The Easiest Road to $1 Million Nest Egg

Hey everyone, we’re on vacation this week and Tim is covering for us today. Check out his post and let us know what you think. I’ll be back from Hawaii next week.

Tim’s Bio

I’m a self-made millionaire immigrant and a VP at a mid-size company based out of Orange County, California. I moonlight as a personal finance & fitness blogger, business consultant, personal trainer, and success coach. I’m 31 years of age, a firm Christian, with a wonderful wife and son. You can connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube over at my blog, Tub of Cash. Thank you for reading!

The Easiest Road to $1 Million Nest Egg

$1 million nest eggLet me start off with a question:

What does a dollar mean to you?

Let’s be honest; for the vast majority of us, $1 is fairly insignificant. But have you ever taken a moment to ponder what $1 might be worth if you decided to not spend it today?

Related: Consider your opportunity costs!

What if I told you that you can hit $1,000,000 if all you did was invest just a few dollars a day? And the reason why it’s the easiest way to $1 million is that it’s just simple math. Other than you investing just a few dollars a day, it has surprisingly little to do with what you need to do.

million dollar retirement account

Look for opportunities

Think about how often you spend “just” $1, or $5, or $10.

For an 18 year old, every $1 you spend today is throwing away close to $37 in money you could’ve had in the future (assuming a retirement age of 65, with an annual 8% return – it would be $88 per $1 saved if your annual return was 10%)!!

So that $10 meal or movie ticket you bought over the weekend? That’s close to $370 of tomorrow’s dollars that you decided to spend today! In other words, that was a $370 burrito or a $370 movie ticket! Talk about expensive!

Now the point of me saying this isn’t to get you to agonize over every dollar spent; but rather, to give you a gauge of the value of money and just how much even just $1 can be if you if invested properly. So if the take-away and end result from this post is that you reduce your spending by just $1 a day/week/month; even that, to me, is a win because that’s a net positive of $37 for every $1 saved, for an 18 year old entering adulthood.

Make an extra $1 a day

Have you ever had the thought, “there’s just no way I can save with so little wiggle room in my budget; I’m living pay check to pay check!”

Rather than giving up because there’s just no additional fat to trim from your spending due to reasons X, Y, and Z, what if you thought of it from a different angle?

Rather than finding a way to save an extra $1 a day, would it be easier to just make an extra $1 a day?

You don’t need me to tell you that anyone (at least here in the US) can make at least $15/hr driving for Lyft or Uber. And you don’t even need to go through an interview or have a boss to report to, no deadlines to meet, no coworkers you have to deal with, and no office politics. You can make that decision today. You can hop in your car right now and start making an extra $15/hr. And it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. You might find the time to do just 1 hour a week, which would be equivalent to making a little over an extra $2 a day!

Don’t leave your future up to chance

I know of no one who doesn’t want to save more money. It’s a universal and inherent need for human beings. But it surprises me how few people save; but what’s more surprising isn’t that they’re not saving. What’s more surprising are the excuses why they aren’t saving! When even a few dollars a day can set you up for a healthy retirement, there are simply no excuses! I also see this fairly often with people who are teens or young adults. The mentality of “I can always save more later.” But why make it harder for yourself? Take a look again at the graphic from Business Insider that I posted above. The longer you wait to save, the harder you’re making it on yourself. And if you’re a young adult reading this, in his/her 20’s or maybe even younger, you have a very high probability of retiring as a millionaire (or even retiring early in your 40’s or 50’s which is called FIRE – Financial Independence and Early Retirement) if you stick to these basic mathematical principles.

Related: Did you know you can retire early?

How my wife and I used these principles

I’m not too keen on touting exactly how much money we have; but for the sake of using us as an example (walking the talk), I can tell you that we, as a household, reached millionaire household status earlier this year (if we include the equity in our home). I’m 31 years of age, and my wife is 30.

So how did we do this? We did exactly the stuff I mentioned above! Here are some examples:

I came here to the US in 2004, with about $500 to my name. My first car was an old $1,500 ford escort. Not poverty…but not affluent by any stretch of the imagination. My parents are missionaries; my dad is a pastor. So there was no silver spoon.

