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Folks, it takes patience to become a millionaire

As I discussed in my post on imagining yourself to be a millionaire, the reason it was so hard to do was that you have to imagine that small amounts of money that you are investing each year will eventually add up to a million bucks.  So way back in 1998 when I first signed up for my employer's 401(K) plan and contributed my first $12,000, with the ups and downs of the stock market, in the first few years it did not seem like much.  However, because of the tax breaks available, the desire to save for retirement, and a passion for economic security, we just kept saving whatever we could and invested it in our retirement plans and some years we had money left over since we maxed our contributions, so we invested it in a brokerage account, mostly in ETFs.

How long did it take us to become millionaires?

Well, it is hard to really come up with a precise time, but in 1998 we opened our first brokerage account and also signed up for my employer's 401(K) plan.  Prior to that, though, we had some investments in CDs and savings account.  We surpassed $1,000,000 in investible assets in 2021 and, of course, we have sizable home equity and other assets.  So it is fair to say that it took us something like 20-25 years to become a millionaire from nothing.

Key takeaways
  1. Be patient and, whether the market is up or down, just religiously keep saving and investing.
  2. Do not panic if there is a crash.  History shows that markets eventually recover.  On the contrary, if you can find the money to invest even more, a crash is a great opportunity to invest.
  3. Leave the rest to Math.  Compounding is one of the most powerful forces, as they say.  There really is no get-rich-quick path -- if someone is telling you so, they are lying or are trying to scam you.