Here’s How to Become a 401(k) Millionaire
There’s nothing more definitive in the journey to financial freedom than hitting the $1 million mark in retirement savings.
A nest egg like that is a near-guarantee that you could surmount any curveball the world throws at you, whether it is an unexpected family emergency or anything else.
While $1 million certainly sounds like a lofty milestone to many, it’s actually quite a common achievement:
- Millionaire households in the U.S.: 11.3 million (8.95%)
- Total households in the U.S.: 126.2 million
And contrary to popular belief, to become a 401(k) millionaire, you don’t need to strike it rich with a lucky stock pick, or use a crystal ball to forecast the future of the market.
Your best bet is to simply focus only on the factors you can control.
What You Can Control
Today’s infographic is from Tony Robbins, and it covers key points from his #1 Best Selling book Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook, which is now available on paperback.
It shows that the biggest winners in the financial game know that they can’t predict the future, and instead titans like Warren Buffett or Jack Bogle focus intently on the factors they can control, knowing that with the right approach they’ll thrive in almost any market.
What are these crucial factors?
|Time||The force of compound interest is more powerful over longer periods of time.|
|Discipline||Staying calm and focused on the long term during periods of turmoil is key.|
|Diversification||Proper asset allocation and frequent re-balancing can position you to weather any storm.|
|Expenses||Expenses and taxes are silent killers, and must be minimized strategically.|
By diligently working to take control of these four factors, your odds of attaining financial freedom are extremely high. Here is each factor in more depth.
The power of compound interest is extraordinary, making time your best friend when it comes to building a battle chest of retirement savings.
The current maximum contribution limit for 401(k)s is $18,500 per year, not including what is matched by your employer. If you maxed out on contributions and started investing early, you can hit $1 million before retirement even in sub-optimal market conditions:
|Starting age||Required returns for $1 million at age 65|
Time can make up for a lack of investing acumen. Wait until later, and things get very difficult – by age 50, you need market beating returns!
If you’re taking advantage of the power of compound interest over a long period of time, whether that is 20, 30, or 40 years, it is inevitable that there will be bumps in the road:
- Stock market corrections happen once a year, on average
- Bear markets happen once in every 3-5 years, on average
- Bear markets vary in length, but on average last one year
Through decades of investing, the fact is you are going to see bear markets – it is how you handle them that counts.
Even when it’s the most tempting to sell, remember these facts:
- Bear markets become bull markets
- The first 12 months of a new bull market can see crucial market gains
- Nobody can successfully time the market – not even the experts
In other words, having the discipline to hold through the turbulence can be the difference maker – and a key factor you can control in your journey to becoming a 401(k) millionaire.
Another factor you control is portfolio diversification, and here are four ways diversification can minimize risk:
|Assets||Stocks, bonds, and alternative assets like real estate or gold.|
|Sectors||Consumer goods, tech, energy, financials, etc.|
|Markets||Domestic, international, emerging markets|
|Time||Add to investments regularly, because there is never a “right” time to buy|
A properly designed portfolio can weather any storm, and re-balancing it on a regular basis will force you to sell assets at market highs, while buying at low points.
The fees on your 401(k) statement might not seem like much, but even 1% or 2% can make a big difference over the long term.
For example: the value of $1 compounding for 50 years at 5% will be worth $11.50, but if it averages 7% it will be worth $29.50. That’s almost three times more!
Expenses, both seen and hidden, can be a silent killer any portfolio, so keeping them to a necessary minimum can help you get to the promised land.
A Final Word
If becoming a 401(k) millionaire was easy, everyone could do it.
But to be successful, you need to take control over factors like time, diversification, discipline, and costs – ideally with a qualified and experienced financial advisor and partner. Then, you need to stick to the plan and let the market do its work.
Investing is a game of inches. If your returns improve by, say, 2 or 3 percentage points a year, the cumulative impact over decades is astounding, thanks to the power of compounding.
– Tony Robbins
How Equities Can Reduce Longevity Risk
With life expectancies increasing, will you outlive your savings? Learn how allocating more of your portfolio to equities may reduce longevity risk.
Will You Outlive Your Savings?
The desire to live longer — and outrun death — is ingrained in the human spirit. The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, may have even drank mercury in his quest for immortality.
Over time, advice for living longer has become more practical: eat well, get regular exercise, seek medical advice. However, as life expectancies increase, many individuals will struggle to save enough for their lengthy retirement years.