I got my job right out of school by sending resumes online (via Career Builder and Monster). Because I had zero connections I found a job at the will call counter (warehouse customer service). I worked two jobs (my 9-5 and personal training on the side; and selling my own private-labeled fat burner supplement). My wife worked night shift and went to school on top of that.

My wife’s side of the family are wealthy but they are truly self-made. Her father came to the US when he was in his mid-20’s. So he had to learn English and a whole new culture that late in the game. He went to community college and ended up transferring to Berkley. He later went on to graduate from dental school and now he’s a practicing dentist.

That said, because my father-in-law is a self-made person, he’s a big believer of independence and self-reliance. So when he allowed me his daughter’s hand in marriage, he was very direct about there being no financial help from his end. We were on our own. So because we started with a clean slate, and no financial boost, we purposefully made the decision to live frugally.

For our housing, we paid 1/3 of what others were paying by renting a room from a friend for 6 years. Even after marriage, my wife and I stayed there 3 years in order to save money for a down payment on a condo. Going this route was a sacrifice that my wife and I both mutually agreed upon. And this is a cultural thing in Korea, but as the “man” of the house, there were times I got a lot of flak from relatives on both sides of the family. Additionally, I had to fight my own ego of feeling like I wasn’t providing a “suitable” home to start a new family in; and the feeling of inadequacy that accompanied that. But I knew that we were making the right decision, and that we’d be vindicated in the end. So we hustled like crazy. We saved like crazy. And we invested like crazy.

Blessings abound; but seize the opportunities!

Having said all of that, here are some of the insane blessings we’ve had the fortune of having:

  • I have a competitive and stubborn personality, almost to a fault. So it’s one of my biggest strengths and also one of my biggest weaknesses.
  • Both my wife and I had a very loving and supportive upbringing, with both parents in the picture.
  • For me, coming to the United States, the land of opportunities for those who work hard; and for my wife, being born into such a privileged country.
  • We married well. We’re very supportive of each other and we work better as a team.
  • The incredible stock bull market from 2009-present.
  • Having great mentors along the way.
  • Having supportive and loving life-time friends who care for us and keep us accountable.
  • My affinity for books, and my love for all things finance and business-related.

And last but not least, it would be wrong of me not to mention God’s grace in our lives. We feel very blessed and supremely fortunate.

Invest $1 or 2 a day; you won’t regret it

Since we’ve gone over, mathematically, how anyone can hit $1,000,000 if all one did was invest just a few dollars a day, you have no excuse! Secondly, if you feel like you’ve already pruned your expenses as much as you possibly could, rather than trying to trim your budget further, try to look for opportunities to make an extra $1 a day. Thirdly, this is all math and is based strictly on your time horizon. So the longer you wait to invest, the harder you’re making it on yourself. Fourthly, be smart with your money and don’t let your ego stop you from reaching your goals. As human beings, we tend to do stupid things just to impress others. At the end of the day, we’re probably overthinking it because most people aren’t looking at you or me. They’re looking at themselves and worried about how they’re being portrayed. So it’s just a colossal waste of time, for all involved. Lastly, seize opportunities when they present themselves. You’ve probably heard of the saying that “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” So continue to hone your strengths, and make the effort to work on your weaknesses. And count your blessings along the way.

“You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.” – Warren Buffet

So what does a dollar mean to you? Are you assigning enough value to the money that you’re spending? And are you taking into consideration the negative implications that way of spending is having to your financial well-being? What are some actionable steps you will take starting today to build a better future for yourself and your loved ones? Share and discuss in the comments below!

Additional Reading

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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48 thoughts on “The Easiest Road to $1 Million Nest Egg”

  1. I’m 19, still schooling but you made me realise that I have enough to save . I can start now and maybe I too will be a millionaire by 30. Thanks Tim

  2. I’m glad you acknowledge this: “The incredible stock bull market from 2009-present.” Although I think anyone can be successful under any circumstance, it’s important to acknowledge when there are certain things that have been more helpful to one person than may be for another. I wish I started investing in 2009! (I was 20 and had not learned about personal finance yet). I can only hope something as awesome happens to me, but if not I’ll still figure it out.

