Ever had a budget party? It could help you become a millionaire.
- It took the Hill family a decade to become financially independent and debt free.
- The self-made millionaire says building wealth is about spending less than you earn and investing the rest.
- Celebrate your financial wins and look for ways to make your money chores more fun.
Back in 2010, Andy Hill and his wife Nicole did the math and worked out that their net worth was negative $50,000. Over the next decade, they turned their finances around dramatically. Not only are they now debt free, they are also financially independent millionaires. The best thing about their story is that many Americans could follow in their footsteps.
We spoke to Hill to learn more about his family’s wealth-building journey and find out what advice they have for anyone who wants to do the same.
Wealth building is simple, but not easy
Hill, a Family Finance Coach at MarriageKidsandMoney.com says that building wealth is about living within your means and investing the rest. “The biggest secret to building wealth is that it can be very simple, but not easy,” he explains. “If we can just grow the gap between our income and expenses and then save and invest the rest for a long time, we will undoubtedly grow our wealth.”
Hill has some tips on how to grow the gap between your income and expenses, even with the current high cost of living. “During tough times of high inflation, that can be a lot harder for everyday families,” he admits. “First, look for ways to increase your income where you’re already making money. This can be through a pay raise at work, overtime hours or bonuses and sales commissions.”
If you can’t bring in more cash through your existing job, Hill suggests looking for a side hustle that suits your talents and skills. For example, you might be able to earn some extra through things like graphic design, freelance writing, or bookkeeping. Increasing your income is a core component of paying down debt and finding money to invest for the future.
The other side of the coin is cutting back on unnecessary spending. “This is the quickest and easiest way to get a pay raise,” says Hill. “Got a $50 per month gym membership you’re not using? Cancel it and you just gave yourself an immediate $600 annual raise.”
Understand where your money is going
If you’re not sure where to get started, Hill suggests you make a budget. “Building wealth becomes a lot easier when you know where your money is going,” says Hill. “That’s why creating and sticking to a budget is so important.”
The idea of budgeting fills many people with dread, but it is one of the best ways to put yourself in the financial driving seat. To put it another way, if making a budget is the first step toward becoming a millionaire, perhaps it is worth moving to the top of your to-do list. Plus, these days, budgeting apps make it easier than ever to track your spending.
Another idea you might adopt from the Hill family is a budget party. Budgeting is less of a chore if you can make it fun, and the Hills do this by setting a monthly budget party date, ordering pizza and opening a bottle of wine. “I’m a big fan of celebrating wins personally, as a family or as a couple,” says the self-made millionaire.
“If you develop your first emergency fund with three months of expenses set aside, celebrate that big moment! You most likely have more money saved than most Americans do,” he points out. An emergency fund is a cushion of at least three to six months’ of living expenses that can insulate you against financial crises such as a job loss or medical emergency. It means that when things go wrong, you won’t have to take on debt or dip into your investments because you have cash in an accessible savings account.
Hill continues, “And when you open up your first investment account and set up automatic contributions, you are making huge strides in your wealth-building journey. These small steps over the months and years add up to a lifetime of generational wealth change. With life passing us by so fast, it’s important to recognize the wins … however small they may feel at the time.”
Don’t overcomplicate things
One of the other takeaways from Hill’s journey is that building wealth doesn’t have to be complicated. “We tend to overcomplicate it with financial jargon, alternative investments and constant news cycle distractions,” he says. Like many millionaires, Hill maxed out his company 401(k) and benefited from his employer’s matching contributions. He also used other tax-advantaged investment accounts to invest for the long term.
Hill didn’t strike it lucky on the stock market. Rather than trendy alternative investments that often promise to generate high returns in a short period of time, he stuck to safer options, such as index funds. The power of compound interest — essentially earning interest on your interest — means that over time, stock market investments can dramatically increase in value.
You can achieve financial freedom
Financial independence means different things for different people. For Hill, it meant fewer hours working and more hours dedicated to health and our family. “When we had no debt, no mortgage and $500,000 invested at 40 years old, we decided it was time to take a leap out of our corporate careers and try something new,” he says.
Think about what financial independence means for you, and how you might be able to get there. You don’t have to inherit lots of money or win the lottery to become wealthy. The Hill family’s story reminds us that you can get there by consistently saving and investing your money.
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