirement vehicle in which they match a portion of your contribution to savings. Take that money by maxing out whatever amount your employer will match.
3. Wealth creation
Great wealth creation can come from investments in stocks and other equity deals, in all forms of real estate transactions, and especially, in nurturing your own company. If you run your own business, you get to decide how to spend that investment. And your ownership stake grows in value over time as the business expands.
Getting your enterprise off the ground often calls for more help in the form of "other people's money." Sometimes it's start-up capital from a generous relative, or a government small business loan, or an infusion of private venture capital. Those who really want to build large wealth (and do so quickly) through business or investment need to do so in part with other people's money.
4. Don't follow the crowd
Out-thinking the majority of people out there is another way to build exceptional wealth. Steve Jobs of Apple is an example of an entrepreneur who worked hard to achieve success, but the magnitude of that success came from seeing things that others didn't and figuring out how to do it better. Out-hustling is an undervalued aspect of wealth creation. Success in business is often about hustle, or the willingness to make one more call or work an extra hour at the end of the day. The question is whether you want to spend the hours it takes for that kind of commitment and dedication.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
Don't settle for the comfortable and the routine. To keep growing, you have to get out of your comfort zone. In school, consider taking the courses that challenge you. In your work, look for opportunities to learn new skills. In business interactions, work to refine your talents at communication and persuasion. In your personal life, welcome new experiences and chances to explore unfamiliar territory. Be a leader and not a follower.
Ways to advance, while building character
We've established some of the practical approaches to accumulating wealth, now let's consider the important ways to advance while building character. These concepts strengthen the personal qualities that will allow you to maximize your success.
Have an ambitious goal that goes beyond money. Becoming rich can often be a consequence of a bigger goal or dream that may have nothing to do with money. For some, it's achieving the freedom to be completely independent and accountable for themselves. For others it's a drive to be the best at something -- be it athlete, artist or performer. Others are inspired to invent or create or build something that will serve and benefit everyone. And some find there's just no motivation like being told you can't do it.
Always push yourself to your limits by giving your best at everything you do. A common quality of the very successful is pride in a job well done and enjoyment in exceeding expectations. If you are passionate in what you do and the quality of your work is high, the resulting respect from your peers and the praise from your bosses creates a momentum that breeds more success.
There is no easy path to wealth. It takes hard work, risk-taking and saying goodbye to your comfort zone. Becoming a millionaire has been described as a slow and steady game. It requires discipline. And it requires an early start.
Millennials, there's your cue.
Holly Martins is a journalist who frequently contributes to MyBankTracker.com.