  3. I just want to start off by saying that I originally came to your site with the intention of jsut winning a give away, but after reading this I realized there’s so much more to your site than that. I’ve never really struggled with spending my money but after reading this article you’ve given me some ideas I’m going to apply to my life!

  4. The dollar means my husband’s blood and sweat provides shelter,food,and fun for my family. There are eight of us living on one income. We are not extravagant at all. The Lord provides for our every need. We are not in debt. Yet, I have been wondering how to invest the tiny inheritance I received from my mom. She passed away peacefully last December into the Presence of the Most High.
    I can save a dollar a day, starting today. Do I put it in savings? Do I save the money and invest it in selling product from a network marketing company out there? Not sure, so I will keep reading your blog to get ideas. Thank you for sharing your life lessons.

  5. The key idea is that building a fortune takes time, it is a long, very long term project. That may be the reason, why so few young people are not interested about that. But yes, by dividing the long term project into monthly, or even daily, projects we all have an opportunity to reach the fortune we want.

  6. Omg, THIS IS SO INFLUENTIAL, I’m 16 years old , and I might not have anything to worry about at this age but why not worry , because this is life and we all need to be aware of the problems it gets us into, I gave up my ice cream which I was debating to eat , and I’m going to save the money instead , i use up my pocket money very unnecessarily but this blog is helping me with my savings , I took every word sincerely, ur a really inspiring person

  7. Great article. Its always good to reiterate how easy it is to create wealth by continual saving and the power of compound interest. I started a discussion on a similar theme – how owning a dog over the course of your life also equates to $1,000,000. Of course you cannot equate the love and joy a dog brings to finance, but it demonstrates the power of saving a small amount every day and how it soon adds up.

  8. Great story. It really shows that hard work and the desire to make a better life is truly within reach. Creating wealth takes time and everyone should be finding creative ways to save more. Truly love this story.

  9. Such a wise suggest from you Tim.
    Your story should blessed everyone who read all your blog.
    but since in my country they pay sallary with Rupiah, in my opinion $1 is much a big number in my country.
    but your idea ofcourse can be applied here, but the time maybe will longer than if it applied in your country.
    i hope someday that Indonesian standard sallary rate will be the same rate as in U.S.
    Thanks for your post!

    • But higher wages = higher prices. Everything is much more expensive in the US (and the UK, where I live) than it is in Indonesia, so you need to look at how much you’d need for a good life in your own country.

    • You’re (more) correct – I’ve just plugged those numbers into an amortization calculator, and at $2/day and 8% return, a 20-year-old would be 80 before they reached $1M; to reach it by 65, they’d need slightly over $6.

  10. Here’s a little trick I use when thinking about spending today vs. tomorrow: Me today = me ten years ago’s future self.

    I think back to what I was spending money on ten years ago and whether I’m happy or not that I did. Now back in the present, I ask myself whether me ten years from now will be happy with me spending on whatever today. In other words, I’ve got to get more utility from spending the money today than my future self will get from it down the road.

    Taking a long view like that is a good antidote to the “buy, buy, buy” advertising pressure and really keeps you focused on value, not just cost.

    • But if you only earn $20/month, then presumably you live in a country where that’s a liveable wage?Therefore you would need a lot less than 1 million to be FI – in fact, to generate your current annual income of $240 at a 4% withdrawal rate, you’d need $6000. So using the same figures as in the table, the equivalent savings rate at age 20 would be 12 cents/day.

  11. Wow, this is so motivating ?? I must admit i read the whole article which i usually don’t do, that’s how good this one is. Anyway, i am looking forward to applying this lesson to my own life as soon as i am done with univ and working. If i can draw some comparison with a fundraising drive i had the privilege to work on, i can say, little contributions and in this case savings work wonders. I remember telling donors this past July that, it does not take much from them for us ( as a university) to reach a target of 3.6 million rands (South African Currency = about 28o000 dollars), which right now would help solve the issue of financial exclusion that students at public universities including the one i go to, are facing. So, we had up to 40.000 leads and we only needed a 1000 people to agree on giving a 100Rands (About 8 dollars) monthly for the next 3 years. It’s funny many people i called where enlightened and told me that they will definitely apply that to save up for their own kids tuition, which is great). I mean, so much financial problems can be solved by just knowing this simple math?! You don’t need to have a big salary to do this? beside, all donations to my univ are tax deductible ?????. I personally think , this should be easy since it is for one’s own benefit, I mean it becomes difficult if you’re doing this for someone other than urself which is the case with donations, so it becomes difficult to get people to buy into the idea. Also, Let’s not over look the few values you mentioned above [without which none of this can be possible] including sacrifice,dedication, discipline, vision to say the least. Thanks for a great post!