Today’s infographic comes from New York Life Investments, and it uncovers how holding a stronger equity weighting in your portfolio may help you save enough funds for your lifespan.
Longer Life Expectancies
Around the world, more people are living longer.
|Year||Life Expectancy at Birth, World|
Despite this, many people underestimate how long they’ll live. Why?
- They compare to older relatives.
Approximately 25% of variation in lifespan is a product of ancestry, but it’s not the only factor that matters. Gender, lifestyle, exercise, diet, and even socioeconomic status also have a large impact. Even more importantly, breakthroughs in healthcare and technology have contributed to longer life expectancies over the last century.
- They refer to life expectancy at birth.
This is the most commonly quoted statistic. However, life expectancies rise as individuals age. This is because they have survived many potential causes of untimely death — including higher mortality risks often associated with childhood.
Amid the longer lifespans and inaccurate predictions, a problem is brewing.
Currently, 35% of U.S. households do not participate in any retirement savings plan. Among those who do, the median household only has $1,100 in its retirement account.
Enter longevity risk: many investors are facing the possibility that they will outlive their retirement savings.
So, what’s the solution? One strategy lies in the composition of an investor’s portfolio.
The Case for a Stronger Equity Weighting
One of the most important decisions an investor will make is their asset allocation.
As a guide, many individuals have referred to the “100-age” rule. For example, a 40-year-old would hold 60% in stocks while an 80-year-old would hold 20% in stocks.
As life expectancies rise and time horizons lengthen, a more aggressive portfolio has become increasingly important. Today, professionals suggest a rule closer to 110-age or 120-age.
There are many reasons why investors should consider holding a strong equity weighting.
- Equities Have Strong Long-Term Performance
Equities deliver much higher returns than other asset classes over time. Not only do they outpace inflation by a wide margin, many also pay dividends that boost performance when reinvested.
- Small Yearly Withdrawals Limit Risk
Upon retirement, an investor usually withdraws only a small percentage of their portfolio each year. This limits the downside risk of equities, even in bear markets.
- Earning Potential Can Balance Portfolio Risk
Some healthy seniors are choosing to work in retirement to stay active. This means they have more earning potential, and are better equipped to recoup any losses their portfolio may experience.
- Time Horizons Extend Beyond Lifespan
Many individuals, particularly affluent investors, want to pass on their wealth to their loved ones upon their death. Given the longer time horizon, the portfolio is better equipped to ride out risk and maximize returns through equities.
Higher Risk, Higher Potential Reward
Holding equities can be an exercise in psychological discipline. An investor must be able to ride out the ups and downs in the stock market.
If they can, there’s a good chance they will be rewarded. By allocating more of their portfolio to equities, investors greatly increase the odds of retiring whenever they want — with funds that will last their entire lifetime.
The Periodic Table of Investments
The investment universe is vast – but it’s also made up of many smaller components. See it all depicted in this nifty periodic table of investments.
Periodic Table of Investments
The investment universe is vast, but it’s also made up of many smaller moving pieces.
For serious investors, the foundation of the discipline is to understand the properties of these individual components, and to have them work in harmony to achieve a specific portfolio goal.
To do this successfully, one must understand the breadth of asset classes, tactics, and categories of investments that exist – and to know how they relate to one another.
The Chemicals Between Us
Today’s infographic comes from Phil Huber, the Chief Investment Officer for Huber Financial Advisors, who has cleverly depicted this relationship graphically in his blog.
Similar to how the physical universe is made up of chemical elements, he sees the possibilities around portfolio management as drawing from a broad pool of investing “elements”. Combine these different elements together, and you get compounds, structures, and eventually entire funds.
The periodic table of investments created by his team denotes each type of investment, the primary and secondary strategy related to it, and a color classification:
Here are the seven objectives that the top letters on each box refer to:
And finally, here are the colors that each block on the periodic table correspond to:
As you can see, considerable thought has been put into the categories and classifications. However, as Phil notes, this is simply the opinion of one person and it is not intended to be a universally accurate depiction of all portfolio management wisdom that exists:
I fully expect that there are a handful of omissions, or perhaps a few areas where one might flat-out disagree with how I’ve laid things out. This was not meant to be 100% exhaustive, nor was it meant to be indicative of what one of our portfolios looks like.
Phil Huber, Chief Investment Officer
For more of the lessons that can be derived from this clever periodic table of investments, we suggest checking out the original post on Huber’s blog.
Is there anything that he missed, or that you think could be classified better?
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