  12. Great tips on what just saving a dollar can do. If you just save alone, the amount you will see at the end of every month or year will pleasantly surprise you. Factor in compounding, that’s a lot more! Bring awareness to it is key!

  13. Shoot, this just blew my mind. I’m still in high school, in Grade 10 (turning 15 in October), so spending my singles, fives, and tens don’t really mean much to me. But, reading this just blew my mind. Applying your practice at my age, how much would I be able to save for the future?

  14. Yes, slow and steady wins the race. The “Latte Effect” is a real thing. Even better is investing big chunks of cash early on. When that unexpected bonus, raise, investment win comes in, sock it away. Compound interest is the key! It sounds outrageous to say, but the first million is the hardest. It gets infinitely easier after that!

  15. Great story and you’re lucky to have a wife that came from a wealthy family and agreed to share a room for so many years! Renting for while with a friend while saving is a great strategy to save for a down payment on an affordable home.

  16. I actually like the way how you show a way to everyone to earn n save money, but unlucky me, am not from USA. Other posts are really helpful and that ‘4 jobs’ post is still scarin me

  17. Math is math, as you say. I find that automatic investing is the best way to ensure consistent investing. Just put an auto-investment the day you get your paycheck and forget about it.

    Your story is very inspiring, Tim. Good decisions pay off!

  18. Wow! Totally enjoyed this piece.
    I thought, ok…I will read the first few lines but ended up reading the whole piece.
    Spicing it up with your story made it all the more practical….I could hear me saying “If Tim & his wife could do this, I can do this too!”.

    Thanks for sharing.

  19. I see this plan and my eyes are now opened to how easy it is to become a millionaire, something I saw as a fantasy now seems ridiculously easy and 100% possible. Thanks for the tips Tim!

  20. That’s amazing to be a millionaire in 13 years. I almost thought it was impossible and then I looked at my own past. I’m ten years older than you, but I got really serious in FI around 2004. Before that I had tried, but the dot-com bust didn’t help me as a software engineer. I met my future wife that year. She didn’t have much invested or saved either.

    We could have done a number of things to get to a million even faster. Chief among them is that I could have continued with software engineering vs. blogging. Child care for two kids has been expensive over the last 4 years. It’s not all about money, but even when money is a focus, it’s amazing how quick it can compound given the right market conditions.

  21. A teacher once said to my class:” People tend to buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t even like.” Everytime I buy something I remember these words and ask myself, do I need it?, do I really have the money for it?, why do I want it, because its trendy, or on sale, or one of the popular kidz have it? before I make the purchase. This truly helps me save every dollar.
    Thanks for your advice, for movivating us and giving us hope Tim!

  22. Sometimes when you feel the odds are against you, all you have to do is focus on the little things. Most people can handle $1 a day, or more, if they can have the focus to actually save and invest it. How you relate today’s dollars to tomorrow’s dollars can really help you keep things in perspective!

  23. I’ve never really thought about the single dollar, I’ve always been focused about the group that gets dropped into my account every other Friday. Working to increase that groups size and keep more of them there.
    I try to ask myself if I really need what I am about to buy everytime to make sure it doesn’t get purchased just to purchase it. I like everything to have a useful reason.

  24. Man I LOVE LOVE your story Tim! And your wife’s story too. What a brilliant duo and backed by two sets of brilliant parents. I love listening to successful immigrant stories. I wouldn’t call my parents successful but they came in their 40s so they’re not doing horribly.

    I love your personal posts, it gives us such a rare glimpse at people on the internet. In the end we always find we have more in common than not.

    Thanks for hosting this as well Joe!

  25. Have you ever been an Uber or Lyft driver? $15/hr is an above average day, and that’s before costs (gas, oil, tires, brakes and depreciation of your vehicle). I continue to drive because I’m now addicted to it, plus my background as a City Planner makes me an ideal driver because I know my way around every part of this area. But it still values my time in pennies per hour(!) and leaves me with a vehicle that is worthless at the end of only a couple years. And I just do it part-time, cherry-picking the best hours!!!

  26. Tim – Congrats on your obvious success! And it’s great to see how saving small amounts of money every day can add up over time.

    One thing I would like to point out though is how spending power erodes over time due to inflation. The 20 year old that saves $1,000,000 by the time he is 65 may be surprised how much less his money can buy then. Using history, if that 20 year old had started saving in 1971 and saved as you describe then in 2016 he would indeed have a $1,000,000. But he would need almost $6,000,000 in 2016 to buy what a $1,000,000 bought back in 1971. Ouch!

    So I would suggest the 20 year old save a little more. 🙂

      • Do not forget that prices also decrease for a lot of items. And if you invest in the stock market the gains would be bigger than inflation.

        In my experience food and tech is less expensive now. (no stats to back this up)

        Example: broadband/phone etc both subscriptions and the phone/computer itself is cheaper and I can use it longer. My Galaxy A3 still works fine (2014ish) and I have no plans to replace it. Cost for subscription is 16USD/14EUR/month.

  27. When there is a will there a way! I also hear people’s excuses for not saving or not being able to reach some of their goals. I came to Canada when I was 20 and probably didn’t have $500 to my name. I didn’t speak English and hadn’t finished college. I was a live-in nanny for a few years, took English and business classes at night and on week-ends, many years later I am now an executive in a large corporation. Along the way, I started “paying myself” first and sticking to it, and it paid off:) Great post.

  28. My two favorite PF bloggers right here on Joe’s blog!

    Thanks for sharing your story, Tim! I didn’t know the story of how you came to the US, but it’s so inspiring to see the success you and your wife have achieved so far. You have such a wonderful family too! Thanks for sharing the great tips! 🙂

  29. Great story Tim! It really is just as simple as saving a few dollars a day for a *very* long time.

    It definitely worked for me, but I don’t think we personal finance bloggers emphasize enough the consistency required. It’s not easy to save a few dollars a day for decades. Sometimes life just gets in the way.

    That’s the true challenge — consistency.

  30. Great way to distill the concepts down to how easy it really is. The only hard parts are starting and sticking with it. The fundamentals and mechanisms are available and open to most anyone, at least those that can actually be in a blogging audience.

  31. Thanks for sharing your story, Tim! That’s very inspiring to hear that your dentist father in law did not want to provide any financial help because he was a self made man, I have a physician friend who is also “self made”, and he plans to pay for his daughters wedding and also buy them their first home (which will probably be around $800K).

  32. Thanks for sharing, Tim! And we’re right there with you about living frugally and catching flak for it, especially from those in social circles. It’s challenging sometimes when everyone around you is living a high-spending lifestyle while you’re trying to be increasingly frugal. People think we’re strange, but we do fine.

    Thankfully, my wife and I are both wired to think long-term, so we’re constantly thinking about what our future will look like based upon our spending and so on.

    I love the perspective of only thinking of it as a few bucks a day. I was on a walk yesterday and had exactly that thought. I picked up some golf balls along the way (they’re everywhere here), which I do every day, and realized that my daily constitutional provides $2-$3 worth of golf balls that is dumped into savings. It’s a simple habit – and a healthy one – that adds up over time.

  33. Wow! That’s so awesome and y’all are so young on top of it. We are a bit younger and only one income, but we are working towards that. 🙂

    I do wish we had thought to start saving in college. We didn’t make much, but we still could have squirreled away something I think. We also should have pushed against my FIL and fought to let my husband work. But since they were helping pay for his school, we didn’t. We can always see the mistakes looking back, right?

    We did start our frugal lifestyle after college, and have been focused on it ever since. So the value of a dollar is well known (even to our young kids).

    Thanks for your story! It’s a great encouragement!


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